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The Wyoming Gunslingers

 

Aluminum rigid-hulled inflatable skiff.

Aluminum rigid-hulled inflatable skiff.

Trina grabbed burly Justin by the shoulder and quickly jerked him to the ground then whispered “There’s a bear at 40 yards!” in answer to Justin’s puzzled “why and HOW did she do that” look.
Both of them were checking out the abandoned buildings just moments earlier and here was a stud bruin feeding on grass in the front ‘lawn’.  The knee high grass prohibited a good shooting position so Justin snuck over to the fire hydrant in the front ‘lawn’ that had been installed decades ago to protect the cluster of buildings.
Trina watched as Justin pole-axed the big boar and just like that they went from sniffing the flowers to photographing Justin’s bear! It was fitting that Trina guided Justin to his bear since they grew up together in Rawlins, Wyoming.

Justin Ready's 19 14/16" skull, 7' Coastal "Lawn Mower" Black Bear

Justin Ready’s 19 14/16″ skull, 7′ Coastal “Lawn Mower” Black Bear

Getting the bear to the beach proved difficult but Justin found the perfect tool in the shed with a 4’x8’ tabletop he found and used to drag the 350+ pound bear over to the skiff. An unforgettable head-thumping skiff ride later, and we were celebrating One Down, Two to Go aboard the Glacier!

Justin fashioned this Bear Sled out of a tabletop and electrical wiring. Who needs MacGyver?

Justin fashioned this Bear Sled out of a tabletop and electrical wiring. Who needs MacGyver?

Six months earlier I was bobbing around in one of our 12’ Aluminum-hulled Inflatable Aquapro skiffs watching my hunter shoot geese when I got a call from Jennifer Englehart. She promptly booked the Spring black bear hunt as a Christmas gift for her husband Bryan and their brother-in-law Justin. When Bryan found out about it, he then booked another spot for his younger brother Chance who just graduated from high school, so now we had 3 trophy bears to kill in 8 days.
After Trina guided Justin to the ‘lawn mower’ bear things got interesting fast.
Justin and I were skinning his bear the next day when the ‘Oosik Eater’ sneaked out of the woods and gingerly snarfled the oosik from Justin’s bear only 4 FEET from us! Meanwhile, Justin was videoing the whole thing trying not to laugh and wondering if he should bonk the bear on the head with a rock. I can’t believe the bear walked out on the wide-open beach in mid-day and grabbed a snack 4 FEET from us while we were talking.  The bear had obviously never seen humans and eventually dropped his scooby snack! I’m sure that story gets told often while Justin stirs his drink with that oosik back in Wyoming.

Justin and his guide, Trina, who used to eat peanut butter out of the mousetraps at Justin's house as a kid!

Justin and his guide, Trina, who used to eat peanut butter out of the mousetraps at Justin’s house as a kid!

 

Hey, this isn't a sightseeing trip! Get your gun!

Hey, this isn’t a sightseeing trip! Get your gun!

As we motored back to the “Glacier” we spotted a jumbo bear ambling along the back of a cove and put it in high gear trying to track down Chance who had been hunting with Trina. We scooped up Chance, raced back to the quiet cove, cut the engine and then paddled in as close as we dared to the head of the bay. We had no wind, it was deathly quiet and we were in the middle of a tide flat. What we did have going for us was a SLEEPING bear. It was another first. Stalking a sleeping bear!  With few options we opted to stay in the shallow water and walk straight towards the bear like gunslingers. At 90 yards the brute lifted his head and the look on his face was priceless.  All hell broke loose with Chance banging away until he was empty and then Justin adding one for good measure. These bear are very tough as he was still upright and moving. We ran after it at full speed since a three legged bear can go long distances and a wild, slipping, falling, brush-busting chase ensued.  Chance gave it lead poisoning a full 400 yards up the steep forested hillside after 20 minutes of lung-searing, adrenaline-pumping action. I’m sure the 18 year old Wyoming native didn’t sleep that night.

Nice noggin!

Nice noggin!

Chance Englehart's Gunslinger Black Bear, 19 14/16" skull, 7' hide

Chance Englehart’s Gunslinger Black Bear, 19 14/16″ skull, 7′ hide

 

Sea stars at low tide.

Sea stars at low tide.

With a few days left, we decided to do some fishing and enjoyed the hot halibut and rockfish action while soaking up sunshine. Chance and Bryan were whacking fish when Justin latched into a great halibut on a jig rod and was finding out why they call them ‘Barn Doors’.  I was giving him some good-natured grief telling him to “Cowboy Up” and get that thing on the deck. He did just that and as I popped out the jig that crazy halibut tail-danced his way right back off the boat. We were speechless. Justin invited me to come down to his neck of the woods, so he could strap my butt on a snow machine and he’ll show me how to “Cowboy Up.” I don’t think I’ll take him up on the offer!

Here's Cowboy Justin, reeling in The One That Got Away!

Here’s Cowboy Justin, reeling in The One That Got Away!

In the midst of the most amazing bloom of jellies I've ever seen!

In the midst of the most amazing bloom of jellies I’ve ever seen!

Bryan had us all stalking this bear in our socks. Justin took video, then we let it walk.

Bryan stalked this bear in his socks. Justin took video, then we let it walk.

Bryan was itching to let an arrow fly at one of these rainforest giants and the next day he had an opportunity after we spotted a big boar chasing a sow through the clearcut. The daylight was fading when we got between the two feeding bears and Bryan closed the deal to 6 YARDS. I hung back and was wondering if he was going to drop the bow and just spear the bear when I heard the familiar ‘thwang’ of a Mathews compound bow. The boar ran 25 yards before piling up with a double lung hit and the celebration on the “Glacier” that night was not to be missed. Three Trophy Black Bears and a bunch of fish with the Gunslingers from Wyoming. What an amazing trip. Thank you guys!

Bryan Englehart notched his tag with this 19 2/16" skull, 7' hide, stud Black Bear.

Bryan Englehart notched his tag with this 19 2/16″ skull, 7′ hide, stud Black Bear.

Three for Three, we celebrated with a few beachcombed items. A hardhat, and a "3"!

Three for Three, we celebrated with a few beachcombed items. A hardhat, and a “3″!

That's Red Carpet service! From our boat to the airport, without ever touching dry land.

That’s Red Carpet service! From our boat to the airport, without ever touching dry land.

 

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