Spring Bear Hunting

Show Notes

When turkey season comes to a close, many outdoorsmen and women hang the camo in the closet and prepare for the long summer off season. Bransen Shelton had other plans this year though. He and a few buddies loaded up the truck and headed west for a spring bear hunt. This week on the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast, Bransen joins John to talk about the insane amount of time and work it took to bring down a DIY public land bear.

Bransen had hunted the western mountains before, but never for spring bear. He talks about the intense grind the hunt required in order to be successful. Long days and lots of miles. Some days waking up before 4:30am and not going to bed till well after 11pm. He goes through some of the gear he used on the trip and how he was able to stay in the back country for so long. He also gets into the different hunting styles the group used throughout the week, and how he specifically went against some of the usual tactics a lot of people use. 

Check out the Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network for more relevant, outdoor content!

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Hey guys and gals, welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast, brought to you by Arrowhead Land Company. Here you'll be educated, entertained, and equipped to get more out of your outdoor experience. So hold on tight because here we go.

What's going on folks? Welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast. I am your host, John Hut Smith. I hope you guys are doing fantastic. I think I say that every week, but you know what? I really do mean it. So this last weekend, my wife and I did something that we have not done in a very long time. We purposely planned three fun events.

Three days during the weekend. So Friday we went to a concert, and then Saturday we took my daughter and nieces and nephews to a waterpark, which [00:01:00] is a lot of fun, and then turned around on Sunday and went to the lake. And so one thing I learned is that I'm way too old to have that much fun all at one time.

And especially while working a full-time job. And so, uh, man, Friday was a beating at work and then I, I had actually forgotten that. I had told my wife we could go to this concert and I, I literally thought of it like as I'm walking out the door to head home, and so that was like, I was a little bit unfortunate.

We ended up having a great time, but at the time I didn't ne necessarily want to go. And then I'd also kind of forgotten that we were supposed to take the kids to the waterpark when I told my wife that we could go to the lake on Sunday. And so I kind of accidentally, in a roundabout way, just sign myself up for way too much in one weekend.

But like, I don't know if I've, I've know I've talked about my wife quite a bit. That is her life. Like that's what she lived for. If she could have something. Every single day, like every single evening. That would be like the best life she could possibly [00:02:00] live. I am not that way, like once a week, and I'm probably pretty good like the rest of the week I'm good, you know, just being at home, relaxing, watching TV or something like that.

But my wife just lives to go, go, go. So she had like the best weekend of her entire life. Uh, I will say I had a bunch of fun, don't get me wrong, but I wish that fun would've been spread out a little bit more instead of cramming it all into one weekend. So, so yeah, all that to say, we had a great time, had a lot of fun.

Got to see the family and everything like that, so, so no complaints. But that was last weekend. This coming weekend. I believe I have it worked out. I think I, uh, talked about it last week. I believe I have it worked out to spend pretty much all of Father's Day weekend doing deer stuff at the ranch. Uh, I am gonna come back and, and hang out with the family on Sunday and, you know, let them celebrate me.

Cause this is my first Father's day, so I'm not used to that. Um, so yeah, I'm gonna hang out with the family Sunday, probably go see my dad and everything like that. But, uh, Friday I'm gonna head to the ranch. And I have a [00:03:00] huge list of stuff that I want, like I, I feel like I'm almost setting myself up for disappointment because I have so many things that I want to get done.

But number one, priority, as long as I can get a, a tractor free. I know they're in hay cutting mode right now. But, uh, I want to hook up the mower and mow a couple of our, like, native grass spots. I'm trying to promote some more native grass. And last year we, we really hurt that area, grazing it during the drought last summer.

And, uh, and a lot of it's just kind of grown up and stuff that I don't want. And so, uh, I know normally people say, don't, you know, mow like you're hurting yourself. But, uh, we just have a lot of stuff that needs to go. And I've heard, I've talked about this before. I think I talked about it last week that mowing native grass around the summer equinox, which is gonna be this coming week, uh, helps promote native grass growth.

And so I know it sounds like witchcraft. I make fun of that all the time, but I did it a couple years ago and it actually worked really well and we got a lot of [00:04:00] of growth out of it. And so, so that's my plan is to, you know, mow some of that stuff. Uh, a couple of my stands I know complained about it last year.

Uh, again, when we put the cows back there, the cows were rubbing on my brand new blinds and they kicked the feet out on a lot of them. And, uh, there's one particular, the one in the, in the saddle that's like leaning way forward. And in fact, when I was hunting it this year, like, um, during muzzle loader and rifle, you almost couldn't get a shot because it was leaning so far forward that like the window was so low that you couldn't shoot.

You know where you needed to if you were arrested on the window. Yeah. And so while I got the tractor back there, I'm gonna pick some of those up, level 'em out and everything. And then if I have time, uh, I need to, uh, check some straps on tree stands and stuff like that. Make sure all those are good. And then if I, again, if I have time, uh, one of my soybean plots, it's, it's the one that like if the cows get in the creek, they can kind of get around the fence and get up in there.

And so I wanna set up an electric fence if at all possible. And so I know [00:05:00] that's a, a very long list, like I mentioned, especially when I need to probably spend most of the time, uh, you know, mowing stuff. But, um, Yeah, like I said, lots of stuff planned. We'll see how much I get done. I'll definitely keep y'all updated.

Uh, I know I've talked about it several times. I think I even talked about it in this interview that we're gonna listen to today, how excited I am about my soybeans. I think in the last like five days, we've gotten two inches of rain on those bad boys. And they were already doing so good. I, I can't wait to see 'em.

I can't wait to take pictures of them. I'm gonna roll around in them. Maybe not that, but I, uh, I just can't express how excited I am, how, how excited I am about these soybeans and, and it just, so far so good. I'm crossing my fingers. It looks like they're gonna do really well and they may even continue into being able to hunt them this fall, so that would be super awesome.

Uh, I only have one camera up right now and it's actually on a protein feeder, but the protein feed's next to the soybeans. Been getting quite a [00:06:00] bit of deer activity on that thing, and so I know already that they're utilizing it. It's still a little early. I don't think I'm gonna put out any more cameras, just, there's no reason to yet.

Um, but on that, on that one camera, I can already tell I have at least two, maybe three different bucks. You know, I can't recognize which ones they are, like from the past or anything, uh, but there's just enough difference and. And, uh, levels of growth that I can tell that they're different bucks. So that's pretty exciting.

Yeah, that's, that's about it. Like, as you can tell. Very excited about it. Excited to get out there, do some more work and guys, I say this every year about this time of year. Deer season's gonna be here before you know it. So make sure you're practicing with your bow, your gun, muzzle load or whatever. Make sure you're just like I was talking about doing, checking your straps, checking your stands, getting food, plot prep.

Get those cameras ready because here in about another month, it's gonna be time to, uh, to get those suckers out. And so we're, we're just about there, guys. That's all I'm gonna say. We're [00:07:00] just about there. So, but this week on the show, we're gonna talk to somebody who has. Already gotten their 2023 hunting season underway.

We are talking to Branson, Shelton, and Branson's been on the show before. Uh, but he, um, he just got back from a unnamed state that he asked to keep, uh, you know, on the down low, which I completely understand. But he just got back from a spring bear hunt and bear hunting's. One thing that I've been trying to do a better job of getting on the show, I've still have yet, I think to talk to like a real good kind of Oklahoma expert bear hunter.

Um, and that's something that I've been striving for. I've reached out to a couple people, haven't really gotten very good response back. Um, but so anyway, on social media, I saw Branson's, uh, picture reached out to him and he was more than willing to come on the show and talk about his hunt. And it's a really, really cool story.

And then at the end we kind of talk about how he can maybe take some of the things he learned from that hunt and apply 'em here in Oklahoma cuz he also chases bears here. And [00:08:00] so, so yeah, like I said, really good show. Really excited about it. Uh, Branson does a really good job of just telling the story, and he's also a fantastic photographer.

And so at the end of this episode, he'll shout out his, his company is Instagram and everything, so do me a favor, look him up, follow him, support him. And that, I think, is all I got for you guys. So, yeah, we're gonna hear a quick word from our partners and then we'll get into our story with Branson right after this.

There is truly no place like the great outdoors in Oklahoma. When you're out in the wild, you want your wireless devices to work unlike other carriers. Bravado Wireless believes that coverage in rural areas is important so that you stay connected with competitively priced plans and coverage where you need it.

The mission of Bravado Wireless is to keep you connected no matter where you are. Visit bravado wireless.com or check them out at one of their retail locations. Bravado Wireless. The power of connection. [00:09:00] The more I look at land, the more I see that good looking Arrowhead Land Company logo. The guys and gals at Arrowhead are making a huge splash in the Oklahoma land market.

So if you're looking to buy or sell, be sure to give them a call. They have agents across the state ready to help you out or answer any questions you may have. So check out Arrowhead Land Company and let their hardworking agents go to work for you. Hey everybody. Welcome to today's show, and today we got returning guest, Mr.

Branson Shelton. How you doing Branson? Hey, I'm doing pretty good. Oh, not too bad. We were, before we started recording, we talked about how we're getting some of these nice June rains that we can't always count on. And so, uh, I'm, I'm sitting pretty good. I don't know if you've listened to my last, uh, episode or two, but I planted some spring plots this year, some soybeans.

Yep. And, and every time I see this rain, I just kind of giggle inside like a little kid. I know they're, I know they're getting watered. It's, it's been like a lifelong dream of [00:10:00] mine to, to grow some soybeans in the spring. This is the first time I'm doing it, and so, uh, so yeah, I, I'm loving the spring rain, but, uh, anyway, how about yourself?

Yeah. Now I'm doing good. I can't complain. Uh, good. Coming back from my little spring bear hunt, so mm-hmm. Still living in that, uh, dream world of trying to reminisce all that I can, so having to come back to the real world and all the, the work that follows it, so. Mm-hmm. But I'm holding up doing pretty good.

Yep. Good, good. I, I feel like we're all kind of at that stage of life for people about our age where you get to go on one of these trips and you love it and you have fun, but then when you get home, it's, it's like almost like you're kicking yourself, cuz you gotta come back to all the reality and all the work that you missed while you were gone.

So I know that feeling. That's exactly right. Mm-hmm. That's exactly right. Well, you, you let the cat outta the bag. We're gonna be talking about, uh, some spring bear hunting. But before we get there, um, you've been on the [00:11:00] podcast before, but it's been a while. So real quick, why don't you just tell everybody a little bit about yourself.

So, uh, like I said, Branson, Shelton, uh, I have been hunting public land, uh, all of my life. Ev I mean, ever since my dad, my grandpa got me into hunting, uh, Just kind of started hunting, you know, here in Oklahoma as a kid growing up. And as I got older, uh, just had the goals of being able to have a job that would allow me to pursue hunting even more.

And just kind of following in suit with that. Uh, I travel all over, uh, as much as I can and try to hunt as much as I can. I do it all, man. I just try to be the most well-rounded woodsman. I think that's the most important part of being a hunter is just being a, a true woodsman. Mm-hmm. So that's what I aspire to be.

Uh, and that just kind of take that, uh, philosophy into every hunt that I go on, whether [00:12:00] it's gonna be here in Oklahoma, up throughout the Midwest or in the West, you know, uh, and then I try to do as much documenting that I can, whether it be through, uh, photography or through the written, written word and.

Then just hopefully I do something that kind of can, uh, pique somebody's interest and, uh, wanna follow along. Mm-hmm. Yeah, I've seen, uh, seen some of your pictures and they are beautiful. And so, uh, yeah, I really enjoy, I appreciate that and tagging along and, uh, man, I, I'm excited to hear this story. So, like I said, you, you teased it a little bit.

You just got back from a, a western bear hunt and, uh, you asked that we keep the, the location and everything kind of quiet, so we're just gonna leave it at that. But, uh, man, I'm gonna let you kind of. Just run with it yourself. Um, you know, I want to know kind of how this came about. Um, did you go by yourself with some buddies?

Just kind of talk about where this idea came and, um, and just kind of the, the leading [00:13:00] up to the hunt, I guess, you know, how, how you planned everything out and got everything situated. So, uh, last fall. My wife let me know that uh, we was gonna be expecting a baby this coming, uh, summer. Congratulations.

We're gonna have a baby. I appreciate that. We're gonna have a baby girl. Uh, supposedly. July the 20th, you know, she might have a mind of her own. We we're still waiting on that. But, uh, Uhhuh with that, with that coming up, I was kind of pressed, like I really enjoyed going on a hunt and mm-hmm I feel like I am the best version of myself when I have something, something that I have to work towards, like just having to drag and slay, you know, working towards it, whether it be training or just gearing up for it, you know, I really enjoy it and.

I'm getting my focus kind of singular on that. But with that, with knowing that I'm gonna be having a baby girl leading into the fall, I had already pretty much counted out any big, [00:14:00] uh, hunting trips early on. You know, last year I went on a, uh, elk hunt in September and I knew that probably wasn't gonna happen.

I, I wasn't too comfortable leaving that soon after she was gonna be born. So I was just kind of trying to figure something out, you know, what on the nurse could I possibly do? And, uh, it was at the, uh, black Bear Bonanza, which is put on by the Arkansas Back Country Hunters, associ Hunters Association. Uh mm-hmm.

I ran into one of my good buddies and me and him were just chit-chatting. He had went to, uh, a spring bear hunt last year and gotten a, I mean, he got a trophy board. He was a real nice bear and we was just talking about it. And, uh, by the time I left, he, uh, he made, gave me a phone call and said, man, like there's an open spot if I wanted to go.

Uh, him and a few other guys was going. And, uh, I told my wife, I said, I, I can't miss this one. Like, I feel like I, I really need to go. Uh, just, it would [00:15:00] give me the satisfaction of, of having a big hunt, you know, in a western back country hunt. It's something, it's in the league of its own that there's nothing else that compares to it.

Once you kind of dive off into that, it's just you have to have it like I have to keep doing it. Mm-hmm. So I was thinking, man, a spring bear hunt is just gonna be perfect. I can go, I can do that, come back home and get everything situated for the baby, and then just kind of ease into the fall and just do my thing here at home and hopefully get a mature white tail and.

I could be satisfied through the year. Mm-hmm. So that's pretty much how I got started. Yeah, that's, and I can completely relate, cause I, that was me last year, so my little girl will turn one, uh, in a few weeks here, here in July. So almost the exact same situation. And I kind of did the same thing. I, last year, I didn't go on any western hunts, just end up hunting around here.

I did, uh, I went to Nebraska where my, my [00:16:00] sister lives. That was the first time I went and hunted there. But I think I, yeah, I only hunted like two days. Like basically it times out with, uh, what is that Labor Day weekend maybe? One of those, one of those little three day holidays. And, uh, yeah, so I basically just, you know, I, I already had Friday off work, so I drove up there Thursday night, I think hunted Friday, Saturday, and drove home Sunday.

And that was about the, uh, that was about it as far as my travel hunting last year. So, uh, so yeah, man, it's, uh, it's gonna change the game a little bit. I'll just warn you. That's right. You know, I'm, I'm ready for it. Uh mm-hmm. But like I said, and I just, I like to have an adventure. I like to go on one. Yeah.

And she, she's all about it too. So it is nice having somebody that's supportive like that and knows that's, I kind of just, she, she has to let me go and do my thing a little bit. Mm, yep. My wife could always tell when I wanted to go hunting, cuz about Wednesday I'd start being real nice, you know, I'd, I'd change an extra diapers and, Hey, you stay on the couch, I'll fix the bottle and everything, you know, working [00:17:00] up that, you know, time until Friday and Saturday afternoon.

So, uh, yeah. But man, it, it, it's awesome. I wouldn't change it so. Um, so yeah. All right. So, uh, so yeah, you're, you're headed out with a couple buddies. Um, let's get into the hunt itself. Uh, you know, what kind of terrain did you, did you do a bunch of research going into it? Like, did you, you know, were you trying to learn where bears would be or were you kind of going into it just blind?

Well, I had, I've watched a lot of YouTube videos and I do a lot of reading through Bear Hunting magazine and, uh, So I kind of know, I know the gist of a spring bear hunt and what it kind of entails. And I, I know that during the spring when the bears are coming outta hibernation, they're looking for, um, the first green up.

They're, they're thinking about filling up, you know, eating as much as possible. And then about early to mid-June, the bores will start getting kinda ruddy and they'll start, you know, [00:18:00] trying to find and breed a, so, uh, So I knew it was gonna be getting out and just trying to find a food source primarily.

Uh, but as far as terrain, like I, I had gotten just a couple of pins from those guys and then I just kind of got on OnX myself and started looking and, you know, just trying to find what I thought would be good, what would, uh, what would, what I thought would work, you know? But I really, being the first time that I've ever done anything, I was also gonna be relying a lot on them to try to, you know, Learned from 'em since they, they did have one year of a hunt in their belt, which is mm-hmm.

Having one year isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but having any experience, man, it's a, it's a big deal. I just going in with a little bit more confidence, you know? Mm-hmm. So I started doing my research, but I had, I've already knew, known, uh, about, you know, back country hunting from going on, uh, going on elk hunts and stuff, but, I [00:19:00] knew what all I was gonna need, so I, you know, had to start preparing for that.

And the terrain was where we were at. I wouldn't, it wasn't quite mountainous. I think the highest elevations that we seen was around 6,200 feet. So it's still just pretty hilly, but it was a lot of up and down, uh, lot of creek bottoms and stuff. And, uh, they'd get pretty steep. But as far as, you know, Sheer elevation.

It wasn't too, mm-hmm. It wasn't typical like mountains or nothing like that. Yeah. But now were y'all, were y'all backpack hunting or did y'all have a base camp that you'd kind of go out of every day? Backpack hunting. Yeah. Okay. There was a, there was a, we went to a couple of places, uh, let's see. We left out on a Saturday morning around three 30, almost four o'clock in the morning, and, Just drove man, just a long [00:20:00] drive, you know?

Uh mm-hmm. They were from Texas, so I, I drove down and met the end. We, we struck out. Mm-hmm. And we got there and they kind of had a general area in mind. And once, you know, you can do all the research you want to and drop pins on the OnX, whatever mat system you use, but it takes just getting there and getting out there and figuring it out.

Cause it might look one way on the map, you know, and it'd just be completely different once you get there. So, uh, we got to one spot and just, we just had to do a lot of driving and lot, lot of looking for a day. Uh, well just kind of active scouting is what I like to call it, scouting. But you're still doing it with a, with a gun in your hand.

And it was, we, we left on Memorial Day weekend is when we left. So it was at the end of May. Mm-hmm. Uh, got up there. On Sunday, we, uh, Sunday evening we was able to get out and kind of do some [00:21:00] glassing, but, uh, kinda the gist of a western public land hunt that is, it is the same as any public land hunt, so you kind of have to deal with some hunting pressure and that, that weekend was kind of what that was up there.

Just kind of control what we've done, man. There's just a lot of pressure in the first area that we went. We didn't have to backpack too far that day. We, we was pretty close to the truck still. But there's a, it's a great looking spot, but at the end of the day, whenever there's any type of, uh, accessible roads that can be driven a lot mm-hmm.

You're gonna see a lot of traffic, you know? So yeah, we didn't feel too confident in that, so we had to start moving around. And from, from that point on, it was a straight backpack hunt. We went into some places that we. We had to hike pretty deep and you know, carry everything on our back, and that's. That is, that's a game changer.

That's, if you haven't done that, it's a, that's [00:22:00] a big thing. It's a lot of fun. Mm-hmm. Yep. I was actually just talking to a guy, uh, I guess on Friday who, uh, he just drew a, uh, a mule deer tag and, uh, he, he's never been out west and, and so we were talking about it and, uh, I told him the, the number one thing that's gonna annoy you is water.

Because it's awesome to get up there on top. You can see, you can kind of run the ridges and, and not have to do any too much of that steep hiking, but at some point you're gonna have to go back down and get water. And that's, that's the part that always drives me crazy. Oh man. Like, it, it is like such a controlling factor in the hunt of that fact of that style, you know?

And mm-hmm. If you want to, if you want to tote it with you, that's gonna be the, the bulk of your weight and your pack. And man, it's just, it's tough. I spent a lot of time in trying to dial my pack in and, uh, I don't do a lot of research on that and try to be as minimalistic as I possibly can. [00:23:00] Mm-hmm. And I feel like now I had the, I, I had the backpack hunt dialed in.

I think I, I left out with everything. I waited it all out. Individual. Uh, my backpack, five days of food. My tent sleeping bag and trekking poles and, uh, all the, uh, odds and end things. I think my, my pack weighs just, just a hair over 28 pounds. Wow. And, uh, that's, yeah, that's before water. That's that. Yeah.

But still that's very light. That's, that's amazing. Oh, man. I was, I was ecstatic about that, man. I was super proud of it. Uh. Mm-hmm. Cause that man, the more you towed in and you just start walking around you the first couple of miles, you start thinking about everything that, uh, that you don't have to have, that you have like, well, I probably could have done, done without this or done without that.

Mm-hmm. But, uh, yeah, I, I go, I went the end with just next to nothing [00:24:00] really, but it was, it was enough. And I probably could've even lost a little bit of weight because once I get into a hunt like that, I'm very bad about not wanting to eat anything. I mean, I can go forever just on some dang granola bars or something.

Mm-hmm. Which, not the, that's not the ideal situation. You don't need to be like that. But I just, that's something that I can't help. I, I start getting into hunt mode and. It's, it's just game own. I, I'm the same way. And it, it sounds crazy especially to, maybe to people who have never done it, cuz you're, you're burning so many calories, you know, more than you normally would cause you're just doing nothing but hiking and, and you know, like you said, it's usually not flat.

Um, Yeah, there's something about that. Like I, I'm the same way. Like, I usually survive on Cliff bars just about almost a hundred percent, uh, for a few days. Yeah. And, you know, I might, I'll, I usually, I pack a few little treats, I'll pack some Snickers and stuff like that. Just something to, to change it up and, and get a different flavor.

But, uh, yeah. Yeah, it's, it's, it's weird how our [00:25:00] bodies do that for sure. You know, I, uh, Like I said, I was doing a lot of research. I made, uh, several of my own, uh, dehydrated meals. Mm-hmm. Mainly cause I was just a tight wad. I didn't wanna spend all the money on those things. I think, uh mm-hmm. One of the freeze dried meals, they run about what, 12, $13, uh, on average.

And you can catch some on sale sometimes, but that's pretty darn expensive. Uh mm-hmm. Whenever you start getting one for every single day. So, um, I made a couple of my own and then packed a few of them, uh, that I bought. Then I, I like to pack a, uh, tortilla with peanut butter, bacon and honey, and I vacuum seal that.

Mm-hmm. It is impossible to smash it and just throw it down in the bottom of your backpack and dig it out and it'll last several days and I can go a long ways on those things. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I think I figured it up to be about, uh, food. You know, a meal [00:26:00] at the end of the day. Some snacks, like trail mix type things that, uh, I hardly ever touched.

And then, um, like some, uh, instant coffee, I wanna say that I was, uh, just over a pound of food per day. And that's kind of a, from what I've read, that's kind of the goal. You kinda shoot for that, but you wanna get stuff that's also like the most calorie dense. And I probably didn't do that, but, uh, I still, I survived.

Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. Very cool. All right. Now, uh, on the, on the hunting side, so, Here's a question I, I've, I've done a little bit of spring bear hunting, but not much. Um, from what you found and read and everything are bear, are they kind of like what you think of with deer and elk, where it's like early in the morning, late in the evening?

Or is it kind of more of an all day thing? Uh, what'd y'all [00:27:00] find with that? So, from what I've gathered, bears are pretty lazy. Every, everywhere that you read is kind of. A spring bear hunt is a hunt that's waking up at the crack of dawn is not really needed. You don't really have to do that. That's, that's my kinda hunting.

Yeah, it's not too bad. Um, it's gonna be one of those hunts where you kinda wake up and the biggest part is gonna be, uh, sitting up and glassing from your camp and, uh, trying to catch a bear moving. And I think they're, they're most active in the evenings before dark. And a lot of times, like, depending on when they come out and how far they are away, you might, you might see one on a hillside and.

You see it one day and the next day you, you put a stock, you put a stock on it and try and get in front of them. And that's something that's, that is hard to grasp. And it's, [00:28:00] it's real hard for me to grasp cause I'm a very aggressive hunter. Uh, especially when I go up on a hunt like that, I mean myself.

And as for most of the people that are gonna be going on a hunt like this or any style, most of the time it's gonna be for one week. And. I wanna make sure that for that one week I leave no stone unturned and that I will go home. If I, if I go home empty handed, I will say that I, I will never be out hunted and that I will do everything that I possibly can get the job done.

So, like towards, uh, it was tough for me, like to just be sitting there in glass and, you know, it was, it's tough. It's just tough. It ain't like a deer hunt. There's a, there was one day. Where we decided to, to get up before daylight. And what's bad is you get up there in the west is, you know, it's daylight at about four 15 in the morning, you can [00:29:00] start seeing.

Mm-hmm. So you really gotta get up there early. And I, it don't get dark. It truly don't get dark until like 1115 or so, like almost midnight. Mm. You could still, you could still be seeing, it would still be still kind of, um, dusky looking to the west, where the sunset, it's kind of a, it's kind of a thing to see.

Mm-hmm. So it, if you was to get up early before daylight, it manages it's taxing. It's takes a lot of work. But, uh, well, we ended up doing like we had to, um, we had to hike into one area. I think we went in about six miles to the, I mean, was way back in the one system following a trail, and we kind of branched out from there.

The four of us we went to, we tried to stay, uh, in two person groups and we'd set up in glass and, but just the longer you do that, and it took us a while to start seeing bears, but [00:30:00] uh, once you start doing that, you're not seeing anything. It was just hard for me to sit there and be like, man, like I'm, I'm sitting here.

Bears aren't moving. And I'm gonna walk back to camp here in a little bit and I can, I can start getting kind of down a little bit cause I'm, mm-hmm. Like I said, it's just not my, not my typical style of hunting. Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think most white tail hunters know what you're talking about. You know, just they're more plentiful usually if you're hunting, you know, a, a food plot or a feeder or something, you're just kind of used to seeing game.

And then most people are used to seeing game pretty much every time. And yeah, that's just kind of not always, not always the case out west. Yeah, that's, that's exactly right. We, uh, I think there's a, the one area that we went to, uh, Like I said, we, we went several days without seeing the bear. We, we was hiking in one afternoon and the, uh, guy in the front was leading away.

He walked up, [00:31:00] there's a small, a juvenile bear with a tracking collar that we jumped coming out, and uh, so we thought, okay, you know, there, there's bears in the area. We didn't plan on going too far, too much further, so we ended up backtracking. About a half a mile, the set up camp. Then we kind of branched out from there to start hunting and, uh, split up in twos.

And then that evening we ended up, uh, we jumped a pretty large, uh, black bear. I mean, it was a jet black, it was just right there at the end of the shooting. Light was coming back on the, on the trail. We wasn't able to get a shot at it or anything, but that was, that was the only two bears we seen for a long time.

So not having, not having the big density. That's like, kinda like you said, whitetail hunting. It's just different. It's tough. Mm-hmm. Yep. Uh, yeah. You know, whitetails, when you're talking about deer per square mile, you're talking about way, way more than just about anything out west. You know, even, [00:32:00] even deer out west.

You're not talking near the density that we have here in the east. Um, no. Yeah, you're definitely not gonna see as many. And, uh, but, uh, I don't wanna, I don't wanna ruin the story here, but, uh, I, I know I saw a picture of you with a, an amazing little black bear. So let's move into that story. So y'all were not seeing bears and then I, I'm guessing something picked up towards the end of the week.

Yeah. So we hunted, uh, one area for, for about three days, I guess, and we, you know, done all we could. Started, uh, started getting pretty aggressive. Um, I told my hunting partner, his name is David McDaniels. Uh, he is a rider for Berry Hunting Magazine, and I, I told him that. It's just time for me. Like to, I need to start getting aggressive.

I feel like I'm, there's, I need to make something happen. That's just kind of my style. I know that I can do it. I know I can do it with, uh, on Whitetails. I love, um, I love [00:33:00] slip hunting. It's, you know, well, or still hunting. I love to slip around, set and just move. Be quiet cuz uh, I know that in the evening bears are typically more active.

But there has got to be one somewhere moving in the morning, whether it be in the timber or in in the creek bottoms, or you know, somewhere there's gonna be one moving and that's the one that I'm going after. So we, I started getting just kind of hunt that way using OnX. I was able to find a slew, moved down into thinking that's really gonna do something.

And we, we moved in. Got to a spot that, I mean, it looked like the greatest glassing knob that God has ever created in the west. We, we sat there for several days. I got him up early in the morning one morning, and we sat there all day long. Glassing just wasn't happening. I moved into that slew and [00:34:00] found a lot of fresh bear signs.

But it's one of those things like, okay, like we only have a few days left. We could see several miles and you know, it all looked like bear country. There's food everywhere that they needed, which typically is gonna be the fresh green up from the snow melt. And you're gonna find that on the south, south facing slopes.

But the temperatures had, was steadily climbing. So there's also some green up coming on the north facing slopes. So when that starts happening, the bears kind of get dispersed a little bit and they're not just gonna be congregated on those southern sides. So, and we're not, we're just not seeing the bears and like, we're not seeing them at all anywhere that we can make a stock on.

So we, we went back to camp. We decided that we're gonna, we'll sleep tonight, wake up early in the morning, hike six miles back out, and we're gonna try to find a new spot. We, once we got back to the truck, we were started, uh, we [00:35:00] decided to go on into town, get about to eat, and then we're gonna split up. We had found a few pins that they looked promising, but, uh, like I said earlier, you just gotta put boots on the ground to figure it out.

When David and, uh, Kelly, they went out to check one spot, and, uh, me and another guy, we call him Boss, uh, we was, we was gonna go check out another one. So I drove, uh, I dropped him off from the truck and I drove off to go to the spot I was wanting to check, and it happened to be a dead end road. And, uh, there's a gate that come out that come across that we couldn't get near.

We couldn't go near as far as I was needing to, to get back in there. It was gonna be like a, a 12 mile hike from the gate that we was gonna park on and parking next to a highway. I didn't feel comfortable doing that anyway, so we was kind of like, it was kind of just feeling like a bust. And I seen a sign that there's this, uh, mountain Peak and you can go [00:36:00] look at it.

And I said, well, heck, let's just drive up here and go, go check it out. There should be this big draw. On one side of it, whatever was driving up there looking on, on X, it was all timbered. But I guess with within the last year or so, there was a burn and I mean it just, Green up everywhere. It, I mean, we knew like driving up, I was just telling myself, this is it.

I was telling Jeff, this is it, man. Like this is where we need to hunt. We had just a huge slope to watch. I mean, that went on for miles and then went all the way back and then it created a bowl at the back end of it and just peaks has, uh, a snow cap to the west. It had another partial burn up on the, the southern side for just a small area.

Like I said, in the bowl was real dark timber. It had, um, a creek running on the bottom of it to keep everything cool. We got out, we started doing some walking. [00:37:00] There's kind of, I would, I would compare 'em to a skidder trail at home in the, uh, timber country and just kind of flat spots along, along the mountainside.

We was walking along and started seeing some fairly fresh bear sign bear scat, and we just backed out and said, well, we gotta go get David. And Kelly said, this right here is the spot. This is where we need to be. So, drove all the way back and got them and we getting, uh, as soon as we picked him up. We just drove as fast as we could back over there.

Cause ideally you wanna be set up to glass about four o'clock, you know, four o'clock to about 10 is what you can shoot. Uh, I wanna say it was shooting light was closing about 10 o'clock mm-hmm. At night. So, uh, got over there and, uh, started glassing and didn't see anything that night. And I was thinking to myself, well, there is some fresh bear sign.

Like I, I feel like I wanted to, [00:38:00] uh, get up at daylight, get out there and like, this is on Wednesday. We're gonna be leaving Saturday morning. Uh, we need, we just need to go glass. You know, we need to get up and go check it out. Do what we can to try to make something happen. And, uh, I guess it didn't happen on Wednesday and Thursday.

Is when I really started feeling aggressive. I was, I told him like, I'm gonna get up at daylight again. We're gonna go go glass. Uh, whenever we got out there, me and uh, Jeff set up, we watched until about, we watched from about 5:00 AM till about seven 15 or so, and didn't see anything and there was a, a pretty steep slope to get down to the bottom.

And I told him like, well, I'm gonna, I'm gonna slide off here. There's a lot of loose rocks, scree, like, I'm gonna slide off, get down to this creek bottom. [00:39:00] And if he wanted to stay, hi. And just kind of parallel me, like, I'm gonna slip, hunt my way through this drainage and just see if I could find any fresh sign.

I just, I need to know there's, there's some bears in the area. Upon doing so, I, I got down to the bottom. I started seeing some, some pretty good signs, like it started looking promising. I moved around across the creek and I just found a pile of a bear scat that was made probably just hours before I got there.

I mean, it was just obviously fresh and I, okay, like I, here's what I need to do, like I'm just, I need to be in here. I ended up moving in and trying to find a place to set up and, uh, I wanna say that. On that Thursday, I ended up walk, I walked 18 miles slip hunting, getting into a spot, and I mean, just, I worked my way up following these trails till I got up to the top of this little hill where I could really glass [00:40:00] and it just, we got there, it just didn't happen.

I mean, I hunted my tail off on that Thursday did not happen and kinda, we got all the way back into that bowl and. You know, like I said, just being aggressive. Once I got back to camp that night, I was just, I was spent, I think I, I got back to camp probably about 11 30, 11 45, and it was, we just kind of had a little base camp at that point, set up.

Um, and we, where we could glass from. I just ended up going a lot deeper than anticipated. So I, I got back and I was just, I was spent, it's now, it's gonna be Friday. We're leaving early Saturday morning, and I'm just, I'm exhausted. I felt like I had, you know, used every resource that I had and just come, gonna come up empty handed.

We got up early on, sat on Friday morning. Gonna go check another spot [00:41:00] with, uh, was in the truck and Jeff realized that he missed his, or he left his binoculars like, oh crap, you know, we'll go back over there. So we got out, we got back to the hunting spot. It was probably about, it's probably about eight o'clock in the morning at this time.

And Jeff and David run down to the bottom to go get his binoculars. Me and Kelly was gonna go up the hill and look at the burn and make it all the way to the top and come back and get 'em when, uh, we got, so we started going up and as soon as we got up to the top where, uh, that little small partial burn, it just like a, a bomb of bears went off.

Like we put, we put in so much work within probably about a mile and a half or so, we've seen seven bears. And it was like, I couldn't, I couldn't believe it. They just happened to be moving in and against, uh, well, [00:42:00] our theories of them moving later in the evening. Here it is mid-morning and these barriers are on their feet.

And, uh, so we figured out, you know, we need to get out and try to make a move on these things. And I spotted mine and it was just a, I mean, Ha just caught a small glimpse of one. I could tell that it was a color phase, light blonde, and it just seemed like it just happened so, so fast. I put a per, it was a frontal shot.

I hit him in the chest and it come out on a, I guess it come out on it's left side before the hand, and it, it took like a, a step and a half. It was, it was down instantly and like to have put. So much work in, you want to think that, you know, how can it be this, how could it be this easy for it to just happen like this?

Or does it happen that easy because you put the work in. Mm-hmm. Uh, man, it, it was awesome. Got up there, just a [00:43:00] beautiful blonde, bright blonde with, uh, more chocolate or cinnamon colored on its face and on all four legs and it has a really dark, uh, cinnamon or chocolate colored stripe on its back. Just a beautiful bear.

I couldn't, I couldn't believe it. It was, uh, to have to have hunted so hard and for it to come together on the last day, you know, it's just, you can't ask for anything more than it happening on the first day. Mm-hmm. Man, that's, that's a awesome story. And uh, you know, one thing that really sticks out to me is just.

You know, how hard you continued to hunt, because I know, I mean, it's a struggle that I have every time I go elk hunting. When, you know, when you're sleeping on an uncomfortable unlevel ground, you're hiking all day long. You know, the more days that go by, the harder it is to get up and do it all over again.

And, uh, man, I, so I, yeah, I applaud you for [00:44:00] just sticking after it, sticking to your guns. If anything, it almost sounds like you hunted harder at the end of the week than you did at the beginning of the week. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I, I want, I don't know if that says other, then just, I think that's just being hardheaded to be honest with you.

I, I get to be pretty stubborn and like I said, I'm not gonna go home feeling like I could have done more. I'm gonna if mm-hmm. If I'm gonna hunt a drain or a, or hey, whether it be woods here at home for whitetail or like, if it's gonna be the end of my hunt, so what if I blow it up? Who, who cares if I go in there and run every single one of 'em outta the area?

Cause I'm, I'm getting out there. It's my last day. I, I'm not gonna be here tomorrow, so who cares if the Bears are there tomorrow? Cause I sure don't. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I was getting in eating, you know, sleeping on a, I have a floor less tent, you know, so I'm just sleeping on the ground and like I said, you're not, you're not getting rested.

Going to bed at [00:45:00] about 1215 or so at night and waking up at. About four o'clock in the morning if we wanted to do that daylight. And, you know, just, I wasn't gonna take no for an answer. And I told them like, it, it, it's hard. And everyone kind of starts getting down by, you know, day three or day four, and we haven't even had the opportunity to put a stock on a bear.

It starts getting down. But when you're in a hunt like that and you're in a group, Negativity is a disease and mm-hmm. Like staying optimistic and leading by example is what it takes, you know, just to, and that, and that's just the type of person that I, I strive to be. Like, I, I try to stay positive in everything, not just hunting, but, uh, that's, that's key.

I mean, cuz trying to stay motivated, you know, let everybody else kind of feed off that and kind of, Hold up, hold myself to the fire and, you know, and all them guys, they was all about it too. They was, they was right there with me. They, they hunted hard as well. [00:46:00] Mm-hmm. Yeah. Having like-minded individuals is also a big part of it.

It is. That, that's, that's key. And it, it's, I was, uh, it was a going joke, but, uh, here I am going off into Bear country with, you know, one of my buddies and two guys that I've never met before. Like, I wouldn't. A hundred percent sure that if I wasn't going to be the game, I thought they might have been hunting me or something.

At the end of it, they're just, they're taking me, you know, up here away from my family, they're gonna go on the, uh, what is it, the most dangerous game type of hunt. Mm-hmm. Yeah. But, uh, going off, going off on the back country hunt, like having like-minded guys, that is, uh, that's key. That is, uh, that's key.

Very important. Yes. I, I think from hunting Sunday to Friday, If my watch is correct, you know, and it it, who knows if it is or if it isn't. It's a Garmin instinct and it logged all of my mileage, all of my steps, and it said I [00:47:00] walked 61.2 miles from Sunday to Friday. I believe it. I believe it. Hmm. Awesome man.

Well, I got one quick, uh, I don't know, I, it's on the same topic I guess, but a little bit different shift. Does this hunt make you want to look more into trying to do some bear hunting in Oklahoma? Well, I already had the goal of, uh, getting a bear here at home. Uh, that was one, that's gonna be my goal this year.

Cause like I said, having that baby's gonna change the game this fall, and I know that. If I'm gonna get a bear here at home, it is gonna be the first week of October, so I might mm-hmm. You know, kind of go all in that first week and try to try to get a bear down over bait or something here at the house, cuz whenever I left.

Left on Saturday, but it was a Friday afternoon. There was a big boy spotted there at the house where I live. So I'm like, man, gotcha. I'm leaving home, [00:48:00] I'm leaving the bear that's practically in my backyard and going all this way to go hunt after one. Yeah. But, uh, yeah. Yeah. And the bears, you know, hunting in the spring, uh, the bears up there, they're quite a bit smaller.

You're not guaranteed to just get a big one, but, or heavy, big bodied. But hunting here in Oklahoma, the bears are gonna get a lot bigger. You got a mm-hmm. Chance of killing one that's gonna be pushing 500 pounds even. Cause they don't go through a typical hibernation here. So they're able to browse almost all year long.

And man, they just get big. Yeah, man, I, I've had a goal of killing a, a bear in Oklahoma really the last two years. But I, I, I mean, I honestly haven't hardly even tried cuz uh, I guess it's been, I've talked about it before. It's been probably four years ago now. My brother and I got on a lease. Um, that had a bunch of bears on it and tried and we learned a lot.

Neither of us killed one. Um, yeah. But, uh, [00:49:00] but you know, so now for me to do it, I'd have to go on public, which is, which is legal and everything, but you can't bait on public. Right. And trying to, trying to figure out. You know, and pattern a black bear on public land and get, get him killed with a bow, that's a pretty tall order.

And so I, I think that's why more people don't do it. Um, but it, it is definitely, it's always in the back of my mind. Like it's something I definitely wanna do someday. Yeah. I, I'm lucky to have some land of my own and then, uh, had some family land that they all carry some bear, uh mm-hmm. So having private access and being, or a lease, not on a lease or anything, but having access to be able to bait one that's gonna really up the odds.

I mm-hmm. I have slip hunted enough in, uh, Oklahoma that I have stocked up on a few bears in the fall. I wasn't able to get, make anything happen. But you can do it with a muzzle loader on public land also. But, uh, yeah, it kind of starts getting a little bit tougher that late [00:50:00] in the fall. Cause they start getting pretty spread out.

Yeah. Mm. Yeah. That, uh, mm-hmm. That is the goal to kill one here. Uh, I kind of put my foot in my mouth. I told my boy if I went off to, uh, in the spring and killed a, uh, black bear my own, then I'll give him the opportunity in the fall. So he's gonna hold me to that. I can tell. Yeah. Uhhuh. But that'll be, that'll be fine.

I'm, we're gonna have to start, uh, stalking up on little Debbie's and. Try not to eat 'em and fish grease and get after baiting one. It's gonna be a lot of fun. It's gonna be different. I'm not, uh, I'm not hunted over bait or anything, but mm-hmm. It'll be fun. Yeah. But I, the being able to do it in the spring, you know, that's, that right there in and of itself is a big game changer.

Cause typically that's a time that I'm not hunting, uh, not like this, not carrying a rifle or anything. You got Turkey season, but to go on a big game hunt in the spring, carrying a [00:51:00] rifle or back country style, man, that is, that is nice. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, so I, you know, I went to college in Idaho and did a little bit of bear hunting in college.

Not much. I had no idea what I was doing, you know, that was kind of before you could just get on YouTube and learn anything. And podcasts weren't around yet. Yeah. And, uh, one time, uh, my wife and I went up there and went with one of my buddies again, just, you know, kind of a weekend type thing. And, um, I think I, I wanna say there was like a really bad.

I can't remember if there was a really bad fire year or they had a really late snow or something, but it just, yeah, there, there wasn't much of a chance of us getting one. So one of these days. Yeah. I always talk about one of these days when I, you know, have have some time, which I don't know when that will be.

I'm gonna get up there. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, cool man. Well, I don't wanna take up too much of your time, uh, but I really appreciate you coming on here and talking to us. And, uh, real quick before I let you go, if somebody wants to, to, [00:52:00] you know, find your work and your pictures and everything, where should they go?

I'm, I'm, uh, active on Instagram and it is, uh, three Rivers Outdoors, uh, with an underscore at the end of it. And I got all my photography stuff on there, and I got some, uh, discounts. I can, I can provide. I got a little link there. Uh, then I got all my, like I said, my photography and then anything else I do, I kind of put it on Instagram.

Nice. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Branson, I think that's gonna do it for us today, so I'm glad we finally got a time nailed down to sit down and do this, and I really appreciate you coming on. Yeah, man. I appreciate you having me. I've been waiting on people, like I just stare at 'em until like they noticed me staring at 'em.

Then I tried to just talk to 'em about bear hunting, so it was nice to be able to do it over the phone. Good. Good, good. Awesome man. Well, thanks again and have a great rest of your day. I [00:53:00] will, man. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. All right, folks. That's gonna do it for this week. Look at that. We got a little bear hunting content on the show.

Finally, if you're listening to this and maybe you've done some Oklahoma bear hunting or shoot even somewhere close by Arkansas, Missouri, something like that, reach out to me because I would love to have some more local stuff on the show. Branson, good luck to you and your son this fall. If y'all get one, definitely let me know.

We'll try to have y'all back on the show. Um, yeah, I'm just trying to get some more widespread, awesome content for this area. So thank you guys for coming on, listening to me. Uh, I'm about to go eat some dinner and then enjoy some of my other passion, which is college football. Tonight they're announcing the new schedule for the S E C.

And so, man, there's been some hints all day. It is looking like OU is going to have a brutal schedule. It says here, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU Ole, miss Auburn, obviously Texas still, man, that that is a rough [00:54:00] draw. It looks like, uh, Texas, obviously their schedule isn't looking too easy either. We're going to get Texas and a and m back that rivalry along with Texas and ou.

It's just great. I love it. I, I'm not a huge fan of all the realignment stuff that's happening right now, but I have to admit it is gonna make for some great television. So anyway, the enough about that. Thank you guys for listening to the show, and until next week, I'll see y'all right back here on. The Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast.[00:55:00]