Bear season was short this year. It opened Friday and I closed it for me on Saturday. Friday was kind of a mess, which is pretty normal. We got out a bit late, the wind was rolling hard, one of my buddies got seperated from us which split our pack up a bit, I fell and mashed my knee on a rock... all in all another wonderful hunt in the Chiricahuas. The dogs did hit on a ringtail cat that day. Unfortunately it went into a log instead of up a tree. Via con dios. That evening after we all got back I got a call on a lion sighting right near my house. We thought about packing up there, but it was late, we were tired and it was raining. We were adding another hunter to the party on Saturday, so me and my one friend would take the lion strike dog and a couple other hounds, check out the lion track in the morning and hit the south side of a particular canyon, while the other 2 started on the north end of that part of the range. We got to the sighting around 4am and let the strike dog out. We didn't even unload the others or the horses. He didn't hit, so we went on. We started riding in when the sun was about 30 minutes up. We figured the other two were about an hour ahead of us, we'd meet up at a tank where the canyon's connected and continue up together. About 30 minutes later the sky opened up and the wind started to roll. Visibility was about 75 yards. We hunked under a tree with the dogs and waited it out. Storms usually roll quickly out here. It slowed and we pressed on, then it opened again. A couple glass hunters were leaving, "Rained out". Which was probably good for them, because they seemed unprepared if they would have gotten something. We sat for a bit and ate some burritos cogitating on the situation. The rain had wiped out any scent from the night before by then and the day was looking poor. But we were already out there and cold and wet, so might as well keep going. We rode up to the tank and no sign of the other 2. We thought they might have hit early and after screwing around a bit, we headed up that canyon to maybe meet them. About a mile up the canyon a dog struck hard and 2 hoonored. We crashed through, up the bottom at a high trot, when possible, for about 5 miles. My buddy spotted a bear running up a slide on the wall face about 2000ft up. The dogs were still hitting and heading north. The bear was near the rim, but appeared to be heading south. The dogs ran another 10 minutes or so north, then up the canyon wall and right in line with the bear. It was near perfect, except for one out. The bear had notch it could pass up and over, but if it stayed just off the rim it would get forced down because the face got completely vertical. Another 5 miles at high trot back down the canyon and about 4 miles, you could smell the bear. No tracks in the creek, but we weren't stopping to look and knew it was down. Another mile and we heard a little ground fighting and I saw the bear tree. The perfect tree too. About 30 yards off the creek. We puddled around a bit. My buddy covered while I snapped a few pictures, then I covered while he took some and a little video. A small bear, but a nice brown back. It scurried up a bit more and gave a nice center chest shot. I figured what the hell and knocked it. Dead before it hit the ground and that was only about 20 ft. The dogs were very happy and so were we. It was an old sow. Very old sow. At least in her teens, but she'll eat. Weight was around the 200lb mark. Maybe a bit under. Teeth were pretty worn. Spent the next hour or so, skinning and gutting. It was still pretty cool and we figured with the skin off we could get the meat our without it spoiling. One thing we found when we opened her up was a huge cancer. About the size of a man's head. Attached right above where the heart used to be and the top of the lungs. That old girl probably wouldn't have made it through this winter. The other glands looked right and no worries on the meat. We loaded up the package and it took about an hour and a half to walk out to the truck. That's why I said those glass hunters were unprepared. Just looking at their outfit, they had rifles, binos and small daypacks. They'd have a rough time getting out a small bear, let alone a big one. If it took us an hour and a half with horses carrying the load, imagine what it would take humping a couple hundred extra pounds. They didn't go in as far of course, but still. We dropped the meat off with my buddy's dad for butchering and took to working on the hide. Got it fleshed and the first salt on by 7pm. The other two had no luck and had pulled out. They got caught in the storm when in a saddle and no protection from the rain. On top of that the one guy didn't bring rain gear. *doh* So instead of hypothermia, they packed out. In the end, a small bear, but this will be a year of small bears. The rain we had this year was good, but it was late and the berries didn't fully develop. The grass is large, but that doesn't make big bears. They need the sugar. Manzanita and juniper here. Of course there's going to be some big one's in there. There always is, but I bet most come in small this year. As for the gun, 10mm g29 with a 180gr XTP. No recovery, but the bullet did a strange thing. It kind of arced through the chest for about 4" then back out. Best we could figure was the pressure in the chest cavity because of the cancer and the angle. Still bew out the heart and ruptured the front of the lungs. Pictures to follow Wanna kill these ads? We can help!