Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Break in Bear pt.2

Some days later....

I made a few water runs before heading to the trapper cabin and Jeffs place.
It is a long bumpy ride, that really tuckers you out. I secured Honeydew, (my little old dog), into her milk crate and headed off to Jeff's.
Along the way I inventoried the berry crop. Tons of cranberries and almost as many blueberries (almost ready). There is also a lot of red currants, that ARE ready.
I was about 1/8 mile from Jeffs, when Uljas alerted at the bottom of a nasty hill. I was starting to head down the hill when I heard Uljas. The hill isn't very big, but it is rather steep. I couldn't stop there, as my brakes probably wouldn't hold. I couldn't back up at that point either. I proceeded slowly to the bottom of the hill, hoping that a brown bear wasn't there waiting. I shut off the ATV and sat there a moment. Uljas ran back to the ATV, and did his "head toss" routine, which let me know something was up there ahead on the trail.
I had been playing a game of cat and mouse with that black bear, that had been repeatedly breaking into Jesses' cabin, tearing things up and destroying his stock of food. Nothing could keep the bear out, as it simply tore down whatever wall it wanted, to gain entry. It made leaving my cabin a bit stessful to say the least. And with a bear being so close to Jeff's place I had an inkling that it was the problem bear.
I took my rifle and slowly walked ahead. Rifle at the ready, and watching Uljas' actions. I walked a short distance around a bend in the trail and and came face to face with a really good looking black bear. Uljas advances and it tree's almost immediately...Now.. what do I do?... Do I pass it by, and hope it's not the criminal bear?.. It is near Jeffs cabin, and a black bear was seen in the yard at the Trappers cabin a few day's before. (Steve had come up for a few day's to get away from work).
It was time to end the problem and put the "break in", problem to rest. I chambered a round in Mathilda (my SKS) and approached the tree. Not too close in case it decided to come back down.
I had removed the aimpoint sight, just that morning as the mount was a bit loose. I leveled the little carbine and fired two rounds. The bear dropped, twitched a few times and lay still.
Now what the hell did I go and do that for!!! Now I gotta spend the rest of the day dressing and skinning a stinkin bear!!!... :)
Well.. to compound problems I had brought Honeydew and no hunting equipment.. knives etc.
After making sure the bear was dead, I took it by the front paws.. (an interesting experience), and drug it out to the trail. It slid easier than I was expecting. I figure it weighed about 225-250 live weight... just a really big deer!... After running up the trail to check on Jeffs cabin I raced back home and grabbed my game bags, knives and tarps...
I hurried back to the bear, and in about three hours I had the bear skun out and quartered.. actually I fifthed it......??
While I was dressing it out Uljas decided he wanted some bear meat and tore a hole in the BOTTOM, of one of my game bags!!! Durn dog!! The meat got a bit dirty, but I'd have to reclean it later.
I stopped on a back section of the big bog and deposited the entrails away from any cabins.
On the way back home I spotted a black object in the trail, that I first thought was Uljas looking back at me.. Except it was standing up and Uljas was behind me! Another black bear! You gotta be kidding me! It dropped and ran off.
I get home and began the task of hanging the meat. I took the stuff that got dirty down to the creek and washed it, and the tarps. I hung the game bags on a rope between two trees about 20 yards from the front door. Then went to work on getting the skull out of the hide. That took awhile as I've never done it before. Let me tell ya. I like skinning something hanging from a rafter a lot better than lying on the ground!
I then started salting down the hide. I put tarps under it and layed it on the big tool crib, which has a sloped lid. With that done I changed clothes and put some of the scraps and gunshot meat on to cook to put in with the dogfood. No sense in letting it go to waste.
I then cooked up some potato's and the piece of backstrap I cut out. I tried some of the neck meat... umm.. needs canning!!
Long about 8:30 Uljas alerted... Just as I figured. All the nice smells are calling in the rest of my furry buddies.. Uljas was lying in the open doorway. I had a mosquito coil lit to keep the skeeters out.
I think it was gonna be a long night. And I won't be out of here until monday...
Tomorrow I'd have to use my remaining bleach and sanitize the place to kill as many of the odors as possible...
The next day, I scrubbed and tended the meat... I made calls trying to secure a boat ride out, so that I could get the meat into a friends freezer. That would give me the time to can the bear at a more relaxed pace...
Unfortunately no boats where scheduled to come up this way. The charter boats where heading down river to the Deschka, which was where the salmon where at. None could, or would be spared to come get me and salvage all the heat I had just harvested!
Now I was in a real mess, and the stress was building. I made a few more calls, but resisted the urge to beg....
After it became apparent I was going to have to rely upon myself, I had a descicion to make.. Float to town in my zodiac (without any oars, as one had broken, from old age, and the other was in town, while I was looking for a mate for it...).. or... I could try and can the bear up here...
It was getting late in the day.. I poured myself a rather stiff drink from my meager stock of liquid courage and resolved to tackle the job right here.. After all.. this was what I was up here for wasn't it? To live off the land as much as possible, and to be as self sufficient as I could be!

I became determined to solve my issue here. I had one of my pressure canners and had been lugging up jars and lids randomly over the past few years. But did I have enough to do the job! Propane was another issue. I could always borrow some from Jesse I guess.
I inventoried my jars and lids and determined that I had enough to get the job done. I began by heating water to wash and sterilize as many jars as possible, to get me started. I assembled my big propane stove, and began to cut meat into stew sized chunks. I par cooked the meat before canning to give myself some breathing room, as the temps where quite mild and I was under the gun to get this done before the meat went bad.
I cooked and canned for three day's straight. Washing jars as needed, and tending both the remaining meat, and the hide, which was still hung lying on the lid of the tool crib. I salted the hide down well and let the fluids drain into a tarp and a bucket.
I was concerned this whole time, of drawing more bears... bigger badder bears... into the area. I slept with the door open and the coils lit. My faithful Uljas slept on the top step, raising his head evey so often, testing the air and listening. I lay there in my bunk looking at him, with the utmost admiration. He guards the homefront so well. I knew I could trust him to always be on guard.
The canning was going well, but I knew I was running out of time. I cut the ribs into smaller sections, put them in a pail with a tight fitting lid and tied it to a log in the creek. The water is always quite cold, and I knew it would give me a few extra days.
I ended up eating the ribs nightly until they where gone..
At the end of the third day all that remained was a few ribs in the creek, and the bones to get rid of. Which I hauled and dumped a mile away.
I was feeling quite proud of myself, looking at all those jars of meat for winter.
The dogs and I have been eating well this week! Although the air did get a bit punget as we lay down at night adjusting to our new wild diet...
With the meat secured for winter, our belly's full of bear, and the excess bones hauled away, all I had to do was keep the hide from going bad. Using my remaining salt, liberally, I kept it salted and draining until I felt it had cured enough. The hair wasn't slipping, and it didn't smell like it was rotting. I left it lying up draining, with a tarp canopy over it, as it was raining most every day.
When we finally could leave, I'd roll it up, bag it and haul it out......