Man Bear Pig
To steal a line from Momma Gump, hunting is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. And if that’s true for hunters, it’s even truer for hunting guides.
When Neil Ray of Giant Sequoia Guide Service called a few months back and offered me a bear hunt this November, the only reply I could think of at the time was, “What dates to do you have?” But in the months leading up to the hunt, I’d taken up hunting with a compound bow to enhance my hunting options and season length. Bruce Marshall and some other friends encouraged me to try bow hunting with Neil. Neil took the request in stride, instructing me to bring both. We’d see if we could get within bow range; if not, I could use the rifle. Well, one thing led to another and by the time November rolled around, I was scheduled for a bow/rifle bear/pig combo hunt.
On the drive up Thursday from San Diego, I picked up a new Patterdale terrier Neil had bought from a breeder in Riverside. Neil already has a 6 month old Jagd terrier named Bolt, who is coming along nicely as a tracker/retriever. Patterdales have a slightly different set of talents that he hopes will complement Bolt’s. Neil met me at my hotel in Porterville to pick up the pup and give me a brief overview of possibilities for the weekend’s hunt.
From our rendezvous point on Friday morning, we began the drive up into the mountains to look for sign. Neil had received numerous reports of bears destroying property in and around Springville, which is his base of operations. Some of the reports were of very large bears, which seemed promising from our point of view. The day broke clear and cool, perfect for a morning hike.