Weak magazine spring
The weak magazine spring does not have the strength to push the cartridge high enough into the chamber.

A Bear That is a Scout Training Aide

On my first Viam Fec scout I had the fortune to meet a black bear that was busy working a hunters bait station.  Apples and a salt block had been placed on a stump and the bear had been digging there when I came into the area unexpectedly from a nearby gully.

Upon hearing my approach, the bear ran the opposite direction from me (to the east) into the forest. Then out of curiosity the bear circled back around to the south in order to be downwind of me.  I knew this because I heard an occasional snapping twig and from experience know what to listen for.  I didn’t have to see the bear to know he was there, perhaps 75 yards into the dense underbrush.

This a bear will sometimes do since, as at this baiting station, bears have often learned to associate people with providing food for them.  The bears are curious and want to know more about this person who has come into his domain. In addition, the bear is keeping tabs on your position, perhaps thinking knowing where you are is better than not knowing where you are in case you pose a threat.

Let me first clearly state I am in no way afraid of black bears.  In fact, I come upon black bears probably a dozen or more times each year.  And the bears run.  Mother bears with cubs may pace back and forth making huffing sounds but all that needs doing is to back away and give the bear family a wide berth.

An occasional bear that has been hand fed by locals will stand its ground and observe me out of curiosity.  These are perhaps the most dangerous of bears (if you are dumb enough to feed them) but, again, all that is needed to stay safe is to give the bear a wide berth and let him go about his business.

That being said, I have had more than one person relate to me how often they have been attacked by black bears, how they have a favorite caliber of rifle and that they have had to kill several bears that were attacking them.

I call bullshit.

Doesn’t happen.

Because if that were the case then these mountains would be littered with the bones of many a hiker (tens of thousands of hikers every year visit these mountains), taken down by black bears.

What these dummies are doing is simply killing bears that would leave them alone if the man would leave them alone. After all, it makes a good story and the teller wants everyone to believe he some sort of manly man, The Bear Killer.

“A man is rich in proportion to that which he can afford (or is smart enough) to leave alone.”

OK, now we have the facts straight.

An Important Lesson that Bears Repeating

Nevertheless, since I had a rifle in my hand at the time I may as well chamber a round.  No fear here.  Just prudence.  And, after all, I am on a training scout here.  Pretend that the bear is an opponent bent upon ambushing me.

I pull the rifle bolt backward and forward as I have done a thousand times with this rifle. The cartridge gets stuck and the rifle bolt is only partway closed. Neither cartridge nor bolt will move forward.  I apply more pressure.  No go.

What the…?

The magazine spring has lost its strength. It does not push the round up high enough for the bolt to push a cartridge into the rifle chamber.

I can always forgo the 10-round magazine and do it one cartridge at a time by hand, so the rifle is not entirely rendered into merely a 7-pound club.

Here is my point: I have carried that very same loaded magazine probably half a dozen times with no problems. So I assumed when I left for this scout the magazine would be in working order. I didn’t check it, I simply popped the magazine into the rifle and went on my way.

Such assumptions can turn into deadly mistakes. This I will rectify.

Lessons Learned

  • Check the function of ALL magazines before going on a scout, each and every time.