Black Bear Hunting with the Springfield Model 2020 Waypoint
January 9th, 2023
6 minute read
Hunting is often a passed-down tradition we learn from our parents in our youth; a rite of passage, or sorts. The process involves learning the skills of field-dressing, safe firearm handling, tracking game, and pulling it all together to make yourself a capable hunter. If this seasonal practice was not a part of your upbringing, then maybe you fell into it via a group of friends in adulthood. You maybe started small with bird hunting, and gradually challenged yourself with more difficult and larger game animals like whitetail deer or even predators like coyotes.
What about more dangerous game? These animals are the apex predator in the woods, whether you have a firearm or not. A North American mammal that deserves our respect is the bear, especially if one feels threatened or you find yourself alone in their domain and facing one: no cell phone reception, no friends, no back-up.
To be successful at hunting bears, you not only need to be a seasoned hunter and know what you’re doing, but also need quality tools at your disposal. This entails good field-dressing knives, proper optics, good ammunition, effective tactics, skilled pre-scouting your hunting area, and a proper firearm or method for harvest.
That is where the Springfield Armory Waypoint rifle comes in. Being a seasoned Minnesota black bear hunter, I have always been aware of the risk-to-reward ratio for hunting these large mammals. In previous years, I deployed different firearms, from an M1 Garand in .30-06 as well as basic bolt-action rifles.
All of them were serviceable for the task of black bear hunting, but I always desired something more. Some were too heavy, others were not modern enough for the accessories I wanted to use, and one rifle I attempted to use had such poor accuracy that it never left my house. So, when I saw the Springfield Armory Waypoint, I realized it appeared to be a well-crafted rifle that could address a lot of my desires for “something more.”
Laying the Foundation
Aside from selecting good tools for the task at hand — like selecting the Springfield Armory Waypoint as my hunting rifle — there is a lot of pre-season preparation involved in successful black bear hunting. This runs the gamut of taking an inventory of available tree stands, ensuring trail cameras are functioning, making sure you have enough batteries plus memory cards available for them, and more.
A lot of this preparation is simple and not that burdensome, but you must be intentional when completing your checklist. Do you have tree stands available? Are they safe? Do you have tree climbers? When it comes to your trail cameras, are they working properly? Do you have new batteries? Memory cards that are cleared? If you are intentional with the little things your hunt will go a lot better and likely have a much higher success rate.
To prep for my Minnesota black bear hunt, I did everything previously mentioned. I hung a sound tree stand roughly six feet high in a pine tree. It was firm, rigid and safe. I tuned up my trail cameras in tip-top shape so I could have a good grasp of what bears may (or may not) be visiting the area.
When the opening day came, I journeyed to me secret spot in the Northern forests of Minnesota. When I checked the photos on my trail camera, there were several healthy adult bears coming in during daylight hours; a great sign. So, I parked my Tacoma several hundred yards away, grabbed my Waypoint, my hunting pack, and scurried into my tree stand.
In My Sights
Within 20 minutes of my “black bear season starting,” I could see a large bruin lumbering through the undergrowth 100 yards away headed towards me. It was at this point the Springfield Armory Waypoint slowly began to earn its keep on this hunt.
I cautiously flicked off the safety on my rifle; no audible sound whatsoever. Then, I raised my rifle and watched this rotund black bear sojourn closer, meandering in and out of brush. I never lowered the Waypoint and maintained my gaze through the scope continually observing his movements. I held the rifle off-hand for three-plus minutes, awaiting my opportunity and thankfully not tiring; something that would have occurred with a heavier rifle.
Once the bear cleared the brush, it briskly began to walk through the area with no sign of stopping. I had already proven the accuracy of my Waypoint to be less than 0.70” at 100 yards, and I would need that surgical precision now. Before the bear disappeared into the lush foliage as quickly as he had appeared, I viewed the bear through my Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm scope and executed a fast, but confident shot for his vitals — specifically, the heart.
With a gentle trigger pull on the Waypoint’s TriggerTech trigger, a soft clap happened as my suppressed 6.5 Creedmoor made the burly black bear crumple to the ground. Being able to silence my shot with my Dead Air Silencers Nomad-30 suppressor allowed for better awareness after the shot and reduced recoil. This Minnesota black bear was swiftly and humanely harvested. He did not run and did not suffer.
Then, came the rewarding work of taking photos to share with family and phone calls to loved ones to share the good news. This hunt seemed like a lot of good luck, but that is merely when opportunity meets preparation. Or, more simply, when the correct tools are chosen for the job.
The Waypoint’s tactile manual safety could be turned on and off without pinging my location to the game I was hunting. Its carbon fiber sleeved barrel coupled with a feathery-light stock allowed me to maintain an off-hand, ready position for what seemed like an eternity.
Its accuracy was everything I needed to be a good steward and humanely down an apex predator in one swift shot: for his sake and mine. Also, the modern design of a threaded barrel allowed me to suppress the rifle for reduced recoil, better awareness post-shot, and simply greater enjoyment while hunting. Other small, but not forgotten features like QD cups for a sling, removeable magazines, a full Picatinny rail for optics, and an attractive yet practical camouflage pattern was all valuable, too.
The Springfield Armory Waypoint is a flat-out sexy rifle around the water cooler (or firing line), but the only thing that exceeds it sultry aesthetic is its practicality. For the modern hunter, it is the 21st century version of what a hunting rifle should be. No gimmicks, no unnecessary fluff. Simply, it’s a surgically accurate rifle that you can modify to your task at hand. It is the right tool for the job.
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