Jeffrey Cooper.

Jeffrey Cooper.

Hunting tragedy

A 59-year-old bear hunter was shot and killed on the Tahtsa Reach Forest Service Road last Monday, May 26.

A 59-year-old bear hunter was shot and killed on the Tahtsa Reach Forest Service Road last Monday, May 26.

Police received a report of the shooting at 3:15 p.m. Monday and found a deceased man near the Huckleberry Mine Road 112 km south of Houston, said RCMP Sgt. Stephen Rose.

The man, Jeffery Cooper from Toutle, Washington, was bear hunting with two guides when he was shot. Police would not confirm who shot Cooper except to say it was another individual in his hunting party.

Sargent Rose said the hunters shot a grizzly on Sunday, May 25, but the bear was not killed.  Hunters went back Monday, found the injured grizzly and shot it again.

In a newspaper story published May 29 by The Daily News of Longview, Washington, U.S.A., the family described the circumstances of the accident.

The story accounts the following:

“The angry bear charged out of the brush. Cooper and the two guides, reacting instantly, all fired and dropped the bear. Cooper was standing in front of one of the guides, and a bullet struck and killed him, according to his family.

Cooper had been in the Burns Lake area last fall but failed to bag a bear, said Shirley, Cooper’s wife of 27 years. So he returned May 23 — his 59 birthday — to try again.

Shirley said her husband was an avid outdoorsman. “It was his passion. He just loved being out in the woods. He hiked. He hunted. He fished,'” she said.

The Coopers are members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Castle Rock.

“He was a wonderful person. He would help anyone. He was a good Christian,” Shirley said, adding that he raised her two children, now grown, as his own.

One of them, Josh King, said his father had a lifelong dream to bag a grizzly.

“He loved to hunt, and that was a great challenge,” he said, adding that his father was going to have a rug made of the bear hide, and his family may still act on those wishes.

Tim Haderly, a longtime friend of Cooper said it’s a tragic loss.

“The one saving grace is that he went doing something he loved,” Haderly said.  “He was a guy who lived life to the fullest.”

The shooting remains under investigation by Houston RCMP, North District Major Crime Unit, North District Forensic Identification Unit and the BC Conservation Service.