January/February 2013 Issue
- Book Review
- Q & A - Tips
- Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
- Spotlight On: Saskatchewan
- News & Notes
- Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
- Bear Association News
- Outfitters & Guides
- Hunter Photo Gallery
- Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy & The BMG
In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear
What Really Makes a Dog a Good Dog?
Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer
Muzzleloading with Al Raychard
Handguns for Bear with Dr. George E. Dvorchak, Jr.
One Gun for Bear, Deer & Boars?
Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava
Is Scent Control Smoke and Mirrors?
Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla
Successful Treestand Placement – Part II
Boo Boo, Scar & A Camp Record
By Jerry Lambert
Spruce, poplar, pine and rock make up a good portion of the landscape that surrounded my two baited treestands in the northern wilderness of Ontario, Canada. The locals simply refer to the area as “the bush” but my map names the remote region as Thunder Bay. We are located a couple hundred miles north of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee, the greatest of the great lakes, Lake Superior.
Northern Canada can be a harsh environment and yet I will sit all alone in this thick terrain which provides very, very limited visibility in my quest for black bear. Loneliness, boredom, hopeful anticipation and Smoke Jansen are virtually my only companions. Smoke is the main character of a western novel that I occasionally read to pass time.
I am part of a group of nine hunters who ventured north from southern Michigan in search of a wary black bear. My brothers, Jeff and Joe, are also partaking in the hunt as are six others who are regular customers at Jeff’s pro-shop, Indian Creek Archery.
Our outfitter is Ron Smith, owner of The Bear’s Den, and I am half convinced that Ron is half bear himself. His hair and beard are jet black and he is as moody and ornery as any of the bruins that we are pursuing. The agile outfitter glides through the trees when approaching baits or tracking wounded prey with his redbone hound, Scar.
Speed Hunting – Idaho Style
By Bernie Barringer
If being really good at what you do means you can get results fast, then what I experienced in Idaho must have been some kind of a world record of being good at what you do. It happened with Travis Reggear, known as one of the best dog men in the western United States, who consistently puts people on bears, cougars and bobcats with remarkable regularity.
I have had quite a bit of experience bear hunting but I had never been on a hunt with bear hounds. I was told by Bear Hunting Magazine publisher, Jeff Folsom, when I accepted the job as Managing Editor that I needed to get experience in the areas of bear hunting that I had never done before. One of those was bear hunting with hounds. So I called up Travis, knowing that he had a reputation for getting it done.
Travis has been operating Reggear Outfitters for 14 years. He has what are commonly thought to be one of the best packs of bear hounds anywhere. Every year he has many calls from people wanting to buy some of his hounds to improve their bloodlines but he will have none of it. The dogs are not for sale. He will tell you with all seriousness that you will never hunt behind a finer pack of dogs and he means it. Like they say, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”
Now I have quite a bit of experience with coon hounds so I wasn’t going in completely blind regarding hunting behind hounds; I can recognize good dogs when I see them. I can distinguish well-trained, disciplined dogs from ones that disappoint you on a regular basis. Travis is firm and very demanding of his hounds and they do not let him down.
Three Essentails to Success
By Steve Sorensen
“Honey, I just saw a bear!” Dick whispered to his wife over the cell phone. It was nearly quitting time for Audrey, who was bowhunting deer from a treestand.
“I saw one too,” Audrey whispered back through a broad smile, “and I shot it!” Audrey was hunting in New York’s Chautauqua County, where archery bear season overlaps with archery deer season.
Shooting a bear while archery hunting for deer can be serendipitous, but usually it is more than an incidental harvest. If you’re going to connect when a bear shows up at your deer stand, certain things must happen.
Food is an important factor where the majority of bears are taken. When hunting over bait, two conditions are present. First, the bait is in a specific location. Second, multiple bears are habituated to it. When hunting deer, neither condition exists.
Deer hunters place stands in apple orchards and hardwood groves of oak and beech. Often they hunt food plots and sometimes farm crops. They often set up along deer trails to and from these food sources. But none of these situations will put a bear in front of you in a relaxed state, focused on filling his belly, while the hunter contemplates the ideal shot opportunity.
Remember, in the fall of the year bears are in a feeding mode, needing to pack away the calories to sustain themselves for their long winter naps. They’re searching for a variety of foods. If there is no food in the area, bears simply won’t show up. You will never shoot a bear that is not there.
Spot & Stalk
By Gary Lewis
It was a chance meeting in 1988, in a sporting goods store on the Oregon coast when Lee Van Tassell met John A. Johnson, author of the Oregon Hunting Guide. Van Tassell had settled in Oregon and had begun to hunt bears, although with little success.
When he met Johnson, a little of the veteran hunter’s confidence rubbed off. “He told me, ‘You have to go out and spot them.’ In those days there was more logging and more visibility. I think he gave me the confidence to get back out there and get my first bear,” said Lee.
Van Tassell had hunted baboons, jackals and hyenas on a family friend’s farm when he lived in South Africa, he had hunted coyotes in Arizona, but spot-and-stalk black bear hunts in the rainforest that is the Oregon coast was a new challenge.
“Today, the logging practices have changed and a hunter has less visibility,” Van Tassell said. “You have to look for the pockets that hold them here and there.”
“The mistake I made in the beginning was not staying in one place. Once I realized how quick the scenario can change, I began to stay put. They pop up. Where there was nothing, now there’s a bear.” Van Tassell began to invest more time in scouting and, with a new confidence, he began to see bears.
Cartridge and Bullet Selection
By Ed Hall
It was easier in the old days. We loaded our .30-30 with either 150 or 170-grain bullets, and it didn’t matter much which bullet weight we chose or what brand of ammunition. The .30-30’s bullet construction and its mild muzzle velocity were perfectly balanced and worked perfectly over our wide range of game, from large bear to small antelope, mushrooming readily, but never, ever so much energy to result in jacket/core separation and bullet failure, regardless of how tough a big bear’s shoulder bone.
That still holds pretty well true for the majority of our deer cartridges should we want to use them for bear, and I have made some specific suggestions farther down. I know of bears killed with one shot from a .243, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Moderate velocities up to maybe 2,700 fps allow for a conventional deer bullet to pretty well hold together and penetrate a black bear’s shoulder, especially choosing the heavier of the optional bullets for any given deer cartridge. As an example, let’s look at the .270 Winchester. With 130-grain bullets, bear shoulders might be a bit iffy, but a 150 will be starting slower and have more penetrating momentum, so it is likely okay. The same goes for our 7mm-08, but bullets heavier than 140-grain are difficult to find. Many a bear has fallen to a 200-grain bullet in the .35 Remington.
My first concern in considering a “deer rifle” for bear is having too much velocity for a tough bear’s shoulder. Sure, get a broadside shot to get behind the shoulder, and even the .243 is a sure kill.
Hound Hunting East & West
By Stephen D. Carpenteri
Hound hunting is one of America’s oldest, yet most misunderstood techniques for taking trophy-sized bears. Even in Colonial times, hounds were routinely used to pursue bears, foxes, bobcats, wolves, deer and other fast-moving, wide-ranging animals. Today, hounds are still used for bears, predators and even deer, but most modern hunters have little knowledge of the sport, not even in the East, where hound hunting has been legal and enthusiastically practiced since the 1600s.
In its simplest form, hound hunting consists of finding a bear track, putting the hounds on the track and waiting for the dogs to bring the bear to “tree,” which generally means a complete stop regardless of cover types, but usually means the bear climbs onto a large pile of rocks or into a tall tree. When a bear decides to tree, it’s not because it is afraid of the hounds, the bear is merely tired of running (perhaps on a stomach full of corn, apples or grain) and needs a rest. Except for the smallest of cubs, no dog or pack of dogs can take down a full-grown bear, and those that try end up paying a terrible price. Hounds are what the name implies, they hound and harass the bear until it trees. They are not attack dogs or killer dogs, and even if there were such a thing, the bear is likely to win. Never having been to an illicit “bear and dog” fight (which I know has occurred and still goes on in this country) I can’t say for sure how an equally matched, one-on-one confrontation would end, but from what I have seen in the legal hunting world, my money would be on the bear.
Broadheads for Bear
By Ray Barr
I could not help but overhear the conversation. Two guys standing in the local archery shop, each with a package of broadheads in their hands, insisting that their opinion of the best broadhead was right and the other was wrong.
I’ll bet you can guess which broadhead was in the hands of one guy…yes, an expandable that opens up to a 1 1/2-inch cut. We’ll call him “Bob” and the other fellow we will call “Bill.” Bill was making some very valid points about what he saw as the negative side of mechanical/expandable broadheads.
Bill was adamant that the most important factor in recovering a bear shot with an arrow was an exit wound. Bears have a lot of fat and thick fur, which can make for a very difficult blood trail if you do not have an exit wound low on the bear’s body to allow plenty of blood to escape the body cavity. Bill was rightly contending that you should maximize your blood trail in order to increase the odds of finding your bear.
“Mechanical broadheads,” Bill stated, “lose so much of their kinetic energy in opening the blades that a pass-through is less likely. A pass through is the most important factor in finding your bear.” Right again Bill.
But here is where Bob played his trump card. “My bow is shooting 300 feet per second,” he said. “I have plenty of kinetic energy to open those wide blades, cut a wide furrow, and still drive that arrow all the way through the bear.”
So, who is ultimately right in this issue? The debate rages on. Some bear hunting outfitters won’t allow expandable broadheads in their camp. They have had many bad experiences with them. Mechanical broadheads are not legal in some states. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Let me explain why.
The 107 Hour Wait
By Richard P. Smith
I bagged my largest Michigan black bear in October. This was thanks to a lot of help from some good friends and more than 100 hours of sitting in treestands and ground blinds during 21 days of hunting over bait. I only put in about 12 hours at the stand where I eventually shot the big bear. The adult male I tagged had a live weight of 360 pounds and a dressed weight of 315 pounds.
My hunt started on September 15th with guide Seth Loyd from Laurium. Since I had never taken a black bear with a crossbow, my objective when the hunt began, was to collect an adult male with an arrow from my crossbow. When that didn’t happen, I switched to my .50 caliber muzzleloader to increase my chances of success, and that’s what I ended up shooting the bear with.
I hunted two different baits during the first five days. Seth had been maintaining them and he had trail camera photos of adult bruins that had been visiting both of them. Unfortunately, those bears didn’t show up while I was there. I did see two different adult females that I passed up and a sow with two cubs. Besides bears, I saw a wolf, coyotes and some huge raccoons.
Then I got an invitation from Troy Westcott, who operates Lac La Belle Lodge with his wife, Cathy, to hunt one of their baits. For the past 10 years, the Westcotts had offered guided bear hunts out of the lodge, but after the fall of 2010, they decided to get out of the guiding business. The bear baits Troy put out were now for family and friends only.