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Bear Hunting Magazine


March/April 2010 Issue

Feature Sections

  • Book Review
  • Q & A - Tips
  • Video Review
  • Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
  • News & Notes
  • Spotlight On: Alberta
  • Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
  • Bear Association News
  • Outfitters & Guides
  • Hunter Photo Gallery
  • Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy  & The Bear Mountain Gang


  • Archery Talk with Bob Robb

    Tree Stand Shooting Tips
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Bait Guns
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Must-Have Stuff for Bear Camp
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Teasing A Bear’s Sniffer
  • In Hot Pursuit with Joe McCray

    Hound Habits, The Good And The Bad




Springtime Ritual

Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island
By Ted Nugent

My American bowhunting dream hit warp speed velocity in September of 1977 as I embarked on my first out-of-state bowhunt into the wilds of the Last Frontier. Everybody dreams of hunting Alaska, and with visions of my hero Fred Bear crouching behind that big rock on the gravel beach with Ed Bilderback and arrowing the world record brown bear, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven as I landed in Anchorage.
      As a man of steadfast priorities, I have manipulated my life so as to return to Alaska many times since, and for the last six years it has become a springtime ritual to board my own Valiant Maid fantasy fishing trawler at the docks of Craig, and sail southwest into the Prince of Wales archipelago. With sons and brothers, we are the blessed ones to be the guests of the Sims family on their Eldorado scow for a week of incredible giant black bear hunting over bait. This is a simple excursion, not a commercial operation, but rather, just good friends and family living the Alaska dream. It is spectacular in every way.


Baiting on a Budget

by Gage Brock

Sitting on my tree stand I could see three black bears scattered in the brush on the next ridge 100 to 400 yards away. I was running out of light and I could not understand why they were not at my bait. I only had the weekends to hunt and the season would be ending in two weeks. I was frustrated and more than ready to come to full draw on a bear.
     Sitting in a tree stand you have a lot of time to think about what you should have done or what you could do differently. I knew there had to be a way to get mature bears to my bait during legal shooting hours. Living in Idaho, I have the opportunity to know a lot of people who bait bears, and almost everybody says they have the best way to make it happen. The problem I was having was not being able to go to the bait every day to replenish it. I needed a better system, one that would work with family, job and the price of fuel. I also needed a way to get my bait active and have it active when I was able to hunt. This article will detail what has worked for a couple of friends and myself. 


Your Color of Choice

By Mike Bleech

  Skull measurement is the most officially regarded measurement of trophy black bear status. To some hunters, though, weight is every bit as important, if not more. One of the things that makes bear hunting so interesting is that there are more trophy standards than for most big-game. Many serious black bear hunters put a lot of effort into seeking black bears with various color phases, which, if you think about it, is odd for an animal with a color in its name.
        Black bear hunters often go through phases themselves. The first, of course, is getting that first black bear, a challenging feat no matter how it is done. Black bears are incredibly smarter than deer and probably all other North American big-game with the possible exception of our other bears.
         From that point the quest very often becomes getting larger and larger bears. Then hunting black bears in various color phases may come into play at any time after getting the first black bear.


Hunting with an Old Friend

by Bob Robb

  To say that I was not still jet-lagged would be something of a little white lie. The “joy of air travel” began with a 3:30 a.m. wake-up at home, then it took a full day for me to reach Montreal where my friend and booking agent, Armando Vendittozzi, picked me up at the airport. After a late supper and five hours in the sack we were on the road for a five hour drive to the lodge. It was the third week of May and the Quebec black bear season had been open a week. As was the case all across North America, spring of 2009 did not go out quietly or early. It was still cold and wet, and the bears were just beginning to get active. If there was good news, it was that Quebec’s notorious swarms of biting black flies and mosquitoes were yet to make their presence known.
       Though I have hunted black bears hard for nearly 40 years, most of my experiences have occurred west of the Mississippi River. I had not yet experienced Quebec, and have to admit I was drawn to this location for both the excellent bear hunting and superb spring fishing for walleye and northern pike. A bear hunt is always more enjoyable for me if I can do some fishing in the morning. When we arrived at the lodge, co-owner Sylvain Danis told me this was definitely prime time. “The best walleye and pike fishing usually occur from now until mid-June,” he said. “The record here is a 52-inch pike that weighed 39 pounds, the largest walleye was 36 inches and 17 pounds, but of course those are rare.”


Insect Insecticide

Keeping Biting Bugs at Bay
By John E. Phillips & C. Ward

There is no torture test worse than having a big bear standing behind a bush only two steps within shooting range and having about 5,000 mosquitoes, black flies or other flying, biting insects chewing on your ears, nose and fingers and trying to get into your eyes. Although you want to take the bear, immediately you must get relief from those biting insects. Plenty of great products on the market will solve this problem, even in insect-infected areas. The type of insect repellent you use (clothing, spray or smoke) is as personal as the hunting gear you choose. So, here is a list of some great insect repellent products you may want to try to keep the insects at bay on your next bear hunt.

3M Products

  Ultrathon Insect Repellent – Designed for the military and tested in the insect-infested jungles of Central America, the Ultrathon Insect Repellent from 3M Solutions repels biting flies, gnats and chiggers, as well as bugs and ticks that may carry dangerous diseases, such as the West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. All Ultrathon products include Ultrathon’s Time Release Protection that slowly releases DEET to provide up to 12 hours of protection, the proven advanced 3M formula that creates a barrier that repels insects and splash and sweat resistance for consistent protection in all outdoor activities.


Strategies for the Lone Hunter

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Let’s say you want to shoot a bear but have no dogs, you can’t bait and you don’t have enough friends who will help you drive a bear from mountaintop to mountaintop. It is just little old you against Mr. Blackie. Can it be done? Certainly, if you know your quarry, its habitat and habits.
     We tend to revere our favorite game animals, giving them supernatural powers and abilities, but in truth a bear is like every other animal. It eats, sleeps and breeds like all the rest, and there are always times when it is most vulnerable. In the fall, a bear is nothing but an eating machine, especially in its northern range, where cold and snow will force the animals to enter their dens as early as mid-October. If food is scarce they will head for their dens earlier, but if food is plentiful they will stretch things out another week or two.
      “Food” in bear language is anything that is plentiful and filling. They love grain fields, corn fields, apple orchards and apiaries (a fancy word for bee hives) because these sources generally offer tons of food that is easy to acquire. The same goes for bumper crops of acorns, beechnuts, cherries or other wild fruits. Find the food and you will find bears.


Handguns and Houndsmen

By Ed Hall

A friend once said that when you take a rifle into the woods behind bear hounds, you should also carry a hacksaw, for you’ll want to saw a couple of inches off the barrel every half hour.
            I want to tell you about two friends of mine, George Beagle Jr. and Joe McCray. Both are devoted houndsmen. Both are experienced riflemen who seem to always connect, whether shooting at a buck bounding through the brush or a 200 yard woodchuck munching on alfalfa. A couple of years ago, each had said that they likely could not hit a barn with a handgun, from the inside!
       With a bit of coaxing and finally working through the fundamentals, each of them has not only developed an interest in handguns, but now each has gone into the deer woods with only a handgun, and wouldn’t again carry a cumbersome rifle chasing bear hounds. George now takes at least one doe each year with his .44 Ruger Redhawk, and Joe has shot a bear with a .44 Dan Wesson.


  A marksman is a marksman, and a handgun is just another tool which can be mastered. The idea that handguns are basically inaccurate is a fallacy, for most scoped .44 Magnum revolvers will hold four-inch groups at 100 yards from a good rest. Three of my revolvers, a Smith & Wesson .44, a Freedom Arms .454 Casull and the big Smith & Wesson X-Frame .460, will cut that in half. I have a Competitor Arms .22-250 single shot which is consistently under 1/2-inch groups at 100 yards (with a Burris 3-12x scope and a Harris bipod). Bullets leave short barrels just as stable as from rifle barrels.


The Legend of Three Toes

Big Bears Are Never Easy
By Bill Vaznis

Trophy bruins are cautious by nature. Indeed, the Beaver Dam bait had not been hit for several days in a row, but Jim knew there was a bear somewhere nearby skulking about the bush. A tuft of under fur was found at the base of a towering spruce growing just behind the bait barrel, and a partial track was located 50 yards or so away along the edge of an old logging road. Judging by that fractional print alone the bear was a big one, maybe 350 pounds on the pad which ain’t half bad for a spring bruin.
      Jim hunted over the bait site, and on two occasions he thought he heard twigs snap behind the cache of meat scraps, but then all was quiet. He remained on station for almost the entire week, knowing full well that eventually the big bruin would show himself. And when it did, Jim was confident he would send a razor-tipped arrow through his vitals.
       On the last day of our trip Jim climbed into his homemade tree stand as usual, careful not to make any clanging noises, and settled in for the evening hunt. Sunset was still several hours away, offering some relief from the humid air and hordes of biting insects that had plagued him all week. Indeed, if it were not for the headnet and liberal doses of DEET, Jim knew the bugs would have chased him back to camp long ago.
       The giant red orb finally dipped behind the tall wall of spruce and fir, sending shafts of eerie light onto the scene, and then all was quiet. Jim’s mind began to wander around a hot shower and a home-cooked meal when suddenly a soft snap behind his tree stand brought him back to reality. Was he hearing things or was that just a squirrel getting ready to retire for the day? Another snap, louder this time and right under his stand told him it was no squirrel, unless of course this particular Ontario tree rat was on steroids.


Into the High Country

By Kevin Brown

The dogs were working the big boar’s track up the steep ridge. Six hounds were sure a pleasure to listen to as each one voiced their delight in getting a nose full of bear scent.
     As Josh and I looked at each other, we each knew what the other was thinking by the way we slowly shook our heads. This could turn into a long haul. The ridge we were on led to a main ridge that was connected to the divide. It looked like the track could be pulling them into hard-to-get-to country.
      As soon as the dogs topped the ridge and drifted out of hearing, we made tracks for the truck. My wife, Bonnie, had chose to come along that day to try out her new camera. She was wondering why we took off in the opposite direction. I explained to her that we had to cover a 10 mile loop of roads just to get within hearing distance of the race. Hopefully, we could then pin point their location. The bear had moved the night before, and because of the breeding season he could go a long way before bedding down or find a willing sow.
        The 10 mile drive took one and a half hours, but we finally reached the point where we guessed the dogs would be. The tracking box let us know that we should be within hearing range.



Learning from Mistakes

By Eric Forsyth

The more you hunt for bears the more opportunities you have to make mistakes. Learning from them and gaining more knowledge through the things you observe while afield will help make you a better bear hunter.

   The bear must have been 10 feet tall while standing on its hind legs and reaching for the bucket that was dangling on the tree branch. He took turns swiping at the pail with both front paws in an attempt to knock it to the ground. Only 10 yards away, my heart pounding and hands shaking, I slowly and quietly raised my bow. I took a deep breath as I pulled back, locking both cams into place. Then I aimed carefully through my peep site just behind the right front shoulder, wanting to pierce both lungs. Just as I was about to release… beep, beep, beep. I hit the snooze button and laid in bed for a few more minutes. Wow, dreaming of bear hunting only means one thing; the season is just around the corner!
      My wife says I am obsessed. She’s probably right. Don’t we all, who are married, appreciate the opinions of our wives about our passion for hunting? I can envision all of you smiling as you remember your wife’s outlook on the subject, or not.
     I elected to set up three baits for the season, and I kept a detailed log for each station. For this story, I am going to refer to only one bait station, as this particular bait had the largest bear visiting it.