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Mar/Apr 2011

Feature Sections

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


  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    Hound Hunting can be Hard Hunting
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Keep Your Powder Dry
  • Handguns for Bear with Max Prasac

    Bullet Choices for Bear Hunting
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Controlling Insects on a Bear Hunt
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Your New Rifle - Your Way
  • Archery Talk with Bob Robb

    How Much "Juice" Do You Need



Sunrise Grizzly

By Hugh Bevan
   "This is a dangerous situation," I thought to myself. My friend, Keith, and I were lying behind a rock just 40 short yards downwind of a big Alaskan brown bear. The bad news was the bear was lying down too, and all I could make out was the steam of his breath rising above the beach grass in the early morning sun. We were too close for any degree of comfort.
   Keith and I were hunting coastal grizzly bears near the fishing town of Sitka. Keith wanted to collect a brown bear and I had agreed to back him u
on the hunt. But now, as we lay on the wet ground wondering what to do next, I was hoping we could just get a clean shot and stay out of trouble.
   The brown bears of Southeast Alaska may be the most unique population of bears in North America. A study in 1998 on bear DNA by the University of Alaska revealed that the Southeast Alaska brown bear's closest relative is the polar bear and they have lived in this area for more than 35,000 years.



Learning to Hunt Alone

By Judy Black

I have always had a phobia of bears from reading too much about bear attacks. I love to hunt them, have the utmost respect for them, but I can admire them from 20 yards and after that, panic sets in.
  In the spring of 2005 I hunted black bears in Alberta and either my guide or my husband, Scott, sat in a stand close by. Two years later I hunted in Saskatchewan and harvested a record book, color phase black bear with my guide in a stand above me. These hunts are memorable but someone was with me and not once did I panic when the bear came close. But I always knew that someday a "babysitting" service would not be an option and I needed to be ready when it happened.
   We booked a hunt with Elaine Lake Outfitters for May. As the time drew closer, I became more anxious as we did not even ask if someone was willing to sit with me. It started to keep me up at night and I thought, "This is silly," but I needed to hear from someone else that I was going to be okay. I decided to ask the one person that had become my mentor and inspiration since I got my bow, Vicki Cianciarulo from Archers Choice.



River Bottom Bruins

By W.P. Williamson

    Slipping the safety off my .308 Norma Magnum rifle, I eased into shooting position and took a rock solid rest on the huge boulder I was laying across. I sighted the big boar, a dark cinnamon colored phase black bear, in my scope, picked my spot and then lightly squeezed the hair trigger. At the blast of the big magnum the 180-grain Nosler partition bullet struck true and at 80 meters the bear was nearly cleaned right off his feet. Flipping around in a half circle and now facing down hill, he recovered quickly from the staggering energy delivered by that rifle caliber, running flat out. His chosen escape path to safety brought the mortally wounded boar straight at me, as I fumbled to reload and keep an eye on the fast approaching bear. He must have seen me and started to swerve to his right, at some 40 meters I placed the crosshairs right on the big snout of the fleeing boar. Again the magnum roared and the bear suddenly threw his four legs out to his sides, in mid-stride, totally lifeless, flipping end for end down the very steep, grassy slope, towards the Pelly River (in the Yukon).



Release the Hounds

by Larry Osmer

After many years of hunting bears throughout North America it was time for Blaine Anthony to finally hunt with hounds. With close to 14 years of bear hunting experience and many television shows under his belt, Blaine had never hunted with hounds before. He will be the first to tell you he supports the method in its entirety but did not feel it was right for him. Blaine's current project includes The Bear Whisperer TV show which portrays every aspect of bear hunting along with conservation and has been many years in the making. A hound hunt would be the final piece and what great piece it would turn out to be. We had several discussions on the topic and as an avid hound hunter myself, I knew if Blaine met the right houndsman he would be hooked for life.
  Finding the right houndsman, well that was easy. John Green and I have known each other since elementary school and he has been hunting with hounds since that time. It was nothing for John to set out after school with his father and grandfather until the pre-dawn hours in search of raccoons. It wasn't long before John went solo and began chasing the reclusive black bear along with bobcats and mountain lions in Montana. It was only a few years ago that one of his clients topped out the New Hampshire state record for black bear by means of a rifle. John has captured many of his adventures on video and photography, producing images that leave you in awe and wanting more.



Spring Bear Hunts - My Top Picks

by Mike Bleech

For those of us who are completely enthused about hunting bears, the approach of the spring hunting seasons is a time of high anxiety and difficult decisions. Where is the best place to hunt black bears this spring?
   Of course there is no single answer to this question, not unless you have specific wishes. Maybe you want the closest good hunt. Maybe you are looking strictly for a big bear. Maybe you want a color phase that is different from the standard black. Any of these factors can narrow your search and make the decision simpler.
Hopefully, I can help you make your decision by sharing some of the things I look at while planning my spring black bear hunts.
   With gas prices being what they are, driving distance will be the major determining factor in planning spring black bear hunts for a majority of hunters. This is in direct relationship to both cost and time. Most of us are limited in both regards. To begin, we will look at hunts that are within a reasonable driving distance from the eastern states and then move west. Fortunately, this does not call for any great sacrifices.



Campfire Tales

The Other Gun
By Travis Cash

I will never forget my first black bear hunting trip. My father-in-law John, brother Dale, father George and I have since gone on several bear hunts, but there's nothing like the feeling of stepping out into the bear woods for the first time. For our first bear trip, we chose the cheapest option we could find, and we ended up getting exactly what we paid for. After our "guide" had showed us our supposedly pre-baited sites, we were on our own the rest of the week, even baiting was up to us. With or without much help from the guide, we had what we came for, a hunting site out in the untamed bear wilderness and a chance, albeit a small one, to bag our bear.

Bears on the Tobique River
by Mike Ray

   My friend, Jim Trammell, and I made the decision to go on a spring bear hunt to Canada. We decided to drive since Jim had not seen to that part of the country. We would be hunting at Lawrence Dyer & Sons Outfitters and sharing camp with the 'ole whackmaster himself, Ted Nugent. What a dream hunt it would be! It was a long drive from Texas, but we arrived on time and were greeted by owner, Danny Dyer.
     After unloading our gear, we went to the archery range to make sure our bows where still sighted in, had lunch and got ready for that evening's hunt. We arrived at my site and Todd Daye, my guide, went about replenishing the bait while I climbed into the ladder stand. I got my video camera set up and not more than 30 minutes after Todd left, I had three cubs with their mom come into the bait. I sat there enjoying them eat and lick everything in sight. It was very exciting to see them so close without being detected. Shortly after the cubs had all they could eat, a medium sized boar came in for a snack. While watching the activity, another bear came in and ran the smaller one off. I thought very seriously about shooting this one, but since it was the first day, I held off.

Backwoods Boy Makes Good
by Paul Payne

Last year, I got the call. For years, I've heard my good friend, Dan Wallace, recall stories of a special place with special bears. As a member of Excalibur's Huntin' the Backwoods television crew, I have had many opportunities to hunt and harvest black bears, and I know the passion and experience Dan has for bear hunting. So if he says they're special, I believe him.
    You can imagine, then, my excitement when he invited me to join him at Todd and Laura Wiseman's camp, Newfoundland Adventures, for the spring season. After years of hearing the stories, I would finally have the chance to experience it for myself.



Bears In The Olympics

By Tony Pannkuk

I could feel the electricity in the air as my 10 year-old son, Michal, and I approached the two black bears. I was carrying a Thompson/Center .50 caliber muzzleloader, loaded with a cap in place, but not cocked. Both bears were feeding as we closed the distance to about 15 yards. We stopped and dropped down to one knee.
    About that same time they started to chase each other, playing, it looked like. Both bears came charging our way. Having hunted black bear for close to 20 years, I knew as soon as they saw us they would stop. Michal, on the other hand, didn't like the idea of them coming our way so fast. He thought they were coming after us. From about eight yards away I quickly stood up, and holding my muzzleloader over my head, yelled. Both bears stopped abruptly, turned and quickly headed for the thick brush. I think they were more scared than Michal.
    We were hunting the Quinault Indian Reservation in Washington State, located on the Olympic Peninsula. When hunting on the Indian Reservation, a hunting license is not required, but you will need to hunt with one of the handful of guides allowed to take hunters out. Only a bear tag is required, which you purchase from the tribal office.


Can a Brown Bear Sink?

By Bob Robb

I Shot The Big Bear With My .375 H&H Magnum
And He Fell Into The Ocean. Then He Started To Sink!

I had been living and guiding bear hunters in Alaska for more than a decade when, one spring, the man I guided for, Jim Boyce of Baranof Adventures, decided that since our client tagged out in just a couple of days of his 10-day hunt, it was time for me to shoot a bear for myself. So I embarked on an adventure that I still see as vividly as if it occurred just yesterday.
    Jim hunts the southern end of Baranof Island, in Southeast Alaska, a rugged wilderness of steep mountains, almost impenetrable old growth forest, raging rivers and burbling streams, and of course an ocean that can turn from National Geographic nice to Deadliest Catch dangerous in a matter of hours. This part of the island is a sportsman's paradise, with some of the state's very best saltwater fishing to go with outstanding hunting for mountain goat, Sitka blacktail deer and, of course, giant brown bears.



Politically Incorrect Means Perfection

By Ted Nugent

Ah, the joys of spring cleaning. What a wonderful American ritual it is to pursue cleanliness next to Godliness as we tidy up our homes and properties following another cabin fever inspiring wintertime. Personal hygiene doesn't end with sacred temple management, but surely extends into our beloved homes as well. My kids were all taught this self-evident truth, and spring is welcomed by most Americans thusly as we clean up for another grand year of the American Dream.
     Likewise, many of us begin to lovingly grab fistfuls of good mother earth as we connect to the sacred ground when we plant our gardens. Show me a person who tends his or her own garden, and I will show you a person with a higher quality of life. No food tastes better or is better for you than hands-on homegrown. It is indeed perfection as the circle of life goes unbroken. I like it.
     Tribe Nuge celebrates all these fine traditions, and we enjoy them all immensely. But more powerful than cleaning, maintenance and gardening, there are more intense springtime connections that millions of Americans enjoy, and are pivotal to a Nugent spring.



Rigging a Houndsman's Handgun

By Ed Hall

The bear, a 175 pound male, was so far up that we could see only a couple of specs of black fur among the still-green leaves, not knowing if it was the head or the tail end. Joe McCray was carrying a Dan Wesson .44 with an eight-inch barrel and open sights, perfect for quick shots on the ground, and okay for most shots in trees as well, but perhaps not this one.
     The dogs were pulled back and leashed to trees. We had a few options, as the bear was giving no indications of being in a hurry to come down or even to move. I was carrying my .44 Smith & Wesson 629 with open sights, the front sight painted orange and the rear sight blade painted pink. These show up best for me against black fur.
     In my pack was a Burris 2-7x pistol scope with weaver mounts, and the barrel of the Smith had an integral Weaver base (a Performance Center model). The scope could be attached in just a few seconds, and it returns to exact zero every time. Joe and I traded guns. He cranked the scope up to seven power and began walking around and studying the leaves from different angles for more than just a tiny patch of unidentifiable fur. Better to wait patiently to find a shot, either by finding a hole through the leaves, or waiting for the bear to move just a bit on his own. Making noises or beating a stick against the tree usually gets a quick response, but often with the bear scurrying down the tree, offering only a quick shot at best. My Olympus 550 camera has a 500mm telephoto equivalent lens and affords some magnification, so I was looking as well.



It Rains in Bear Heaven

By Bernie Barringer

I remember reading a Field & Stream magazine in 1970, and dreaming of shooting a big Canadian bear with a bow and arrow. I was just a kid, and I had subscribed to it with my paper route money. I did not even own a bow yet, but that was my dream then and it burns as strong today.
     I have bagged a handful of bears with a bow, but I had never hunted Canada. My dream lay mostly dormant for the most part, until the opportunity came along recently. I have had a hankering to get a nice cinnamon or blonde bear for many years. So when I found out that the bears around Narrows West Lodge in Manitoba ran about 50% color phase, I decided it was a time to fulfill two dreams at once: A colored bear and a Canadian hunt.
     I had been looking forward to this trip for a long, and my anticipation was at a fever pitch, especially after learning that outfitter, Blair Olafson, had been running a 100% success rate for some time.