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Mar/Apr 2013 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Crossbow Challenge with Daniel James Hendricks

    A Sport of Lugging
  • Handguns for Bear with Dr. George E. Dvorchak, Jr.

    One Gun for Bear, Deer & Boars? Part II
  • Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla

    Preparation for Coming Through in the Clutch
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    A New Slugger for Bruins
  • In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear

    Free Advice for Fixing Problem Dogs
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Heating Attractant Lures




Big Boulders, Big Bears

By Bernie Barringer

My outfitter, John Palson, from Hideaway Outfitters baited the barrel while my son Dawson and I climbed into the large platform ladder stand and settled into comfortable chairs for what we anticipated to be a long wait. It was August of 2012, Dawson had just turned 18 and he would be filming this hunt for me. Since he is unashamedly addicted to muskie fishing, I would be fishing muskies with him while we were not sitting in the treestand. Not a bad tradeoff.

John gave us the thumbs up and began to turn the truck around to leave the area when, suddenly, I saw movement to the left. Incredibly, I had a truck leaving not 10 yards to my right and a bear coming in not 15 yards to my left. I told Dawson to get the camera turned on as there was a bear coming and he looked at me like I had lost my marbles. By the time he got the camera on and focused, the bear was at the bait, and it was a big one, probably 350 pounds. I could still hear the truck crawling its way down the logging road as it tipped the barrel over.

Northwest Ontario is not the first place that comes to mind when a person thinks of destinations for really big bears. In fact, most people think of Ontario as more of a place to go for numbers and a high percentage of bears. Most bear hunters in the midwestern United States shoot their first bear in Ontario because it is close and it is a great place to go and see a lot of bears.



Terror in the Moonlight

By Carol Campbell

In the fall of 2011, my friend, John, and I began to discuss and plan for a bear hunting trip to Holden Lake Lodge in Quebec, Canada the following spring. Although I have been on many bear hunts at other locations, I was greatly looking forward to this trip. To date, I have five bear mounts in my den and I am proud of each of one. And, each bear hunt has always proven to be very exciting for me.

Jay Peake, a good friend of mine, had made all of the arrangements for this particular hunt. There were 21 people traveling to Holden Lake Lodge; most were going to bear hunt but a few were going just for the fishing. John and I, along with the others, arrived on a Friday with the first day of hunting scheduled for the following day.

On the first day of the hunt a guide escorted four of us, each to our own hunting spot. We traveled on a very bumpy, rocky and muddy road about an hour and a half into the wilderness to get to the baits. Once the locations were identified, we headed back to camp and rested before getting ready to go out into the “bush” as the Canadian’s call it. Even though we were all shown the way earlier, we got lost without the guide. In fact, we were lost for about three hours.



Skinning and the Art of Field Preparation

By Hugh Bevan

The smell of gun powder floated on the still evening air as I held my scope on the huge Alaskan brown bear that lay dead (hopefully) in the grass in front of me. The big boar had taken three rounds of 300-grain premium bullets from my .375 H&H before going down. Since I was alone I took my time, making sure he was finished.

After taking photographs, I got down to the difficult job of skinning a big grizzly, a job made much harder by not having a helper. But even with several people assisting, the process is the same, a solo hunter just has to take more time and not damage the trophy.

The five main skinning cuts must be made correctly to insure a balanced hide. This means the center cut up the belly is made in the center of the bear. If it is off center, the taxidermist may have to trim the hide on the long side and some of the pelt will be lost. It is important to position the bear squarely on its back so the center of the chest and belly can be lined up properly. With a big brown bear I like to get it on its back and then roll it side to side a few times to get the hide straight.

The center cut is made up the middle of the bear from its anus to its “growler” or voice box. If you feel around the bear’s throat, you can find that lump of cartilage. The main center cut ends there; the skin on the head is removed after the rest of the bear has been skinned and the hide can be pulled up and over the head to make the job easier.



A Deadly Double

By Gregg Knutsen

As a hunter, I find nothing more rewarding than providing new and unique hunting opportunities for friends. After moving from North Dakota to northwestern Minnesota, it only took my wife, Lynda, and myself one fall season to become head-over-heels hooked on bowhunting black bears. We wanted to share this new opportunity with a bowhunting friend of ours.

I met Rich Walters while working in Nebraska in 1998. He introduced me, and later Lynda, to bowhunting turkeys and has graciously hosted us on numerous turkey hunts in recent years. So, after getting one very successful year of bear hunting under our belts, we couldn’t think of anyone we would rather have join us on a bear hunt. Rich was able to work out vacation for a short, three-day hunt to coincide with opening day. During baiting activities a week prior to the season opener, things were looking promising. Four of our six baits were being hit and the acorn drop, which can bring bait site activity to a screeching halt, appeared to still be about two weeks away.

However, as luck would have it, Mother Nature intervened in a different way two days before the opener. Temperatures soared into the upper 80s with a forecast for severe thunderstorms for opening weekend. As Rich and I checked baits on the eve of the hunt, our spirits sagged as bear activity was minimal. Fortunately, one bait was still getting hit during daylight hours and another was getting hit after dark. These would be Rich’s and Lynda’s opening day hunting locations, respectively. I would hunt another location that had shown promising bear activity just a few days earlier.


Black Bear Buddy System

By Gary Lewis

Seven hours. That’s how long it took on a summer day for a bear to appear. Seven hours, then there it was, big and brown against the yellow grass and the berry vines. From bush to bush it fed, in and out of view, sometimes scrambling up an open face, sometimes half hidden by shrubbery.

John Warren leaned into the binocular, willing the bear to stop. Beside him, his uncle, Steve Banta, was ready with his rifle rested in the shooting sticks. Then the bear vanished behind a fold of ground.

Warren scanned ahead for an opening near the next berry patch. Banta shifted behind the rifle. Then there it was, the bruin was now broadside in the open. Banta squeezed the trigger and rocked with the recoil. Hit, the bear spun and barreled down through the timber and berry vines to come to rest against a fallen tree. Banta began to work up through the trees while Warren stayed back to watch in case the bear was still alive.

It was Warren’s seventh season hunting the same ridge. As a middle and high school P.E. and health teacher in western Oregon, Warren’s schedule allows him the freedom to scout and hunt the high country when bears are on the berry fields in August.

Warren attributes the success of his annual bear hunts to prime habitat and scouting. He hunts a draw that is six miles long, broken by meadows, shelves and benches and stippled with timber stands leftover from thinning operations. Grasses are abundant, but it is the wild raspberries that keep bears in the area.



49 Seconds

By John Sinkovic

This past year a fellow bowhunter friend, Bill Hassall, and his 16 year-old grandson made plans for a black bear bow hunt about 60 miles south of Kirkland Lake, Ontario with me. We would be there the week of August 18 on a seven-day hunt.

Bill’s grandson, Eric, is somewhat woods wise having hunted deer before from a treestand. A bear hunt with a bow is what he really wanted to do. Prior to the hunt he purchased a video camera and mounted it to his bow.

Upon arrival at camp, preparations were made for each of us as to where we would be hunting. During the first two days, Eric didn’t see a single bear from his stand. He was having a great time thinking about what would happen when a bear did show up and didn’t show any signs of discouragement at all. There are many adults that could learn from his positive attitude.

On the third day of his hunt, there was a bright blue sky and the sun was still up high at about 7:15 p.m. when Eric got his first glimpse of a bear. It was boldly walking to the bait. It must have been a dominant bear to be so aggressive, coming out in broad daylight with little cover.


Bucket List

by Chris Ecrement

 I was sitting on a stand in Waterhen, Manitoba, we booked with Rick and Colleen Liske of Agassiz Outfitters, waiting on that Big Ole’ Bruin to hopefully come by our stands and give my husband, Mike, and I the chances we have been waiting for. Hopefully, it would be a color phase bear of chocolate, cinnamon or even blonde since we are hunting an area known for color phase bears.

We started each day with a nice hearty breakfast, then an even heartier lunch to fill our bellies until the late evening hours of at least 11:00 p.m. when we got back from our really remote stands. We headed out with our guides about one in the afternoon to spend time sitting on a stand and enjoying all of the sights, sounds and smells of the northern woods. It was especially exciting for me to get to my stand since the barrel was tipped over and the bait had been hit the first day. Mike’s stand was about an hour away from mine and I could only wonder if he had seen anything yet.

It was about 7:00 p.m. when I decided I better do my last stand-and-stretch before I got settled in for the remainder of the evening when the woods come alive with animals on the move. The sap on the tree had glued me to the seat and made things pretty noisy if I moved at all. I had just sat back down again when a large black bear came over to the base of my treestand and looked straight up at me, sniffing the air with really deep breaths and started chomping its jaws at me. I was busted!


A Grizzilla from B.C.

by John Ledbetter

Fresh green grizzly sign appeared frequently along the base of the snow-capped mountains in the Driftwood Range of the Skeena Mountains. The British Columbia grizzlies had came down for the spring grass feast along the logging roads. Farther east into the Driftwood River Valley, the darker black bear sign was even more abundant. Logging activity in the valley, which stretches about 45 kilometers between the high mountains, had ceased a number of years ago. Naturally, the bears had come to rule again and with plenty of open space for greening up, the bear activity level was very high. Large rapid feeder streams flowing into the Driftwood from the snow caps was fresh water for the valley, the lodgepole pines and the big critters like the bears, elk, moose and wolves.

Outfitter Derrick Mohr’s territory runs along that river before it empties into Takla Lake. He hunts with purpose, “It’s them or me,” he says. With time out for meat, potatoes and hot green tea, that approach appealed to the mountain man in me. Daily, we powered up on delicious moose, salmon and halibut from Derrick’s personal larder between morning and afternoon hunts.

On that bright first day we saw a lot of game, including seven black bears, a moose and one young grizzly which appeared most unafraid of us. Of the seven, three were shooters and we stalked two of them. After stalking the two we decided not to shoot, but to continue scouting for others. The wind was not right for the third stalk so Derrick suggested we hunt the bruin later if given the chance. And a good decision it was as later in the week we had the opportunity to hunt that 6-foot 7-inch bear.


Toklat Dreams

By Grant N. Benson

A Grizzly Experience

In May of 2012, I found myself back in the wilds of Alaska, 300 miles north of Fairbanks along the Deitrich River. Back, is the operative word, as I had been here two years earlier bowhunting grizzly bears with Stan Parkerson of Denali Hunts. That trip ended with disappointing excitement when on the final afternoon of a 10-day adventure, I came face to face with the bruin of my dreams. The bear had been feeding in a grassy swale approximately halfway up an east-facing mountain, maybe 1,200 yards away, and he was meandering towards a rocky draw choked with head-high willow and alder bushes.

After safely fording the glacial run-off filled river, we began the final stalk, but in the end the shot I needed to see to effectuate a lethal arrow strike had remained obscured by the protective branches of a newly leafed-out willow bush. I only needed one more foot, just 12 more inches of clearance to have an opportunity to take a shot I had prepared 26 years to make. In the end, the boar tilted his head back ever so slightly, arrogantly sniffed the air, froze and then made a U-turn, sulking back into the willows. He was gone.

With that memory burning in my mind on day three of my encore trip, Stan and I found ourselves peering downward into a classic Alaskan “braided river” as the midday sun warmed our faces and awoke the local mosquito population. It was the sharp eyes of the veteran outfitter who first noticed the tawny coat of the cow moose standing guard over a pair of newborn calves on a small brush-choked island in a dry part of a Koyukuk River tributary.


Shoot Again

By Ed Hall

Making Follow-Up Shots Second Nature

There are several reasons to want a quick follow-up shot at a bear; from one charging at 20 yards, to an unsure first shot placement from a treestand, or just because you have the time to create a better blood trail.

The last is more frequent, considering a quicker demise resulting in shorter tracking, to an easier tracking job in the dark because four holes leak more blood.

I’ve watched many hunters shoot bears over bait on television and have yet to see any who seemed to have a practiced plan-in-action for a quick follow-up second shot as the bear disappeared. They simply sit there and watch the bear run off.

Even with a considered perfect shot placement on a bear, I believe it is prudent to follow-up with a quick second shot. Bear are presumably always on alert while visiting a bait site overflowing with human scent and are quick to react and scoot at the shot. But, if a hunter is mentally prepared for an immediate reload, there’s often enough time to get a second, quartering shot into their boiler room or at least a solid hit somewhere. I am willing to give up a little meat in exchange for a much better blood trail and quicker kill.

Not a double-tap of one shot to the chest and one to the head, but a proper first shot, followed by the mindset to get another shot immediately ready, to provide another entrance and exit hole. More bleeding likely quickens the demise but, more importantly, blood is immensely more valuable for the tracking job in the dark. Fat often minimizes any given bullet hole’s blood flow, and having a couple extra can be priceless.


Release the Hounds

By Dick Scorzafava

There is nothing more exciting to me than to listen to a great pack of hounds hot on the track of a bear. It is simply music to my ears to hear the chop, squall and bawl voices of the hounds hammering on the track of a bear. This is exactly why I was so excited about hunting in the north woods of Maine with my friend, Scott York. Scott is a second-generation houndsman and has what I consider some of the best bear hounds in the east.

Scott invited Bill Dermody from Savage Arms and myself to come up for the first week of the hound season and use the Savage Bear Hunter rifle I helped design. Bill shot a great bear the first day of the season on a really exciting chase and it was now my turn in the north woods.

Scott is a logger by trade and spends most of his waking hours in the woods, but prides himself with always having a superior pack of bear hounds. Every serious hound hunter I know is very dedicated to the sport and works extremely hard and puts in long hours to develop a great pack.

Scott has a great method of finding and running only the biggest and best bears. He sets out baits and hangs Cuddeback scouting cameras on each of them. When he goes in to check the baits he pulls the SD card and views the images. This way he knows exactly what type of bear is hitting the bait and at what time of day or night. He then can decide if it’s a bear worth chasing and to release the hounds or move to the next bait. This saves wasted time running smaller bears that would be passed at the tree.