May/June 2012 Issue
- Q & A - Tips
- Video Review
- Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
- Spotlight On: Michigan
- Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
- News & Notes
- Bear Association News
- Outfitters & Guides
- Hunter Photo Gallery
- Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy & The BMG
Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla
Handguns for Bear with Ed Hall
Rifle Cartridges in Handguns
Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava
Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer
Bear Sights - A Better Way
Muzzleloading with Al Raychard
The Future of Muzzleloading
In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear
Off Season Maintenance
One Wild Hunt
By Vilena Hunt
It was only two days before Christmas and it was unusually warm in North Carolina. In a split second, I tried to understand exactly what was happening around me and what was not only expected of me but what was absolutely needed of me. To my left was a man I had only met just one day before, mouthing to me the words, “SHOOT! SHOOT! NOW!” While in front of him were fired up bear hounds barking in different tones and voices the same message. Most haunting was the image directly in front of me. Only a few feet away was the most massive and fearsome beast I have ever seen in my entire life. Menacing, scowling, frighteningly rocking back and forth, perhaps reassuring himself of exactly what he was about to do. In those short moments I realized that everything I knew or thought I knew about hunting may mean nothing or everything.
The week before, my husband surprised me with an opportunity to harvest a bear in Washington, North Carolina with a guide named Justin King. It was his Christmas gift to me. The purpose of the trip was not to get a trophy black bear, but instead to get the sweet meat that comes from the bear. The previous year my husband had harvested his first black bear and we were spoiled by the incredible flavor of the meat.
Not for the Faint of Heart
By Gary Lewis
Tod Lum loaded cartridges into the magazine and closed the bolt. We left the truck parked on the road and climbed uphill on a bare slope. Twenty minutes later we worked onto the shoulder of a finger ridge and looked down into a canyon choked with hawthorn bushes.
We set the caller below us on the slope and found a vantage point. Insistent, the FoxPro whined its pitiful electronic cry. We didn’t have to wait long.
The bear emerged from the bottom of the canyon and stopped to look back. The first shot shivered him and he ran left along the hill. Tod chambered another round, swung and shot again. The bear rolled end over end to the bottom of the canyon and came to rest against a fallen pine.
Calling bears, whether with a mouth call or an electronic unit is charged with electricity. It never happens the same way twice. Sometimes they charge right in. Sometimes they swap ends and head for cover. When they come, they come ready to fight; sometimes with jaws popping, sometimes circling, silent, intent. Calling a predator armed with sharp claws and teeth is not for the faint of heart.
When There’s No Blood Trail
By Richard P. Smith
By the time I talked to Brant Erbentrout on the morning of October 1st, he had almost convinced himself that he missed the bear. He had taken a questionable shot with his muzzleloader just before dark the previous evening. As so often happens at baits, the bruin had waited until the last minutes of daylight before appearing near the food source. Earlier in the evening, Brant had caught glimpses of bruins moving to the sides and behind the bait, but was not able to see enough to take a shot.
The bear that finally looked as though it would go to the bait, was milling around nearby rather than feeding. Concerned that the bruin was going to leave without eating as it turned away from the food, Brant took the only shot he had. He knew the end of shooting time was near and that even if the bear came back, it might be too late to shoot by then.
The shot was rushed, but the sight picture in Brant’s scope looked good when he pulled the trigger. And he’s an experienced hunter who is familiar with the rifle he was shooting. It was sighted in, and based on what I learned about Brant, he seldom misses because he doesn’t shoot unless he’s confident of connecting. Nonetheless, he was second-guessing himself.
The Great Bait Debate – Part II
By Bernie Barringer
Last issue, in the Great Bait Debate series, we discussed how often a bait should be tended. This second installment follows hand-in-hand with the same theme, but we will discuss how much bait is the right amount to place at a site.
The debate about how much bait should be used boils down to two primary opposing camps. On the one hand, you have the belief that if a bear comes back to your bait site and finds nothing to eat at the location, you may lose them. They may find another baiter’s site or a natural food source and never come back. Or maybe they were just passing through and you missed your one chance to hook them.
The other camp states that once you have bears coming, it is better to leave them a little hungry in order to create competition, so bait with less and leave them wanting more.
Both of these ideas have merit and they are very general of course, and each side has some valid points. The camp you fall into will be influenced by other outside factors, such as the differences between spring and fall baiting, and whether or not a weather-resistant container of some sort can be used to place the bait in. Let’s explore these factors, but first, a little science comes into play.
Stopping the Antis
By Al Raychard
In January of 2004 an organization called Maine Citizens For Fair Bear Hunting (MCFBH) submitted more than 100,000 signatures to Maine’s Secretary of State to put a question on the November ballot in 2004 that read, “Do you want to make it a crime to hunt bears with bait, traps or dogs, except to protect property or research?”
At the time, Maine was one of 17 states that allowed the use of hounds to hunt bears, one of 11 that allowed baiting and the only state in the country where bears could be trapped. If passed, the new law for all practical purposes would put an end to hunting and trapping bears by means that had been legal and considered by many to be a tradition since before Maine became a state in 1820. It would also put an end to the most viable and practical methods of managing the state’s growing bear population, through regulated hunting and trapping.
Of course, Maine hunters had been challenged with wildlife-related referendums before, but this one was different.
Never had so many signatures been gathered and approved by the Secretary of State’s Office to put a hunting issue on the state ballet. In fact, the number submitted was twice the number needed. It was an ominous sign.
A Blast from the Past
By Larry Hatter
Some of the most unique reminders of our country’s history reside in the most inconspicuous places. They rest in the corner of an old, dusty attic beside a rickety chest of drawers or on the rack at a downtown pawn shop, mostly unappreciated and uncared for. Make no mistake though; firearms have played an integral role in our ascension from a few middling colonies into a thriving nation. It’s for this particular reason, when I first laid eyes on the old Remington propped in a dim corner of an old farmhouse, I didn’t see an aging piece of steel and wood, I saw a link to the past.
By the mid-1860s, little was known about the American west and even less about the vast frozen north. Still licking its wounds from a protracted Civil War, the United States turned its attention to expansion west of the Mississippi River, a term coined by the government as “manifest destiny.” To accomplish this task however, a substantial upgrade was necessary from the traditional cap and ball musket the average frontiersman carried. The old smokepoles were only marginally effective when pitted against the bow and arrow and virtually useless against the large and dangerous game these unexplored lands had to offer. With the advent of the self-contained cartridge however; the tide started to turn and in 1867 the Remington #1 Sporting Rifle was born.
Surrounded by Bears
By Jon Nystrom
I was young when I first contacted Schutte’s Bear Camp about a bear hunt and I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t see a bear that first year. I did hear a bear growl and saw a tree the size of my calf muscle bend over while a bear scratched its back. I had the opportunity to track a bear too. On my hands and knees I crawled through some nasty undergrowth not fit for a bear let alone a human. Envision yourself crawling through a tunnel of brush barely able to move in any direction but forward or backward. Not a good situation if you need to run from something in a hurry! In the dark I heard a growl and whispered back to Bill “That bear is still alive!” We backed out and came back later and found the bear dead.
That was my first encounter with bears and I learned one valuable lesson. If I was going to pursue bears with bow and arrow I had to be sure of my shot or not shoot. Now, 17 bears and many years later I have always followed that fundamental rule. I have passed on some really nice bears because the shot was not perfect. This year would be no different. My passion for hunting bears has not waned. Wisconsin tags take seven to nine preference points depending on the area of the state hunted. With a tag in hand, I contacted Bill and Beverly Schutte immediately and started planning my hunt.