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July/August 2011

Feature Sections

  • Q & A - Tips
  • Book Review
  • Video Review
  • News & Notes
  • Spotlight On: Idaho
  • Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
  • 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


  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Bullets for Bruins
  • Crossbow Challenge with Daniel James Hendricks

    Accessories for the Bear Hunter
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Power Start Your Bait
  • Handguns for Bear with Max Prasac

    Holsters - Carrying Your Revolver in the Field
  • Archery Talk with Bob Robb

    Field Repairs on the Fly
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    Wolves are Protected, But are Your Dogs?



Bitterroot Rendezvous

By John Trout III
     He told me that black bears would do this. That they would most always hold up at some point when approaching the bait site and wait for danger to prick their senses. And that is just what this Idaho bear was doing. What Dad had not mentioned was how it might unnerve me. There had been too many other things to think about since joining up four days earlier.
     I found him in the soft light of the Missoula, Montana airport shortly before noon. For eight hours I had traversed the country like a storm tossed mallard, stair-stepping my way northwest until finally setting down under a bank of gray clouds in a cool, misty rain.
     Dad stood near the baggage claim in the shadow of a mounted elk's walnut stained antlers. He had been in the mountains a week already, and his visage had begun to take on a hue of isolation and self-preservation, uncommon traits in the flat landscape of southern Illinois where he and my step-mother, Vikki, were from. She stood alongside him that afternoon in the airport, her welcoming hand flapping like an aspen leaf set against a river valley breeze.


The Cinnamon Circus

By Peyton Merideth

Webster's on-line dictionary defines the word luck as: A force that brings good fortune. If Webster was a hunter I'm sure he would have created a dictionary for bear hunters. In this dictionary there would be a different kind of definition of the word luck. Luck, as defined by those who have been fortunate enough to not only observe but harvest more than one large cinnamon color phase black bear. My picture would forever be posted right next to that definition, posing with a great cinnamon bear.
     During our 2008 spring black bear season in interior Alaska, my hunting partner, Bob Montgomery, and I had front row seats to our own circus, one we had created. We called it the Cinnamon Circus, which seemed appropriate, as we were watching three different colored phase cinnamon black bears feeding from a bait less than 20 yards from us. So, what do you do when you are hunting a bait that you know has at least five different cinnamon bears coming in? You shoot the biggest one, of course, in high definition!


Toxic Bear Bait

By Richard P. Smith

There is at least one bear bait that hunters should avoid using, if possible, even where it is legal to do so, and that is chocolate. The reason it is important to eliminate chocolate from bear baits is this candy has an ingredient called theobromine that is toxic to bears.
     Theobromine is not only toxic to black bears, it can also sicken and kill other animals that frequent bear baits such as raccoons, coyotes, wolves and possibly pine martens and fishers. Most dog owners probably already know that chocolate is bad for their pets. The same is true for wild canines, but far fewer people know about the danger that chocolate poses for bears.
     I first learned about the toxicity of chocolate to black bears many years ago when interviewing Pennsylvania's Gary Alt, who was in charge of the state's bear management program at the time. Baiting for bears is not legal in Pennsylvania, but recreational feeding for viewing purposes, primarily during the summer, was popular then. Alt told me about a pair of cubs that had died from eating chocolate bars that had been put out for the animals with other food by well meaning bear watchers.


15 Surefire Baiting Tips

by Bob Robb

Tens of thousands of hunters pursue black bears over baits each year. While many of you have done it before, many will be attempting it for the first time this year. And as sure as the sun rises in the east, unless Lady Luck smiles brightly on you, you will discover that taking a big boar over bait isn't as easy as many would have you believe.
     There are a lot of reasons for this, but the number one reason big boars escape from bait hunters every year is that the hunters, and often their guides, completely underestimate an old bear's intelligence. If they live in areas where they are hunted much at all, big old boars will not tolerate any sloppiness on the part of hunters and guides alike. Treat them like you would an old whitetail buck, an animal that is as hard to catch as smoke on the wind, and you'll be well on your way to getting a controlled shot at a dandy bear over bait.
     Whether you go guided or set baits on your own, here are 15 tips to help your baiting success this year.
     #1 - Pick a Spot
      Bear baiting is like buying a house, a lot of things are important, none more so than location, location, location. Choosing a location for hunting is a process I call "shrink your focus." You have to locate the bait in a specific spot in a specific area in which there are a lot of bears. You can only learn where the best spots are by talking with people and doing a lot of scouting. Sometimes it takes several years hunting the same area to learn where the sweet spots are. It's time well spent.


Campfire Tales

The Journey
By Clay Newcomb

September's light was fading fast as the Canadian sun slipped over the horizon on the western edge of the swathed oat field. With an arrow knocked, my steps were nimble and quick as I made my way to a secluded cove in the field. As I rounded the timber I could see into the cove, my steps slowed and eyes focused intently. Immediately, my heart skipped a beat when I saw a black blob some distance away. I moved closer and saw a jet black bruin was lying on its belly, raking oats into its mouth with its front paws just 70 yards away. With light fading, I knew I had to make a move.
     Since I was young, growing up the rugged Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas, black bears have never ceased to intrigue me. The mystic of black bears is most often attributed to their size, strength, and the carnivorous features of their anatomy. However, the bear has long been a North American icon for authentic wilderness, and perhaps therein lays the root of my fascination.

My Greatest Hunt
by Rick Guild

Growing up in northern Lower Michigan I started hunting as soon as I reached the required age. Trophy hunting for deer and other game was never discussed. I also started hunting for bear with hounds, which was the predominant method of pursuing them in our area. Occasionally, 300-400 pound bears were taken, but no one ever measured the skull to determine its trophy potential. Having retired eight years ago, I now have the opportunity to hunt trophy whitetails and bear.
     I have hunted the past several years with Botham's Bear Guide Service in Wawa, Ontario. Being fortunate to take several big bears with Ron Botham, I hoped to hunt again for a trophy caliber bear and arrived in late July.

Remembering Dad
by Karl Schmidt

I start to stir every year in the spring thinking about the many bear hunting trips I have made to New Brunswick, Canada. I started bear hunting in earnest in the spring of 1994. Those multiple trips would never of been possible had it not been for my father. He and I both love hunting in general and bear hunting in particular. The long drives up north were part of the thrill; thinking and talking about the week of hunting to come. Leaving our home in Virginia and traveling to Canada was like watching spring in reverse, leaving a well bloomed out place and arriving in Canada two days later where spring foliage was just getting started.


Hiring an Outfitter

By Jeffrey Folsom

Why do we hire an outfitter? Well, that's easy, so we can have a chance at a mature bear. We spend a lot of hard earned money on a hunt and expect a lot from the outfitter, right? I do and you should too. But, we also must listen to our outfitter and let them do what they do best if we are going to get the best chance at the bear we came for. Many of us, myself included, have doubted our outfitters and gone against their plans for our success. Why? Because we think we know how to hunt bears better than they do. Well if that is the case, why did we hire them in the first place?
     I have had the opportunity to be on many guided hunts, most for bear of course. Some hunts were truly great experiences and others were huge disappointments. Hiring a guide should start with research and talking to references, something I had to learn. I like to contact unsuccessful hunters and see if they would return. Many times a hunter that was successful forgets about things that may not have been up to par. I have been on several hunts where I did not bring home a bear, usually by choice, that I would definitely refer my friends to. Repeat clients are also good to talk to because they have more information over the years to give you about the area and the outfitter. So, when we have found an good outfitter that comes highly recommended and we have chosen to spend our money with them, then we better listen.


Simple Recipes for Black Bear Baits

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Fresh baits placed early and properly replenished will bring in more bruins more frequently, and that's what the bear baiting game is all about.
     Be forewarned that successful bear baiting is expensive, hard work and sometimes frustrating. But, if you are truly up to the task and maintain your enthusiasm throughout the season, your odds for taking a mature black bear are better than good. I could almost guarantee that your bait sites, when handled correctly, will produce a bear for you, but I know bears too well, there are no guarantees in this business!
     There is no point in just tossing buckets full of bait into the woods willy-nilly and hope that a bear will find them. The most successful bait hunters do their homework by finding good, secluded sites for their baits. All of this takes place long before you head for the shed to start preparing your baits.


Which Gun for Grizzlies?

By Hugh Bevan

Our town of Sitka is located on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska. It has 12 miles of maintained roads and more than 1,000 Alaskan brown bears. If you are looking for some entertainment on a rainy Saturday afternoon, just stroll into Orion Sporting Goods and announce to the crowd at the gun counter that you have found the perfect bear gun. Be prepared to defend yourself though.
      Personally, I like the tried and true Winchester .338 Magnum; but Big Al swears by his .416 Remington, and Bert, the store owner, carries a .458 Winchester. You can see where a heated debate may be possible.
      It seems there are as many ideal bear guns as there are bear hunters. However, it is worth looking at three of the most important factors that define your true grizzly gun. Regardless of your caliber of choice, these rules probably hold true.