- Q & A - Tips
- Video Review
- Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
- Spotlight On: Washington
- Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
- News & Notes
- Bear Association News
- Outfitters & Guides
- Hunter Photo Gallery
- Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy & The BMG
Handguns for Bear with Ed Hall
Scoping Your Handgun
Crossbow Challenge with Daniel James Hendricks
Gaining Ground in Bear Hunting Arena
Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer
Speed Re-loading Your Muzzleloader
In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear
Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava
Advances in Odor Reducing Clothing
Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla
5 Things to Increase Success
Montana’s Monster Chocolates
By B.C. Smith
It had been a long hard winter in northwest Montana and I was suffering from a bad case of cabin fever; spring bear season couldn’t come soon enough. My son, Garrett, was also feeling the urge to hit the hills; he’d been attending college out of state and was glad to have finally left the flatlands of North Dakota to return home to the mountain grandeur of Big Sky Country. Big burly black bears were on our minds and as the season approached we began our ritual preparations for the hunt; poring over topo maps, getting supplies ready, strategizing and dusting off our rifles that had been resting dormant since the previous fall.
The previous spring we had located a dandy jet-black bruin feeding in a clear-cut high in the Cabinet Mountains near the Idaho border. I had already harvested my bear so Garrett made several plays on that old bruin over the course of several days but he had a knack for giving us the slip. The memory of that hunt played in Garrett’s mind and fueled him for yet another round of matching wits with the cagey bruin.
Unlike many states, Montana is more restrictive in its approach to regulating bear hunting; namely, no hound-hunting or baiting is allowed. This can be a drawback because the hunter is relegated to spot-and-stalk, stand-hunting over natural food sources, predator calling or still-hunting. It’s best to use a combination of these methods, depending on the circumstances or the individual bear being pursued. However, please note that predator calling in griz country can produce unwanted results; a hungry griz in your lap may be more adventure than bargained for.
Don’t Forget the Morning Hunt
By Richard P. Smith
Most hunters interested in bagging a black bear over bait restrict their hunting to afternoons and evenings because they’ve been led to believe that’s when bruins are most active. So they forget about hunting mornings, spending those hours checking baits, fishing or lounging around camp. The truth of the matter is that black bears can be just as active during the morning as evening in both spring and fall months.
When the weather is hot, black bears can be even more active during morning hours than evening because that is the coolest part of the day. And the odds of seeing a big trophy class bruin may be better in the a.m. than p.m. because experienced bears have learned that the odds of encountering people at baits are reduced during those hours. Consider the following experience Tony Towslee from Green Bay, Wisconsin had during his very first bear hunt.
Towslee’s father-in-law, Doug Maki from Negaunee, Michigan, is an experienced bear hunter and he invited Tony to hunt with him in the Upper Peninsula. After several years of applying for a non-resident tag, Tony was finally successful in the drawing. His license was valid starting September 10th but, due to his work schedule, he couldn’t start hunting until the 14th and he only had three days to hunt.
A Boy & A Bear
By Bernie Barringer
As I followed the long road north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, I looked over to see my 14 year-old son, Sterling, in the passenger seat, fast asleep. His peaceful look hid well the high level of anticipation that coursed through his veins. I’d shaken him awake at 4:30 a.m., some eight hours ago, so he deserved the sleep.
It’s hard to put into words the love a father feels for a son. It’s hard to put into words the pride a man feels when his son shares his passion for bowhunting; and it is hard to describe the bonds that are created by shared experiences, both good and bad. We couldn’t know it at the time, but we were about to experience some extremes of both on this trip.
Continuing on the lonely road north, the oaks and pines gave way to small spruce forests and poplar groves. The number of farms waned and the roadside became lined with forests for mile after mile. Perfect bear country. This would not be Sterling’s first bear hunt; he’d bagged a nice bear last fall with a perfect heart shot near our Minnesota home on a do-it-yourself hunt. He’d also arrowed a handful of deer. Sterling is a crack shot with his Mathews Switchback XT. It was a bow I couldn’t bring myself to sell when I upgraded, so I passed it on to him. He has become very proficient with it. Sterling was the hunter on this trip and I was along to video the experience.
Bear Hunting – Romanian Style
By Bill Hintze
Occasionally when recounting a hunting adventure, the background events can be nearly as interesting as the hunt itself. This circumstance certainly was the case when applied to my acquisition of a two-client, two-bear safari in eastern Europe.
My friends and I were attending the auctions at Safari Club International’s annual convention in Reno, Nevada. Among the enticing opportunities was a donation from Bob Kern’s Hunting Consortium for a week-long outing in Romania’s Transylvania region. However, there was a snag. I had promised to take the ladies to see Lake Tahoe, and that conflicted with the auction schedule.
I bit the bullet, so to speak, and missed the bidding opportunity. In consolation, I walked past Mr. Kern’s booth and told my sad story. “I note the Romanian item was for two hunters and two bears. Would you be so kind as to ask your successful bidder if he would be interested in laying off half of his purchase to an outsider like me?”
The exhibitor was non-committed, but promised to give their new client my contact info. Nothing further occurred in Reno, nor for several weeks after returning home to Texas.
A Bear Man Named Zeus
By Steve Conway
“Benny House and I were chasing our regular pack plus some young dogs in Melitt Canyon north of Questa, New Mexico. We finally bayed the bear in a small crawlhole, maybe an old mine portal. The entire pack dove into that cave and commenced mixing it up with the bear; barking up a storm, and fighting fiercely. The fighting escalated until we could hardly control the dogs, but finally managed to get them tied back. Then came the hard part.”
“Definitely didn’t like this situation; big bear, little man, confined space and a cave black as pitch. It was stupid, but I did it anyway, charging into that cave like one of my hounds. I squirmed in on my belly, cigarette lighter in one hand and .44 Ruger in the other, hearing the bear breathing and growling deep in his throat, smelling its breath no more than a few feet away. Finally, I see the slight flickering reflection of the lighter’s flame in the bear’s eyes.”
“Taking aim at a space between the flickers, I squeezed the trigger and, for an instant, could see the bear in the muzzle flash. I fired a second time, the noise deafening in the narrow, confined space; then, thinking the bear might eat me, got busy crawfishing out of that hole. I made it out and just sat there, shaking uncontrollably while reflexively fishing for a smoke.” exclaimed Zeus.
Virtual Scouting for the Do-It-Yourself Bear Hunter
By Gregg Knutsen
What is the initial feeling a bear hunter experiences when the time comes to hunt an entirely new part of the state or country? I don’t mean finalizing plans for a guided hunt or planning a tag-along trip with hunting buddies from another zip code, but rather facing the tall task of conducting a Do-It-Yourself bear hunt in unfamiliar territory. Well, hopefully that feeling is at least partial excitement, but inevitably “intimidation” and “overwhelming” are complementary feelings.
These are some of the feelings I endured when my family moved to northwestern Minnesota from North Dakota several years ago. My wife and I knew we wanted to hunt black bears that first fall in Minnesota, but learning some new haunts, along with getting settled into a new house and new jobs between the months of April and August seemed just a little much. Others might experience a similar need to hunt new country because they didn’t draw a permit in their usual zone, but were successful in drawing one in a different area. Still others might face the unsavory reality of suddenly losing access to a piece of private property that they’ve hunted for years.
Exactly where does one start when trying to find the best 0.1-acre spot to dump their jelly donuts and hang a treestand within an 800,000-acre hunting zone that contains 200,000 acres of forest? Enter those feelings of being intimidated and overwhelmed. Fortunately, in this age of ever-expanding computer technology, today’s hunter has a big leg up on those that were faced with similar challenges as recently as a decade ago.
The Great Bait Debate – Part III
By Bernie Barringer
In the past two issues of Bear Hunting Magazine, we have discussed the amount of bait to use and how often to bait. In this third, and final installment, of The Great Bait Debate, I would like to discuss using the right bait. Because, after all, if you are in the right spot and doing everything else perfectly, it will not matter if you aren’t using a bait that will attract and hold the bears at your site.
This topic can really be broken down into three categories: The right bait and scent for getting a bait started, the right bait to keep them coming back and holding them close, and the topic of whether or not to change baits during the season.
I have made this statement before but it bears repeating: Every place is different and there are many rules and regulations, as well as differences in terrain and situations that dictate the right choices for you. Keep that in mind as you read along. In some places, you can put out a barrel full of oats and kill bears off it year after year. In other places, you would never get a bear to consistently come to that spot and may never see a bear, much less kill one there.
In my survey of more than 800 bear hunting guides and outfitters, I asked them some pointed questions about the baits and scents they use and why. The results were actually varied and somewhat surprising. Let’s take a look at the scents they use to start out a bait first of all, then we will look at the results of three other questions from the survey; starting baits, holding baits and changeups.