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Bear Hunting Magazine

September/October 2009 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    Tools of the Trade
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Fall Into Great Bear Hunting
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney

    To Be Heard or Not To Be Heard
  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan

    Bear Attitudes
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava

    How Do You Judge a Trophy Bear?
  • Scent Free Tactics with Bob Robb

    Walking on Water
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Pre-Opener Checklist
  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie

    Tire Tips for Top ATV Performance
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray

    Pick an Archery Outfitter



Black Bear Medicine

By Brett I. Parker

Peering over the rise, we could see the bruin feeding on the fresh grass shoots of early spring. Intent on rebuilding himself after his long winter’s rest, he was unaware of our presence. My father, Martin, crept forward before me. Our guide stayed back, trusting us to do our own backing up and not wanting to overcomplicate the stalk. As we continued to close the distance, his size was undeniable; he would surely square close to eight feet. At 50 yards, we were close enough. Martin’s rifle came to his shoulder and quickly barked. The bear fell, anchored by the initial shot, and after a quick follow up, he expired in place.
     Two days later, it was my turn to shoot. We spotted another mature black bear roughly a quarter of a mile away. Quickly, Martin and I exited the truck and began our stalk. Slowly and quietly, we moved ever closer, all the while using the twists in the logging trail to cover our approach. The bear was feeding away from us, and before we could close for the shot, he went around a bend in the trail and disappeared from view. With quiet determination, we pressed on towards the spot where we had last seen the bear.


Calling Bruins in Big Sky Country

by Todd Stiles as told to S.L. Merriam

When the early spring season finally arrived I was eager to fulfill a dream. A dream not only to have a nice bear rug, but one with a cinnamon colored coat. These bears are most common in the Rocky Mountains where almost 10% of black bears carry this color gene.
     Late winter, while hunting on the internet, I was able to find Mark Shutely of Stockton Outfitters in Montana. I talked to him on the phone and within a short time understood what a great opportunity he provided. Once the hunt was booked all I needed to do was check off each day on the calendar until the end of May when we would meet in Butte, Montana
     Mark uses a varmint call and an elk calf-in-distress call to get his clients big bears. Indeed, calling can make the hunt much more interesting than sitting over bait. The elk calf-in-distress call works because Mark is familiar with the local elk calving grounds, and utilizing this call often draws the largest bears which in turn help to protect the elk population.
     We spent 10 hours each day for the first three days calling and moving. No bears came, but I was almost run over by three cow elk when they evidently thought I was holding their calf hostage. The spring weather was unusually wet and rainy, keeping the bears holed up in their dens.


A Hound Hunter’sWorst Enemy

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

I have read several articles lately lamenting the imminent demise of hound hunting in the United States. One author suggested that, as time goes on, fewer people agree with or approve of hound hunting (possibly true) and that politicians tend to lean away from the sport (also true in most cases) and that the usual spooks in the anti-hunting crowd will focus on banning hound hunting because it is a low-participation sport and an easy one to get rid of because even other hunters do not care about it (also likely true).
      The Humane Society of the United States has publicly stated that it wants to ban hound hunting in every state. Throw in a few local anti-hunting groups, The Friends of Animals and PETA, and you have a pretty good cross-section of people who want to, and are working hard to, ban hunting with hounds, among other things (like bear hunting). That is a formidable enemy, but there is one that is worse and it is working just as hard to ensure a quick end to the long-held tradition of hound hunting.


A Darn Sight Better

by Jay Strangis

Find An Aiming System That Suits Your Strengths And Weaknesses, And You Will Collect More Bear Rugs.

A bow shot at a black bear may be the most underrated event in all of archery hunting. The problem starts with our thinking. Shots at black bear are notoriously close, chip shots, some might say, because bear baits generally are set up with stands that place the hunter within 15 or 20 yards of any potential bear. How tough can that be? Consequently, many bear hunters spend far more time planning their bear hunt, traveling to reach their destination and sitting in trees than they ever do resolving a foolproof aiming system for the moment of truth and effectively practicing with that system.
      Tree stand shots at bear are NOT easy. The fact is, a close-range poke at Big Blackie can be one of the toughest challenges a bowhunter faces. First, most shots come with steep angles, situations not commonly practiced, where not only is shooting form likely to be affected, but aiming point as well. Second, the biggest bears are often seen only under low light conditions, those times of day when sight pins may be hard to see and peeps can interfere with the sight picture. Lastly, having a 200 to 500 pound bruin at spitting range can induce surges of adrenaline that are nearly toxic to good decisions and good shooting.


Yes, The .44 Magnum is a Bear Buster

By Ed Hall

CorBon says: “Nothing made for the .44 Magnum tops the 305-grain Penetrator load for power and penetration against dangerous and hard to stop game. If you live or hang out where the game has big teeth and claws, load your .44 Magnum with the 305-grain Penetrators. This is serious medicine for dangerous critters. The 320-grain Hard-cast is a super hard lead bullet. It combines superb accuracy with deep penetration and a big time thump from its sharp edge flat point. There is no expansion with this load and is best selected when bone breaking power is needed.”
      Carroll Pilant, Media Relations Manager at Sierra Bullets, said, “Ed, that 300 grainer will punch through a bear head with no problem or will go through both shoulders. There have been some good sized hogs taken with it that went through the gristle plate and shoulders on both sides.”
      Not only is the .44 Magnum an ‘acceptable’ rifle cartridge for the black bear hunter, but it is easy to rate as one of the most practical, as it delivers assured abundant penetration and adequate punch from a lightweight rifle and yet has minimal recoil. Tough 300-grain bullets are up to the task when a really big bear’s shoulder gets in the way of a shot intended for the lungs, or a houndsman takes a head shot.


2009 Blackpowder Round-Up

By John E. Phillips

Two words describe what a bear hunter wants from their blackpowder gun when they squeeze the trigger on a bear – dependability and efficiency. They want to know that the cap will fire, the powder will ignite, the bullet will fly true and the bullet has enough knock-down power to put the bear down quickly.
     A wide array of new products on the market for the bear hunter promise to deliver this type of performance. Before choosing the powder, the charge and the caliber that you’ll use for this year’s bear hunt, check with the state’s game and fish department where you will be hunting to learn the regulations governing blackpowder guns and sighting devices for bear hunting in that state. Here’s a look at some products for you to consider if you plan to take a blackpowder bear hunt this season.
Barnes Bullets
     Expander MZ Muzzleloader – Designed to deliver deadly performance at short or long ranges for in-line blackpowder rifle hunters, the Expander MZ bullets give hunters the confidence they need to make their shots, ensuring their success in the field. These bullets, with minimum expansion velocities from 1,000 to 1,100 feet per second feature: 100% copper construction for enhanced durability; a large, hollow cavity that expands instantly on contact to create six tough petals that double the original diameter; a snug-fitting sabot that prevents gas blow-by to ensure consistent shot-to-shot velocities and tight groups; and a tough, flat-based design to offer full-weight retention, while producing maximum penetration and tissue damage. The Expander MZ bullets come in a variety of weights and include sabots.


Color Phase Bears Increasing in Michigan

By Richard P. Smith

The last thing Michael Wilton expected to see while hunting over bait on opening day of the 2008 bear season in the state’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) was a bruin any color other than black, but he was in for a surprise. Wilton was caught off guard when a light colored bear appeared at his Ontonagon County bait about 7:00 p.m. on September 10th. He thought it was a wolf at first, due to its whitish/blonde coloration. Once he realized it was a bear, he deliberated for 20 minutes before deciding to shoot the animal with his bow.
     The blonde bear was a male with a dressed weight of 157 pounds. According to Michael’s son, Jason, the hair on the bruin’s neck had a reddish tint to it. This was Michael’s second Michigan bear, his first was of similar size.
     Besides the bear Wilton shot, another blonde bear was seen in Dickinson County during the first week of September by Dan Kirschner who owns Wild Spirit Guide Service. He saw the bruin near one of his baits and stated that it was half blonde and half dark brown. Kirschner’s brother, Vern, was with him and he managed to get a distant photo of the unusual bear with his cell phone.
     It is not likely the bear the Kirschner brothers saw in Dickinson County is the same one that was killed in Ontonagon County as the two locations are hundreds of miles apart.


Full Moon Bear

By Steve Brickner

I am sure that everyone has stories about their experiences with a full moon and the strange happenings that often come with it. I have a story that is full of both highs and lows.
    It all started on Thursday, September 7, 2006; it was a full moon when I received a phone call at work. “Dad you have to come home, we have to take Buster to the vet.” It was my daughter, Melanie, who was extremely upset. Buster was our beloved housedog and he had been accidentally run over. Unfortunately, on the way to the vet he passed away. Needless to say we were all very upset, because he had become a very special part of our family.
    On the following Sunday my son, Shawn, and I were out in the woods setting up a tree stand. Needless to say our bad luck was still following us. We had a mishap involving a six-wheeler, a ladder and a tree which ended in Shawn having a broken leg because I was in a bit of a hurry.
     Shawn ended up having to stay in the hospital for a few days. I decided to cancel my northwood’s black bear hunting trip, but Shawn and the rest of my family insisted that I go and I eventually gave in.


Thunder Bear

By Ted Nugent

Within the darkened shadows of the deep north woods, a black ghost materialized like a whiff of ebony smoke. Nerve endings electrify and the mind races, the psycho dynamo of BEAR! I am about to come unglued. You sit day after day, long, arduous yet stimulating patience testing hours, after prolonged, butt bone aching hours, with nothing but ravens and red squirrels and the distant cry of the loon to keep you company, when finally the beast appears. It is one of the greatest sensations available to mankind, and I for one am so very thankful to be a bear hunter. Bear country is stunning enough unto itself, but if and when an old bruin shows up, it takes a ton of control to remain calm, still and ready when in the presence of these magnificent creatures. The spirit of our brother the bear is powerful medicine and I cherish every breathtaking moment with which I am blessed.
     Bowhunting with the respected and dedicated professionals of WHO Outfitters out of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, you know for sure that every conceivable advantage is stacked in your favor by these experienced hunt-masters. But as any experienced bear hunter knows, there is no such thing as a guarantee when it comes to black bears. Dare to assume a conclusion about when, where or if they will show up, and they will sure break the rules and blow up the paradigm. Even with the highest population of black bears in recorded history across North America, and particularly in Ontario, these elusive big-game animals always represent a wonderful challenge, especially for the bowhunter. With probably the best nose and ears of any animal on earth, there is usually no room for error when attempting to ambush a black bear up close and personal with a sharp stick. I have been blessed to hunt old blackie in Michigan, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, California, Idaho, Washington, Maine, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario, and it is always a thrill and a highly enlightening experience that keeps bringing me back for more. Rugsteaks baby! Gotta have ‘em!