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Current Issue

Sept/Oct 2012

Feature Sections

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


  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    The Savage Bear Hunter
  • Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla

    Upping the Odds
  • In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear

    Simplifying Your Collars
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Ten Tips to Reduce Human Scent
  • Handguns for Bear with Ed Hall

  • Muzzleloading with Al Raychard

    Essential Muzzleloader Paraphenalia



Hunters Helping Hunter

By David Quick

At the age of 63, and in failing health, I was starting to think a black bear hunt just wasn't going to be in my future. I have spinal stenosis and have had three surgeries on my cervical vertebra to fuse them all together. I nearly lost the ability to walk, but thanks to the first of the three procedures, I can but am unsteady at best. My balance is poor, and my ability to hike long distances is behind me. However, I still manage to get to my deer blind here at home. But a bear hunt is a different story.
     A few years ago, a friend in Maine told me that if I could get there, that he would have a couple of baits working, and would put a pop-up blind up for me. That year, I actually bought my airline ticket, but had to cancel due to ill health. But last year things worked out, and I once again had my airline ticket in hand.
      It was just a few days until my flights would take me to Presque Isle, Maine in an attempt to harvest my first black bear, and I was a bundle of nerves. A hurricane, Katia, the 11th named tropical storm and second storm to achieve hurricane status for the Atlantic was pressing slowly toward the east coast of Florida. As each day went by, forecasts became more ominous. My flights were from Indianapolis to Washington, DC, then to Boston and finally to Presque Isle. The forecast models for the cone of uncertainty of this storm were starting to match perfectly with the date and times of my flights. By the day prior to my departure, it was clear that the storm would go north, up the east coast. As it turned out, it was abeam Washington, DC at exactly the time my flight, now canceled of course, was scheduled to arrive.


Treed by a Bear

By Rod Davis

One hour before dusk, the small bear made his way into the tiny clearing in the north Maine woods and with no small degree of caution, tipped over the bait barrel. The smell of chocolate bars and slurry of peanut butter was just more than he could stand.
     It was the last night of an eventful week at Libby Camps location on Lake Millinocket. I had seen a total of nine bears this week and this bear, a two year-old, would make a nice rug for the hunting cabin back in West Virginia. He looked to be more than 100 pounds and while I would have preferred he was a bit larger, it was the last night and there were no guarantees that a bigger bear would show up before the end of legal shooting hours.
      The temperatures in Maine had been near 90° all week, making for poor bear hunting, anyway. While finding him in my scope, he looked up and made me. He looked right at me and I saw him bristle. I knew it was now or never so I sent a 300-grain .450 Marlin slug on its way, deep into the center of his chest. The bear flipped over backwards and I sent another bullet while he struggled to get up.
     He managed to get to his feet and tumbled over a bank into the thick Maine brush. I could see the brush moving 10 feet behind the clearing and hear the bear making some noises. This went on for several minutes while the bear just stayed right there. I figured he would expire soon.


Making Bear Sausage

By Tom Claycomb

 Centuries ago there was no refrigeration or canning so it was necessary to cure fresh meat with salt. This dates back to the 13th century B.C. Smoke was used to dry out the meat, which also aided in its preservation. Now we use smoke for a flavoring agent.
      I’m commonly asked while giving sausage making seminars if they made better sausages. To me, we have the ability to make the best sausage ever. Here’s why I say this. In the old days they were limited to the local spices. Now, we have all the spices of the world at our fingertips. Also, in the old days they smoked with alder in Alaska, mesquite in south Texas, etc. Now, I can get mesquite, hickory, alder, apple and whatever else I want to smoke with.
     I like to mix my own spices, but to start let’s use a pre-made package of spices. You can get these at most outdoor stores or look on the internet. I’ve had good luck with Hi Mountain Seasonings, they offer a large selection. Unfortunately, good spices are going to cost a little bit.
     As a kid, I learned to make sausage our deer camp down by Sonora. We’d run to Del Rio and buy pork fat to mix with our deer. As my contribution to being healthier, I now use some fatter pork cuts instead of pure fat. That way, I’m also adding some good pork meat with my sausage.


Black Bear on the Pacific Coast

By Gary Lewis

On the hunt for Ursus americanus in Washington, Oregon and California

   With mild temperatures and abundant food sources, bear habitat is ideal along the Pacific Coast. There are many places to pursue Ursus americanus, but Washington, Oregon and California offer some of the best opportunities in North America. From the beach to the Great Basin and beyond, we will help you find some of the best places to hunt in each state.

     Black bears occupy all the forest habitats of western Washington, the Cascade Mountains, the Okanogan, the Selkirk and Blue Mountain ranges. For management purposes, biologists divide the state into nine black bear management units (BBMUs). Based on computer modeling and reconstruction studies, the statewide population is thought to number between 25,000 and 30,000 animals.
     Hunting for bears with bait or with hounds has been not been legal since 1996. Since then, bear seasons have been lengthened and bag limits increased. In most areas, fall black bear seasons begin between August 1 and September 1 and continue through November 15. Spring seasons start in early or mid-April and run through late May or into June.

Campfire Tales

Bear Wild
By Mike Ray

I came in one morning from turkey hunting and turned on my computer to check my emails and have a cup of coffee, boy am I glad I did! I had one email from Ted Nugent inviting me to go to Quebec and New Brunswick for spring bear. Of course I jumped all over that! The plans were to fly out of Michigan to Quebec for three or four days and then to New Brunswick for three to four days. I was going to film him shoot a bear and then he was going to film me. Sounded like an awesome bear hunting trip to me.
     I decided to drive from Texas to Michigan a few days before our departure because I had no idea what day we would be back. I finally made it to Ted’s place after 15 hours of driving. I was pretty tired but I was excited to get the hunt started. I found that I had arrived a day early as Ted would not be there until the next afternoon.

Hunting with Friends
by Charles Leblanc

 The first time I hunted black bear over a bait was in 1997 and I haven’t missed a year since. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a bear come to a bait after all the hard work you put into it. I guided here in New Brunswick a few years for an outfitter, it was hard work and I loved it, but things didn’t work out. Now I like to bring friends on their first bear hunt. In 2011, I had two guys that wanted to try their luck at bear hunting. The first one was my nephew, Eugene, the second one was my friend, Gerard.
     My nephew has been following me around hunting, fishing and trapping since he was five years-old. He really likes being in the outdoors. A few years ago the government dropped the hunting age from 18 years-old to 16. Eugene was going to be 16 in April, four days before bear season, so I bought him a license for his birthday. Plans were made to go up to the camp and get things ready for the hunt; like baiting, putting up treestands and trail cams, etc. The season started really slow, we still had snow in May, and it rained a lot. Usually, I would start baiting in mid-April and have them hit the bait two weeks after, but this year they didn’t get hit until the middle of May. We still had fun checking baits and spending time at the camp.

Get Ready Boys
by Hugh Bevan

Gravel shifted under my feet and I felt myself slipping downstream, pushed by the cold, swift river. I yanked on the tops of my hip boots trying to eek out that last bit of freeboard as I inched my way across. It was hard to judge the depth of the crystal clear water. Fortunately, the far shore was just within reach.
     We had hiked two miles up a remote river in Southeast Alaska hunting for spring brown bear. My two friends, Lewis and Dave stayed on the riverbank, contentedly eating their lunches in the first warm sunshine of spring while I waded across the river to scout a secret meadow I had discovered the previous fall.
     Today was a glorious spring morning, sunlight streamed through the old growth Sitka spruce trees, lighting the green forest floor with radiant blotches of light. I threaded my way slowly through an immense patch of Devil’s Club plants, carefully pushing aside their thorny stalks with the rubber palms of my gloves.
     Finally I reached the meadow, but before stepping into the open I stood for a moment beside a huge spruce tree, admiring the dew studded grass. At the base of the tree was a fresh bear bed and just beyond it a well used bear trail crossed the meadow from left to right. Slowly I stepped from the forest into the meadow and onto the bear trail.


M's Gift Bear

By Edgar Harvey, Jr.

The wait for a bear harvest permit in Wisconsin can be as long as eight or more years. However, if an adult is willing after such a long wait, they can transfer their permit to a youth under the age of 18. Unless a young hunter is lucky enough to receive one of the very limited number of learn to hunt tags that are issued each year, this is the only possible way for them to get a kill tag before they are old enough to have received the needed number of preference points.
     A few years back Joe Caputo, a friend of mine (I was about to find out just how good a friend) was commenting that he had accumulated 10 preference points. Since he had started going to western states elk hunting every September, he saw no potential to ever use them. “I should just sign my tag over to a kid, and start over. I’ll probably have enough points accumulated by the time I’m ready to go bear hunting again,” Joe said. “You don’t know a kid that would like to kill a bear, do you?”
     Well, I did. My 15 year-old granddaughter Emilie (who we call “M”) had started deer hunting. She hadn’t gotten a deer yet, but she enjoyed shooting and being along on the hunt. I needed to clear the proposition with her mom and dad, but I thought it would be alright.


Make the Most of Your Long Vigils

By Bernie Barringer

I am a pretty high strung person and sitting still for long periods has always come hard for me. Three hours is a long sit for me and four hours seems like an eternity. Even sitting through an entire two-hour movie is a chore. But I have learned how to force myself into some long vigils because I know, in bear hunting, the payoff can be terrific. It’s a tired old saying, but the phrase, “You can’t kill them from the couch,” rings true in bear hunting.
     I have had to adapt to some long sits during bear hunts because they come with the territory. Sits of six to eight hours are not uncommon when sitting over baits. In fact, on spring bear hunts, those are the norm. I have climbed a treestand at 2:00 p.m. and sat it out until 11:00 p.m. when it was finally full dark and the guide came to pick me up. These are pretty common numbers for spring bear hunts in the Canadian provinces where the days are long in May and June.
     Black bears, especially where they receive little pressure from humans and the days are long, can appear at a bait during any time of the day or night. A trail camera might give you some good clues if the bear shows some degree of consistency with his timing, but more likely, his clock is his stomach and the alarm could go off at any time. Most people sit baits from mid afternoon until dark, because that is prime time. This 6-8 hour period is when most bears are bagged, and if you are like me, that’s a long stretch to stay on stand and stay focused. Here are some tips to help you stay on stand longer and be more focused and alert while you are there.



Ground Blinds for Black Bears

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Much is made of hunting for black bears over bait out of treestands or from ground blinds made of natural materials including logs, saplings, rocks and other common on-site debris. Many a bruin has been tagged using these methods and there’s no doubt that hunters will continue to use them as long as they are legal, safe and productive.
     In the last several years, however, the trend in deer, turkey and hog hunting has turned toward commercial ground blinds for a variety of reasons, and it’s only natural that bear hunters would get on the bandwagon.
     Are ground blinds the next “big thing” for bear hunters? That depends on a lot of things.
     The advantages of ground blinds are many, hence their great popularity with hunters who have to do a lot of waiting near food sources, game trails or (in the case of wild turkeys) strutting and feeding areas. It may be hours before the target animal shows up, and in that case the critter usually makes an appearance while the hunter is fidgeting with their gear, changing positions or digging in a pack for the last granola bar. Caught red-handed, the game is over and the trophy gets away unscathed.