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Current Issue

January/February 2009 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie

    Cold Weather ATV Storage
  • Scent Free Tactics with Bob Robb

    Silver Ion Technology
  • Muzzleloading with Al Raychard

    Keeping Muzzleloaders Loaded
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray

    How To Buy A Bow – Part 1
  • Guns & Optics with George Dvorchak

    Sights & Sighting In
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney

    Timing – The Ticket To Success
  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan

    Bait Behavior
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava

    Booking The Bear Hunt Of A Lifetime
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    Wall Street And Bear Hounds



Black Bear Boogie

By Ted Nugent

There is no doubt that the wilds of Canada are special, spiritual places. I have celebrated many over-the-top exhilarating nature highs in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Quebec, the Yukon and New Brunswick, and they all got the mighty spirit of the wild on fire, that is for sure. I have forever rocked out in all those provinces, and also in Alberta and Manitoba too. I am convinced I will one day, in the not so distant future, experience the glory of the Northwest Territories and everywhere else in the northernmost zones of God’s country North America, and I so look forward to it. Canada is a friend of mine, and her people are my Blood Brothers.
       Well, most of them are, anyhow. Sadly, in such a great land of such great people, the government of our neighbor to the north leaves much to be desired in the freedom and logic department. That nature shuts down on Sunday in Canada with its ban on Sunday hunting, that professional bear guides are not trusted with a handgun, in fact in many regions are forbidden to carry or possess any firearm while in charge of their clients’ safety in forced close proximity with dangerous carnivores. That deer hunters are forced to dress like clowns in all white or all red jumpsuits and many other insane, nonsense regulations like these, is heartbreaking to say the least. The Canadian hunting regulation books are full of clearly goofy, counterproductive rules and laws that serve no meaningful good whatsoever, and for this bureaucratic wastefulness I am offended as a freeman, true north sporter and conservationist.


Creating Memories

By Dick Scorzafava

  The best thing about memories is creating them, especially with family. You cannot plan life’s perfect moments, but you can give things a nudge in the right direction sometimes. I wanted to plan a spring bear hunting trip with my son, Tony, in Alaska because it is truly the last frontier and I wanted to experience it with him. Alaska is without a doubt one of the most spectacular places on the planet. It has what I call “eye candy” everywhere you look. Its scenery will literally take your breath away. When my good friend Scott Eggemeyer from Bear Paw Drifters called and invited my son and I to come up and spend a few days fishing with him and then go bear hunting with Mike Flores, owner of Ninilchik Charters, there was no hesitation in my answer.    
      Mike runs boat-based trips out of Homer and Whittier in the spring for black bear and halibut fishing. These boat-based trips generally last five days and are basically a self-guided bear hunt because Mike has what is called a transporter license. They take the hunters to the hunting areas with a big boat and use skiffs that are towed behind them to transport the hunters to land. They can in no way assist in the hunt by spotting bears, carrying harvested animals from the field to the skiff, or skinning and preparing the meat to take home. Hunters are basically, on their own doing this type of hunt. Operations like Ninilchik Charters supply the transportation to the hunting area and a place to sleep and eat. I figured it would be a great way to spend some quality time with my son.


An Outfitter’s Bear Tales

By Judd Cooney

“I hate bears, really hate bears,” muttered the distraught hunter as he tossed his bow into the back of my pickup and climbed into the front seat. “I’ve killed a dozen whitetails with my bow and never gotten as shook as I was tonight,” he mumbled as I handed him something to drink. “Unless, of course you count last night,” he snorted as he a murmured a few one syllable words under his breath.
       The previous evening a huge bear had sneaked silently into the bait he was watching just as it was getting dark and he got the shakes so bad he could not draw his bow for fear the jouncing arrow would bounce off the rest. By the time he recovered a semblance of poise the wary bruin had melted back into the woods, leaving him a quivering, quaking, bear bit bowhunter. Not a very exclusive club in my bear hunting experience.
       It took my flustered bowhunter a few miles and a second refreshment before he finally told me his evening’s bear induced tale of woe. When he got situated in the wooden stand overlooking the bait he carefully stuck an extra arrow in the floorboards of the stand ready for instant action should the chance for a second shot arise. As daylight diminished and his adrenaline and anticipation level soared, every stump and log looked like a bear. He was intently scouring the brushy slope behind the bait where the bear had appeared the previous evening when the sneaky and totally silent bear suddenly appeared between the trees supporting the stand, ten feet directly below him with only its head and shoulders sticking out.


Bear Hunting Bucks the Hunting Trend

by Mike Bleech

 Of course the white-tailed deer is our most popular big-game animal and by a good margin. But what many folks fail to realize is that bears, or let us narrow this down to the black bear, is our second-most popular big-game animal by a similarly large margin.
     In many states black bear are the second most popular big-game animal for the simple reason that they are the only big-game animal other than whitetails. But that is just part of the story. Black bears share another of the same reasons that whitetail hunting is so popular; black bears have a widespread range, not as widespread as whitetails and not as numerous where they share the range, but usually they are more highly prized because they are less numerous.
       The popularity of hunting black bears is in spite of the fact that hunting black bears requires more effort than hunting whitetails. One major reason is that many states, most states, require a special black bear hunting license. And yet while the number of whitetail hunters is declining, the number of black bear hunters is increasing, at least in some of the major hunting areas.
       In 2007 Pennsylvania sold 665,719 adult deer hunting licenses. That same year Pennsylvania sold 130,675 bear hunting licenses. What is remarkable about that figure is that 10 years before only 112,008 bear hunting licenses were sold. That is a 17% increase in black bear hunting licenses during the same period when resident adult deer hunting license sales declined by 18%.


Consolation Booner

By Richard P. Smith

Most bowhunters would be happy to get one chance at a black bear with a Boone and Crockett skull. Jason Welch from Perronville, Michigan, passed up a world class bruin 14 days in a row before finally “settling” for the biggest animal he had seen while hunting over bait on private land. As a first time bear hunter, Jason was guilty of underestimating the size of the bears he was seeing (most novice bear hunters have a tendency to overestimate their size) and photos from his trail camera of bears that were visiting his bait before the season contributed to the problem.
       The bear Welch finally shot obviously ended up being much bigger than he expected, both in body and skull size. The bruin had a dressed weight of 353 pounds and its skull officially scored 21 12/16-inches, putting it in second place among bow bagged bears in Michigan. It is number one among bow kills from the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).
      The highest scoring bow bagged bruin currently on record for Michigan had a skull that measured 21 13/16-inches. Byron Sawer got that bear in the Lower Peninsula’s Montmorency County during September of 1999.
     Jason said his scouting camera photographed 11 different bears as they visited his bait before his hunt started on September 10th. He guessed that the biggest one was twice the size of the one he ended up shooting, and the biggest one is the one he decided to wait for when his hunt started. When you realize that Jason was comparing a 400 pound bear to one that might have been as much as 700 pounds or more, it is easy to understand how and why he would consider a 400-pounder small.

Mathews is Unbearish for 2009

By Jeff Murray

At a time when multi-billion-dollar businesses are pulling back in a bear economy, archery juggernaut Mathews Inc. is pulling out – all the stops, that is. Indeed, while most bow companies will introduce, at most, one or two new “flagship” models this year, Mathews is offering a handful. On top of that, these folks are launching a new bow company and a new camouflage licensing program, Lost Camo (another story for another issue). I, along with a few other bow hunting writers were invited to an early viewing of Mathews’ new bows and accessories. Bear Hunting Magazine was also granted the inside knowledge so we could bring you their new and exciting information right away. Here is the scoop on the nation’s leader in bow technology

On a Mission: New Models From Mathews’ Sidekick Company.
   Mathews launched Mission bows a few years ago to provide bowhunters affordable models at moderate prices. It has been a wise decision, as hunters can get Mathews’ famous technological advances without paying for the name. For the first time ever, Mission is debuting a dual-cam model, the Menance, that is so innovative that you have to re-read the details to fully comprehend it. It is without question the only bow of its class and is targeted for entry level archers.


Hound Hunting Tactics That Work

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Mainstream hunters who are well versed in hunting “normal” game, such as deer, turkeys and waterfowl are often stymied when it comes to the ins and outs of bear hunting with hounds. Most hunters can walk out the door and at least find the game they are seeking, or at least the tracks and sign thereof, but putting a bear up a tree, in range and with regularity, that is not a common outdoor experience!
    However secretive it may seem, bear hunting with dogs is not high on the list of rocket sciences, even though most hound hunters keep their tricks and tactics well hidden. Having been a guide, a private hunter and a client, I have seen all sides of the equation and, truly, you can learn all you need to know about the sport in a couple of sessions. Like anything else, of course, the fine-tuning can take years. I have seen guides with long years in the business totally mess up a day behind the dogs, so it is not like mistakes cannot be made.
For example, one fall we were filming a video on hound hunting and got off to a blazing start at the first cornfield we hit. The strike dog nearly tore his cage apart letting us know the bear was there, the running pack hit the ground face first in their enthusiasm to get going, and the dogs were soon out of sight, bawling and chopping with extreme vigor.

Avoid These Mistakes When Hunting Coastal Grizzlies

By Hugh Bevan

The wind was perfect, blowing gently into my face. I had worked silently through some thick brush and was just easing into a sitting position for a shot at a nine-foot Alaskan coastal grizzly boar. He was walking directly toward me, escorted by his lady bear. She, by the way, was a whopper of a sow. They were about 70 yards out and closing pretty fast. My shot angle on the boar so far was lousy.
    Suddenly the boar stopped. His head came up and he started that deep inhaling, heavy exhaling exchange of air that signals, “something is up.” In disbelief, I watched him turn and stride into the trees. He was gone, probably for good. It was then that I realized the wind had shifted slightly and he must have picked up a few molecules of man smell. In the excitement of the moment I had lost track of the wind and I paid for it by missing out on a trophy bear.
    Alaskan guides will tell you the coastal grizzly or brown bear can see as well as a man, hear as well as a deer and has a sense of smell that is supernatural. That is a formidable package of defenses for a hunter to overcome. In order to get a good, safe shot, a hunter (rifle or bow) has to get close and that means he has to stay focused and avoid making mistakes. Let us take a look at some of the things that can trip up a spot-and-stalk bear hunter.

Crude Awakening

By Bill Vaznis

 I backed the Toyota into the long abandoned log landing, and turned off the engine. “The bait is just over a quarter of a mile from here,” whispered my guide Vance McVicar, “but sound can travel quite a ways around here so don’t slam the door when you get out. Look for a small spruce decorated with blue and orange flagging tape on the right-hand side of the old logging road. That will mark the final trail to the stand. I will stay here and keep my ears open. If I hear you shoot, I will drive your Tundra down to the stand and pick you up. The bears have been cleaning out this bait site on a regular basis, so I anticipate you will get some action soon after you settle in.”
     I exited the 4x4, and loaded the tube magazine of my .450 Marlin Guide Gun with Hornady’s new 350-grain lever-action ammo. I had a good feeling about the hunt, and could not wait to see how my new bear-buster would perform at close range. I glanced back at my truck and made eye contact with my hunting partner, John Grab, who decided to sit out the first evening’s hunt. I then began sneaking down the brushy, old logging road. Little did I know then but my hunt would be over in less than 20 minutes.
    As I approached the bait site I heard growling and snarling and branches breaking. There were several bears squabbling over something, but I could not see far enough into the dense underbrush to make out how big the bruins might be. I quietly slid my pack off my shoulder and onto the ground, and slowly levered a shell into the chamber. Cautiously, I eased down the old logging road, my senses on fire.

Black Power - Black Powders & Replica Powders

By Dave Ehrig

As a muzzleloading bear hunter, you can never forget the old adage, “Keep yer powder dry!” But as a modern muzzleloader, we have far more choices to make than the color black. Can you substitute any powder for black? Does size and shape matter? Will they all “go ka-boom” and make white smoke? We need to know!

  Four solid days of rain, lightning and even moments of quarter-size hail could not put a damper on our enthusiasm. This was my son’s first trip to Canada and it was also his first taste of a spring bear hunt. While I carried my primitive muzzleloader, a Pedersoli .54 caliber American Jaeger flintlock, Matt was toting a modern muzzleloader. While I stuffed a hundred grains of GOEX black powder and a patched .530 roundball down the giant maw of the octagon barrel, Matt dropped two Triple Seven pellets and a 300-grain T/C Shock Wave Super Glide Sabot down his .50 caliber Encore.
        Steel sparks or primer-exploded gases were the bigger issue than the propellants being used. Inside the plywood box blinds that Domaine Shannon uses for bait sites, hunters can sit high and dry while waiting for the silent stalkers of the tangled taiga. And, being adjacent to La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve, my many trophies over the years were no surprise to anyone who has visited this “Quebec Bear Factory” site shared by the Danis family.

Hornady’s New Bear Busters - 37 Ways to Drop a Bruin

by Ed Hall

Hornady bullet company, a mild mannered manufacturer of dependable hunting bullets for many years, recently stepped into a phone booth, turned a couple of times and emerged a super manufacturer on the cutting edge of cartridge technology as well as hunting and target bullets themselves. Bear hunters in particular have several reasons to thank Hornady, as the great majority of Hornady’s recent innovations are robust and well suited to bear hunting.
       One of the best bear cartridges of all time, the .450 Marlin is a Hornady development. Their new .375 Ruger outperforms the great .375 H&H Magnum, and does it in a standard length (and standard price) rifle action and from a shorter barrel. No one denies the .375 H&H as good medicine for the great bears. And Hornady has just introduced similar technology for the .416.
       For more than a decade, bear hunters have made good use of the extra performance of Hornady’s line of Light Magnum and Heavy Magnum ammunition. Developments in powders and loading techniques are such that Hornady offers 37 cartridges and loads having a significant increases in velocity and energy (usually 10% or more) over standard factory ammunition, within established pressure limits.

Women In Bear Camp

by Diane Raychard

According to most polls more and more women are getting into hunting. I joined the fold about 25 years ago, soon after I met my husband, Al. We were not married then, but after hearing Al talk about his hunting trips and experiences afield, and after repeated invites to join him and his assurances “a lot of women hunt,” I finally agreed. To be honest, I was not sure if I would even like hunting, but as he does now, Al hunted a great deal then, and I knew if I ever wanted to spend time with him during the spring and fall I better learn to join the boys as it were.
      That summer I took the mandatory hunter safety course, invested in a firearm, a Ruger .30-06 equipped with a scope, practiced a lot and was ready for deer season that fall. Looking back, I really cannot remember if I filled my tag that first season, but I did discover I actually liked hunting and have looked forward to each season ever since.
     Like most hunters I guess I started out hunting deer, but since then my interests have changed. Al has bear hunted since before we met. In fact, he has often stated bear hunting is his favorite hunting activity, and when he asked me to join him on a spring hunt in New Brunswick I jumped at the chance to see what all the hoopla was about.