After over 20 years I can still remember the first time I headed out west to bowhunt. The 60-plus pound pack seemed to get heavier with each step I took deeper into the wilderness area, and after nearly 4 miles of steady climbing I finally reached the particular bowl I felt held promise. After setting up camp I stood in awe as I took in the vastness of the Creator’s awesome handiwork and dreamed of what I hoped would transpire in the coming days.
Being an adult-onset hunter, I found my calling and cut my teeth in the mountains. Not as a hunter, but as a backpacker. Every August I spent the first two weeks on a trail in the alpine, oblivious to the possibilities of hunting. The beauty of the backcountry appealed to me on multiple levels. The fresh mountain air combined with the pursuit of adventure, solitude and a sense of invincibility were only the tip of the iceberg that called to my soul.

Apr 29 2021

The Struggle: Lessons Learned

Seasons come and seasons go, but it’s often the lessons learned that mean the most.

We eased down the road at a snail’s pace, dodging a couple piles of sticky-wet bear scat along the way. The closer we got to the bear’s last known location, the more we glassed hoping to see him from a distance. However, when it comes to stalking bruins on their terms, everything needs to fall into place. What they lack in perfect eyesight, they more than makeup for with their ears, nose and sixth sense. And with the thin mountain air cooling under the dropping sun, a capricious mountain breeze settled in. Seasons come and seasons go, but it’s often the lessons learned that mean the most.
Three native Oregonians received the confirmation email stating we successfully drew Alaska’s Southeast bear tag for 2016. Todd Freitag, Scott Thorpe, and myself were now in the frantic planning stage of the hunt. We all have harvested many trophy-quality bears in Oregon, but the famous Prince of Wales (POW) Island bears were a whole new breed we’d never hunted.
A very smart man once told me, “You can’t kill anything if you’re not out there,” and through the years I’ve found that to be as true of a statement as you can get.
I really wasn’t expecting much as I began making my way down the steep slope towards the remote bait site. After eight days of checking three different setups that I positioned in one of Idaho’s national forests, activity was slow to say the least. Although I would like to blame the inactivity on something tangible like the weather, hunting pressure or a regional downturn in overall bear numbers, there was just no evidence of that.

Jan 14 2021

A Traditional Slam

With several black bears under his belt stretching from the Lower 48 to Canada, it was time to finish his traditional slam. And although it seemed like a long-shot for this blue collar plumber from Illinois, with Fred Bear as his inspiration and a traditional bow by his side, he knew that he could follow in his footsteps.
Aside from many not knowing about the spring seasons that Arizona has to offer, many don't even know there are bears here. When one thinks of Arizona, they probably are just thinking "dry desert" with bears being far from their mind. I've talked to more than a handful of folks who were surprised when they found out Arizona offers some great black bear hunting opportunities. In fact, when it comes to the lower 48, Arizona actually comes in 3rd in top record book black bear locations, right under Colorado, with California holding the torch and standing on top.
“How do I get started bear calling?” I have been asked numerous times by people looking to get into calling. It is quite simple really, go online or to a store and purchase yourself a predator call (rabbit distress, fawn bleat, that type of thing). You must first decide, however, what type of call you want to use.

Nov 05 2020

Bringing Them Close | Calling Western Bears

Calling western bears isn’t easy, but it’s sweet when it comes together!

After blowing a predator call for nearly 15 minutes, I was beginning to question my sanity. Not that I have anything against predator calls, but producing some tunes from one of them usually means you’re looking for trouble. When I caught movement out of the corner of my eye a few minutes later, I knew I had found it; or better yet, it had found me, and in an instant I knew what it was! I strained my eyes to the side to confirm my suspicions—it was a bear. His coal-black hide glistened in the pool of September light, as he stood motionless trying to find the easy meal; I just hoped he wouldn’t mistake me for one.