Feb 02 2015
By Clay Newcomb
When it comes to bear hunting outfitters, not all are created equal. Comparing outfitters one to another can be difficult, because you often aren’t comparing apples to apples. Different types of hunts are designed for different types of hunters. People often call and ask me to give them a blanket referral to an outfitter, however, without some more information this can be difficult. Are they looking for a trophy-class bear or just a rug for the floor? Do they have $6,000 to spend or $1,500? Do they want a wilderness adventure in a tent camp or a relaxing hunt based out of a lodge? Do you want to hunt over bait, spot and stalk or chase them with hounds? Here is a simple break down of the different types of hunts and some suggestions for each category.
Wilderness Bait Hunts:
Wilderness hunts for black bear are usually top-end bear hunts that take place in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Alaska or Idaho in the spring. These hunts usually require extensive travel after you’ve hit the ground in your airplane and offer a classic northern bear camp environment. Camps are usually tent based and boat or ATV’s provide transportation. Most camps will run generators for electricity, sleep in wall tents and have hot cooked meals everyday. Most camps are located on river systems that provide access into remote areas. Many areas of the Canadian North are basically unhunted for bear providing great opportunity for hunting unhunted bears. Wilderness bait hunts are usually trophy-class hunts costing in the $3,500-$6,000 range. These exciting, challenging hunts are some of my favorite types.
Suggestions for wilderness outfitters:
Wilderness Enterprises, Alaska, 907-488-7517, www.wildernessenterprises.com
Bear Pro Safaris, Saskatchewan, 403-793-1780, www.bearprosafaris.com
All Terrain Bear Hunts, Manitoba , 204-679-0735 www.atbh.ca
Alberta Bear Bound Outfitters, Alberta, 778-251-6706 www.albertabearboundoutfitters.com
Wizard Lake Outfitters, Alberta, 780-984-4868, www.wizardhunts.com
Wilderness hunts can be very exciting and are usually top-end bear hunts in terms of price and potential trophy quality.
Lodge Based Bait Hunts:
Lodge based hunts over bait are can be an excellent way to hunt in the spring. Some of our outfitters have tremendous bear areas with relatively easy access and can offer better amenities. Lodge based hunts are often a bit cheaper than the wilderness hunts while providing home-cooked meals, electricity, running water and some of the comforts of home. Camps usually take numerous hunters per week and can be great for corporate hunts or large groups of friends or families. Depending upon the outfitter, these can be “trophy bear” camps or simply areas that you’ll see lots of good bears and have a great chance of success. Lodge based hunts can be found all over Canada in every province and also in Maine. These hunts usually run between $2,000 and $3,500 per hunter.
Suggestions for lodge based bear hunts:
Grandview Outfitters, Manitoba, 204-546-2751, www.grandviewoutfitters.ca
Northern Pride Lodge, Maine, 207-695-2890, www.northernpridelodge.com
Agassiz Outfitters, Manitoba 1-204-281-1918, www.agassizoutfitters.com
Riverside Lodge, Manitoba, 866-214-8402, www.huntriverside.com
McKinnon and Co. Outfitters, Alberta, 780-331-2440, www.huntmco.com
This 600-plus pound bear was taken with Grandview Outfitters in Manitoba last year. Lodge based hunts can be a great way to spring bear hunt.
Hunting bears with hounds is something that every hunter should do in their lifetime. You’ll learn quickly that it’s not about the “killing”, but rather the excitement of the chase. However, killing a trophy-class bear is a real possibility. If you’ve never been around hounds, it won’t take you long to see the value of this type of hunting and the strong culture of the houndsmen. This is a very valuable aspect of our bear hunting heritage. Hound hunting outfitters are typically in Maine, North Carolina, Idaho and British Columbia. Hound hunting is legal in numerous other states, but this is where the bulk of the outfitters are for numerous reasons. Hound hunts can take place in the spring or fall and usually run between $2,000 and $3,000. They usually require a hunter to be in good physical condition and are full of excitement.
Suggestions for a hound hunt:
Russell Pond Outfitters, Maine and Idaho, 866-552-2038, www.russellpond.com
Maine Trophy Outfitters, Maine, 207-930-9663, www.mainetrophyoutfitters.com
Richie Outfitters, Idaho, 208-756-3231, www.richieoutfitters.com
Bear Ridge Outfitters, Maine, 207-329-5483, www.bearridgeguideservice.com
Dick Scorzafava with a Maine bear taken with hounds.
Spot and stalk bear hunts can be some challenging and exciting hunts. Some provinces and states don’t allow baiting or hound hunting, so this leaves it to this type of hunting. Bears are great animals for stalking and the West offers some great opportunity for long-range glassing. Stalk hunts can either be a long-range rifle hunts or up-close bow hunts. You’ll usually be in some beautiful and exciting country on this type of hunt. It involves some physical stamina and patience for long days of glassing. Depending upon the outfitter, you may be based out of a tent camp or traveling from a lodge everyday. Considered by many to be the “purest” form of bear hunting, a spot-and-stalk Western bear hunt is a must for every hunter. Spot and stalk hunts can be all over the board in terms of price, typically you can expect between $3,000 and $6,000. In these types of hunts the outfitter is usually heavily involved in each hunt and takes only a small number of hunters.
Suggestions for Spot-and-Stalk outfitters:
Swanspoint Outfitters, Alberta, 780-206-2406, www.swanspointoutfitters.com
Pacific Bear Outfitters, British Columbia, 250-833-4599, email@example.com
Rawhide Guide Service, Montana, 717-629-0050, www.rawhideguiderservice.com
There are many outfitters that have found ways to cut costs and offer some really inexpensive bears hunts. Many don’t offer lodging and aren’t fully guided. Some just give the hunter a couple of active baits and let them hunt however they want. This is actually a very popular hunt for people on a budget that are just wanting to kill a bear. Most of these outfitters have good success rates and keep their hunters coming back. I actually killed my largest bear on what I would call an “economy hunt”. However, some guides are able to keep their price down even while offering lodging and food. I would call an “economy hunt” between $600 and $1,500 per hunter. If you are looking for an economy hunt, give these outfitters a call:
Lost Bay Resort, Ontario, 888-884-8870, www.lostbayresort.com ($950)
Opimika Wilderness, Ontario, 705-892-5617, www.opimikawilderness.com ($1,050)
Big Meadow Brook Outfitters, Nova Scotia, 902-774-2325 ($1,500)
Leon’s Guiding, Ontario, 704-744-5032, ($600)
These categories won’t fit all outfitters, but they will you a general understanding of the different types of bear hunts available. Bear hunting is a diverse sport with lots of options. Get out and bear hunt this spring.