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Jan/Feb 2011

Feature Sections

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


  • Handguns for Bear with Max Prasac

    Saving Your Bacon
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Nose Camo for Bear
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Weak Side
  • Archery Talk with Bob Robb

    Tweaking Hunting Arrows
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Getting the Next Generation Ready
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    A Bear Hound's Life Demands Top Nutrition



Solo In The Rogue River

By Brad Christian

If killing a bear were a pre-requisite to manhood, my wife would report a dramatic decrease in male sightings at her favorite Sacramento nail salon. On my first bear hunt I learned that these magnificent beasts demand absolute respect. Preparing to stalk one requires discipline. Successfully killing one puts hair on your chest, hair you'd never consider removing with hot wax. It's not a hunt for girly men.
     It was the fall of 2009 and my wife, who is my best friend and hunting partner, was out of commission after the birth of our first baby. After failing to recruit a temp, I decided to go it alone; an unguided, spot-and-stalk solo mission to slay a bear on our great country's public land. Did I have what it takes? Could I walk into the Rogue River National Forest (RRNF) with a bow and come out dragging a bear? I didn't know, but it sounded glorious.
    After laying the groundwork with topos, Google Earth, along with everyone and their uncle at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, I felt I had a relatively good handle on things. I arrived in the RRNF after a 350 mile drive two days prior to the commencement of the season. I muted my Johnny Cash CD and rolled the windows down as my F-150 entered the black forest. The earthy smell of mountain air and the sound of swamp tires crawling over uneven terrain soothed my soul. With tired eyes, I pulled down a steep trail beneath the fire road and called it a night.



Bear Vision – Eyes Optimized for Survival

By Bernie Barringer

There is the common misconception that bears have poor eyesight. It might surprise you to learn that their visual acuity is even better than the whitetail deer.

Myths often get repeated so often that they become very difficult to dispel. The myth that bears have poor eyesight has been passed down by so many generations that it is spoken of as fact by many people. A male grizzly bear was once observed trailing a sow in heat. The male had his nose to the ground and was dogging her. She circled back around and came past him at only about 100 feet, but when he looked up, he did not respond to the sight of her, he kept right on trailing her even though it took him 200 yards farther away from her present location. Many people might interpret this as a bear with poor vision, but a biologist who observed this stated that the male saw the female clearly, but he just depends on his nose so much in his everyday life that he was not going to let his eyesight take over.
     Some recent scientific research has revealed some interesting things about the eyes of a bear and how the bruin's eyesight compares to others, such as humans and deer. But first, let's take a moment to understand how the eye works.



Three Generations of New Brunswick Wildmen

By Ted Nugent

    Greetings from the lofty boughs of a New Brunswick spruce tree.
    Under most conditions there is no way I would dare type away on my laptop from a big-game hunting stand, but since I am privileged to be in the expert professional care of the Dyer family bear camp, in a tree stand that is literally set up perfectly, I have supreme confidence that I can actually get away with it. The inspiration is electric all about, and I know by sharing it from the New Brunswick bear wilderness epicenter, I can best share the adrenaline pounding excitement of my hunt right here as it unfolds. Purely wild!
    Spring bears in this neck of the woods can be extremely spooky, seeing, hearing and smelling all with a nearly omniscient predator radar that misses nothing. But Chris Dyer, 27 year-old grandson of founding grandpa Lawrence Dyer, knows exactly what it takes to ambush a wise old bruin with a bow and arrow. He and his father, Danny, along with uncle, Dave, live this stuff, and stacking the odds in favor of their hunters is their obsession.



Close Encounters of the Bear Kind

by Judd Cooney

It is a good thing I did not have time to give much thought to the situation I was in as the medium-sized black boar enthusiastically responded to my soft lip squeak and head directly at me from 30 yards out. I was kneeling against a ten-inch pine in plain sight of the approaching bear, hoping my camouflage clothing and immobility would keep me invisible. The only object between the rapidly approaching, obviously hungry bear and me was a burned and blackened four-foot high stump, less than five yards in front of me. The situation would not have been half bad if I had been armed with a rifle or muzzleloader, but the fact that I was imitating a soft, fuzzy, free lunch armed only with my trusty bow and arrow made this scenario one of the less intelligent (meaning STUPID) calling situations I'd gotten myself into.
     I did not give a thought to the end consequences when I first spotted the black blob on the ridge above me deep in the northern bush country of Alberta. When the dark shape first appeared on the top of the ridge, a hundred yards above me, all but obscured by the intervening brush, I figured it was a moose responding to the last ten minutes of seductive moose music I had been producing. After five minutes of glassing the amorphous shape with my Nikon binocs it finally moved and metamorphosed from the moose of my dreams into a shiny pelted black bear.



Back to Quebec

by Bob Robb

I have been hunting black bears pretty seriously since the late 1980s, when I took my first bear on a rough & tumble hound hunt in Oregon (it was legal to run dogs there then). I have hunted bears throughout the Rocky Mountain West, Alaska and western Canada, but had not really hunted them east of the Mississippi River much. That changed when I went to Quebec in 2009, a bear-rich province I had always wanted to hunt and it was a great trip.
    So when I told some friends I was going back to hunt the same spot again in 2010, they got a funny look on their faces. My buddy, Big Paul, asked, "If you get to go and hunt so many cool places every year, why would you go back to the same bear camp you hunted the year before? Especially since you have been hunting black bears for almost 30 years and written a book on the topic?"
   Isn't it funny how you can justify doing something you really want to do in strange ways? In 2009 I hunted Domaine Shannon using a rifle willed to me by an old friend and mentor who had passed away just three weeks before that hunt, and it was truly a magical trip for me. I shot a very good bear the first evening and experienced some wide-open fishing for walleye and northern pike. The hunt was so good, the lodge owners, guides and staff were so friendly and competent and the atmosphere was so relaxed, I just had to come back with my bow.



Campfire Tales

I Slept with a Bear
By Hugh Bevan

  I was watching a charcoal colored mink run along the edge of the ocean when the deep moaning cry of a wolf echoed from the head of the bay. Six adult timber wolves ran out of the trees. They were coming my way and I watched them cover ground at an amazing pace. This was a hunting pack and they were on the move looking for prey.
   “The wolves were a problem and their presence complicated my hunt. The Alaska state limit on wolves in the Duncan Canal area is five per year, but the season had closed last month. I didn't want to fire a shot to scare them away for fear of pushing away any large black bear that may be in the area, too; but this time of year, at the end of winter, wolves are very hungry and they will readily tear apart a black bear, dead or alive.

The Red Bear
by Chris "C.J." Jarvis

  The phone rang and my young friend, Ryley, was on the other end with an important question. "C.J," he said, "I have a bear if you want to skin it for me?"
At Ryley's birthday party not that long ago, I told him I would skin a bear for him for free as part of his present. I was excited to see this high school student enjoying the outdoors and hunting and wanted to help him with a bear if he got one.
       On my way over to his house, after grabbing my three good knives, my stone, a camera and my dog, Samantha, I replayed what he said in his call. "We think it is a chocolate phase, but cannot tell because it was after dark when we recovered it. Whatever color it is, it sure looks different," Ryley said.

Texas Kids go Bear Hunting
by Tom Claycomb

 Last year my brother-in-law from Texas and his children came up to visit our family in Idaho. We had a great time and my 16 year-old nephew, Monty, asked before he left if he could come back and go bear hunting. I, of course, said yes. A few weeks later he had his plane ticket, and to make a long story short, that fall he missed a big one.
    Ever since, he has had a burning desire to come back and get a bear. So after a year of planning, his 12 year-old brother, Tom, and he flew up the last week of the season. My friend, Ed Sweet, who owns the TV show "Kid Outdoors," came along to film the hunt. He and Gary Kirkpatrick picked the boys up early so Monty could practice using a Knight .50 cal. black powder rifle while I met them at camp later that day.



The Measure of Success

By Bill Wiesner

It was four o'clock in the morning as I anxiously waited in my diesel for my wife, Sandy, to hop in so we could pick up her brother, Greg, and his wife, Sue. Our destination was Quebec, for a spring bear hunt. Although I have hunted bear all over Canada and the United States, this was our first adventure to the province of Quebec. Excitement was at an all-time high as the four of us were finally on our journey northward. Stories quickly changed from how the family was doing to bear hunting lore.
    Let's turn the clock back two years when I was hired to do bear hunting seminars in the state of Virginia, only an hour south of Washington D.C. When the show opened, I realized I was across the aisle from a bear outfitter from Maryland that had a guide service in Quebec. Jim Steward is a big hulk of a man who spoke the language I wanted to hear. He wasn't a salesman, rather an outdoorsman that told you the way it was. In fact, he explained his camp, Club Lac Brule, to me and I booked 10 hunters off his word, something I never do. My theory is to always hunt a camp before bringing hunters and friends in on a hunt.


Crossbows & Bear Hunting

By Daniel James Hendricks

As crossbow popularity expands across North America like a runaway wildfire, many more of these unique hunting tools are showing up in bear camp. The curious thing about this growing trend in bear hunting weaponry is that the crossbow is not only appearing in the company of the older bowhunters, but it is also being used increasingly by youngsters and women. Even a lot of vertical hunters are choosing the crossbow just because they want to hunt with a new weapon. The bottom line is that more bears than ever before are coming into the bait barrel, and looking up an arrow shaft that is resting on a crossbow.
    What are some pros and cons that should be considered when choosing a crossbow for bear hunting? One critical factor to realize is that the crossbow actually has less kinetic energy than a vertical bow. This dictates that the arrow launched by a crossbow will drop faster and lose its penetration power at longer ranges quicker than one shot from a compound bow. At short distances, however, the power of a crossbow is devastating, which makes it a perfect match for bear hunting, considering that most baits are 20 yards or less from the stand. Even at 40 yards, the crossbow is an effective killer, but extreme caution should be exercised beyond that point. Accuracy is obtainable beyond 40 yards with a lot of practice, but waning speeds and rapid kinetic energy loss beyond that point could turn a fatal shot into a wounding one, especially if the broadhead connects with bone.



After Pains

By Tammy Koenig

Adrenaline is a great thing. Every hunter yearns for a cleaning dose of it after a successful hunt. Unfortunately, though it feels good at the time, there may be bystanders waiting to use your excited state of mind to their benefit. Unwise decisions can be made after the hunt that are irreversible later. Keeping your head about you is easier said than done and nothing will put a damper on a great hunt like the loss of a record book skull.
    The phone rang for the third time. It was a bad day, even for a Monday, and it was about to get worse. He hesitated before he picked it up for good reason. This was the last person that might know the whereabouts of his Boone and Crockett bear skull. Lost in the excitement of taking the enormous bear, he had placed the skull in the hands of the local taxidermist for cleaning and measuring. Little did he know it was the last time he would ever see his bear skull. All hopes and dreams of official bragging rights were gone. Worse yet, he would forever harbor a sour taste after such a monumental victory afield.
    Let's face it. A trophy skull is worth a price to an unethical or "wanna be" hunter. We need to take our heads out of the sand and realize that crime has seeped into the very essence of our ethical pastime. If you choose to ignore the reality of it, you may end up spending endless days waiting for your phone call with the same result as the poor guy mentioned above.



Lessons Learned

By Todd Mascaretti

My addiction to bear hunting began in the mid-1990s during Ontario's spring hunts. Those hunts sadly came to an end and I was faced with the dilemma of finding another reputable guide. A fall bear hunt was not an option at that time as I did not want to give up my bow deer opener.
    I skipped a year of bear hunting while searching for a place that was close to home and eventually I booked with a great camp. I did not get a bear that first year but, what I learned there saved many other hunts to come. I insisted on using the same scent cover that worked in Ontario. Big mistake! The time I spent searching taught me to ask a lot of questions and visit camps prior to the hunt.
    As I grew in my bear hunting experience, I witnessed actions by clients, guides and myself that made camp life difficult. Expectations of guides not laid out, clients knowing more than the guides and not listening to instructions are all prime examples. I have learned how to be a good client in camp and be welcomed back.


Wayne Carlton's Secrets to Calling Bears – Yes, it Really Works!

By John E. Phillips

Wayne Carlton of Montrose, Colorado, the creator of Carlton's Calls, now part of the Hunter's Specialties' call line has hunted bears for more than 30 years. A producer of game calls for most of his life, Carlton assumed there had to be a way to call-in bears. After experimenting with various methods without much success, he stumbled upon the right formula one day while hunting turkeys.
Bear Hunting Magazine recently asked Carlton to sit down and share his secret bear calling strategies with our readers. Here is what he revealed.

What got you started calling bears?
"I became really serious about learning how to call bears once the Colorado Wildlife Commission banned hunters from baiting for bears. When I first moved to Colorado, hunters in the state were able to bait bears, but someone decided baiting bears was not a good idea. Baiting allowed hunters to see bears and then decide which one to take, which was fun. After I learned to call bears, I realized there were not many bears I saw that I could not call."
"Bears are easy to call, because few people actually call them. I think probably many hunters don't know anyone who has called-in bears using bear calls. Over the years I have learned that bears are not call-shy. They will come into calls readily, and calling bears is a lot of fun and really exciting."