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Jan/Feb 2012 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Muzzleloading with Al Raychard

    Muzzleloading Pistols
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    .458 SOCOM
  • Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla

    New Releases
  • Handguns for Bear with Ed Hall

    The .44 Magnum
  • In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear

    Factors that Change the Race
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Bringing Bears to Your Location


Crossbows & Bears

By Bernie Barringer

Wherever the topic of crossbows is brought up, it seems like dissension is right around the corner. Crossbows are controversial, not because of the bows themselves, but because many bowhunters feel like they are being violated when crossbows are allowed during the general archery season. That is true with deer hunters, to varying degrees, across North America.
    Deer hunters yes. Bear hunters? Not so much.
One of the primary reasons is that in most areas there are no separate seasons between gun hunters and bowhunters when it comes to bear hunting. Here in Minnesota, for example, there is no distinction made about the weapon you choose. Draw a bear tag and shoot it with whatever you want. That may be a recurve bow, longbow, compound, handgun, shotgun, rifle, muzzleloader or crossbow. Take your pick! Most states and provinces have similar laws.



The Quest for a Color Phase Bear

By Al Raychard

I suppose what intrigues me and so many others about color phase bears, other than the fact I have never killed one and they are supposed to be black and aren’t, is not much is known about why they are colored and why for the most part, they are a western phenomenon. To my knowledge, no study has ever been conducted to find the answers, which has only elevated the interest in hunting color phased bears and the mystery and uniqueness surrounding them for most hunters.
    The best evidence, and most accepted explanations suggests color variations are the result of climate variations and helps camouflage bears in certain habitats. In the moist, densely forested east where better than 98% of the bear population is black, the dark coat does indeed help bears blend into the shadows. In the generally drier west, where vegetation is sparse and there is more open ground, brown, cinnamon or blonde offer better camouflage. In some parts of the west, some localized bear populations can be up to 90% color phase.



Are You Ready for Your Next Bear Hunt?

By Nathan Theriault

The crisp, September breeze blew and the air was mixed with a wet, cool mist. The hunter was sitting in his comfortable treestand overlooking the bait site that was situated at the edge of a cedar swamp. This site, married by a properly set-up stand, made for an ideal bear hunting location. The hunter sat patiently, having an enjoyable first night and seeing a sow with two cubs. With the change in weather came a feeling of excitement. The thought of seeing another bear, coupled with an increased heart rate, the hunter remained quiet and patient.
    As five o’clock rolled around on the second afternoon of the hunt, the air became calm while the mist continued to blanket the Maine woods. Out of the forest, not making a sound, stepped the huge black bear. The dominant bruiser of a bear cowboy-stomped into the site, swinging his head side to side as if he were trying to sense something. With all of his senses working, the bear was trying to detect the wrong smell or noise which would make him more wary of the area. The large bruin walked over to one side of the opening and then towards the other as if he was just going to walk right out without eating. The hunter’s excitement level was high; he knew this was his chance. He pulled up his rifle and the bear fell at the crack of the 45-70!



Spring Strategies for Bad Weather Bears

by Paul E. Moore

The day had finally arrived. It was time to drive out to the hunting lodge, but unfortunately I wasn’t overwhelmed with excitement as expected. After spending the night in a motel in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a quick internet check of the weather forecast left me feeling drab and wondering how the week would unfold. Every prognosticator I checked was predicting rain and storms the entire week. The hunt was booked, money was spent, and the past two days had been spent driving. No choice left but to suck it up and press forward.
    Spring bear hunting is tremendously exciting and one of the most popular pursuits among big-game hunters. When all goes well, sitting at a bait site in the remote backcountry anticipating the arrival of a spring black bear is absolutely one of the most fun hunts a person can have and it can be quite addicting. On the downside, sometimes the weather can have a big impact on bear activity and subsequent hunting success. Many times, being able to adapt to changing weather conditions will spell the difference between success and disappointment.



Maximizing the Benefits of Modern Trail Cameras

by Rex Summerfield

It is strange how a simple picture can bring back a flood of memories. Stumbling across a 20 year-old photograph of my first mature black bear started me reminiscing. Knowing basically nothing about how to set up productive baits back then, the plan was to simply dump some food in likely looking places around the country and hope that bears would flock in by the dozens. Not surprisingly, most of these baits were never hit. While researching techniques on black bear baiting, a lot of information was gleaned from Bob McGuire in his book entitled Black Bears. Today a more concise book on the subject would be The Radical Bear Hunter by Dick Scorzafava. The information contained in these types of books will get you well on the way to setting up successful bait sites.
    After harvesting several smaller bears during years of trial and error, it all finally came together when a six-footer fell to a well-placed arrow. That kill was a culmination of hard work and study and proved to be a pivotal moment in defining my bear hunting technique. Not only is a good location and choice of baits essential, but even more important is figuring out the size and numbers of bears visiting the site. No single method existed to provide these answers, so eventually a four part system was developed for collecting the necessary information.



My First Bear Hunt

By Erik Fitzgerald

Being 14 years-old and growing up in Bemidji, Minnesota, I have heard about bear hunting my entire life. Living next to Wisconsin, I knew it can take up to eight years of preference points to get a tag, so I was privileged and thankful when an opportunity for a bear tag came along. One of the owners and guides from Big Timber Redbones and Outfitting, Annette Zeman, is a college friend of my mother, and she was able to arrange to get a bear tag transferred to me through someone who had enough points and thought it would be good to see a young hunter get a chance at a bear.
    My family and I headed over to the Hayward, Wisconsin area during the summer dog-training season, which runs from July through August. This is a few weeks before the actual bear harvest season opens. Dave Samuel and Annette, the owners of Big Timber Redbones, showed us how they baited and ran their dogs on bear. It really helped because none of us had ever been bear hunting with hounds. We helped sand some baits, so during the season we could see tracks easier. We carried five-gallon pails of sand into the baits, which was very hard work. We were able to see a couple of bears the dogs ran and treed so we understood better what to expect. We learned from Dave and Annette it is more about the dog work than killing the bear.


Macenzie’s Bear

by Macenzie Hermanson

I was so pumped on our drive up to our hunting area in northern Minnesota where my dad and his buddy, Mark, set up my bait. We knew this will be the time that I will finally get a shot at a bear, we could feel it. Mark said, “If a bear is on the bait when we get there, you give me the gun and we will belly crawl.” At this point I looked at Mark like he was crazy and said, “Yeah right” thinking that he was joking and saying he will shoot it for me. He then looked at me really serious and said, “I’m serious, there is no way you will be able to belly crawl with that gun, it’s too heavy.”
    By the time we arrived we were already running late and had to hurry to get everything unpacked and ready to go. We started walking towards the bait where there was a big brush pile on the left and then it turns into a clearcut where you can see the bait. We passed the brush pile where Mark peeked around the corner to check the bait. He turned towards me and said, “There’s a bear on the bait!” I looked at him in disbelief and said, “What? No there’s not.” He then looked at me and with the most serious look I have ever seen on his face and repeated, slowly this time, “There is a bear on the bait.” I could feel the look in my soul. Mark then realized that the ground blind he had set up a week earlier for us to sit in was flattened like a pancake on the ground. The bears got it. So Plan A was out the window, we had to make a Plan B.


The Biggest Bear of My Life

by Scott York

Little did I know the biggest bear of my 30-year bear hunting career was right in front of me. He was in a cave, with two hounds barking in his face. I was standing on a small ledge with nowhere to go, trying to talk one of my very nervous, wide-eyed clients into joining me so he could kill the giant beast.
I suppose, I should back up a little and explain how we found ourselves in this predicament. The morning began with us checking baits and finding one that was hit. The bear had eaten about half of a five gallon bucket of bait. This was back before I used trail cameras and nothing at the bait site gave us any clue of the huge bear that had fed there the night before. I turned Striker loose at the bait to get the track started. He cold trailed up the ridge and one by one, I turned in Rooster, Red and Bubba. Soon I heard them catch up to Striker and about half a mile later I heard them jump the bear. The race was on.
    My clients were a couple of good old boys, Peter and Brandon from Ireland. They had been living in the states for a few years, but had never bear hunted before and they certainly had never hunted with hounds. They really had no clue what they were in for.


Newfoundland’s Black Bears

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

The first thing any bear hunter will notice upon their arrival into the interior of Newfoundland’s vast softwood forest is that if there’s any such thing as perfect habitat for black bears, this is it. Endless miles of dense, dark evergreens broken only by rivers and lakes greet hunters from “The States,” as Newfoundland natives like to call the U.S. Drive for hours and all you’ll see is more woods, more green, more prime bear country. It’s no wonder that Newfoundland has some of the best black bear hunting in North America.
    According to the Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Tourism, the island has some of the biggest black bears in North America, with some specimens topping the 600-pound mark. Baiting is allowed and hunters may use rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders and archery gear to bag a bear. Most of the Newfoundland outfitters who specialize in bear hunting utilize elevated stands and baits that may include moose and caribou parts as well as the more common donuts, breads, pastries, dog food and similar bulk baits.


Captured Moments with Taxidermy

By Dick Scorzafava

Taxidermy work is really a form of art and selecting the right taxidermist is critical if you want a quality job that is going to last a lifetime. There are many out there to select from and their work ranges from poor to outstanding. Having an animal mounted is a sizeable investment for most hunters, especially if you get into any of the life size mounts.
    My opinion on taxidermy work is simple. Locate the best taxidermist you can that has a great reputation with bears and use them. The taxidermist I use, Joe Pitruzzello, owns Northeast Taxidermy Studio and does world-class work. Additionally, he is very helpful in planning your needs for a hunt. To end up with a superior mount there is much more involved than just dropping off your bear hide at the taxidermist after a hunt, and a lot of it happens right in the field.
    When a hunter harvests a trophy of a lifetime on a bear hunt they will have unbelievable memories to cherish for the rest of their life. So when they look at and show the mount to others they should want the best representation of their trophy possible. This way they will be proud to look at and show it to anyone and it will last a lifetime. It isn’t worth saving a few dollars and not being happy with your mount. I have seen many sorry looking mounts over the years and heard the stories from hunters who were unhappy with the finished product they received from their taxidermist and by then it was often too late to do anything about it.


Grizzly – Down to the Wire

By Arne Anderson

Around the middle of January last year, my daughter Kaitlyn caught the hunting fever, due in no small part, I think, to the influence of her fiancé Brandon, who comes from a hunting family. In any case, she decided she would like to try to take a grizzly bear. We decided to apply as a group application so if we were lucky enough to be drawn, we would both have authorizations and the long trip to the chosen hunting area in British Columbia would make more sense, with a chance of double success. February 5th was the deadline for our application. Then, after a few weeks of anxious waiting, we got the exciting news that we had been drawn and could each purchase tags.
    My own history as a bear hunter spans over 40 years of avid pursuit and I have taken a lot of bears in that time, including several grizzlies. However, it has been almost 20 years now since I have taken a grizzly for myself, although I have helped some friends get bears. My main focus was to help Kaitlyn to succeed on this hunt. I love to see new recruits to the hunting world become successful and learn of the challenges, fun and excitement to be had. Upon our arrival in the high mountain grizzly country in late May, we found a good level area near a river to set up our camp and went for a quad ride in the evening to see the area and its potential. I had been here four years earlier on a solo spring grizzly hunt, so I knew the area a bit. However, I just made it a one day side trip at the end of my hunt in a neighboring zone that I had drawn that spring, just to check it out while I was up there.