Mar/Apr 2012 Issue
- Video Review
- Q & A - Tips
- Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
- Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
- Spotlight On: Ontario
- News & Notes
- Bear Association News
- Outfitters & Guides
- Hunter Photo Gallery
- Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy & The BMG
In Hot Pursuit with
Choosing a Superstar Pup
Scent Strategies with
Using the Wind
Crossbow Challenge with Daniel James Hendricks
Biggest Buying Mistakes
Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla
Defeating Equipment Odors
Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer
10 Things to Keep your Rifle Ready
Handguns for Bear with Ed Hall
Handgunning Alaskan Brown Bear
By Larry C. Rogers
I have got this thing about dangerous game. I love the excitement. I love the challenge. I guess I’m an adrenaline junky. My first taste was a brown bear in the 1980s. My guide blew a moose call and we got a full-blown charge by a 6 1/2-foot brownie. I stopped it at 30 yards. What made it even more exciting was the fact that my guide had forgotten to load his gun. Right after my shot was a – click!
I went sort of crazy after that. I did a few black bears; up close, but not really dangerous. Then the Africa bug hit me. I took a baited leopard at 62 yards. Not much danger there, but really exciting. After that, a cape buffalo at 30 yards, a lion charge at 23 yards, a rhino at 30 yards and, finally, an elephant in full charge at 12 yards. That one was way cool.
You say, so what? A lot of guys do that. Yeah, but I did each one with a handgun! The lion, buffalo and elephant were taken with a single shot Thompson Encore in .416 Taylor. The rhino was taken with a .475 Linebaugh revolver.
The first brown bear was taken with a .375 JDJ Contender with a 285-grain Speer Grand Slam bullet. I shot him under the chin, destroyed the spine, and he dropped in his tracks. My empty-gunned guide had problems lighting his cigarette after he cleaned his pants. So much for underpowered handguns.
Trophies of an Unsuccessful Hunt
By Steve Sorensen
In a breathless whisper Andy said, “It’s not even close to level, but it’s the best we can do.” My brother and I had climbed a quarter-mile up an Alaskan avalanche, perched on a bare spot, and clung to snow-crusted alders to keep ourselves from sliding down the mountainside. We planned on spending the rest of the day, all night, and all the next day atop that avalanche, peering through a spotting scope at the opposite side of the valley. We were looking for black bears.
No sleeping bags. No tent. No cook stove. We aimed to travel light without those burdens, and haul a head and hide out of the Alaskan rainforest. Our meat and potatoes were summer sausage and Pringles. Dessert was a package of Snickers bars. We snacked on nuts and raisins, sucked on hard candies and washed it all down with a sport drink.
On the way in we passed the ruins of an old prospector’s cabin. Nothing left but rotted log walls, traces of a set of bed springs, and a rusted out stove. As the story goes, the old-timer fell into the creek one winter. He survived but froze his fingers off. With nothing left but stubs, he kept up his search for gold. Adventuring in Alaska, whether for yellow treasure or for a brawny bear, has a way of toughening up a man.
Create an “A” List for
By Steve Bartylla
My friend and cameraman, Trevor Wilson, was suffering. He had committed the worst sin possible when going on a late spring Canadian bear hunt. He didn’t bring his head net.
Making matters worse, we were trying to arrow a bait-shy bear that had been wounded the week before on the same bait. The blind I’d set in the thick pines helped, but we still couldn’t afford a lot of extra movement, with the bear hovering about 100 yards out. The thick swarm of gnats and small-bird-sized mosquitoes were testing Trevor’s discipline to the limit.
Finally, compassion got the best of me. Removing my head net, I handed it to Trevor. He didn’t even make an insincere attempt at turning it down. The swarming bugs had brought him to the edge.
Luckily, my timing was about as good as it could get. Within five minutes, the bear finally decided the coast was clear. Limping in, he grabbed a chunk of bait and turned to leave. Sensing time wouldn’t be on my side, my Mathews was already at full draw and ready. The split second the bear began turning to leave, I sent the Rage-tipped Easton slicing through his vitals.
The only thing that could match my relief at ending his suffering was the relief I felt when manically swatting at my ears, forehead, cheeks and neck. In less than a minute’s time since my last slow brush off of bugs, somewhere over 30 mosquitoes had sunk their stingers. Never had I been forced to be so mentally focused on a shot, and I never want to endure a test like that again!
The Thrill of the Chase
by Dick Scorzafava
I have been chasing big bears around North America for most of my life and I’ve had the good fortune to put a tag on a few big bruisers from time to time. My mission on this adventure was to help another hunter, Bill Dermody, harvest his first bear with the new Savage Arms model 16 Bear Hunter rifle. Over the last several years I have been able to help several friends put a tag on the bear of their dreams and that was really rewarding to me.
I met Bill while working with Savage developing the model 16 Bear Hunter rifle, and the talk just naturally turned to bear hunting. Bill had never been on a bear hunt before and wanted to give it a try. However, he was a bit apprehensive about undertaking this new experience. I gave Bill the option of hunting over a bait or following a pack of hounds. He chose hounds immediately, probably because he is not a patient man, and said he couldn’t sit quietly in a tree and wait for something to happen. He preferred to be actively engaged in the hunting experience and the excitement a hound hunt can bring.
Plans were made for a fall hunt featuring my good friend Scott York who operates Spruce Mountain Guide Service in Maine. Scott is a second-generation hound hunter who is also a logger, which means he spends most of his life in the woods. Between Scott, his brother and father they have developed some fantastic hounds that are fast, tough, extremely cold-nosed, have loud bawl/squall mouths and are just bear crazy. Hounds need to be very high-powered and be able to run in the roughest conditions day after day and not poop out or quit during a race.
The Great Bait Debate – Part 1
By Bernie Barringer
A five gallon bucket of bait in each hand, I was walking down a narrow trail through the forest doing my daily bait routine. My mind was on other things as I trudged along as I had hundreds of times before. Suddenly, I was jerked to attention when a crashing noise came from the bait only 50 yards away through the bush. My first thought was that I had jumped a deer. I didn’t think much about it until I got home and plugged the SD card from the trail camera into the computer.
I was shocked to discover that there was a picture of a bear on the bait only 60 seconds before there was a picture of me approaching the bait. I hadn’t jumped a deer after all, I had jumped a mature bear off my bait… at 9:30 in the morning!
That bear never came back. For the remaining three weeks of the season, the bear never returned to that bait. In fact, every bear that I have ever bumped from a bait here in northcentral Minnesota has either never returned to the bait or only returned during darkness after having been pushed off a bait. That’s why I bait in the morning, when bears are the least likely to be on the baits in the first place.
Contrast that to some of the wilderness bush areas of Canada, where bumping bears off a bait is often an everyday occurrence. In fact, you can often bump a bear off a bait and get in the tree stand, only to have that bear come back within the hour.
What is Right for You?
By Stephen D. Carpenteri
Just as there are many kinds of bears, there are also many kinds of bear hunters. Some, of course, are the rabid get-one-at-any-cost types who care only about the moment when the bear shows up and the trigger is pulled. They don’t care what it costs or what it takes to get to that point as long as they have a bear to take home at the end of the hunt.
There are also hunters out there who almost don’t care whether they get a bear or not. Their primary interest is in hanging around camp with other hunters, telling stories, making jokes and otherwise relaxing. Some of these hunters may go out and spend a few hours watching a bait on good days, but for the most part they are in camp for the ambience, the experience and the camaraderie. If they never see or shoot a bear they will go home happy and satisfied if they had a pleasant experience with the outfitter and guides.
And then there are the majority of hunters who want to hunt from a comfortable camp where the food is good and the accommodations are at least warm and dry. They can’t spend top dollar for a plush outfitting experience but they are satisfied if they eat and sleep well, see a bear or two during their hunt and can go home feeling that their money was well spent. Tagging a bear is a plus but if other hunters in the group are successful they all head out satisfied and anxious to return next year.
For each of these varieties of bear hunting philosophies and expectations, there is a guide service that is a perfect fit. The key to an enjoyable bear hunt (whether over bait, using hounds or spot-and-stalk) is to be honest and up front with your outfitter during the planning stages of the trip.
Choosing the Proper Knives
By Tom Claycomb
When I was a kid there was not but about five different knife brands to choose from. Now days, go to your local outdoor store and see how many styles and brands they offer. It’s unbelievable. It’s also unbelievable some of the weird stuff that sells!
Certain tools fit certain jobs better than others. You can dig a hole with a spoon but a shovel works better. The same applies with knives. Ideally, to take care of a bear you need three different types of knives. Each has a job: Skinning, boning, slicing, etc. Do I always carry all three? No, especially not if I’m in the backcountry.
When buying a knife I look for two things. First, I have a handful of manufacturers that I like. I look in their selections. Next, I look for certain designs. Just because it’s made by a good knife maker, doesn’t mean that it’s a good design.
Let’s talk about hardness for a minute. A soft knife is easier to sharpen but doesn’t last as long. A hard one is harder to sharpen but doesn’t get dull as fast. It’s not a right or wrong, just more of a matter of preference. If you’re baiting, more than likely you’ll be packing in your bait with a 4-wheeler so you can have multiple knives or pack along a stone, but if you’re hunting with dogs or spot and stalk, you’re likely to kill one in the backcountry and have to skin them where they lay. You can’t pack along a lot of knives or stones so you don’t want a knife that will go dull halfway through the job.
Alberta Double Play
By Richard P. Smith
The introduction to black bear hunting for Michigan bowhunter John Benedict was far better than most hunters experience, regardless of what weapon they are hunting with. On Benedict’s very first black bear hunt, he bagged two bruins, one of which was brown in color. Both bruins were also bigger than average and had skulls large enough to easily qualify for records kept by the Pope and Young Club.
How he got both bears was also out of the ordinary. One was ambushed along a river where it was after spawning fish and the second was arrowed along a trail near camp that it traveled on a daily basis. Collecting those bruins with a rifle would be noteworthy. Doing so with bow and arrow makes the accomplishment exceptional.
John was hunting in Alberta when he met with such terrific success. The fact that Benedict is a skilled bowhunter, having taken many whitetails of record book proportions prior to going on this hunt, contributed to the outstanding results on his first effort after bear.
Addicted to Chocolate
By Bernie Barringer
Every bear hunt is a little different. The conditions are different, the surroundings are different, the guys hunting together a different, even the bears are different. I have come to appreciate these differences. So when I headed off to hunt bears in Saskatchewan last fall with Norberg Hunting Adventures, I was all about enjoying the unique aspects of this hunt.
One of the unique aspects that I was looking forward to on this hunt was the fact that the area offers a high probability of seeing a chocolate color phase bear. In fact, some years the outfitter’s harvest runs about 50% chocolates. A couple of aspects of the hunt that I did not expect was how much we interacted with the outfitter’s family on this hunt, and the interesting personalities that were hunting along side of me. Frank and Doug, from Tennessee, were the typical huntin’ rednecks and proud of it. I immensely enjoyed their company and I got a lot of pleasure out of hearing their hunting stories, both the ones from back in the hills of Tennessee and the ones from their frequent hunting trips out west.
I had also invited my friend, Virgil, along on this hunt, and I was looking forward to getting to know him better, both on the bear hunt and on the long drive to and from Saskatchewan.