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May/June 2009 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Sighting In Your Muzzleloader For Bear Hunting
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray

    Best Arrow For Bears?
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava

    Sizing Up A Bear
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney

    Scent Control Sense
  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan

    Under The Snow
  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie

    ATV Hunting Accessories
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    Considering Your First Hound Hunt?
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    The Ideal Bear Rifle
  • Scent Free Tactics with Bob Robb

    The Scent-Adsorbing Clothing Craze



Maybe I Sweat Pepper Spray

By Steve Sorensen

Maybe I am one of the worst hunters ever to sit in a tree stand in the Canadian bush. Or maybe I sweat pepper spray. Or maybe bear hunting over bait is not the lead pipe cinch that its opponents make it out to be.
     Some of them say, “Why would anyone hunt bears over bait? That’s no more sporting than shooting fish in a barrel!” “It’s as easy as pie,” others will comment, adding that your taxidermist should add some blueberry pie filling dribbling from your bear’s lower lip.
     If you are a bear hunter, you are tired of hearing lectures from critics about the lack of challenge in baited bear hunting. All nursery rhymes and fables aside, this nemesis of Goldilocks gets plenty of sympathy in today’s world. Non-hunters, anti-hunters and countless people without a lick of information about wildlife management think it is somehow immoral for a hunter to place their crosshairs on a bear.


Dial 911!

By Bob Robb

Hunting Alaska’s giant, and very dangerous, coastal brown bear is always exciting and a bit hairy. So then, why would you want to call one right into your lap?

Like many Bear Hunting Magazine readers, before coming to Alaska for the first time nearly two decades ago I had read all about hunting the ferocious coastal brown bear. Old guides and writers like Ralph Young and Russell Annabel had thrilled me with their tall tales of close encounters with these monsters, and I could not wait to see if I had the stuff needed to successfully hunt one.
     Fast forward almost 20 years. I have indeed realized my dream and hunted the coastal brown bear. A lot. In addition to hunting them every year for myself or with one of my buddies, I have grown to love it so much that for the past few seasons I have also been a licensed assistant hunting guide in Southeast Alaska, where we hunt both black and brown bear. It has been nothing but action-packed, with a new adventure seemingly around every turn. Along the way there have been some hairy encounters with charging bears with fire in their eyes, stalking bears in thick cover, always a wild experience, and having to deal with a client or two who, you come to find out when the chips are down, cannot seem to back up the big talk.


How To Butcher Your Own Bear

By Dick Scorzafava

Congratulations! All your hard work has finally paid off and you have your bear. Now the crucial work begins; preparing the animal for the table. Bear hunting is getting increasingly popular every year, but sometimes the meat gets wasted because of improper handling in the field. Nutritionally, the meat from a bear ranks right up there with domestic pork, but provides a much healthier source of nourishment. Bear meat that has been duly cared for in the field and cooked in a manner to enhance its distinctive flavor will hold an extraordinary place in any kitchen (especially my wife’s, the gourmet cook).
      The first job is to make sure the bear is correctly field dressed and cleaned before it is removed from the kill site. Many hunters fail to do an adequate job of field dressing and that causes problems when the meat is processed for the freezer.
       The meat must first be stored properly following the hunt by hanging the carcass in a cool, dry place. Pay close attention to the weather forecast and if it predicts temperatures above 40 degrees the meat must be moved into a cooler to hang, or cut up and put in the freezer immediately. I am sure that everyone has heard of aging their meat to perfection, which is a process that keeps the meat just a few degrees above freezing for a few days, just remember warm and hot weather temperatures will ruin the meat. So do not drive the bear around in your pick up truck to show it off to your friends for a day or two, especially if the temperatures are balmy because the meat will spoil.


It All Started With A BB Gun

by Barbara Plummer

I was a confirmed non-hunter for 45 and a half years. If you would have told me then that I would someday be hunting grouse and bear, I would have laughed at you. Long and loud, in fact. If you had told me I would be hunting and liking it, I would have laughed even harder and louder. Do not get me wrong, I am a registered Maine guide and I have always loved the outdoors. My husband will tell you I had already come a long way from my days of not eating any kind of wild game when I asked for a sling shot two years ago. The red squirrels were wreaking havoc with our bait barrels.
      But I am getting ahead of myself. My husband, Wayne, and I own and operate Northern Pride Lodge, in the heart of moose and black bear country. We both grew up in a small town in Maine and I was very fortunate to live on the outskirts of town with the woods and a river for my backyard.
      Late summer brings us into our biggest hunt of the year, our black bear hunt. We hunt over bait and in Maine that is a four week season. Although short, it is a year-round challenge to get bait and to keep all our sites fresh from the pre-hunt baiting period through the four weeks of the actual hunt. We take hunters for the first three weeks of that season then we hunt the last week ourselves. I just always did my hunting with a camera.


Winning The Bug Battle

By Bernie Barringer

It is something every bear hunter has to deal with. It does not matter if you are hunting in the spring or fall, Ontario or Arkansas, you are probably battling bugs when you are on stand. Black flies and mosquitoes are the primary culprits, but deer flies and horse flies can be irritating as well. Before we look at some ways to fight the battle, it is helpful to understand a little about the bugs themselves.
      There are many myths and fallacies concerning mosquitoes. One myth is that some blood types are preferred by mosquitoes over others. That is, certain humans seem to attract more mosquitoes than other human beings. The truth is that some people are indeed more attractive to mosquitoes than others, but research has shown that it is in their genes, not their blood types.
      If you are one of the unlucky ones with “bad” genes, well, this is the article for you. Some people do build up a resistance to the effects of mosquito bites by being repeatedly bitten. Mosquitoes inject a blood thinner that makes it easier to suck out the blood. This blood thinner causes a reaction that irritates the skin and causes itching. Over time, your body can build up a resistance to this irritation.


Your Own Pack – A Long & Winding Road

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Most bear hunters who return from a successful hound hunt have a tendency to say, “Well, that was easy. I think I’ll start a pack of my own.”
If they only knew! Fact is, if you start out with a trio of long-eared, long-legged Walker, Plott or Red Bone pups today, you might well have yourself a pack of straight, strike-to-tree bear hounds in, oh, maybe five years! In many cases, it takes even longer, depending on the dog, the opportunities they have to hunt and how much effort you are willing to put into it.
     Let’s start from the beginning with some big questions that demand a truthful answer. Are you truly ready (mentally and financially) to start a pack of bear dogs? Can you house, feed and maintain a pack of hounds year-round, and put in the time to train them, which should include 20 or more hours per week?
     Does your state even have a hound season for bears? If not, you will have to train and hunt somewhere else, and that means time and travel, not to mention expense. And, while you do not have to baby a bear hound like you would a bird or duck dog, they still need annual shots and vet attention, a place to live, food and water. The off-season costs of hound ownership may well exceed the in-season expenses incurred while running hounds during the bear season (mileage, motels, meals, tolls, licenses, permits, etc.).


Choosing A Broadhead

By Lon Lauber

The snap of a small twig and the almost fluid slow motion of black fur jumped-started my pulse, albeit in a vicarious manner. I was perched in a North Idaho fir tree coaching my 14-year-old son, Trevor, as he was about to arrow his first black bear. After several minutes of cautious hesitation, the bear finally approached the bait and offered Trev a perfect broadside shot. What happened next still amazes me.
     With shooting form and shot execution more like a pro than a kid, Trevor sent his Grim Reaper Hades broadhead-tipped arrow through both lungs and the heart of the bear. It traveled less than 10 yards and was dead in about six seconds!
     What a confidence booster for a young hunter, and excellent testimony to what a well-placed broadhead can do, dispatch game swiftly and humanely. From my perspective, that is what you should look for in a broadhead, one that makes you ooze with confidence and kills swiftly. Please realize that with so many brands and models available, the broadhead that bolsters confidence for me may not be exactly the same head you will choose. Regardless of make and model, here are the attributes I believe we all should look for in a broadhead: accuracy, sharpness, design/quality, flight noise, convenience, penetration, cut area and cost. Let’s look at each factor and develop practical standards for selecting a broadhead that will exude confidence for your hunting needs.


The Great .45-70

by Ed Hall

The .45-70 is a fine, short range cartridge for the average black bear and whitetail, but with the right bullets handloaded for strong rifles, it can become a smashing big bear stopper slightly bettering the popular new .450 Marlin.
    Beyond this, in the strongest rifles such as Ruger’s #1, the .45-70 can be handloaded to be right on the heels of our great .458 Winchester Magnum, an elephant cartridge. No other bear cartridge is so unique in handloading circles as the .45-70, so different that it is listed in most reloading manuals as though it were four different cartridges having varying levels of power and potency.
    Factory .45-70 ammunition is restricted to extremely low pressure levels because of its origin as a black powder cartridge in the weak Trapdoor Springfield rifles. These are still around, and ammunition must be safe in this old relic. Still, factory 300-grain jacketed hollow points or relatively soft, jacketed 405-grain loads are adequate for a shot over a bear bait. But that is just the beginning.
     Where ranges will be modest, the Marlin lever-action in .45-70 has been a favorite bear hunter’s gun or guide’s gun, but not with traditional Remington or Winchester factory ammo. Instead, a couple of small custom ammunition manufacturers offer .45-70 ammunition loaded with heavier, tougher bullets, and given considerably more punch than the wimpy “factory” loads. This ammo operates at higher pressures, unsafe for Trapdoor and other old rifles, so comes with a warning not to use this ammo in the weak rifles. This ammo, the better bullets and the added punch, change the .45-70 from a woodland deer cartridge to a potent bear stopper.


.44 Mag Lets Hunter Brag

By Dave Erig

When Walt Rupnik of Breinigsvile, Pennsylvania set out at 5 a.m. on the first day of the annual Pennsylvania Black Bear Season, little did he know that even in his wildest dreams this would be a memorable day for both him and the record books. What happened November 24th on his walk back to the cabin was beyond luck, and maybe, belief.
     The chance of bagging a bear during the Pennsylvania Black Bear Season is about three percent. It takes about 100,000 licensed bear hunters to create the annual harvest of around 3000 animals. Most hunters will never have the chance to set their sights on this big-game animal, but because the trophy is so special, about 11% of all Pennsylvania hunters will brave the hemlock hollows, mountain laurel tangles and secretive swamps in hopes of spotting the bruin of their dreams.
     “It was about 9:20 a.m. when I got hungry for breakfast,” said Rupnik. “As I walked back to the cabin, I spotted a hunter by the edge of the lower lake (Promised Land State Park). Not wanting to disturb his hunt, I cut into the laurels. They were so thick that I had to get down on my hands and knees and crawl underneath the branches and leaves. I only crawled a few yards when I came to an opening, and there on the other side, not 40 yards away, was a big, dark shadow. As its head turned and it stared right through me, I knew it was a bear. The laurels forced me so low to the ground that I had trouble reaching to my side for the Smith & Wesson, Model 29, .44 Magnum pistol.”


The Root-Canal Robbery

By Dennis Dunn

My first attempt to arrow a grizzly bear came in early October of 2000, a bit south of Atlin, British Columbia on the Taku River. I had booked the hunt with Guy Antilla, who operates his outfit out of Atlin. Sitting up there in the extreme northwest corner of the province, the town is so remote that Guy has most of his hunters fly to Juneau, Alaska where he then picks them up in his Cessna and personally flies them across the border into his river camp. U.S. and Canadian Customs matters are dealt with in Juneau before the cross-border flights.
     On this hard-luck 10-day hunt, the only bear I ever saw while afield was one we spotted twice, three days apart, and both times my guide described him as probably a male, and as a three year-old. “That one’s too small,” he said. “You’ll have other chances!”
            “If you think he’s a male,” I countered, “I just want to know if he’s legal!”
            “Yeah, he’s legal, for sure,” was the reply, “but we don’t let our hunters shoot bears that size. I guarantee you’ll see a bigger bear before the hunt’s over.”
      Well, my guide was right. The next morning, before ever leaving camp for the day, I looked up from the breakfast table to see a nice boar entering the river just above us. He quickly swam across and then, as if taunting us, spent the next 20 minutes poking around the beach about 100 yards distant, straight across from our boat launch. The Taku is a big river, and the swift current made any attempt at crossing it there a nonstarter. Finally, the bear tackled the steep hillside and disappeared into the forest.


When You Have Time For Fishing

by Mike Bleech

“When you write about this don’t tell people how good your fishing really was,” said Luc Rousseau, then owner of Wapus Lodge in Quebec. “My other customers will expect to catch fish like that and...” He hesitated for a moment before continuing. “Most of my customers can’t catch fish like that.”
      I relate that conversation with some trepidation. I promise my intention is not to brag about the fishing skills of my fishing partner that day, Jim Lucas, and I. But we are pretty serious about our fishing and even then so many years ago we had a good amount of experience under our belts. That was during my first Canadian black bear hunt about 25 years ago. I had taken a bear, not a particularly big bear but I had heard stories about the bears at these Canadian lodges typically being of only modest size. It took another visit to Wapus Lodge before I understood that they managed their territory conservatively so there were some very large bears.
      After taking my bear Lucas and I concentrated on fishing and for the next few days we enjoyed some of the best fishing of our lives. Still after all of these years of full-time outdoor writing, which allows for some pretty good adventures, that trip is one of my favorite memories. The fishing and hunting were great and I gained an appreciation of Quebec culture that I still love.


Blinds For Anywhere Bears

by John E. Phillips

Often bears will not show-up where you will find a tree large enough to hang a tree stand, or only on bright, sunny days. Many times you may have to hunt bears in thick cover on rainy days to take one. For portability and to stay camouflaged, dry and comfortable, consider using a blind for bear hunting. Blinds come in all shapes and sizes with various features for all types of terrain. Let’s look at some of the newest blinds on the market today.


Bear Attacks

by Richard P. Smith

Do not be surprised if you hear about a bear attack or two on residents of New Jersey in the near future. With one of the highest densities of black bears in North America coupled with a high human population, conditions are ripe for unpleasant repercussions for someone from a poorly managed bear population. Sadly, upcoming bear attacks in New Jersey are predictable.
       During the first four months of 2008, the most severe bear incidents were up a whopping 314% in the state from the same period in 2007. Those types of incidents include entering homes and attempted home entry, vehicle entry, livestock kills and other aggressive behavior, including attacks on people. There were only seven Category One bear incidents in New Jersey during the first four months of 2007 compared to 29 in 2008.
       After Scott Bach from Newfoundland, New Jersey had a confrontation with an aggressive bear while hiking near his home; he posted a warning for other residents of the state on the internet.
      “There is a very real and extremely dangerous black bear overpopulation problem occurring in New Jersey,” he wrote, “and the state has not appropriately addressed it to date. In the absence of immediate bear population reduction measures, fatal or near-fatal bear attacks are inevitable. There is also a state liability concern in addition to the public safety aspect of the issue, as state liability in bear attacks is a new area of litigation that could subject New Jersey to significant liability if the state fails to effectively address the problem.”


Bear Huntin’ The Hard Way

by James Vance

So, you think you know about bear hunting? We all do, right? Some of us go to Canada or to Maine, somewhere where there is a lot of bears. We sit in nice comfy tree stands over bait and harvest the bear of our choice, whichever one looks the biggest in relation to the bait barrel, or so we hope that is how is goes. In Virginia, they have their own system of hunting bears.
      This past fall my wife and I videoed a deer hunt for disabled hunters with Greater Outdoor Ministries, and I must say we had a blast. It was one of the most endearing hunts we have ever been on. The coordinator, J.R. Graybill, mentioned that he had a friend who bear hunts a lot. It piqued my interest, and I soon managed to finagle an invitation to join the chase. And I do mean chase. We were going to chase the bears with dogs. Easy you say? Well, it was an experience neither of us will ever forget.
       After several phone conversations, early December found us in rural Virginia waiting to meet our brand new bear hunting buddy. We said hello, exchanged cards and quickly headed out. J.R. had not mentioned that our new guide, Charles Montgomery, was the president of the Virginia Bear Hunter’s Association. After this revelation it was safe to say my wife and I were even more anxious to begin our hunt.
        We drove for a while out of town, up muddy gravel roads, around hills and ridges and finally ended at the last ridge leading to the top of a mountain. Here the wind had found a playground, so getting gear together made “chase” the game of the day. In Virginia lingo, “It was whipping it!”