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May/June 2012 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Archery Talk with Steve Bartylla

    Stand Safety
  • Handguns for Bear with Ed Hall

    Rifle Cartridges in Handguns
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Sow-in-Heat Lures
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Bear Sights - A Better Way
  • Muzzleloading with Al Raychard

    The Future of Muzzleloading
  • In Hot Pursuit with Travis Reggear

    Off Season Maintenance



One Wild Hunt

By Vilena Hunt

It was only two days before Christmas and it was unusually warm in North Carolina. In a split second, I tried to understand exactly what was happening around me and what was not only expected of me but what was absolutely needed of me. To my left was a man I had only met just one day before, mouthing to me the words, “SHOOT! SHOOT! NOW!” While in front of him were fired up bear hounds barking in different tones and voices the same message. Most haunting was the image directly in front of me. Only a few feet away was the most massive and fearsome beast I have ever seen in my entire life. Menacing, scowling, frighteningly rocking back and forth, perhaps reassuring himself of exactly what he was about to do. In those short moments I realized that everything I knew or thought I knew about hunting may mean nothing or everything.
     The week before, my husband surprised me with an opportunity to harvest a bear in Washington, North Carolina with a guide named Justin King. It was his Christmas gift to me. The purpose of the trip was not to get a trophy black bear, but instead to get the sweet meat that comes from the bear. The previous year my husband had harvested his first black bear and we were spoiled by the incredible flavor of the meat.


Not for the Faint of Heart

By Gary Lewis

Tod Lum loaded cartridges into the magazine and closed the bolt. We left the truck parked on the road and climbed uphill on a bare slope. Twenty minutes later we worked onto the shoulder of a finger ridge and looked down into a canyon choked with hawthorn bushes.
      We set the caller below us on the slope and found a vantage point. Insistent, the FoxPro whined its pitiful electronic cry. We didn’t have to wait long.
     The bear emerged from the bottom of the canyon and stopped to look back. The first shot shivered him and he ran left along the hill. Tod chambered another round, swung and shot again. The bear rolled end over end to the bottom of the canyon and came to rest against a fallen pine.
     Calling bears, whether with a mouth call or an electronic unit is charged with electricity. It never happens the same way twice. Sometimes they charge right in. Sometimes they swap ends and head for cover. When they come, they come ready to fight; sometimes with jaws popping, sometimes circling, silent, intent. Calling a predator armed with sharp claws and teeth is not for the faint of heart.


When There’s No Blood Trail

By Richard P. Smith

By the time I talked to Brant Erbentrout on the morning of October 1st, he had almost convinced himself that he missed the bear. He had taken a questionable shot with his muzzleloader just before dark the previous evening. As so often happens at baits, the bruin had waited until the last minutes of daylight before appearing near the food source. Earlier in the evening, Brant had caught glimpses of bruins moving to the sides and behind the bait, but was not able to see enough to take a shot.
   The bear that finally looked as though it would go to the bait, was milling around nearby rather than feeding. Concerned that the bruin was going to leave without eating as it turned away from the food, Brant took the only shot he had. He knew the end of shooting time was near and that even if the bear came back, it might be too late to shoot by then.
   The shot was rushed, but the sight picture in Brant’s scope looked good when he pulled the trigger. And he’s an experienced hunter who is familiar with the rifle he was shooting. It was sighted in, and based on what I learned about Brant, he seldom misses because he doesn’t shoot unless he’s confident of connecting. Nonetheless, he was second-guessing himself.


The Great Bait Debate – Part II

By Bernie Barringer

Last issue, in the Great Bait Debate series, we discussed how often a bait should be tended. This second installment follows hand-in-hand with the same theme, but we will discuss how much bait is the right amount to place at a site.
   The debate about how much bait should be used boils down to two primary opposing camps. On the one hand, you have the belief that if a bear comes back to your bait site and finds nothing to eat at the location, you may lose them. They may find another baiter’s site or a natural food source and never come back. Or maybe they were just passing through and you missed your one chance to hook them.
   The other camp states that once you have bears coming, it is better to leave them a little hungry in order to create competition, so bait with less and leave them wanting more.
    Both of these ideas have merit and they are very general of course, and each side has some valid points. The camp you fall into will be influenced by other outside factors, such as the differences between spring and fall baiting, and whether or not a weather-resistant container of some sort can be used to place the bait in. Let’s explore these factors, but first, a little science comes into play.


Heart Attack Cliff

By Hugh Bevan

“I’d give it a 5.8,” my friend Will said, referring to the system rock climbers use to rate the difficulty of their climbs. We were in the middle of a stalk on an Alaskan coastal brown bear and we had run into a rock cliff. Ten feet of vertical, moss covered rock rose above us, the dripping water an added bonus.
   “I’ve seen you do 5.10,” he grinned. “Sure,” I replied. “But that was 40 years ago and I wasn’t wearing waders and carrying a pack.” Will had been the route finder in our climbing days and he pointed out a tree root and a slime covered rock nubbin that he was sure would work for me. He even offered to hold my rifle.
   After much cussing, dangling and thrashing, we were both lying on our backs and gasping for air in the bushes at the top of the cliff. Will asked me if I was carrying Nitroglycerine pills in case he had a heart attack. I couldn’t recall a harder pitch of rock climbing.


Thanks Honey

by Tina Richard

My husband, Jerome, and I went on vacation for a bear hunt up at Mainely Adventures Lodge in Maine during the fourth week of the bear season. We got to the lodge and hung out with Pam Ward, the owner, until the rest of the hunters showed up. In the evening we had a great feast of lobsters, steamers, steaks, baked potatoes, veggies, baked beans and, to top it all off, a scrumptious desert. After dinner we settled around the campfire and got to know one another better.
    We woke up early for a hearty breakfast and hung out until we went out for our afternoon hunt. My site was awesome as it was in some hard woods. I saw two big bears come in after legal hunting time, so I just watched them until it got dark. When I first heard them coming they were making all kinds of noise and I thought it was a moose until I saw the first bear at the bait barrel. The bears were good size, probably between 250 and 300 pounds. I got a little nervous because I was only 18 yards from the bait barrel and about 12 feet off the ground. I could hear them blowing, snorting and snapping their teeth as they fought. I was worried that they would come up my ladder stand. My guide came and got me out around 7:30 p.m. and I was glad to get out of there! The guide was a bit nervous because one bear was still at the bait but it eventually moved off a few yards away.


Life’s Challenges

by Ted Buckland

It is not easy for a fifth year Parkinson’s patient to financially commit to an event taking place a year later, let alone commit to go on a bear hunt. But that’s what I did.
   We were at our accountant completing our tax return and Jim was telling Sharon and I about his bear hunt in Maine. He had a great guide with 25 years of tracking experience and said they averaged 85% success, his group went 100% last year. He then asked if I wanted to go with them next the fall.
   What could I say? Who would turn down the chance to get attacked by a bear? A black bear can run 35 mph and climb a tree in a matter of seconds. They have a nose like a blood hound and the hearing of a piano tuner. They can’t actually play a piano but I hear they can dance. With all that talent, who would say no? So I dropped my money down and kissed my wife goodbye. We then spent the next several months asking ourselves if we had made the right decision, me being slow both physically and perhaps mentally. But since the deposit was non-refundable and my life insurance was paid up, Sharon encouraged me to go.


Stopping the Antis

By Al Raychard

In January of 2004 an organization called Maine Citizens For Fair Bear Hunting (MCFBH) submitted more than 100,000 signatures to Maine’s Secretary of State to put a question on the November ballot in 2004 that read, “Do you want to make it a crime to hunt bears with bait, traps or dogs, except to protect property or research?”
   At the time, Maine was one of 17 states that allowed the use of hounds to hunt bears, one of 11 that allowed baiting and the only state in the country where bears could be trapped. If passed, the new law for all practical purposes would put an end to hunting and trapping bears by means that had been legal and considered by many to be a tradition since before Maine became a state in 1820. It would also put an end to the most viable and practical methods of managing the state’s growing bear population, through regulated hunting and trapping.
   Of course, Maine hunters had been challenged with wildlife-related referendums before, but this one was different.
   Never had so many signatures been gathered and approved by the Secretary of State’s Office to put a hunting issue on the state ballet. In fact, the number submitted was twice the number needed. It was an ominous sign.


A Blast from the Past

By Larry Hatter

Some of the most unique reminders of our country’s history reside in the most inconspicuous places. They rest in the corner of an old, dusty attic beside a rickety chest of drawers or on the rack at a downtown pawn shop, mostly unappreciated and uncared for. Make no mistake though; firearms have played an integral role in our ascension from a few middling colonies into a thriving nation. It’s for this particular reason, when I first laid eyes on the old Remington propped in a dim corner of an old farmhouse, I didn’t see an aging piece of steel and wood, I saw a link to the past.
   By the mid-1860s, little was known about the American west and even less about the vast frozen north. Still licking its wounds from a protracted Civil War, the United States turned its attention to expansion west of the Mississippi River, a term coined by the government as “manifest destiny.” To accomplish this task however, a substantial upgrade was necessary from the traditional cap and ball musket the average frontiersman carried. The old smokepoles were only marginally effective when pitted against the bow and arrow and virtually useless against the large and dangerous game these unexplored lands had to offer. With the advent of the self-contained cartridge however; the tide started to turn and in 1867 the Remington #1 Sporting Rifle was born.


Surrounded by Bears

By Jon Nystrom

I was young when I first contacted Schutte’s Bear Camp about a bear hunt and I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t see a bear that first year. I did hear a bear growl and saw a tree the size of my calf muscle bend over while a bear scratched its back. I had the opportunity to track a bear too. On my hands and knees I crawled through some nasty undergrowth not fit for a bear let alone a human. Envision yourself crawling through a tunnel of brush barely able to move in any direction but forward or backward. Not a good situation if you need to run from something in a hurry! In the dark I heard a growl and whispered back to Bill “That bear is still alive!” We backed out and came back later and found the bear dead.
   That was my first encounter with bears and I learned one valuable lesson. If I was going to pursue bears with bow and arrow I had to be sure of my shot or not shoot. Now, 17 bears and many years later I have always followed that fundamental rule. I have passed on some really nice bears because the shot was not perfect. This year would be no different. My passion for hunting bears has not waned. Wisconsin tags take seven to nine preference points depending on the area of the state hunted. With a tag in hand, I contacted Bill and Beverly Schutte immediately and started planning my hunt.