Subscribe Now!

Current Issue

July/August 2009 Issue

Feature Sections

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

Columns

  • Scent Free Tactics with Bob Robb


    Cover Scents – Yes or No?
  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie


    ATV Winching Tips
  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan


    Polar Politics
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer


    Eye Relief
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen


    On the Road
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray


    Proper Bow Fit (guest columnist Jay Strangis)
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney


    Calling Off Species
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava


    Hunting with Hounds: Is it Ethical?
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer


    New Scopes for Bear Hunting

Articles


 

Brotherhood of the Bruin

By Brandon Butler

The bruin had slipped through my shooting lane in a flash, but I knew it was still there. A tell-tale crunch of foot steps defied the beast. My heart raced and my fingers tightened; my senses were alert like never before. The moment of truth was taking place, and a young man’s lifetime worth of waiting was coming to an end.
     The dream of embarking on a far off hunting adventure dominated my thoughts throughout my early 20s. The glorification of distant destinations has been embedded in my hunter’s heart through the reading of countless books and articles by those fortunate enough to take to the highway in search of far off places. These many accounts of adventure made me long for experiences of game I had never hunted before and campfire camaraderie with strangers bound by a hunting heritage.
     Of course, at this stage in life, time and money can be a bump in the road. Reaching the plains of Africa, the mountains of Alaska and the deserts of Mexico will have to wait. So when my uncle devised a way to realize the lifelong dream of the young hunters he has brought to the fold, we all jumped at the chance.

 

Planning a Hound Hunt for Bears

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Back in my bear guiding days, I spent many long, off-season spring weekends in a cramped sportsman’s show booth, hoping to fill our quota of six hunters per week for the upcoming hound season. With show attendance in those days averaging 1,000 avid sportsmen per hour, I only needed to convince one ticket-holder an hour to plunk down their deposit for a week in Maine’s north woods bear country. Armed only with an easel covered with photos of big bears taken in seasons past, along with a lazy old Walker or Bluetick for “color,” I usually had our five-week season folded and tucked away before I had to break camp and head back home on Sunday night.
     Interest in bear hunting was just turning the corner to obsession in the late 1970s, and baiting as a business was still in its infancy. A hunt with hounds was as close to a “guaranteed hunt” as any bear guide could offer, and clients were not all that difficult to find.
     The real challenge in hound hunting, then and now, is dealing with clients who show up having no knowledge of what a hound hunt entails. We would have car-loads of out-of-state hunters show up in camp Sunday evening fully dressed in all the orange clothing they owned, some smelling worse than a week-old bear after riding in a hot, cramped vehicle for 12 or more hours. September in Maine is what the locals call “balmy,” and that means daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Four layers of wool, down and other insulation materials will have you roasting like a Christmas pig by sunrise, and those knee-high, tri-color wool socks of the era could create world-class cases of athlete’s feet, if not trench foot, by the end of the first day.

 

Bonding Over Bears

By Christian Berg

Quebec’s remote black bear country offers common ground for a die-hard bowhunter and his rifle-hunting father-in-law.

True sportsmen measure the success of a hunt not only in fur and feathers, but in the quality of the experience and memories made. Still, it is one thing to acknowledge this fact and quite another to own it, and I for one am grateful for life’s reminders that it is better to do the latter.
      Such was the black bear hunt my father-in-law, Jay Zimmerman, and I made to Taggart Bay Lodge in Quebec last spring. It is no exaggeration to say our trip was a decade in the making. The two of us had been talking about sharing a hunting adventure since I married my wife 11 years ago, but things just never came together. Financial concerns and hectic schedules were factors, but when it comes right down to it, I think the reason it took us so long is that we have completely different hunting styles.
       My father-in-law is a traditional Pennsylvania rifle hunter. He looks forward to visiting his favorite deer stand year after year, riding his ATV up the mountain on opening morning and carrying a backpack loaded with enough snacks to feed a family of four.

 

Bear Traps and Snares

by Tom Parr

During the early years in the United States very few bear traps were made in comparison to the beaver traps used by the mountain men of the day. Men such as Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Pierre Chouteau, John Jacob Astor and others that helped shape our country mostly trapped the beaver during this time period. Bears did create problems for the early trappers and there were blacksmith’s such as Miles Standish that made a very limited number of bear traps in the early 1800s. But of these traps, less than a handful have survived with collectors today. We need to remember that in the 1800s a blacksmith could not just order the materials needed from a steel plant, there were none. They used anything they could get their hands on, like axe heads, scythes, old files, bolts and anything else they could get that could be hardened and tempered for the springs and for that matter used for all trap parts. With this in mind, the blacksmith could make over 15 beaver traps with the same steel it took to make one bear trap.
      It was not until the creation of Oneida Community and one of its member’s, Sewell Newhouse, did the bear trap become more available to the trapper. Oneida Community formed a communal living group in New York around 1848. By 1855 Oneida Community started producing the Newhouse No. 5 and No. 6 Bear Traps, with the No. 6 being the largest, weighing 50 lbs. It was called “The Great Bear Tamer.” In a trap report offered for the year of 1864, Oneida Community reported a yearly sale of 30 bear traps while during the same period they sold 7,250 beaver traps.

 

Belated Call to Duty

By Jon B. Munger

A century-old No. 5 Newhouse finally gets put to its intended use.

In my day job as a probate lawyer, I frequently encounter interesting situations and interesting items of property. That was the case about five years ago when I handled the legal process of probating an estate for a deceased local couple. Among the interesting items in their estates were a series of collectible sports and outdoor items assembled by the husband over a series of many years. One item was a beautiful No. 5 Newhouse Community pan bear trap, in excellent condition. The son and daughter of the couple were unable to recall where or when their father had obtained it, although it was apparently the type of thing he would occasionally pick up in his travels, from various auctions, estate sales or antique stores he frequented. At the time I was a trapper, but not yet a trap collector. I mentioned several times how nice the trap was, but I gave it no further thought for some time.
      At the end of the probate of that estates (which was rather contentious and disputed between the two siblings), the various items of property were distributed to the family. Some time later, the daughter and son-in-law of the deceased couple, grateful that the matter had been resolved, presented the trap to me as a gift! I was deeply flattered by the gesture, although at the time I had no clear idea of the value of the trap. Owning that trap, coupled with the fact that I was already a trapper, spurred me to become interested in trap collecting. I began assembling a collection of traps that I found interesting, largely old Triumph, Gibbs and Newhouse traps. That old No. 5 has remained, however, the centerpiece of my collection.

 

New Bear Scents & Lures

By John E. Phillips

Most people think bear hunters do not act normally because most everyone will run if they see a bear running toward them. However, bear hunters just grin and either mount their rifles or draw their bows. But how can hunters get bears to run, walk or maybe even sneak into their stand sites? For many years, hunters have successfully lured-in bears with various types of lures and scents. To attract a bear by fooling its nose, take a look at these.
Bear Scents, LLC
     Big Paw – Known to attract bears within minutes, the Big Paw, a combination of scents, will work as a burn or as an addition to bait for flavor. A hunter can place Big Paw in a metal coffee can, hang it from a tree branch and heat it with a torch to produce a strong sweet aroma that bears cannot resist. Also, a slow simmer using a sterno burner or an all-day heater works extremely well with Big Paw and creates a powerful aroma over great distances. Use Big Paw to open new bait sites and entice bears.
     Caramel Extreme – This extremely-potent 4-ounce concentrated scented/flavored oil designed specifically to be mixed with used fryer oil, makes 10 gallons of a highly-flavorful scent that can withstand all types of weather conditions and maintain its scent for up to a year.

 

Bring Enough Gun

By Ed Hall

Now you can have elephant and cape buffalo horsepower in your traditional Marlin lever-action bear gun, or in a like-new Winchester 1886. There is no substitute for a really big, really heavy, really tough bullet when you are looking to stop a really big bear, and to have that potency in your traditional Marlin Guide Gun is a wonderful way to hunt our North Country.
     Doug Turnbull converts Marlins to fire his .470 cartridge, which drives a 350-grain Barnes Triple Shock to 2,000 ft/sec or a 400-grain Barnes Triple Shock or Solid to considerably more than 1,900 ft/sec, putting Doug’s .470 cartridge in a traditional lever-action on the threshold of African dangerous game category.
     He also restores Winchester Model 1886s, converting them to not only making them legal in potency for dangerous game with his .475 Turnbull cartridge, but can also upgrade their appearance to any level you desire. The 1886 is capable of handling a slightly longer cartridge than the Marlin, so Doug designed yet another cartridge especially for the ‘86. This cartridge uses the .50-110 case cut back slightly to 2.2 inches and necks them down to .475, (which is actually the same diameter bullet as in the .470). This slightly larger case capacity and a very slightly higher operating pressure gives the .475 about a 350-400 ft/sec velocity advantage over the .470, as well as better handling of heavier bullets.
     Doug's standard load for his .475 Turnbull uses a 400-grain Barnes TripleShock at 2,150 to 2,200 ft/sec. This is 4,100 foot pounds of muzzle energy! He is developing a 475-grain to be the perfect dangerous game lever-action load.

 

Photographing Bears

By Jason Wood

Photographing bears is a lot like hunting, and for a seasoned brown bear photographer like myself nothing can compare to “shooting” huge trophy sized boars with a camera. To find these monsters I have used some techniques that may resemble some of your big bear hunting secrets.
    One: You have to spend some time in the field. It seems like an obvious tip, but you would not believe how many wildlife photographers I guide every year that spend a lot of effort and money to come to our remote Kodiak Island backcountry camp and only want to spend two or three days. The thing is, really big boars are not social creatures. They do not like hanging around a lot of rivals at the fishing stream. They may do it once and a while, but not with the same kind of regularity of a sow or smaller bears.
    Two: You have to be willing to be at your spot early and late. The big boys come out at night. Any good hunter knows that the best times to see big-game is at dawn and dusk. Sleeping in and having a nice breakfast is a great plan if you want to photograph tracks.
     Three: Get away from other people. Really big bears in huntable populations have been tracked, glassed and sometimes shot at. They made it to record-book size because they learned to avoid humans.

 

The Chess Game

By Jeff Mangold

It was the opener for me, this the second week of the black bear season in northern Maine. Tom Aasbo, owner of Oxbow Lodge Outfitters, himself an exceptional woodsman and accomplished guide had once again placed me in the very capable hands of Master Maine Guide Donald Whipple. I have hunted four previous years with Donald and he is no stranger to these woods. A third generation guide, Donald knows these lands like the back of his hand.
     The woods in Maine are dense, challenging and impenetrable in places, making hunting bears with bait the preferred method. Hunting sites at Oxbow are carefully chosen, well maintained by the guide, active and begging to be hunted.
     Do not be fooled, however, as black bears are very smart animals. Indeed, thinking success will come easy while hunting at a bait site is often the cause of missed opportunities. Once a hunter enters the domain of the black bear, anything can happen. Success is as much a result of the hunter as it is the guide’s knowledge and hard work leading up to the hunt. Hunting over bait does not guarantee a shot opportunity; it is but one part of a successful package. Hunter preparation is key while scent control and sitting very still and quiet are an absolute must. Proper shot placement is also critical.

 

Bear Hunting is a Family Tradition

By Mike Bleech

Tradition is recognized as an important part of sport hunting. Tradition is not merely an idle term, it is our connection with the past. Nowhere is this connection kept alive with more respect than in the Albaugh family with father Stanley “Hap” Albaugh passing the tradition along to his sons, Scott and Dan.
     The Albaughs live toward the western edge of the Allegheny Highlands, a part of the Appalachian Plateau that stretches across north-central and northwest Pennsylvania. This is a region of steep hills. It is heavily forested and much is either national forest, state forest or state game land. It is widely known as the “Big Woods” by hunters. When deer and bear were scarce in the rest of Pennsylvania they were relatively abundant here. Now 87 years-old and only a year away from his most recent bowhunt, Hap’s eyes still sparkle when he talks about hunting.
     My meetings with the Albaughs began when Scott took a huge bear during the 2008 Pennsylvania season. On the opening day he hunted with a group, then on the second day he returned alone to the same area. The fact that they had not seen a bear or any bear tracks on Monday was valuable information. When he saw tracks Tuesday he knew they were very fresh.
     “Of course they were all snowed in,” Scott Albaugh said, “but I’d been there yesterday and those tracks weren’t there so I knew definitely those had been made sometime last night. Evidently, that area didn’t get the rains we had down here. They got snow instead.”