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September/October 2010

Feature Sections

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


  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Beaver Castor is the Smell of Success
  • Archery Talk with Bob Robb

    Shot Placement
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Raw Muscle
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Accuracy Comes from Consistent Loading
  • In Hot Pursuit with Joe McCray

    Getting Along with the Public



Fall Time is Bear Time

By Judd Cooney

I don’t know how the medium sized chocolate colored bear got on the small water hole without my seeing him approach, but he was there within 40 yards of where I sat against a background of dense oak brush. I had been calling almost continuously for the past half hour, keeping an eye peeled for the slightest movement in the brush around me or along one of the small clearings surrounding my ambush location. Even with a constant vigil that sneaky bruin had appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and right in front of me. I wasn’t sure that he had been attracted by my calling or just sneaked cautiously into the waterhole to quench his thirst. Either way, the bear was right where I wanted a bear to be. The only thing was he wasn’t large enough to be considered a shooter.
     I had checked a number of small spring seeps in several oak brush choked canyons the week prior to the opening of Colorado’s fall bear season. The summer and early fall had been exceptionally dry and only a couple had any water in them. However, those that had water available were covered with bear, deer, elk, coyote and turkey tracks. There were at least six different bears using three different seeps within a half mile area. A sow and two young-of-the-year cubs, two medium sized bruins and one that left a humongous track in the soft mud around two different spring holes.



Now What

by Ted Nugent

Sixty glorious years of tromping the wild. So far. Well, that first fall in 1949 I wasn’t exactly “tromping,” but I was out there with my mom and dad, and as I approach my 60th hunting season, all I can say is KOWABUNGA! And pass the SpiritWild!
   I do believe that for as long as I can remember, which means forever, I have exclaimed at the end of each hunting season that it was my best hunting season ever. By normal people’s definition and standards, some years may have, or may not have, provided more and bigger bucks, maybe more pheasants or squirrels or other game than previous years, but there is always something spectacular and unique to each season that convinces me that it was indeed my best ever.
   I think I am just very happy to be alive and refuse to waste a single precious moment of this amazing gift. What better way than to go hunting as much as possible? I figured that out all by myself.
   I haven’t done it all by any stretch of the imagination. Never killed a Rocky Mountain goat or any of the wild sheep of North America. Never bow killed a grizzly bear or a Roosevelt elk. And though I am truly impressed by big, mature animals of trophy proportions, I have never been and will probably never be a record book kind of hunter. I do cherish every encounter, every moment, and mostly every kill of every hunt, and am dead sure that each of my seasons have gotten better every year.



Doggin' Maine Black Bear

By William Clunie

    The deep bellowing of the bear hounds increased in volume as they topped the heavily wooded ridge just north of our position. Hot on the trail of a Maine black bear, the trio of dogs each sounded their own variation of the same tune “Get the Bear.” I can’t think of a better way of spending a day in the woods than listening to the sweet music of bawling hounds working together, hot on the trail of a cunning bear.
            Maine master guide Bob Parker, owner of the dogs, let me ride along with him and a few clients on several bear hunts last fall. Bob and his wife Jaye own and operate Stoney Brook Outfitters in Wilton, Maine and have been leading hunting clients on bear hunts with their hounds since the early 1980s. Leaving the trophy-filled lodge the first morning of the hunt, Parker said, “You never know how a day of chasing bear will turn out.” This one looked like it was going to be a real corker.
            Pennsylvania hunter Tim Larue sat in the front seat of the truck while Parker drove his hunting vehicle up and down a myriad of logging roads in the big woods of the Western Mountain Region checking on the path of the bear hounds. Another Pennsylvania hunter, Tom Fancher, sat in the back seat with me. Several times, while waiting for the dogs to turn the bear towards us, the conversation turned to what it takes to make a bear hunt successful. I prodded by asking the hunters why they keep coming back to hunt at Stoney Brook Outfitters.



Bruins Over Natural Bait

by Stephen D. Carpenteri

The modern trend toward bear baiting has made many hunters think that there is no other way to tag a spring or fall bear except to sit in a tree near a pile of food until a suitably-sized bruin comes in and starts to fill their stomach.
            Believe it or not, before baiting there was what was called “hunting bears over natural baits,” a term fish and wildlife departments used to describe what was then the only legally allowed use of baits for hunting black bears. Yes, friends, baiting has only been legal in most states within the last 20 years or so, and because it is so productive (70% or more of some states’ black bears are harvested over commercial baits) hunters have given up on the techniques that used to work quite well, if you knew how to do it.
            “Commercial baits” means any bait that you paid for or paid someone to put out. If it comes in a box, bag, bucket or barrel it is commercial bait. I have no quarrel with commercial bait hunters and have had some great experiences using them, but sometimes I am reminded of how things used to be and why they used to be. A clever hand at using natural baits can take just as many big black bears as does your average commercial bait stand operator. Natural baiting has become a lost art, and that’s too bad, because when natural foods are “in season,” you will see a precipitous drop in bear activity around commercial baits, and there’s a good reason for it.



Campfire Tales

Double Play
By Russ Elrod

   As my friends and I boarded the plane to High Level, Alberta for our first-ever bear hunt, my thoughts drifted back three long years ago when we initially booked the hunt. Being our group was from the southeastern U.S., this was an adventure unlike any we had experienced before. My anticipation peaked as I read an article on field judging black bears, an animal which I had never before seen in the wild. The Land of the Mighty Peace Country, as northwest Alberta is known, had historically produced very large bears, and lots of them. In my conversations with Wally Mack, owner of W&L Guides, he had prepared us to see lots of big bears. He said we might also be fortunate enough to spot a timber wolf. “But the odds of killing a wolf are very remote,” Wally reminded us. “Timber wolves are known as the hardest game animal in North America to kill.”

Hunting with the Boys
by Neil Clarridge

   “You are doing a great thing, but I think that you are crazy for doing it,” said Wanda Scearce. Brian Hubbard and I were taking Wanda’s son, J.T., and three other teenage boys bear hunting for their senior trip. Wanda’s words weren’t a warning; they were more of a thank you wrapped in a prayer. Introducing the boys to bear hunting was an exciting alternative to the other graduation activities, but first we had to get there.

One Wily Bear
by Cheyenne Hill

  After many years of doing animal damage control, a hunter gets to thinking he has seen everything that can happen in the field and woods; not so.
       Doc Hussey had several corn fields. By the river, away from the river and on the open intervals near town, but with woods all around. And a couple strips on each side of an airstrip that went right out into the woods. About 20 acres each.



Right Place, Right Time Equals Success

By Dick Scorzafava

I settled into my treestand at 3:30 p.m. on the first day of my hunt, ready for the long sit. I noticed a big problem around me, mosquitoes, thousands of them. These insects can make a hunter go mad on stand and literally spoil a hunt. Some hunters opt for bug suits or bug repellents; I just pulled out and started my ThermaCELL. Within a few minutes they were completely gone.
      It was very quiet except for a few ravens making all kinds of racket in front of my stand location for the first few hours. At 6:50 p.m. a nice bear came in behind the bait and slowly walked around the crib to the bait barrels. His body language indicated he was very nervous being there and that was a good indication he was not the boss bear of this bait. He quickly grabbed a large piece of pork skin, and immediately slipped into the thick cover to the right of the bait. He was about a six foot bear weighing about 275-300 pounds.
      The area became silent again and I sat like a frozen statue in my stand. At 8:35 p.m. I caught a flicker of something black on the well-worn bear trail to the right of my stand. Only moving my eyes to see, I identified the front half of a bear standing, staring at the bait. I knew instantly he was the one we had pictures of on the scouting camera because he was so wide across and had what I call a big meat head. There was no doubt he was a big bear and I immediately shifted into kill mode.


4 Bylaws to Canada's Bears

By Steve Sorensen

“You must not be a good bear hunter.” The American customs agent flipped that insult at me as I returned from Ontario with empty coolers and an unfilled tag.
       In no mood to argue, I said, “You’re probably right.” Was that a smirk on his face as he waved me on my way?
That was in 2003. In 2004 and 2008 I returned home from Canada, bearless again and again, so I’ve thought a lot about that comment. I have wondered what makes a good bear hunter. I have wondered whether I made good choices. I wondered if my attitude might not be positive enough. I even wondered if I sweat some mysterious kind of bear repellent, innocuous to humans but intolerable to bears.
      Something about bears has gripped me ever since I was a kid. Maybe it was that story I read where Daniel Boone carved “D. Boon kilt a bar on this tree.” Maybe it relates to that little wooden carving of a bear my missionary aunt sent me from Japan so long ago. Maybe it’s because of the guy who stopped by to show off a Pennsylvania black bear, and failed on his promise to give this kid one of its claws.



The Bear-Busting BLR

A Scoped Take-Down That Returns To Zero
By Ed Hall

Browning’s lever-action rifle, commonly known as the BLR, has been around for years. Browning’s takedown version is not new either, and only the scuttlebutt that a stainless takedown version was in the works kept me from writing this sooner, as it is a great bear gun. A stainless rifle with a laminated stock has finally arrived, a truly weatherproof rifle.
            Within recent years, the BLR has been offered in a broad variety of calibers, including a couple which are well suited for bear, including the .300 and .325 WSMs in the short action BLR, and a long action version in .270, .30-06, 7mm Rem. and .300 Win. Mag. for those favoring velocity and the .450 Marlin for the thumper lovers.
            Most short action cartridges use a 20-inch barrel, the WSMs, .270 and .30-06 use a 22-inch, and the 7mm and .300 magnums use a 24-inch barrel. All are available in straight or pistol grip versions.



Second Chance for a Boy's First Bruin

By Scott York

At last…the day that my twin boys, Hunter and Hayden, had long been waiting for had finally arrived. The day that they got to go bear hunting with the hounds and actually carry a gun! Don’t get me wrong, the boys had been on many bear hunts and have definitely paid their dues. From the time they were about six years-old they have been following the dogs and me on many bear hunts. They have helped lead dogs, tie dogs back at trees and even help me pull dogs off from bayed bears which, by the way, some grown men have refused to help me do. There is something about being unarmed and that close to a bear on the ground that really separates the men from the boys.
    In Maine you can start hunting when you are ten years-old, but I didn’t feel that the twins were ready then which, of course, they didn’t agree with me on. I was concerned with them being comfortable shooting a larger caliber rifle than they were used to. So, before the season came, I broke out my old Winchester Model 94 chambered in the .32 special, the rifle I had shot my first deer with years ago, to see how they did with it. They were able to handle it and shoot it well, so the hunt was on.