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November/December 2008 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan

    The Rest of the Treadwell Story
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava

    The Perfect Dog
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray

    Feet or Defeat
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    What’s on the Menu
  • Scent Free Tactics with Bob Robb

    Brown Bears will Smell You
  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie

    Rules to Ride By
  • Muzzleloading with Al Raychard

    Two New Propellants
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney

    Arizona Inferno Bears
  • Guns & Optics with George Dvorchak

    Long-distance Accuracy = Chronograph



Giant Boars at Point Blank

by Joe Byers

 “There’s a record book bear at this stand,” whispered the guide nonchalantly. “Problem is it usually won’t show until dark. It will crack sticks and make noise to intimidate other animals. If you get a shot, the bear will be a real trophy.”
      Excited about the opportunity to bag a crafty old boar, I climbed quietly into the stand, determined to sit motionless, forgo insect repellent, and stick things out until the last ounce of daylight. As predicted, when darkness overcame the Quebec wilderness, brush began to crack 75 yards behind me. Since that day, I have sought a tactic to out fox nocturnal black bears. Fortunately, Zig Kertenis has the answer.
     “I call it the sow moan,” says the veteran bear hunter. “Using the call, I took two Boone & Crockett bears in three years and since then I have bagged several others that just missed the book.”


Charged by a Bear

By Keith Sutton

 Once, while I was shooting photos in a Nebraska wildlife refuge, a half-ton bull bison tried to stomp me in the ground.
     Years ago, I almost drowned when a trotline hook pierced my hand and pulled me from my boat.
     One dark night during my short career as a law enforcement officer, I was ambushed by a drug dealer who beat me senseless in an alleyway.
    These events were horribly frightening. I never will forget them. But none was as terrifying as being charged by a bear.


The One that Did Not Get Away

By Ed Hall

 Western Massachusetts has always had a good bear population, and for a few years had a hound season as well. Dan Luke did, and still does, have one of the best packs of hounds around (and around is a pretty large circle). During the short Massachusetts six-day hound season, we would hunt every day, usually having two definite clients, and a couple in reserve if we were successful. We would not put the dogs down until we saw a track and could identify the size of the bear.
     I enjoyed an ongoing open invitation to hunt with Dan for several years whether pursuing bear, cats or coon, until my back slowed me too much. Dan, aware that many clients are not great marksmen, always suggested to the client that I might be allowed, with my less-assuming pistol, to put a finishing shot into the bear if I felt it was warranted. This was never questioned, and I did need to shoot on a couple of occasions.
     One hunt with Dan stays in my mind more than the others. It started normally, roaming the backroads of northern Berkshire County at the crack of dawn. Within an hour of rigging we had a track, and cast the hounds.


The Truth about Hound Hunting

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

For a sport that is literally thousands of years old, it is amazing how little is known about hound hunting for any species, but especially for bears. Having been rubbing shoulders with the crustiest of the bunch for going on 45 years, I was never confused by what goes on, how it is done or the end result. But the older I get the more people I meet who have lost touch with the very roots of hunting. We tend to forget that tree stands, in-line muzzleloaders, GPS systems and tracking collars were not even in the vocabulary just 40 years ago. Now we are all about technology, and the number of hunters who can tell you the difference between a blue tick and a Walker are few and far between.
     And what a shame, because if you want action, excitement and results, you must sign up for a bear hunt using hounds. Do not mislead yourself, however. There is a lot of work involved, many hours of serious guesswork and anticipation of what a bear will do, and some element of risk for the dogs, and for you! I do not know of any sport hunters having been killed by a bear during a hound hunt, but I do know a few who got in the way of an angry (or wounded) bear and wished they had not.

Smoke Out a Bruin

By Judd Cooney

I was deeply engrossed in my pocket novel when my subconscious picked up the faint, soft, pop of a rain-dampened twig breaking. The almost imperceptible sound came from directly downwind, the least likely direction for a bear to approach. I half expected to see a squirrel or ruffed grouse when I slowly turned my head in that direction. Some squirrel! A humongous black bear was standing less than 20 yards from my lofty perch, nose in the air and mouth open, tasting the air for the slightest hint of human scent and inhaling the wisp of smoke that drifted around his head.
     I plumb forgot to breathe myself as he took a couple tentative steps my way, stopped again and started sniffing the leaves and branches overhanging the trail. It was obvious he was not searching for my scent, but the source of the aroma emanating from the surrounding brush. My heartbeat and respiration rate started a rapid ascent as I ever so slowly slid my book into the open pocket on my daypack.


Tracking a Wounded Bear

By John Trout, Jr.

Although it happened many years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had followed the trail of a wounded bear only to find myself crawling through dense alders and underbrush looking for pin-sized droplets of blood. My good friend, Tom Hodges, crawled behind me, and we both wondered why we were doing something so foolish. You see, earlier that evening I had released what seemed like a perfect arrow, only to see it hit too low.
     There is an eerie feeling about following the trail of a wounded black bear. The sentiment likely will affect the mind of any bear hunter. It is knowing that every step farther down the trail is another step closer to the moment of truth. Sooner or later, something is going to happen. You eventually will recover the bear or you may lose the trail and be forced to call it quits. But there is that one remaining thought, you may meet the bear at close yardage; a wounded bear with the will to survive.
     Many bear hunters already have had to face up to these situations and fully understand the possibilities. It is something you do not forget. On the flip side, though, there is a wonderful feeling about hunting an animal that is capable of hunting you. Although it is highly unlikely that you ever would be caught by the crushing claws of a black bear, the possibility does exist. For many, it is this suspense that hooks them.

Laser Range Finders

By Lon E. Lauber

It can get lonely out there sometimes, when it is just you and the bear. The bear does not have a care in the world, other than finding its next meal. You, on the other hand, have plenty to be concerned about. A misplaced bullet or a bad hit with an arrow and that carefree bear can turn into a potentially life threatening danger. In hunting’s moment of truth, it is nice to have a reassuring best friend. For me, that confidence comes from using a laser range finder.
     As a bowhunter, when I know that bear is exactly 23 yards away, I can and will make the shot! If I am guessing, is he 19 yards or is he 26 yards away? My aim is not so bold. For rifle, handgun and muzzleloader hunters, a couple of yards error is not quite as critical.
     However, regardless of weapon, knowing the exact distance to a bear does two things: One it builds confidence knowing the exact yardage. Two, it lets the ethical hunter know immediately if the target animal is within his or her personal effective shooting range. I would say both of those aspects are great friends to have in the bear woods.

Looking Back: Memories from an Old Bear Hunter

By A.L. “Cheyenne” Hill

Memories of my early bear hunting days came to mind after reading the March/April issue of Bear Hunting Magazine. My first bear dog, Blaze, a Plott, was born 1/15/34. I was born 1/25/34. Blaze died August 8, 1949 when he ran a bear out onto the roadway and an old car driver swerved to miss the bear, but hit old Blaze. As I was burying my dog, we were both 15 1/2 years-old, I could not keep the tears back. Years later my brother told me it was the first time he ever saw me cry.
     The war started in 1941. Dad went to work in the shipyard, and money was tight. The bounty on bear was five dollars. Blaze treed a bear, a sow and two cubs at our camp on Conway Lake in New Hampshire. I had just turned eight and could use our .22 Springfield. I knew to kill the sow first, as I had been hunting with my father since I was “house broke.” I had been shooting the gun for several years by then, hitting roosters in the head for supper.

Close Encounters of the Bruin Kind

By Steve Sorensen

He had me if he wanted me. How did I get four feet from my gun and seven feet from a big black bear?
     I was not hunting bears. I was hunting deer on opening day in New York’s Allegany State Park in Cattaraugaus County along the state’s border with Pennsylvania. A heavy snow had fallen overnight, whitening the landscape. I had hiked a mile and a half into the woods, headed for a stand location I had picked out on a scouting trip a few days earlier. My buddy was more familiar with the area than I was. While we were scouting the area he said, “Don’t be surprised if you see a bear.”
     As things often go on opening morning on heavily hunted public land, another hunter had the same idea I had, and beat me to my chosen spot. I veered up to the ridgeline to look for another place to stand when daylight arrived.
     At about 7:15 a.m., I spotted a big black animal approaching from my left, about 60 yards out. I grabbed my binoculars for a better look. At about 35 to 40 yards he paused and started working his nose. The air currents were moving directly from me to him. I was sure he saw me. And he kept coming.

Cleaning and Scoring Bear Skulls

By Richard P. Smith

Bear skulls are among the easiest big-game trophies to measure for record book consideration. Only two measurements are necessary compared to the 20 or more required for a set of whitetail antlers, for instance. The hard part, when it comes to bear skulls though, is getting them cleaned and dried, so they can be officially measured.
     To be considered for listing in national record keeping organizations such as the Pope and Young Club (bow and arrow), the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (muzzleloader) or Boone and Crockett Club (any type of firearms and bow and arrow), antlers simply need to be air dried for a minimum of 60 days before they can be officially scored. When it comes to bear skulls, all of the muscle and cartilage that are covering the bone have to be removed. The brain also has to be extracted from inside the skull without damaging the skull.
     Once a bear skull is clean, it has to air dry for 60 days before it can be officially scored. The sooner skulls are cleaned, the sooner they are eligible to be measured for record book entry. Entering a bear in the records is not the only reason to clean a bear skull either. Cleaned skulls make great trophies that serve as mementoes of the hunt on which they were taken, regardless of their size.

Logan’s First Hunt

By Eric Bricker

“Don’t step on sticks, don’t cough, sneeze, hiccup or burp. Talk in a whisper if you have to talk, walk on soft dirt or grass and plan your steps.”
     This is what 13 year-old Logan heard over and over on his first hunt. He had been waiting for this day to come for months. Not only was this going to be Logan’s first hunting trip, but we were hunting bears. It always adds a little excitement to a hunt when the roles of the hunter and the hunted can be switched at any time.
     He ran outside as I pulled the motor home into his driveway. Standing by the door waiting for me to let him in, I yelled through the door, “You sure you want to go hunting?” He screamed back through the door, “YES!” He came inside and looked around like a kid would do in a new home while picking out his new bedroom. He asked, “Where do I sleep?” My response: “In a tent, three miles from the nearest forest road, we’re huntin’ not campin'.” He looked at me waiting for me to laugh at my joke, but the laugh never came.
     We drove a few hours into the high mountains and parked alongside a remote forest road. We loaded all our essentials into the 4-wheel drive truck I towed behind the motor home and headed further into the wilderness. We reached the end of the road and we parked the truck and loaded our backpacks with energy bars, water filters, first aid, a tent, sleeping bags, a lantern, a frying pan and my hunting gear. We loaded on the packs, I slung my rifle over my shoulder  and we headed down the trail.