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Bear Hunting Magazine

November/December 2009 Issue

Feature Sections

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


  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Lever Logic
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray

    Cool Gadgets, But …
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava

    Let The Dogs Run?
  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Bear Busting Muzzleloaders
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney

    Second Chances Don’t Come Often
  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie

    Choosing A Bear Hunting Machine
  • Scent Strategies with Bob Robb

    Artificial Baits In The Field
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen

    The Treeing Walker
  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan

    The Perfect Shot



Second Stand Bear

By Ted Doberstein

If the sport of bear hunting has its own Bob Uecker, I’m their guy. Remember him? He was Major League Baseball’s lovable buffoon and pitchman for Miller Lite beer back in the 80s. I think I share the same marginal skills in bear hunting that front row Bob had during his playing days. My hope is that I’m really a solid, journeyman hunter with burgeoning skills so that I can selflessly impart my carefully distilled wisdom with all those who reside in bear hunting nation. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.
      The plan was to go to Canada with Tom Baker, a retired friend from church. We would fish in the morning together and I would hunt in the afternoon. When Tom asked asked about transportation I told him we would be taking my seven year-old Japanese mini-van, the choice of soccer moms everywhere. Aghast at the thought of using a minivan, he insisted that we take his new, four wheel-drive pickup instead. I really like Tom. After unsuccessful hunts in ’06 and ’07, I wanted to stack the odds in my favor by purchasing all the upgraded accouterments of the trade. I spared no expense, purchasing absolutely the finest hunting apparel clearance racks can hold. Being the Chicagoan, cosmopolitan hunter that I am it was imperative that my new camo pants would not make my butt look big. I don’t mean to be a snob, but I’m a well-heeled trucker who simply will not get out of bed for less than $80 a day.


Keeping Up With The Spirit Hounds

by Ted Nugent

I needed this. Not that my life is short on adrenaline charging highs by any means, but my extreme ying calls for some darn extreme yang to keep things in balance and keep me from further going crazy in my unbelievable wild life. Having just wrapped up three very intense days of the most momentous, record breaking 139th NRA annual meetings in Phoenix, Arizona with more than 60,000 of the world’s greatest freedom fighting families, I was ready for an equally intense dose of wilderness adventure with my wonderful son, Toby. And according to the ear blasting cacophony of bellowing, yowling, howling spirit hound music ricocheting off the mountainsides all around us, the good Lord, His bad self, was once again soothing the old guitar players tattered nerves and pumping massive renewable spirit back into my soul. Say YOWZA and let us get it on, again!
     Hunting game with hounds is surely the most demanding, high octane hunting challenge known to man. When tuned in properly to the sheer energy of the amazing dogs and the target beasts of their fury, one cannot help but be moved back to primordial times when the pureness of survival drove life itself. In a modern world of overt cush and dependency, I am convinced that it is vital for truly independent souls to run behind a pack of kill crazy hounds, clawing our way up near vertical mountain slopes, slipping, sliding, falling, crashing, smashing and slashing legs, knees, arms, hands and heads on rocks, stumps and deadfalls, driven to call upon a defiance factor seldom unleashed in man’s everyday life, just to keep the spirit hounds in earshot. It will change your life.


Beavers And Bears

By Bernie Barringer

Jason Sanders of Glenwood, Minnesota climbed into his ladder stand while his 7 year-old daughter, Morgan, climbed into the stand beside him. Their guide, Chris Ford, had led them down a narrow trail through the thick northern Minnesota brush to the base of their ladder. Fifteen yards away, the bait was covered with logs. Jason and Morgan settled in for a quiet vigil with high hopes of seeing a bear. Chris had assured them that this was a good spot, and it sure looked good.
     Only a couple hours had passed and the sun was slowly working its way down through the trees when movement near the bait caught their attention. A big, brown-colored black bear poked its head out into the shooting lane, looked around, and then disappeared.
     The disappointment at missing an opportunity was short lived, as the bear reappeared a few minutes later. This time it took a few cautious steps into the shooting lane. Jason leveled his Thompson Center .30-06 handgun on the bear’s chest and slowly squeezed off a shot. The tracking job would not be long as it was a good hit. They were thrilled with their beautiful chocolate bear.
     Jason’s successful bear hunt was largely the result of choosing a guide who put him in a good location. And that good location was largely the result of beavers.


Soggy Weather Bruins

by Dave Ehrig

While anyone can hunt in fair weather, black bear always seem to wait for the doom and gloom of wet weather, in liquid or solid form. When you hunt in weather where the mercury bottoms out and the sun doesn’t shine, the only way to shed light on this situation will be from the flash of your muzzle after the soggy black powder gun fires. While other riflemen are staying inside and watching the foul weather, there are a few tips that will give you the confidence to fire that frozen flintlock, work that frigid percussion or shoot that soggy in-line.
     The morning horizon was as orange as the belly of the speckled trout that inhabited the waters of Lake Nascapoca. No, this wasn’t a normal hunt for black bear. The freighter canoe was plowing the icy waters of a late September, sub arctic caribou destination and it looked like this hunt would be full of antlers, not claws. But Peter Palmer, Marketing Agent for Mirage Outfitters, had impressed me with stories of the giant bruins that were frequenting this tundra fringe territory. While we landed the canoe and walked up through stunted spruces and arctic willows, old caribou trails caused me to wonder why I bought the Quebec “L’ours noir” (black bear) tag.


Bears By The Bushel

By Richard P. Smith

Black bears are doing very well in North America. In fact, there are far more of them living in the United States and Canada than most people realize. Not only are the animals increasing across most of their range, their numbers are generally underreported in most states and provinces.
     There are presently over 1.5 million black bears in North America, including cubs. Most of the estimates of bear numbers available from state and provincial wildlife agencies where black bears are hunted only include animals that are legal to hunters, which, in most cases, are bruins that are at least a year old. So those estimates most often exclude cubs even though they are bears, too, and are part of the population.
     And there are a number of states that have black bears, but no hunting season such as Nevada, Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, just to name a few. The number of states that have resident bear populations is on the increase as the animals expand their range. In some cases, solid information is lacking about how many bears live in states where they are not hunted because money to come up with estimates is limited or simply not available.
     As evidence of how well black bears are doing at expanding their range in North America, Kentucky will be holding their first bear hunt in modern times and Oklahoma is well on their way to establishing a bear season. Only three counties in Kentucky’s mountains will be open to hunting to address nuisance bear problems. The harvest will be carefully controlled to eliminate problem animals while allowing the population to continue to increase. Oklahoma has approximately 1,000 black bears within its borders.


Prospecting For Color In Gold Rush Country

By Gary Lewis

In 1848, James Wilson Marshall found gold in the tailrace at a sawmill on a tributary of the Sacramento River. In the next few years, prospectors swarmed across Northern California seeking their fortunes. They panned the headwaters of every stream that trickled down out of the High Sierras, hunting for the color that told the mineral content.
     The gold strikes turned out the wealth that built San Francisco and Sacramento. And they left their mark on the high country.
There is still gold in those hills and a few prospectors continue seeking it out. For us, the High Sierras yielded color of a different sort.
     Granite peaks were capped with snow, the vine maple red, purple and orange. Oaks shined yellow and apples glowed in the morning sun. Here, the black bears come in color phases. A chocolate pelt is most common, but cinnamons, golden blondes and even brindles are available. The most uncommon black bear pelt in these parts is black.
     My partner, Lyn Hocker, and I staked our claim on the Tahoe National Forest, with Andrew Gregory of Deadwood Industries as our guide.
      In the light of an early Thursday morning, Gregory pulled over to the side of the road and switched off the engine. James Drummond and Corey Kinross drew up behind, shut off their rattling diesels and opened their dog boxes. Three hounds from each group were given the honor of perches atop their respective boxes. Tank, Music and Mandy were chained on top of the carpeted box on Gregory’s truck.


When The Table Turn

By S.L. Merriam

Ten Yards is Close Enough, Especially in the Dark!

     Alaska can be as harsh as it is beautiful and hunters often learn it the hard way. This adventure and near catastrophe took two years to plan because the area Paul Mead and Jim Dawson were to hunt, on the Alaska Peninsula, has a spring season every other year. The pair had hunted Colorado elk and most everything else in the lower 48 but they longed to experience an Alaskan brown bear hunt.
     The Alaskan brown bear found on the Alaskan Peninsula is the same as the well-known Kodiak except the Kodiak bears live on Kodiak Island, which lies west of Homer, Alaska. The brown bears reside on the Alaskan Peninsula where there is seasonal access to the rich food provided by the spawning salmon. The bears owe their enormous size to unrestricted access to the salmon throughout the summer months.
     The problem time of year for the big bears occurs as they leave hibernation in May as many of their regular food sources, salmon, rodents, moose and caribou calves are not yet available. During this post hibernation period, they rely on winter-killed animals, roots and grasses. Bears are omnivores, meaning they will eat about anything when hungry, so their diet varies and they are able to utilize spring roots and grasses which jump-start their digestive process. They prefer to be a carnivore, however, and will always eat meat when available. In the mountainous areas of the peninsula, moose are a primary food source.


Bruins In The Back Yard

By Mike Bleech

Across much of North America’s black bear range, these animals are increasing in numbers and they continue moving into new areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in Pennsylvania where, under the guidance of Dr. Gary Alt and more recently under Mark Ternent, the bear population has grown to 15,000-plus. Bear are being seen in places where they have never before been seen in modern times.
     During the 2008 Pennsylvania bear hunting season Lee Steadman harvested a bear on his farm near McKean, which is only a drive of a few minutes from the city of Erie. This is the first bear taken in the area whether by hunting, capture, road kill or any other means on the Pennsylvania Game Commission database, which goes back into the mid-1970s. Since bear were much less numerous and their range was much more limited in the past, it seems almost certain that Steadman’s bear is the first taken so close to the Erie suburbs in modern times. And what a bear it was.


Turn Your Bear Hunt Into A Drag

By John Trout, Jr.

The Grease Drag - A Jump-Start For Any Bait Site!

      When I began baiting black bear in the 1970s, I was naïve in the sense that it required strategy. I first thought success was only a matter of placing smelly ingredients somewhere in bear country. I quickly learned, though, that area, personality of the bear, weather and certain bait ingredients could make or break a hunt. I also discovered, primarily through trial and error, I could apply additional methods to increase the chance my bait would be found. For instance, some hunters practice the “honey burn” technique. Others have become stuck on one ingredient. However, my favorite became the “grease drag.” In fact, it soon became standard procedure anytime a bait needed a jump-start, but more about that in a moment.
      Those who hunt over bait are fully aware that it is a black bear’s nose that will bring it in. Just how far a bear can scent bait is questionable. I have heard a few guesses, ranging from one to several miles. I am not sure anyone knows for certain, but we do know that a bruin’s nose is second to nothing. And with that in mind, it would seem that if the right scents are used and conditions perfect, a bear should be there.
      Nevertheless, baits do fail. I have always believed it only takes a shift in wind to bring a bear in, or make certain it never finds the bait. That’s when the grease drag becomes your ace-in-the-hole.