Aug 26 2021

Backpacking for Bears

Teddy Roosevelt summed it up best when he stated, “The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” As fitting as Roosevelt’s words may be, there’s more to a do-it-yourself backpack hunt than just throwing on a lightweight pack and pressing forward. The fact is, the realities of this endeavor have a way of driving the unprepared back into reality. Weather, injury, exhaustion and overall tough hunting conditions can all play a role in the outcome of the experience. With this in mind, here are some troubles to avoid when planning your next DIY backpack adventure bear hunt.
One of the great things about being outdoors is that you never know what you’re going to come across. Often the full story doesn’t come out until you get home. Tammy Russell harvested a once in a lifetime bear, though she didn’t know it until later.

Jul 29 2021

Jawless in Kenai

A solo mountain bear hunt turns up an unusual bruin.

A lifelong Alaskan gets a surprise on a solo hunt in the mountain taking a bear with no bottom jaw.

Jul 20 2021


A young hunter's five-year quest for a Washington state black bear.

A father recounts his son's five year quest for a Washington backcountry bruin.
Late August in Arizona has truly become one of my favorite times of the year and holds a hunt that is near and dear to my heart. It’s not just the hunt though; it’s the experience of the whole thing that really grabs ahold of me. The hunt is secondary to the special times I share in camp with a few exceptional individuals. You know, the kind of folks you could call at any time during the night to help you out of a tight spot. The kind of guys that thrive at living in the dirt and regularly practice laughing until they cry. Those guys. I’m lucky to say that I have a group of those very people in my hunting circle and each year we join together here in Arizona to hunt black bear and velvet bucks. In the process of doing so, we usually create some incredible memories, and every now and then even fill a tag or two. 2019 was a year to remember, and one that will remain in constant rotation among our future conversations.
- Josh Kirchner | Dialed in Hunter -
After over 20 years I can still remember the first time I headed out west to bowhunt. The 60-plus pound pack seemed to get heavier with each step I took deeper into the wilderness area, and after nearly 4 miles of steady climbing I finally reached the particular bowl I felt held promise. After setting up camp I stood in awe as I took in the vastness of the Creator’s awesome handiwork and dreamed of what I hoped would transpire in the coming days.
Being an adult-onset hunter, I found my calling and cut my teeth in the mountains. Not as a hunter, but as a backpacker. Every August I spent the first two weeks on a trail in the alpine, oblivious to the possibilities of hunting. The beauty of the backcountry appealed to me on multiple levels. The fresh mountain air combined with the pursuit of adventure, solitude and a sense of invincibility were only the tip of the iceberg that called to my soul.

Apr 29 2021

The Struggle: Lessons Learned

Seasons come and seasons go, but it’s often the lessons learned that mean the most.

We eased down the road at a snail’s pace, dodging a couple piles of sticky-wet bear scat along the way. The closer we got to the bear’s last known location, the more we glassed hoping to see him from a distance. However, when it comes to stalking bruins on their terms, everything needs to fall into place. What they lack in perfect eyesight, they more than makeup for with their ears, nose and sixth sense. And with the thin mountain air cooling under the dropping sun, a capricious mountain breeze settled in. Seasons come and seasons go, but it’s often the lessons learned that mean the most.
Three native Oregonians received the confirmation email stating we successfully drew Alaska’s Southeast bear tag for 2016. Todd Freitag, Scott Thorpe, and myself were now in the frantic planning stage of the hunt. We all have harvested many trophy-quality bears in Oregon, but the famous Prince of Wales (POW) Island bears were a whole new breed we’d never hunted.