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  1. #1

    Default Alberta Bear Adventure

    Early in April, in the middle of my Sunday afternoon nap (observing the 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Nap on Sundays) my brother called to tell me about the possibility of getting to go to Alberta on a Black Bear adventure. He warned me to not get my hopes up, as the circumstances of this trip were very iffy.

    Daniel works in D.C. and gets to meet movers and shakers on a regular basis. Sometimes these bigwigs will offer to take Daniel hunting once they learn that he loves outdoors adventures. Sadly, most of the time an offer to go is as far as it goes, with the person making the offer almost always failing to follow up on the offer and make concrete plans.

    Daniel told me he recently had met "Fred", and this guy loved going to northern Alberta for spring bears, and in the fall also goes to southern Alberta for monster whitetails. Over the years, "Fred" has taken lots of people over the border, and now he told Daniel that there was a great chance to go bear hunting. Uncharacteristically "Fred" followed up with a couple of texts, so Daniel made the phone call to me letting me know that "Fred" was so serious, that he was going to cover all of Daniel's expenses once he arrived at the jump off spot, and wanted to have Daniel invite a brother or hunting buddy.......which was ME!!

    One small passport was expired, so you can bet your sweet bippy that I scheduled an appointment with the US Postal service to get my expedited service rolling.

    Meeting our host in Edmonton, we soon discovered that the touring bus with toy hauler was full of "Fred's" family and other business associates, so introductions were made and new names/faces memorized. We had one more Edmonton stop to make, as "Fred" wanted to go see his latest purchases. A new form of transportation based on Russian/Ukrainian military vehicles that can move about the far northern un-roaded swampy areas that even Argos do not dare to travel.

    Moving towards Zama City, which would serve as our base of operations, we arrived to meet Steve Overguard, the outfitter who owned the non-resident bear and moose permits for the far northwest corner of Alberta. His hunting area covers over 30,000 square miles, so we were virtually assured that besides our party, we would not see another hunter.

    Monday afternoon rolled around, and Daniel and I were introduced to Byron Wolf, who would be our guide for the duration of the trip (As non-resident aliens, Alberta requires us to have a guide or "resident guide" to hunt big game). The outfitter runs around 60 bait sites, with miles separating each site. Byron had been keeping nearly a dozen bait sites going this spring, with trail camera pictures showing multiple bears hitting his sites daily. He decided to take us to our first assigned stand as predicted rainy conditions later in the week would make it very difficult to get to the trail leading into the woods, and even tougher to 4 wheel a bear out on the two track if one was killed.

    Personal pics of stand #1 Monday (nine bears that night), and stand #2 Tuesday (wolverine and 4 bears that night with a 7'2" squared black phase who will come home to live with me) to follow, as although I'm feeling like I'm on northern Alberta time, it is bedtime for sure.

    Jim Burnsworth has a video of his 2017 big black bear from the same outfitter. (This link is not the one showing him walking into the hunting site only to find a bear sitting in his treestand)
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  2. Default

    Good luck! The bears are rutting really hard and moving good this past week when I was out hunting

  3. #3


    Traveling up country was quite comfy.

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    We hoped this would happen. This area is only 100ish km from Woods Bison Refuge, site of one of the few remaining free ranging, all bison bison.

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    Base of operations for Big Bear Outfitters for their bear hunters. Due to the unbelievable stickiness of the mud, certain rules were necessary.

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    Wintertime readiness means having a block heater (and maybe a trickle battery charger as well?), and I suppose the flags are there to make sure the plow doesn't run anything over when removing drifted snow.

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    I'm a believer now!! The permethrin treated clothing helped a ton, but the thermacell was indispensable.

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    Guide Byron Wolf and his Wolfhuntinadventures truck/trailer/(notice there is not a "g" in hunting on his website)

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    The promise of the sign is fulfilled!! Free ranging bison with calves, who right now are the focus of the area wolves.

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    Byron was going to distribute over 300 pounds of bait scattered over a dozen stands. Caramel seemed to be my bears favorites, but the beaver carcass was a close second.

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    Speaking of beavers....

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    The beaver bait hanging from the ridge pole.

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    Sitting in my tree stand I thought I heard a twig snap behind and to my right. Turning my head like the ninja bear hunter I think I am, I was quite surprised to catch movement walking into view past my left knee. My first bear of the night had walked directly in front of my ladder. He was smallish, and very well rubbed. Walking over to the bait scattered about the ground around the barrel, he was acting very nervous. Grabbing a couple of mouthfuls, something spooked him, and in a heartbeat he ascended the tree next to my stand, getting higher than I was sitting in no time at all. Holding onto the tree trunk and using small branches as a hind leg support, he seemed to look right over at me, and then after a couple of minutes of hang time, slowly descended the tree back to the ground.

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    Eventually a near twin to the first bear arrived, and later another small bear that had a perfect coat would drift in, grab some food, and then drift out. Multiple times whichever bear was at the barrel would stiffen and look off into the forest, and oftentimes race to the nearest tree to ascend, look around nervously, and then descend again.

    Climbing the trees that the ridgepole was attached to, first one, then another bear would tightrope across the pole, and attempt to grab the beaver and pull off morsels. Several times there were two bears on the ridgepole, and I wondered if the pole could take the weight.

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    Multiple moments that would get the heart rate speeding up.....

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    The barrel had a small opening at the base which allowed the bears to stick their mouths or front paws into the barrel top get at the caramel.

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    Spitting rain and gusty winds made me pull out layer after layer out of my pack to keep warm. And several times I felt the tree move without feeling a gust of wind, and this rookie bear hunter imagined all sorts of bears coming up my tree.

    Eventually one of the tightrope walkers carefully pulled the beaver carcass up to the top of the ridgepole, where it began to wreak havoc upon the bait.

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    Night one story to be continued..........
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  4. #4


    Looks like a great trip. Can't wait for the "rest of the story".

  5. #5


    Tightrope walker

    My sunrise/sunset app said that sunset was 11 pm tonight, with legal shooting time ending 1/2 hour after sunset. Compared to how those last few moments of light appear in Kansas, it was if it was still before sunset, with a lingering twilight that lasted over 90 minutes after the actual sunset.

    Around 12:15 am, I experienced the "squeeziest" moments of the first day of hunting. Strange noises from the south (Daniel said he heard what he thought was a chimpanzee) with blurry fast moving bears out on the periphery of my vision finally revealed a large sow with three newly born cubs coming into the bait area. I can tell you that I was very happy that she for the most part stayed on the far side of the bait area. Her cubs vocalizations were what I had heard, and thought they represented a chimp-like noise. Multiple times she would "woof", and her cubs were up a tree in a flash. I was concerned that if one of her cubs was closer to my tree/treestand and she gave the "climb" command, I would have to deal with that famed "Mother Bear" energy!!

    Once again sending her cubs into the trees with the most urgent "woofing" of the evening, I knew to look for a bear coming in. A much larger bear came in right past the ladder and moved towards the bait site. Mother bear moved towards him with low rumblings. The new bear moved his head back and forth, stomping the ground with forefeet. They met just in front of the bait barrel, and this bigger bear grabbed a big mouthful of food from the base of the barrel, and then retreated from Mama bear, backing out the bait site, keeping his face turned toward Mom. Leaving the way he entered, his left hip brushed up against the ladder rung as he backed out.

    It wasn't until 12:45ish that I finally heard the 4 wheeler coming up the two track to get me. I hoped that this meant that Daniel had scored on a bear, and they had taken a bit of time to find a bear and load it onto Byron's truck. Gathering up the camera/thermacell and seat cushions, I was ready to get off the stand and head back to the Inn for a late supper. Driving back, I heard Daniel's pitiful evening squirrel and no bears seen the whole sit. We talked about the chimp like noises, and concluded that what he heard was most likely like cubs/moms talking to each other, just out of eyesight. We joked about the curse continuing, never having seen a bear while bear hunting for over 10 years of his quest, the streak continued. One thing that stung a little bit was the realization that originally our guide was going to place Daniel at my stand, and me at his.

    Arriving back at the Inn past 1:30, it was indeed good to find a great meal waiting in the warming oven.

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    Six bears were killed by our party that afternoon. Several rookie bear hunters popped their cherry this evening, and we were told that there were several 7 footers waiting for tomorrow morning at the skinning table.

    Next installment: Skinning table morning
    Last edited by kansasdad; 06-14-2018 at 12:06 AM.
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Portland, OR


    Awesome so far!!! Keep it coming.

  7. #7


    Hunting day #2 The skinning table

    Pulling off the gravel road into the clearing where the tables were, there were six bears waiting for photos and skinning. Guide Byron had a military style stretcher that made moving the bears over to the photo mound much easier. What wasn't so easy was the smell of the place, as several of the bears had been hit a "bit back" with resultant intestinal parts extruding from some of the wounds.

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    We had been quite sternly told that the high shoulder shot was to be expressly avoided by all hunters, as the huge humerus bone coupled with heavy muscle might mean a prolonged tracking event after the shot. We were told that a full broadside shot behind the shoulder (double lung) was the preferred shot placement, with angled to or quartering away options also discussed. The guides told us that lung shot bears won't go far at all, but heart shot or high shoulder bears might mean trouble for all involved.

    "Fred's oldest daughter seemed to have the largest bear on the tables, but her friend and mom also had super large bears waiting to be skinned. These three bears were all taken from the same bait site, so the guides told us that there must have been a sow in heat, to attract all these huge bears.

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    The stretcher was produced, and the three ladies bears were taken over to the photo spot and carefully laid out to display head, claws and body size. Unlike some operations that attempt the forced perspective photo with the hunter sitting near the hind paws of the bear, these guys were trying for genuinely "normal" shots. The size of the bears didn't need to be artificially inflated. 7'2, 7'1 and 6'10" square were the hide measurements (no crazy games with the stretching of the hides to inflate the numbers needed today!)

    After photos, the stretcher carried the bears back to the table, and five guys who had done this many times before got their havalons out and started skinning out the bears. Each guy had his own area of expertise it seemed, as every bear brought to the blade had the same guy working on the same area of each bear. Byron was the hind leg guy, and made sure to get the baculum free for those who requested it. Dwayne seemed to do the caping of the head, and every time he went for the ears, I was sure he cut them off, only to fool me with a nicely carved line. Cole and Jayson did front legs, neck and torso skinning.

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    "Fred"'s daughter was quite helpful in the skinning process this day. Pink boots, blue polish and the big bear for day #1

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    Drizzle drifted in and out, and we were quite glad to have the thermacells going, as the skeeters were hungry for blood.

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    After getting home, I did a search on Youtube. The following video was posted in 2011. Turns out it is my day #2 stand

    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  8. #8


    1st skinning table morning continued:

    After photos, then skinning, the next step generally done was to take the pelt to the hanging tree for a hide stretched out photo opportunity. The nail in the poplar was just as high as the average Canadian bear guide can reach, holding a wet bear hide. 7 foot bears will have hind paws on the ground. Once the photos are done, they return the hide to the table and pull out the Craftsman tape measure. Nose-tail and front claw-claw measurements made, added and divided by 2 to get the "squared measurement".

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    As I was watching all of this activity over the two hour span that we were there, doubt began to creep into my mind. I saw these 7 footers laying dead on a table, and tried to extrapolate what they would look like on foot, moving around a bite site. How big were those bears I had seen last night??? Is it possible that I had misjudged any of those bears??? I knew that I wasn't going to shoot any of the rubbed bears, and the one bear with the perfect coat was for sure smaller than the two others. But my brain was swimming with thoughts of maybe the "big" ones of the eveneing before had really been barely medium size, or were they larger?

    We had been told the best way to measure a bear is to compare its height to the rings on the bait barrel. Shoulders that reached the top of the barrel were "no doubters". My last night bears had reached the second ring of the barrel, but the barrel was sitting in a depression where food and dirt had mixed and bears over the years had dug away at the surface lowering it around the barrel.

    I decided to stick with the barrel yardstick, and reminded myself that from the vantage spot of an elevated tree stand, I would have to do the mental gymnastics to correctly gauge the size of any bear coming in.

    I also reminded myself that we had been taught that "big" bears had ears that seemed to come out of the side of their heads, had a lumbering gait with swiveling shoulder movements, and the boars were fully muscled down to front paws, while sows seemed to taper thinner at their "wrists". Boars faces were more squared off, while sows had tapered snouts (more triangular).
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Helena, Montana


    Looks like a good place to hunt bears.

    I love hunting black bears in Alberta, I've been the past three years and plans to return the next two as well.

    Great start on your story, thanks for sharing!

  10. #10


    Wow! I've seen a video of a bear climbing the same tree as the guy on the tree stand! The bear basically wrapped its pads around the tree just behind the guy, moved its head around the tree to look at the hunter - then scattered down the tree and off it ran!

    What an interesting - "network" setting! Good connections. Glad the timing connected for you and grats on the success! Thanks for the video and pics to follow along! Some good bear thickness!
    " There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." - Theodore Roosevelt
    Live to work or work to live... Your choice.

  11. #11


    Day #2 of hunting........

    Done with the skinning of the first six bears, we headed back to the Inn for lunch. Byron told us to be ready at 4, so after lunch and a short nap, it was get up, knock on Daniel's door to make sure he was rousted (he was itching to go!!) and head down to pull on our boots from the boot rack. At 4:05 Byron texted us and asked "are you guys getting up yet". I replied that we were at his truck, ready to go. He said "I never heard you in the hallway". I replied "that's 'cause we're already getting our ninja on!" Nobody else in our group seemed to be ready to go, but we had been assigned our treestands and were ready to go, so we rolled out, once again heading south and west of Zama City.

    Once again we ran into a herd of bison feeding on the right of way grassy area. It was obvious that they were in full shed mode with lots of loose hanging hair on their shoulders. Temps were going to fall from upper 50's down to lower 40's by the time legal shooting time was over, so I had packed multiple clothing layers, and I was a bit nervous as I had gambled on the rain being quite light, and hadn't brought rainpants to Canada. I also had grabbed an apple and had some snack bars to bring with me, and filled up a bottle of water.

    Due to the wet-ish weather we had been having, Byron didn't pull his trailer/4 wheeler, so we would rely on Jason's four wheeler to help us pull bears out of the woods once we were successful. Arriving at the trail entrance, I put my pack on, and asked permission to load the slug gun. He said that would be fine, and seemed to appreciate that I has asked/informed him of my (loaded) weapon status.

    Hiking along the seismic cut/trail, we passed the required sign warning of a bait site 1/2 kilometer ahead. Byron was really scooting up the hill with speed, and I had to get my ninja bear hunter transmission in overdrive to keep up. Just as we reached the bait site, I saw Byron "get birdy" which caused me to hustle even more. Expecting to see a bear on the bait barrel, all I saw was a flash of dark brown and tan fur disappearing into the far woods.

    "Did you see that?" Byron asked.

    "Yeah, just fur though, what was it?"

    He explained that a wolverine had been nosing around the bait barrel, and when Byron cleared the trees and appeared in the trail to the treestand, he had taken off towards the trees, so all that I saw was his rear end/tail vanishing into the thick forest edge. (From the video posted in my last post, he disappeared off to the right). Byron promised me that he would return, and then he looked right at me and said "but you can't shoot him!" I laughed as I verified that I had no intention of shooting a creature for which I did not have a license/permit.

    Walking in, we at once saw that the ridgepole that would hold the beaver high off the ground was broken. I offered to start looking for another pole that we could lash to the trees, Byron thought that he could use the rope that was present to make something work. Using the bait barrel as a ladder, he tightened a horizontal rope tree to tree, and then hung the frozen beaver carcass. While he was doing the remedial construction, I explored the surrounding forest a little bit. I saw that there was a pond/swamp directly south of me, which I hoped would help funnel bears towards the food. In the photo, you can see the treestand off to the right in the background. And you can also see where we left the hole on the barrel....should have rotated that barrel 90 degrees so that a bear would be broadside to the stand while eating. DOH!

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    Leaving me to myself, I tied my camera strap to the treestand (no dropping allowed!) inflated my seat cushion, turned on my thermacell, and settled in for more amazing Alberta bear encounters. After watching squirrels play around the stand for an hour, and half eating the apple and tossing the core out towards the bait barrel, I saw movement in the woods. The wolverine had returned to the bait site, and when I first saw him, he was on full alert, and had totally puffed out his fur as much as possible. It reminded me of a ticked off cat with tail and back fur inflating him to appear twice his size.

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    He moved to the perfect photo spot, sat down for just a few moments, now looking quite happy.

    Right after Byron and I had seen him, and he told that the largest member of the weasel family would be back, I nervously asked if I should have any concerns about the wolverine coming up my tree or being aggressive towards me in any way. I flashed back to times in Kenya as a kid when a honey badger sighting caused my father to get REALLY intense in telling his kids to not leave the immediate campsite area, as honey badgers were known to be afraid of nothing, and very aggressive. As this wolverine looked past the beaver carcass, and perhaps caught sight of a middle aged photographer/hunter in a treestand, he moved to his right behind a screen of shrubs, and continued forward to where he seemed to pick up some scraps from the edge of the clearing, and continued moving to my left using the trees and shrubs as a very effective screen.

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    Once I knew that the wolverine had left the area, I breathed once again, and sat there counting my blessings...... a week with my brother, a new group of friends, an amazing near-wilderness filled with strange and wonderful flora and fauna, and then an up and close encounter with a creature that I have been told is one of the toughest critters of North America. What an adventure, and little did I know what was yet to come tonight.
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  12. #12


    Fantastic write up and photos. Keep ‘em coming!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Daytona Beach


    Following along

  14. #14


    Day #2 hunt continued:

    The wind was swirling, and I didn't need to use a wind checker to tell me. Wind from the south pushed the fragrant odor of thawing beaver, with sweet overtones of not-fit-for-human-consumption caramel. And then I couldn't smell the dual scents as it switched, and then ten minutes later the air quit pushing on my left cheek and into my face came the beaver smell again.

    The squirrels came out again shortly after the wolverine left. Several times a squirrel climbed a nearby tree to look over at this strange creature sitting in the metal tree. Evidently deciding that I didn't represent a threat, they returned to finding food and chasing each other around the woods. And then, both squirrels ascended adjacent trees, and turned towards the trail into the bait site and began to chatter up a storm. Turning my eye in same direction that these rodents were staring, I saw a blond bear trying to be sneaky coming in from the left. Ducking into the woods beyond the bait site instead of coming straight down the trail, it (she?) circled behind and came into the clearing from my right.

    Acting very nervous, this little bear made its way first to the trash bag that was used to bring the beaver tonight. Licking and sniffing, she moved over towards the bait barrel, and ate a bit from the ground. She did come over and sniff the applecore, but didn't make a move to eat it. Standing up on hind legs, she tried to reach the hanging beaver. Barely able to touch it with outstretched forearms, she gave up quickly any thought of meat tonight. She settled down at the base of the barrel, and had quite the dinner. She hung around for over ten minutes, and did seem to briefly consider jumping up on the barrel to reach the beaver, but never did try.

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    After the little bear left the treestand area, there was another stretch of quiet and squirrel antics. When the squirrels once again went into "alert!" mode, I knew to look way off into the woods where they were looking. A larger black colored bear was coming, and he used the same circuitous route that the blond before him had. This bear seemed more cautious and he hung up at the edge of the clearing, waiting for a couple of moments just behind a screen of trees. I presume with the swirling winds, and our walking into the clearing and working on the makeshift ridgepole/ropeline, we had dropped a fair amount of human scent. And to be transparent, I was not nearly as conscious about masking my human scent as Daniel is when he is hunting. He was following very strict scent control protocol, up to and including scent free laundry soaps, keeping his hunting clothes in scent free containers, and not even changing into his hunting clothes until he had left the truck and was headed into the treestand area.

    After pausing at the edge of the clearing, this bear finally committed to coming in to check out the baits. First stop was the trash sack that once carried the beaver, and then he too came over to sniff and pass on the applecore. Standing on hind legs, a couple of things were obvious about this bear. He was rubbed in several spots, and he was much larger than the blond/brown bear as he easily reached the beaver with forelegs and his snout could work on the still mostly frozen beaver carcass. He danced around trying to get more off of the beaver, but the barrel was getting in his way. Dropping down to ground level, he worked hard on the barrel contents. On one hand, I was happy that he was rubbed and therefore to some would be considered less of a trophy, as then I didn't have to make a shoot/no shoot decision based on his size. He was clearly taller than the second ring on the barrel, and sometimes even appeared to come close to matching the top of the barrel. After some time at the opening on the barrel, it was clear that he was getting less and less results to thrusting his paw into the hole and withdrawing to lick his paw. And I remembered the skinning table conversation from Jason about having to clean his knife and gloves from the sticky caramel from a day one bear.

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    Bear #2 stayed in the area for a good long while. The surrounding woods were very still, and even the wind died down while he was eating. As the treestand was less than twenty five yards away from the barrel I could oftentimes hear chomping of teeth, and the licking of his paws. When he finally left, there was a slow return of nearby squirrel activity, and then around a half an hour after he left, these sentry squirrels once again gave me the heads up that something was approaching from the east.

    Two bears were heading into the bait clearing, but these were acting like dominant bears, not skirting the woods and acting nervous, but they were coming in like they owned the place. The bear in front was reddish brown while the trailing bear was jet black. The black bear was bigger and my thoughts started spinning. This is probably it......I am going to shoot one of these bears tonight. The black bear went over to the sniff the trash bag. The cinnamon bear raised up on hindlegs and easily reached the beaver carcass. The black bear turned around and went up to the cinnamon bear, who snarled and batted at the bigger black bear who backed away. Waiting for a few seconds, the black bear moved in when the reddish bear pulled off some beaver bits.

    The black bear was much taller on hindlegs than the red bear, but it seemed to me that the red bear might be the leader??? It came in to the bait site first, and it seemed to intimidate the black one over the beaver carcass. Now my thoughts were getting jumbled. Both bears had large/huge body size. Both were bigger than the last bear, and he almost came up to the top of the bait barrel. Ears seemed to indicate a fully mature bear. I hadn't even tried to evaluate foreleg straightness versus tapered shape. Color phase bears seem to be more rare, thus a more desirable trophy. Was it possible that one or both of these bears were sows?

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    The black bear on hindlegs was grabbing and tugging at the beaver carcass for all he was worth. With a final shake and bone cracking tug, the head and front half of the beaver separated from the spinal cord and the black bear wheeled to my right and entered the treeline. I looked down and to my right, but couldn't see the black bear at all. The snapping of bones and sound of jaws working on a beaver carcass now came to me in stereo. The black bear was maybe 10 yards away invisible in the woods, and the red bear was back up at the strung up beaver, working on stripping the hind parts of the beaver. The red bear was facing me directly, so a double lung shot would have been impossible. No shot placement guide that I have ever seen shows one where to shoot if a bear is standing up and directly facing you.

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    I took a little more video of the red bear, all the while the black bear was working the beaver carcass invisible (and close!) to me. Up till now, I had been working the camera in both video and still mode. I put the camera down, because shortly I was going to kill one (or both!?!?) of these bears.

    Bringing the gun into fully ready position, my thumb on the unfamiliar safety, I moved the three position safety to halfway. There was less cracking and more licking coming from my right, and I correctly surmised that the black bear would soon be heading back for seconds. I pushed the safety to fire, just before he emerged from the treeline. I found his front leg in the scope, went up to the top of the shoulder and let the muzzle of the barrel drift a little back. The feeling of squeezing the trigger and the sound of the shot hardly registered as I was intensely focused on a little patch of hide right where it should be for a good shot. I saw the bear do a backwards somersault and bound into the woods back towards where he had had his last meal. In my periphery I could see the red bear hightailing it out in the direction he had come into the stand.

    Listening intently for the direction of escape, I tried to pinpoint exactly where the sounds of movement stopped. And then I heard a sound that reminded me of a commercial bus passenger door opening.......a whoosh/sigh and sound of air escaping.

    In Kansas, date and time of death are required information when tagging a big game animal. I tried to text Daniel of success, but the area had very iffy cell coverage. I barely remember looking at either my watch or phone for the time of the shot, but know that it was around 10 pm. Finally a text came in, and Daniel cryptically told me "Big Black down". He had broken his bearless streak, a quest that he started soon after our father's death. Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had sent that text two hours prior, and he was having his own bear adventures at stand #2 of the evening as I was recovering from shooting my first bear.

    Day #2 completion to follow.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  15. #15


    (I did not know that you can only post one video per post on HuntTalk)

    Video of the reddish brown bear on the beaver, and the black bear on the right chomping away. The beaver's entrails, with a little bit of intestine hanging on were gracefully deposited onto the dirt when the beaver was halved by my bear taking his last meal.

    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  16. #16


    Day #2 of my hunt finally concludes:

    I knew that my bear had expired within 20 yards of where I sat, and yet I couldn't see him from the top of the stand. As I sat there, I decided that something quite unusual would have to happen for me to shoot another bear on this trip, and yet I added another slug to my 12 gauge as a precaution. Boy Scout motto: BE PREPARED

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    I then decided that now would be a fine time for a protein bar or two. Not that I had the shakes or anything......that's my story and I'm stickin to it!

    I tried Byron's suggestion that turning airplane mode on and then off might cause my phone to connect to the sketchy network and allow me to get a message out to Byron of my success. That little trick worked, and I was able to text Byron that my bear was down, and Daniel had killed a big bear as well. Byron replied that he knew about Daniel's success, but he had decided to let my brother tell me when and how he chose to tell the story.

    Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had not only taken his first bear, he had taken it as they walked in to the bait site and shot it from 15 yards while on the ground. This problem bear that had been targeted by the outfitter for removal, as this bear was becoming aggressive to all who came near "his" feeding area. Daniel and guides Byron and Jason walked into the bait site to find the problem bear standing beside the bait barrel. This bear did not immediately leave the area as these three humans came close, but instead turned towards the trio (only Daniel was armed with a firearm) and directly faced them. Snapping his jaws, and stomping his front legs, swaying back and forth and uttering deep growls, there was a standoff of epic proportions. Daniel was in kneeling postion with the 7mm-08 in fire ready position, waiting for his shot opportunity. He told me later that he could see this bears testicles hanging low and swinging back and forth with his swaying, and I heard at the skinning table the next day the guides talk about how unusually large this bears nutsack was.

    As the bear finally decided that leaving might be in his best interest, he turned to his right and went full broadside. Just as Byron was starting the "N" sound of the word "Now", Daniel sent the bullet perfectly into the bad tempered bruin. He took two quick steps forward and stumbled down, still inside the bait clearing, breathing his last, and giving out the famed "death moan". Daniel had worked the bolt to put another round in the chamber should a followup shot be necessary, but all was well. Once they confirmed that the bear was dead, he went to remove the cartridge from the chamber, and he found that the rifle had not cycled a round into the chamber after ejecting the spent shell. RUH ROH!

    Daniel, Jason and Byron picked up the very large bear and put it on the hood of the 4 wheeler, strapping it down with bungee cords for the ride down to the truck. As it was so early, the consensus was to get the bear back to the skinning table, and it was also decided that Daniel should go have another sit at a different hunting spot. Byron drove Daniel to the next spot, and saw several bears along the roadway, and in some seismic cuts, and walking in they flushed several largish bears out of the vicinity of the bait site. Daniel was making up for all these years of not seeing a bear with seeing multiple ones, seemingly coming from everywhere.

    Getting to the new bait site, Daniel settled in for another opportunity to get a bear, and later told me that over the next couple of hours, he saw 6 very nice bears, and had considered shooting at first one, and then another, but held out for MR BIG.

    Nearing the end of legal shooting time, Daniel said that a slightly smaller bear came into the clearing, and came up to Daniel's tree, and stared up at Daniel in the stand above. Daniel returned the stare, and maybe even uttered a few words to let the bear know that he was not to be messed with. This bear raised up on hind feet, and made to climb up the tree. Now Daniel for sure said something along the lines of "get out of here bear" and the bear dropped down and circled the tree. He next came up to the base of the ladder and looked up. Daniel tried to once again move the bear along. The bear dropped down to all fours, and again circled the tree/treestand. Popping his jaws and shuffling his feet much like the big bear that he had just killed at the first stand, Daniel said that this bear seemed to be revving up his anger to this thing up in the tree. This time the bear came up to the side of the ladder, raised up on rear legs, and wrapped the front paws around the ladder, and began to push on the ladder, violently as if trying to dislodge the ladder from the tree. Daniel decided that this bear too needed to go to bear heaven. As it made its last move to circle the treestand, Daniel made the shot and had his second bear of the night.

    Jason had returned to pick Daniel up and loaded up his 6' bear. Compared to the 7'4" bear he had shot earlier that night, this bear seemed quite a bit smaller. But back in the Shenandoah National Forest where Daniel has pursued black bears for a decade, this bear would be considered near the top trophy available.

    It was nearly 12:45 when I finally heard faint motor noises coming from the road, and after a few minutes, the sound of a 4 wheeler coming up the trail. Jason was driving, and Byron riding on the back. All business, they asked where the shot occurred, and where did I think the bear went down. I gave Byron the starting spot about 10 yards from the stand, and said I think you'll find him at the base of the second poplar at the back of the copse of trees just off to my right. The tracking job lasted all of 5 seconds, as I heard Byron say, "there he is" and point just about where I had thought he had expired.

    By this time I had descended the ladder, and made my way over to the bear. I was shocked to feel what the floor of the forest felt like; almost as if I was walking on a trampoline. With every step, I felt like I was sinking in about 4-6 inches into the mossy leafy forest surface. Walking over to my bear, I began to understand how big this bear might actually be. As I was standing there in awe, Byron lifted up the hind leg, and moved his hand to feel for testicles.

    "That's what we want to feel" he said. And all my nervousness about shooting a sow went out the window.

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    Both guides went to work knocking down a few poplar saplings, while I tried to snap a few pictures. Deep in the forest, 90 minutes of more after sunset, these was just enough ambient light that walking without a flashlight wasn't a problem, but taking photos, it was. I had had my headlight on my head since the cessation of legal shooting time, and so turned it on to aid in taking a few "as he lay" photos. Bringing the quad as close as possible, the guides looked at me and asked if I could assist in lifting this bear onto the hood of the 4 wheeler. Jason took the rear legs, Byron and I on either side of the front/head area. 1,2,3 lift..... and lower it down. kansasdad didn't get a good grip, and was in danger of slipping on the trampoline and sliding under the bear. "Big bear, Mark, really big bear" they kept saying. I wondered if they say that to every client, or was this really as big as I was thinking, and they were saying. 1,2,3 lift, and clean and lift this rolly polly furry bag of muscle and bone onto the hood of the quad. The bear needed to be pushed back, and as I did, hydraulic fluid pressure caused quite a bit of blood to exit the chest wound and somehow splash my camera lens. I didn't realize this until I tried to take my next photo of the bear strapped to the 4 wheeler, and saw the splotches on the screen.

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    Getting the 4 wheeler/bear/driver back out of the trees took some clever steering, with Jason getting stuck, unstuck, stuck and finally out into the clearing. He stood, I sat behind and Byron hung off the back of the 4 wheeler as we motored down the gentle slope and bumpy trail to the waiting trucks at the road. Once at the trucks, the 4 wheeler drove up the ramp and was secured in the bed of the truck. Byron took my tag, made a small cut into the pad of the bear's rear leg, and attached my permit to the trophy.

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    Driving back to the Inn, Daniel and I exchanged stories of our evening, of bear ninjas turning into bear killers. Arriving back at the Inn, there was still a brighter horizon to the Northwest, even though it was after 2 in the morning. The first stop was to dump our hunting boots at the mud room entrance, then straight to the room to wash up and take care of my blood soaked camera lens before heading to get supper out of the warming rack. Sitting there with Daniel, and several others of our group, the glory of the hunts were shared as we worked on the food. The skinning table would hold multiple bears tomorrow as well as one wolf. It had been a fantastically productive day of hunting with Big Bear Outfitters, and tomorrow after pictures, lunch and a nap, Daniel and I were hatching our own plans to see about a wolf for ourselves.

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    Next: day #3 skinning table
    Last edited by kansasdad; 06-19-2018 at 08:14 AM.
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  17. #17


    Awesome adventure. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to you and your brother.

  18. Default

    Great write up! Thank you for sharing. Congrats on an amazing adventure!

  19. #19


    Day three skinning table:

    Going to bed at 3 am, it didn't seem like any time passed at all until the alarm was going off to start the next day. At breakfast, more stories are told of last night's events. We heard of how a wolf was killed by the youngest member of the group, and Daniel once again told the stories of the two predatory black bears that he removed from the gene pool of northern Alberta.

    Driving over to the skinning tables, I am disappointed to learn that Daniel's big bear has already been skinned (the night before) and is already in the freezer. So this means that there will not be any "hero" shots for him. We also learn that once again the hunters have chosen wisely, as only one sow is on the table waiting for taxidermy procedures to commence.

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    My bear:

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    Not all the guides are there at the start of the morning's work, as one of the younger hunters had shot a big cinnamon phase bear late last night, and the shot had not been quickly lethal. After about 100 yards of tracking, the decision was made to pull out, and get back after it in the morning. As Byron was one of the guides who was out tracking down this red bear, his stretcher wasn't available for moving bears over to the photo station. Four guys grabbed my bear, which would be up first for skinning, and walked it over to the mound of dirt, draping the bear over the crest of the hill for any and all photographers to get busy. I took my place alongside the bear, intentionally sitting beside the bear, and not at the rear legs of the bear. One only need look at some fish or fur photos to see how forcing perspective to increase the size of the animal tends to look fake once you know the tricks. This bear didn't need any forced perspective trickery to document its large size.

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    Some pics were taken, and then one of the guides decided that the front legs needed some re-positioning, and then more pics were taken. Then a log was placed under the neck of the bear to prop the head up a bit. Then someone thought I should move to the other side of the bear for a better angle on the pics. My cell phone and camera were in other folks hands to take a few photos of me with my bear. At some point, Daniel and I were sitting alongside the bear for even more photos. I have found that with today's digital media, there is almost not any reason to keep snapping images. It won't cost any extra, unlike back in the film days of purchasing film and paying for processing of every last poorly executed picture.

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    About the time that the photo session was ending, Jason and Byron returned from their tracking job with the big red bear still strapped to the 4 wheeler, in the back of the pickup truck. It was fairly evident that Jason was a little peeved that the tracking job was necessary as the shooter had executed the (forbidden) shoulder shot on this big bear. The bear had high tailed it out of the stand area, barely dropping any blood. At about 100 yards away, it left the bear trail it had taken so far, and about 10 yards later, stopped to poop. There was a bit more blood here, but that was it for blood. Tracking further required using disturbed plants and upturned forest floor detritus, as well as the occasional paw print to extend the search another 75 yards or so, and then even that got really sketchy. Finally using the last known spot for the bear, a search commenced and after some bushwhacking and good old fashioned hunters intuition, the bear was found. As the crow flies, the bear was found more than 300 yards from the treestand, and had probably died within minutes of being shot, but it was quite good fortune that he had been recovered.

    Skinning of my bear got started, and since I had shot him, I was there to be less a spectator, and much more a participant in the skinning. Byron once again started on the hind legs, and explained that some folks will cut at the hair/pad line, but he went just into the hair, so that the taxidermist could sow hair to hair, as sowing to the pad is quite difficult. Guide Cole was using the knife that is dispensed to all Canadian fire fighters (equivalent to our smoke jumpers.....except that we insert with parachutes, Canada inserts with helicopters) while all others were using havalons. I was happy that I had some extra 60 blades that I could donate to the cause.

    I was asked if I was going to tan, rug or body style taxidermy my bear. Various folks chimed in as to their suggestions. Tanning and hanging the nose on a hook allows one to display more trophies in a smaller space, rugging allows for floor, wall, or couch back displays. Head, chest, 1/2 body and full body mounts were all discussed as well. My father had rugged his largest leopard, but he rarely brought it out of the closet to display the beautiful cat.

    I asked Steve the outfitter if I had to make my choice right now, and he said that it wasn't necessary. He also wanted to know if I was planning on bringing the hide/skull back with me to Kansas, or did I want the work done in Canada? That got a long discssion going on how important it is to bring a very large bear to a taxidermist that is used to dealing with large bears. Steve guessed that the shops in Virginia that Daniel might bring his 7'4" bear for work, might never had had a 7 footer in their shop, if they only worked on Virginia bears.

    In the end I decided to keep the trophy in the freezer in Steve's possession, until it can be brought to the "king of big bears" in British Columbia. I think that everyone in our group decided to do the same thing as well. It certainly simplifies border crossing/customs declarations when one doesn't have to explain the frozen bear hide and skull in your cooler.

    Once skinned out, the hide is taken over to the nail in the poplar, and it here that I finally begin to really understand how big this bear really is. His pads are sitting on the ground, and when stretched out, seems to be wider than some of the bears that were skinned yesterday. Once the photos are done, the hide was taken back to the table for measuring.

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    The tape is extended from snout to tail, and 6'8'' is called out. "No Way" someone says. "That bear is over 7". Someone notices that the snout is turned inside out from hanging and then being taken down from the hanging nail. Turning it right side out, and remeasuring, we got 7'2". Claw to claw also measured 7'2".

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    Clapped on the back, and a handshake from Bryon and Daniel, I feet pretty happy right about now.
    No one can go back and make a brand new start, however anyone can start from now and make a new ending.

  20. #20


    Awesome adventure! Big Cojones for sure.

  21. #21


    Wow fantastic trip, and write up!! Not to mention huge bears!!!

  22. #22


    great story and thanks for sharing! Congrats on a beautiful bear

  23. #23


    Great story telling with lots of great pictures and videos. Congrats!

  24. Default

    Great story. Awesome videos.

  25. Default

    Great pictures stories and videos! Your not helping with the wait for next spring!

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