Alberta Bear Hunt: The Right Gear

A fierce rainstorm tore through camp last night. The water and the high winds made me glad for our sturdy wall tent with its wood-burning stove, which kept me and my hunting partner, Mark Nelson, dry and warm.

Before coming on the hunt I went over the suggested packing list put together by the outfitter. One item he said to bring was a soft gun case for transporting firearms to and from camp.

There are a handful of high-tech soft gun cases that have come on the market in the last couple years, notably from Bob Allen and Envelop. Both these cases contain fancy moisture inhibiting materials designed to protect your guns from the corrosive effect of moisture. Both work. I like the Envelop because it looks like a “regular” soft gun case but has a lot of technology under the surface. The Bob Allen Intercept is much beefier with all kinds of padding of other protection built in—perfect for your duck blind or deer camp. But neither made sense to bring on this trip.

Guncase1 Instead, I grabbed a case made by Koplin that I purchased some years ago for an Alaskan bear hunt. This case doesn’t have any of the fancy moisture-wicking and rust-inhibiting materials found in the cases I mentioned above, but it does have a few things to recommend it. First off, it closes like a dry-sack, with the back end of the sleeve (it isn’t a zippered case) rolling up, creating a waterproof seal. While the outside is made of some very tough Cordura-type material that is waterproof, the inside has a thin padded foam sleeve. The beauty of this case is that it will keep water out and if your rifle happens to go into the drink it will float your gun. Also, because it doesn’t have a zipper and isn’t bulky like the Bob Allen case, it folds up very flat in your luggage, making it easy to transport.

I made the right choice. During a trip to my stand last night, my guide decided to take a “shortcut” to get to me. He went to cross a small beaver run that he had been able to navigate in the past only to find that the beavers had made it quite a bitter deeper in the last year. He buried the nose of the quad in the water putting the front end of the machine into the drink and getting wet “over his nuts,” as he put it, in the process.

My gun case spent a minute or so submerged in the water as he wrestled the ATV back onto dry land. When he told me about his misadventure after picking me up, I opened up the mud-splattered case, checked the sleeve, and found the whole works on the inside to be completely dry. I slipped my .375, with its lovely blued metal and wood stock, into the case without a worry.

—John Snow