Alberta Bears: First Night

Spent the day sorting through gear, checking zeros and trying to pass the hours while waiting for the sun to get low enough to go hunting.

Happily, both my firearms made the trip here unscathed and, better yet, with no change in their point of impact.

Because the distances we’ll be shooting at are short—50 yards at most—we set up an impromptu shooting range that put us about 40 yards from the target. I put two shots through my .375 and two through my slug gun. Both were right on.

We have a pretty good mix of calibers and guns up here. One hunter in camp is toting a break-action single-shot 12-gauge slug gun. Another has a bolt-action .300 Remington Ultra Mag, one is using an autoloader chambered in .35 Whelen and the last guy in our party is bowhunting. There is also a father-daughter pair in camp that has come here from Colorado. I’m pretty sure the young lady (she’s 12) is shooting a bolt-action .270. Her father has brought along a 7mm Rem. Mag. Good choices all.

During the first evening I was visited twice by what I’m pretty sure was the same bear. The first time I saw him he didn’t come into the bait, instead bird-dogged back and forth downwind from the setup. About and hour later he did the same thing, but this time came into the bait to feed for about 10 minutes.

In 95 percent of the places you hunt bears he’d be a for-sure shooter. I sized him at about six and a half feet based on how he looked next to the bait drum but given how large the bruins get in the country I held back.

Hopefully that decision won’t come back to haunt me. We’ll see what tonight brings.

—John Snow