Made it up to High Level, Alberta yesterday to kick off a spring hunt for black bears. High Level is known as the Las Vegas of the North—at least that’s how the folks around High Level think of it.

The strip of hotels in town plays into that. The main drag has a Sahara, a Flamingo, a Stardust and a Frontier. I guess this place really comes alive in winter as the last stop before you run out of civilization, catering to the truckers and workers in the energy business.

Right now everything is just muddy. Spring has not arrived in High Level even though winter has released its grip. The lakes were covered with skim ice as we landed at the airport and nothing has greened up as yet.

But it should make for some awesome bear hunting. The warming weather is going to make those bears active and they should hit our baits with enthusiasm in an effort to recover the calories lost during the long winter. We’re going to head to camp this afternoon, check our zeros and get on our stands tonight.

One very good omen for this hunt is how smoothly everything went getting up here. None of us lost any luggage and all our guns and gear sailed through customs without a hitch.

I’ve had plenty of problems flying with firearms into Canada in the past but those problems have had a very specific cause: Air Canada. I’ll do anything I can to avoid flying that airline because of the awful way Air Canada employees treat sportsmen.

But this trip I flew United Airlines to Edmonton and from there hopped on a regional plane run by Central Mountain Air and had no problems.

I can only hope the bear hunting is as good.

—John Snow