I had foolishly passed up a decent sized color-phased bear last year because I wasn't sure if I should shoot it or not. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard it all already.) I wasn't about to make the same mistake again. The bear sported a beautiful cinnamon toned coat.
Day 3 of my Alberta bear hunt with Red Willow Outfitters began with a testament to hope lying in owner Todd Loewen’s skinning shed. A local hunter dropped of this massive, creased-skull bruin that measured 8 feet, 1 inch after taking it the evening before. Loewen, in addition to being an outfitter is a first-class taxidermist. Everyone in camp had to stop and gawk at the beast. Hunting for our camp had been tough, with not a single bear brought in on Day 2. But this monster inspired hope in everyone. This is the type of bears that roam these parts and in fact, several hunters have seen big ones, but been unable to get shots off on them. Under Armour’s Jason Hart and a team of searchers headed out in the morning to search for the bear he had shot after it attempted to repeatedly climb into his stand, but were unsuccessful. Hart would have another nerve-wracking encounter before the day was over.
Besides bears, Alberta is all about beef, and because several hunters are leaving early this week, Day 3 was steak day!
While driving to an area to glass for bears, we encountered this ruffed grouse, reluctant to leave her spot along a road.
Checking a roadside right-of-way of clover near where we had spotted a smaller bear the day before, we found this young bruin eating away. We stalked closer to get a better look, but decided to pass on him. We think he was the same one we say yesterday.
Finally detecting our movement or scent, most likely the latter, the bear stands on two legs to catch a better view of the potential danger before running off.
We’re not a half hour into our hunt and after seeing only one bear the day before, we’re encouraged by the early sighting. Maybe tonight will be a good one.
We were turning around in our truck when Kevin Howard of Howard Communications spotted what appeared to be a brown-colored bear at the end of the gasline roadway. Eyeballing it through a dirty windshield being hit by direct sunlight, my guide could see only the rump and at one point thought it might just be a big porcupine! He almost had me doubting if it was a bear myself when the animal lifted its head. Porcupine my butt!!! It was definitely what looked like a decent sized cinnamon-colored bear. The stalk was on.
Sneaking down the road, proved nasty as the sticky mud clung to our boots, doubling the size of our feet and flying off in noisy clumps.
As we eased closer, we spotted the bear, rubbing against a gas line and chewing on electrical wires. “I’m not going to have to shoot this thing,” I whispered. “In a minute he’s going to cook himself with electricity.” I had to hold my shot until the bear moved away from the equipment, but when he did, I was ready. The bear was about 150 yards across the opening and quartering sharply away when I shot him with the Browning X-Bolt. The .30-06 round sent the bear jumping and dashing 30 yards before it collapsed in a wide, shallow puddle.
I had foolishly passed up a decent sized color-phased bear last year because I wasn’t sure if I should shoot it or not. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all already.) I wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. The bear sported a beautiful cinnamon toned coat.
It was not even 8 p.m. when I connected on the bear and with another tag and nearly 3 more hours of daylight, it was off to glass more gas lines and right-of-ways.
Not 30 minutes later, we spotted a barrel-sized black bear at the end of a long road. This photo was taken while we were still nearly 400 yards away so you can imagine how big it may have been. We got to within just under 300 yards before the wind shifted and blew our scent toward the bear. He looked up once and my guide could notice the crease in the bruins skull. And then he was gone! Thirty minutes later, we would put a stalk on another big black bear in the same clover patch as the standing bear earlier. Again, swirling winds defeated us, giving us away and sending the bear sprinting for cover. Nobody else would shoot one that evening though several were spotted, and Jason Hart would have three cubs climb up behind his stand while a VW-sized sow rambled and popped beneath his stand for nearly two hours. Jason was 32 when he climbed up his stand, he felt like he was 70 when he climbed down. In the process, he lost a book and some of his enthusiasm for hunting bears with a stick and string. Nevertheless, he’s going back out tomorrow, more determined than ever.
Slayer. Guide Mike Rogers wears this shirt on almost every bear hunt. When his hunters find success, they cut a piece off the shirt. Great tradition. Tomorrow is my last day in camp. Last chance to fill my final tag… Click HERE to check out Day 2 Click HERE to check out Day 1
Spot-and-stalk hunting in Alberta has proven tougher than sitting a bait last year, but Day 3 finally pays off.