Not many people can claim a world record…
Barry and Bob Steed are good friends and clients; we have hunted and fished all over the world together. Having just returned from New Zealand, we decided it was time for Grizzly.
Anytime you can hunt Alaska, you are enjoying yourself; and when you are hunting coastal Brown Bear or interior Grizzly, you are really doing well. When you hunt interior Grizzly, only one place will do: Stoney River Lodge, just south of Sleetmute, Alaska. Proprietors Curly and Betty Warren are a class act and have a top notch concession. Joe Mott is their lead guide and responsible for taking over 100 Grizzlies over the years.
Late April and early May is a beautiful time in Alaska; the days are getting long and the nights are brisk. The ground is still snow-covered and big bruins come out of their dens looking for food. Their hides are flawless and their claws are long -- everything you could want in a Grizzly. These bears have been in their dens for up to seven months and have one thing on their mind…FOOD. In spring, food is sparse until the snow melts, so if you can locate winter kills, there is a great chance a bruin or two will visit. I’ve only seen boars this time of year, which greatly increases your odds of taking an animal. The sows will almost always have cubs and stay in the dens a bit longer.
In Alaska, you cannot hunt the day you fly; however, when flying you can spot bear, and see where they are moving and searching for food. We spotted a moose kill this way and that was the buffet we were looking for. The closest place to land the Super Cub was nearly three miles away. Barry was in one plane and I was in the other. We got dropped off and then the wait started. We set up camp, ate dinner and tried to sleep.
East central Idaho, with the openness of its high sage-covered plateaus to the steep, timbered peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains, is home to the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Frank Church Wilderness Area and the aptly named, River of No Return. Wildlife as diverse as the sage grouse, mule deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, big horn sheep and of course now, the wolf, inhabit Idaho, under the splendor and watchful eyes of the bald eagles overhead. Millions of acres easily distract hunters from glassing for game, just by the sheer beauty of the highly-varied terrain and the creatures within.
Here the habitat changes quickly from bunchgrasses and sage on arid mountainsides, to heavy timber and rock outcroppings in the steep river canyons of the higher elevations. Wolves, as predators, travel where their prey goes, always on the lookout for an opportunity. As seasons change from fall to winter and ground cover becomes hidden by snow, the game and the wolves move down slope. The well-documented wolf predation has been devastating to the elk, deer and moose populations in particular and is a constant topic of discussion among regional ranchers and residents, many of whom are also avid hunters.
Long a destination of hunters seeking the thrill of the chase and the taking of game, this region is also home to many residents for whom the hunt has become a way of life. Descended from generations in the region, Gary Beers tells with a smile you can hear in his voice, of his great grandmother moving into the area by covered wagon. Gary’s first hunts were with his dad at the age of six or seven, and he has lived in and hunted this region every year since he was old enough to have a license.
Pursuit of the often near but elusive wolf, for Gary, focused on covering a large territory at a fairly fast pace, checking for signs and tracks of recent activity. As Gary recalls, “I had been hunting them for about a month. I’d seen them but always the next ridge over, or five miles away, or going into the next canyon…I was always a day behind them or a day ahead of them.”
Being such a popular topic, information on wolf-sightings is shared among area residents in these sparsely populated canyons. The real break came when good friends, Jon and Nancy, called one night after dark to say the wolves had moved down from the hill and were howling in the canyon. Gary got in touch with hunting partner, Craig Burns, and set up the hunt for predawn the next morning. After a month of scouting, this could be it.
Pursuit of Saskatchan Bruins
BY LES JOHNSON
I thoroughly enjoy calling coyotes and calling other predators and have been blessed with countless opportunities to hunt predators all over the U.S. and Canada. Within the last 7-8 years, I’ve had opportunities to hunt black bear in the U.S., but never in Canada. The main thing always holding me back from traveling to Canada was just the travel to and from. Typically, I would make a calling trip to Canada in late winter and would call and kill anywhere from 45-56 coyotes in 7 days and put on thousands of miles doing it. Then I would fly back to Canada to make appearances at trade shows. After all that, I was burned out and needed a break at home. I haven’t hunted coyotes for several years in Canada, so I was ready for another Canadian experience in the outdoors.
In 2015, I had a unique opportunity to go on a bear hunt in northern Saskatchewan, with Truly Canadian Outdoors (TCO). TCO’s owner, Elliott Maduck had made arrangements with another friend of mine from Canada to have me participate as a companion on a hunt being auctioned during the Parkland Outdoor Show in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Their plan was to have me hunt during the late spring/early summer of 2015, with the winner, Tom Cook. So, Tom picked me up from the airport in Saskatoon and drove us to our destination.
We had a mixed bag of hunters in bear camp. Tom was shooting a muzzleloader, I was using a bow, and the other hunter in camp was using a rifle for his first-ever bear hunt. I have been on several other bear hunts, but they were stateside. I had always wanted to experience a bear hunt in Canada, so I was pretty excited for this hunt.
The first evening we just checked on a few of the baits and re-baited them. We all spotted bears while doing that. The terrain and cover in that part of Saskatchewan was so unique and you could see great distances. It actually made the bear hunt more fun since we could see the bears walking around the woods in some places from up to 400 yards. Obviously, in some places you could only see 50-75 yards because of the trees. Either way, there was not a lot around the forest floor for the bears to eat; so if the bears found a bait site, they just would hang out around it.