As an outfitter, we often speak to hunters that are interested in harvesting a trophy bear and are confused on where to start. Over the years of answering these questions, we have been able to render the most important factors into a short list.
THE FIRST AND FOREMOST RULE IS – PLAN!
Proper planning is going to be the deciding factor in whether your trip is successful (harvest or not) or a string of avoidable circumstances.
Planning will encompass not only route, licenses, equipment and weaponry, but also outfitter, harvest processing and transport.
Many first time bear hunters enter the idea of a bear hunt with a notion that it is similar to hunting other forms of game such as white tail. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Bruin are predatory, scent sensitive, routine animals that can easily be put off by interruption to any of the aforementioned traits.
Keeping this in mind during the planning phase will help ensure that attention to detail required to land that elusive predator.
For the novice bear hunter, I highly suggest going with an outfitter with several years of experience and a proven track history. Here at Wawang, we have a 40 year track history of success.
WHEN SHOPPING FOR THE RIGHT OUTFITTER:
1. First and foremost, ensure plenty of contact. Ask as many questions as possible. A good outfitter will arm you with the most relevant knowledge regarding the area, baiting practices (if you are over a bait), signs to watch for, active bear times and they should also be able to give you stats on the prior years hunts. Arming yourself with this information will be crucial to your spot rate.
2.Are you going to be fully guided (to and from bait, bait replenished for you, retreival, harvest prepared and frozen etc), semi guided (a variation of the above) or self guided (all hunt details cared for by yourself).
There are definitely pros and cons for each but in our case we do semi guided. We bait your area(s) each day for 14 days prior to your arrival and ensure an active bait(s) and most cases those baits have multiple bear on them to choose from.
When our hunters arrive, they are taken to thier site, advised where to set thier stand and how to accurately bait as we have to help ensure success.
Once our hunter begins the hunt, the bait will not be crossed by another hunter or otherwise until the bear is harvested. Additional scents make no sense!!
3. Study the area! Know how you are going to get to and from your hunting area, the topographical information as well as predominant arbor (trees) and vegetation. Knowing the surrounding forest can give you further success with descenting and airing out your clothing and equipment.
4. Ask the outfitter for a list of essentials to bring for your hunt. Knowing what works for the tactics that your outfitter uses will help ensure your chance of a successful harvest. By pairing this information with point #2, it will lead you to choose the correct equipment. For instance, we at Wawang Lake suggest using a tree stand, but advise that due to our location in the boreal forest and the likelihood of loose bark, a comfy climber with ladder would be preferred. This small detail will assist in a quicker and quieter setup therefore promoting a lesser chance to spook a potential bear away from your bait.
5. Choose the correct weapon. Ensure that the calibre or shot size is correct for your target and choose a weapon you are comfortable with! I can never stress this enough. Far too many hunters decide they would like to ‘try’ a bow after several years with a gun and decide that taking a bear would be the best practice. This is not only discouraged but could have potentially disastrous results. The kill zone with a gun differs from a bow and cause the hunter to wound, lose and potentially waste a bear. Save the practice for the stationary targets until you have an accurate, firm and knowledgeable grasp of your weapon.
6. Iron out all costs involved such as taxes, lodging, tags, export permits and any other costs that the outfitter may have as extras. NEVER assume the price is all inclusive unless stated as such and even then ensure you ask. Better to be safe than sorry!
Like I said, this is the short list and as the posts go on, we will cover different tactics, weapons, baiting practices, descenting and so much more!