Black bear hunt in Canada
Infinite distances meets a magnificent landscape
For many, Canada is the epitome of freedom, a vast country of untouched nature stretching from the US in the south to the Arctic in the north. The ideal place to forget the stress of everyday life and to unwind. The first trip was to take me to the west coast to British Columbia. Via Frankfurt it went via Vancouver to Prince George, a small town in the middle of British Columbia. From here, the trail continued north for several hours, past giant forest strikes and breathtaking rivers and streams winding through valleys, continuing into the wilderness B.C.s. The last stop in front of the camp was at Fort St. James, an Indian Reservation that offers some of the attractions such as a Native American Museum and information on the origins of Fort St. James. Water sports enthusiasts can devote their vocation to the big lake. The last meters to the camp, which was idyllically situated on a lake in the forest, was covered by boat, as there is no road connection to the camp.
The camp itself was very functional and consisted of the main house with kitchen (gas stove) and sleeping facilities for us hunters and 2 smaller huts for the professional hunters and the cook.
For this first spring hunt we were three, father and son the 2: 1 hunting and I as a 1: 1 hunter, target is a black bear for everyone and a grizzly for one of the 2: 1 hunters. In the evening there was a greeting moose roast. Then the plans for the next day were forged. Jens the Outfitter of this 500.000ha area accompanied the 2: 1 hunters.
The first day
I was hunting with Warren, an Indian-born guide from Fort St. James. Early in the morning it started. Each group drove with a pickup in the wide hunting area in search of a black bear. During the game drive (a pure footstep is not possible with the size of the area) we saw some moose pull through the undergrowth and also a bear with a boy but an old bear did not show up this morning.
About lunchtime we rested at an elevated point in the area from which several valleys and waterholes could be monitored with fresh green. These spots are very promising, as the bears were now looking for fresh greens after their hibernation on an empty stomach, and especially the young dandelion looked like a magnet. But here, too, the success was initially lacking.
On the way back we met two prospectors who were using special machines to scour the ground for gold and actually showed us some small nuggets and gold dust. We inquired about bear sightings and they could really tell us about some bears that they had seen in one of the side valleys in the morning. New courage seized us. We decided to drive to the next hill, then walk the two supposed valleys by foot. In glorious sunshine, we stalked slowly through the pine young stands on the assumed spot. Suddenly a crash in the undergrowth, my guide said I should finish the rifle immediately, because you have to count on grizzlys and in case of emergency I should be better prepared if he attacks. Slowly sneaking up to where the sound came from, paired with waiting and listening, dragged on for the next few minutes. Three groups of trees we came to the edge of a small clearing and here we finally saw what had caused the noise. 2 young bears romped across the clearing. Nothing to shoot, but just the sight of how undisturbed these two black bears played with them made them forget the hardships of descent through thick branches.
As it begins to dawn, we decided to slowly return to the car and start a new attempt the next day. In the evening in the hut with hearty food, our fellow hunters also told of some black bear sightings, but no shootable bears had been there as well.
The second day should bring more success for at least one of us. Again it went out early. This time I went with Warren a good bit further north, which was also noticeable in the vegetation, since the snow melt was not too long ago and therefore much less green was visible than the day before in the south. Our first game drives were like the day before without a sighting of a bear.
By noon, however, we saw a shadow scurry through the undergrowth, which Warren immediately recognized as a bear. I’m still not clear how he could make out a bear in the shadow. Immediately the decision was made to tackle this bear. However, as the bear was able to hide very well in the pine thickening, on the one hand we had to try to get close to it, on the other hand we had to be careful not to disturb it. After following the bear for half an hour through the thicket, we came to a small clearing where we now had a clear view of our bear. Only now we see that again it was a strong bear with her little one. Somewhat disappointed that the stalking was again in vain, but pleased at the sight of the little bear family, we started the way back to the car. In the subsequent game drive we see, besides two small black bears, also a male grizzly and a female with a boy. However, since we were only out on Black Bear, the Grizzly was only shot at with the camera.
Although the second day ended without success again, I had collected a lot of landscape impressions and shot nice photos. Back in the camp, we were greeted by two well-bred fellow hunters, who were successful for the first time and were able to kill a good black bear. To celebrate the day were next to Warren even more Indian colleagues from Fort St. James present who also invited us to a Biberessen, what we German hunters politely refused.
All good things are 3 – day 3
On the third day the dam was broken. After the day before a first bear was killed, all had huge ambition now nachzulegen. Warren and I went back to the south with more vegetation. In the morning game drive we saw some moose but no bear. For a change, this time we did not want to sit on a hill at noon on bear but drove to a very beautiful lake in the local hunting lodge and tried our luck fishing. This time with success. In addition to some “Squawfischen” a special Weißfischart with many bones, we also caught some trout which we then packed for dinner.
Encouraged by the “hunting success” on the fish, it started again in the afternoon on black bear. This time we wanted to try it in the big clearcuts caused by the masses of bark beetles. After a short game drive we saw from our position on the opposite side of the mountain a black stone that moved. On closer inspection with the binoculars, the stone turned out to be a black bear and this time a suitable one to kill. In order not to scare the bear we decided to leave the pickup and walk on the bear. We had a long walk ahead of us. First down the whole mountain where our car was parked, then it was through the small river in the valley and again the climb towards the position where we had discovered the bear. While we were approaching, we kept checking to see if the bear was still at the said location. A few meters later we had climbed the hill on which the bear was spotted and we cautiously stalked from tree to tree, so as not to attract the attention of the bear.
Meanwhile, the bear had leaked on a large open space which offered us no cover. We crept on our knees behind stumps closer and closer to our desired destination. When we were only 150m away from the bear I get ready, the bipod mounted on the R93 is predestined for such a shot from the lying position. The weapon at the ready and anxious, I waited for the bear to stand wide enough to apply it to the ball. Suddenly the wind turned and the bear looked in our direction, even before he could start to jump, to disappear I let fly the 8x68s and the bear lay on the stand. Now also Warren who was a bit retarded was not too much disturbed by the stalking and congratulates me on my first bear.
After we got the pickup the bear was quickly supplied and we drove back to the camp. In Fort ST. James filled up the supply of beer before heading back to the cabin. Back in the camp this time we were the first and could relax and wait for a cool drink on our second hunting group. Relatively late, when it was already dark, our two colleagues arrived and made the day perfect, because not only me, but also both colleagues could kill a black bear. A normal colored and a cinnamon bear.
Since the bear hunt was over for me, I used the next two days to sleep in, then I helped the professional hunter to beat the bears from the ceiling. In the afternoon I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the lake by boat around the camp and tried again in the fishing, but this was not successful compared to the day before.
The next day, the return trip to Germany was already on the way, with many new experiences and impressions of Canada’s vast untouched nature. The five days of hunting flew by, but showed that it also works without Internet, mobile phone and electric power in life, and was the ideal counterbalance to the increasingly hectic world of business, where it’s all about better business and productivity.