The truck doors slammed and we kicked up dust with a bed full of fleshy beavers and a muddy ATV. Our stomachs were full from a hearty afternoon meal, but our Mossbergs were starving. Hopefully the bears are, too.
It was the second day of my second trip to High Level, Alberta, and I was ready to collect my first black bear for the skinning table. Outfitter Wally Mack and I puttered into the bait site as a flock of ravens quickly dispersed from their feeding frenzy. Wally uttered a curse word—the bait had already been hit, sometime between the previous evening and now. Perhaps the bear of my dreams had just feasted minutes ago and wouldn’t return until after dark. It could be waiting in the brush, ready to charge. Maybe it was 5 miles away at another bait. Unpredictable—that’s the thrill of hunting the kings and queens of the bush.
Hours passed. Bear! But not the bear I was after, so I let it dine while my video camera captured its intriguing habits. Suddenly, the bear became startled and wandered off. Another—likely more dominant—bear appeared in the distance, but was gone in the blink of an eye. Maybe it’ll come back later.
Satisfied with a few bear sightings, and 4 full days of hunting ahead, I let my guard down and became preoccupied with a collage of random thoughts. Crashing sounds punctured the silence, instantly forcing my heart into my throat. Ravens? No. A surge of adrenaline sent me into predatory clarity—a unique state of mind that only a hunter can identify with. A behemoth black boar appeared, strolled casually to the bait barrel and began feeding. To complicate an otherwise obvious trigger pull, a beautiful blonde color-phase bear lurked close behind.
Two tremendous specimens of Ursus americanus. I was blessed to take both.
Hung from a poplar, this old boar’s hide measured 7 feet, 9 inches from nose to tail.
This beautiful black bear sow sported a blonde coat.
You can read the full story in a future issue of North American Hunter magazine. In the meantime, stay tuned for some video footage that I I think you’ll enjoy. You’ll see gear reviews, tips from seasoned black bear guides, camp highlights, and the tense moments surrounding this incredible hunt.