Is this anything of interest?? Bear Hunt 2001

Dave King

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2001

As I was searching for crop damage info I came across this old story about my first black bear "hunt".

(Len... This thread will only accept 10,000 characters so I'll truncate the article and provide a link.)

Black Bear hunt 2001 in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada
Dave King

My long time friend Charly Culbertson arranged for his girlfriend and him to go on a Black Bear hunt with his friend Ron Nemetchek. Due to last minute medical problems, Charly?s girlfriend couldn?t go and I was given the opportunity to tag along on what turned out to be a great time and wonderful hunt.

Having never been on a black bear hunt and having an innate need to be self sufficient, I packed way too much stuff. I?ve been on caribou hunts in Northern Quebec and had to contend with the black flies/gnats and figured they?d also make the trip to Alberta to feast on this unwary hunter so I packed a lot of DEET which I didn?t use. I was told beforehand we?d be staying in a house with Ron and not in a camp but I, none-the-less, packed extra flannel shirts, heavy socks, some knee high Lacrosse rubber boots, and light and heavy camo coveralls in my duffel bag. All packed up there was quite an assortment of stuff;


Charly, however, had a large duffle that appeared to be filled to capacity with little more than air and one set of heavy coveralls. He works each year in Alaska as a big game guide and has a better feel for what?s ?necessary? and what?s ?extra?. He felt I had some extra stuff but cheerfully helped me hump it once or twice anyway.


Ron was waiting patiently just beyond the doors at Customs. I?d met him before but he still didn?t fit the Outfitter stereotype and he looked out-of-place. He?s a mild mannered redhead with a quick wit and devious sparkle in his eye. We were never quite sure what he had planned for us.


There was the necessary trip to the grocery store for proper provisions, as Charly had a special meal in mind. I was once again in for one of those little chuckles that happen in life; Charly needed a few items for his Italian delight, one green pepper and one onion were included in the necessary ingredients. The grocery store was very well stocked and designed more for the folks that make monthly or quarterly trips to the market to get a flat of canned corn or green beans, 50 pounds of potatoes and such. They weren?t quite ready for Charly and his one onion and one green pepper order. We did actually get the green pepper and onion but Charly had some recipe exchanging and other explaining to do. We had two giant size boxes of Cheerios as indicators of our local provisioning savvy and we eventually got out of the store. Final stop in town was at the liquor store for more beer and rye whiskey. We thoughtfully bought sufficient quantities so as not to be labeled as newcomers.

We got back to Ron?s place in early afternoon and began the ritual of getting our gear situated for the evening hunt.


Soon enough I was introduced to the evenings stand. The bait barrel was tethered to a spruce tree with a piece of yellow poly line and held to the barrel by an eye-bolt that was attached to the lid. The barrel was metal with four ? inch holes drilled through the sides. The holes were such that the bear would need to roll the barrel to get the oats and grease mixture to trickle out of the holes onto the ground where it could easily be licked up. Ron mentioned that the bears would pull at the knots and roll the barrel around the tree but they wouldn?t actually bite the poly line. I looked at that knotted up mess and remarked that my dog would chew that line in half faster than he could cut it with a knife. He reminded me that it was the barrel that was tied to the tree and not the bear so the little yellow line worked fine. He also mentioned that at one time he tried using chain but the bears would break it so he switched to the poly line.


It wasn?t long before I heard rustling coming from directly behind me, a few minutes later here comes my first ever in-the-wild bear. By carefully turning my head to the left and craning over to the side I had a bird?s eye view of this impressive critter. He was directly below me right at the tree steps and seemed quite unaware of my presence or the least bit worried about anything. He ambled over to the bait as if rehearsed and plopped down to have a snack of oats, no sniffling or shuffling just straight in and plop. I was a little amused and excited with the animation and closeness of the events but very calm, somewhat to my surprise. Ron had mentioned that the barrel was 24 inches across and 36 inches tall and would be a good indicator of a bear?s size. Charly and Ron both had told me I should spend a good deal of time examining the bear?s fur for rub marks and also getting an appreciation for the size of the critter(s). Two very good bits of information stuck with me, Ron said that if the bear could fit in the barrel it?s a small one. Charly said if it?s jet black so much as to almost have a bluish look, it?s got a good hide. Well, this bear was a lot smaller than the barrel and it looked pretty fuzzy and brown in a lot of places so I contented myself with watching the thing eat and wiggle the barrel. About 30 minutes into the early show I once again heard rustling but this time it was further to my left and up the old trail. I turned to look just as a much larger bear entered the trail. This bear looked huge by comparison to the first bear. The distance between it?s ears was certainly much greater than the spread of my palm. It?s fur looked deep black and smooth. It was about 60 yards from me and broadside but directly downwind. It immediately turned and looked in my direction. It stood for a bit, raised it?s muzzle to get the wind, and began walking directly down the trail toward me and the barrel. The bear came in slowly constantly checking the wind, advancing and eventually came right to the base of my tree. I was very sure this bear knew I was in the tree and had been warned that bears can climb trees faster than I can fall out of one. I slowly, awkwardly brought the rifle around to point at the bear?s head, which wasn?t too difficult as it was straight down the tree. We had a Mexican stand-off going. The bear had two feet off the ground and on the ladder stand strapped to the tree. I had a 150 grain partition chambered and the safety off. We stayed like that for what seemed like a minute or two before the bear thought it?d eat and then worry about the fella up the tree.


Ron was very good about it, joking that there were larger bears around and that I could have waited for a 7? or better. He said it was probably a 5 ? foot bear but he?d had a couple clients do worse. Gotta love that Ron, he?s got a refreshingly dry sense of humor.

Back at Ron?s place we encountered Charly. He had his recently acquired bear strapped to the back basket of his 4-wheeler. It was a ?proper? sized bear, a boar, that when skinned turned out to square 6? 9?. Charly had to run through his evening?s hunt story.


He said he read until about 8:15 PM when he heard the noise of twigs breaking just a short distance to his right. He put the book away and straightened up getting ready for whatever was coming. He first saw only the pads and lower legs of the bear but soon had a complete view. He did a quick fur check looking for rubbed areas. The boar never made it to the bait as Charly recognized it as a good big bear and shot it double-lung. The boar didn?t go far after being hit and much to Charly?s surprise it treed, but in several seconds came crashing back to earth making several additional attempts to leave the area. Charly bundled up his gear, checked the bear for signs of life then proceeded to load the bear onto the 4-wheeler. At that point all was going very well. Charly was quite happy to have his bear and be motoring out of the bush before nightfall. There was one problem Charly was quite unprepared for. You recall, I mentioned hills as an obstacle to the 4-wheeler trip into the stand. Well, these hills were quite steep and one in particular, which Charly later showed me, was a real obstacle. Charly had loaded the 220 pound bear into the rear basket of the 4-wheeler. The basket overhung the rear of the 4-wheeler a little and wasn?t a problem until one adds a very steep hill and a load of bear. Charly relayed he had no problems in the muck and over the logs but on the very top of the very steep hill the 4-wheeler did one of those picturesque rear-wheel stands and came to rest in a three-point fashion, on two rear wheels and the basket full of tied-in bear. Charly had no problems getting off the 4-wheeler and getting around to the front of the now very tall vehicle, the problem came when he decided to try to pull the front two wheels of the 4-wheeler back down to the ground. Just as soon as he pulled hard enough to lift the rear basket clear of the ground he became aware that he had forgot to set the brakes. At that point the 4-wheeler was balanced to flop back onto all 4 wheels and was now on a backward trip down the very steep hill, bear included. Charly re-told the story with Ron present (owner of the 4-wheeler) and just to liven up the tale Charly mentioned that Ron shouldn?t worry too much because the 4-wheeler didn?t roll unmanned all the way down that steep hill. It managed to turn abruptly and roll over several times before coming to a stop in some saplings thereby saving Charly the walk all the way down the hill. Anyway, after completing the hunting stories and hanging the bears we went into the house and retired for the evening. We had some Italian delight Charly had prepared earlier and washed it down with a few beers and some rye whiskey, of course.


The rest of the story...
Dave, that's great! Can you stuff it into a word doc and send it to me. Any pictures available?
Warning! This thread is more than 18 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Recent Posts