Just Back From WORK...

Ian M

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2001
Sask. Canada
Just got back from photographing and getting writing material on a fly-in black bear hunt and fishing trip - nasty work, hated every minute. Location was way up near the top of Saskatchewan, a lake on a river system that is totally isolated - we only heard a couple of aircraft and the nearest people were a hell of a long ways off. DeHaviland Beaver going in, Turbo-Otter coming out.
Lodge was very comfortable, excellent boats, all travel was by water and very scenic. Farthest bear baits were 30 minutes out, both near rapids that had incredible fishing for walleye and northern pike. Guys also caught some very nice lake trout up to 19 pounds.

One morning I lasered a large sand dune across the bay at 520 yards. A bear had chewed a 5 gallon plastic gas can so we motored it over to the big dune and everyone took turns shooting it. GA-Precision ROCK in .308, BHA 175 match and the can ended up with a lot more holes in it.

ROCK ended up killing two very nice bears, kind of neat to see a nice long range rig up north and in bear stands. I passed on several bears, waiting for a ground-shaker and have no doubt they were there, but our trip was delayed because the ice didn't thaw till two days before we flew in, therefore the baiting hadn't been done earlier. Despite that we had bears on the baits very quickly and the big guys started appearing the evening before we left, judging by the tracks.
I have killed more bears than I can recount so not shooting one on the trip meant nothing. We were blessed with perfect weather, great guys in camp, fantastic fishing and very good hunting. One black was taken by spot and stalk - it was a great time since almost an hour passed from when we saw him out in a burn until we got the shot. Other bear was at a bait, very pale blond color with rich brown legs.
One memorable experience was poling into a little hidden bay and being able to SEE several huge pike. The guys cast their lures to specific fish, real kick to watch the big rascals slam the lures. They caught northerns, walleye and lake trout all in a few hours - we had walleye for shore lunch.
Photograhy and experiences will be used for website developement and tall-tales.
Just thought I would let you guys know how hard us 'sort-of-retired' workin' guys have to work, to make a livin'.

Just thought I would let you guys know how hard us 'sort-of-retired' workin' guys have to work, to make a livin'.

Sounds like pure hell. I don't see how you put yourself through stuff like that. A true slave to the time clock,,, you need to take some time to yourself.


Good to have you back and glad you had a good hunt. I took my GA rifle up too and got a real workout on the targets and a nice boar.

Speaking of "more bears than you can recount", isn't your background that of a biologist specializing in bears?

How many bears have you seen in your short

[ 06-07-2002: Message edited by: Len Backus ]
I ran a problem wildlife program for many years and also did black bear work for the wildlife agency. This included the bear field research projects as well as a lot of staff training field seminars on trapping, snaring and immobilizing. The problem wildlife program also involved quite a lot of bear work - developing new snares, traps and solar electric fences. Was more fun than work and it lasted for quite a long time. Had two guys working for me and we covered the whole province. I was very fortunate to go over to Alberta on a major grizz study for three visits and learned a bunch about those rascals, that was enough to make me glad that we only had black bears.
I also handled a lot of major depredation problems and population "excesses" directly, usually with snares but also with a .338 with 210 Noslers. The latter involved killing large numbers, had to be done at the time although we relocated animals also. Did this for about 20 yrs. and really enjoyed working on the bears, moreso than ungulates and wolves.
The killing was necessary, involved a lot of animals and different species - sort of like Coyote Slayer does only I believe he does his work much more individually than we did. We typically went into a location with whatever was needed to end a problem (choppers, lights, snares, traps whatever), did some killing, turned the meat over to an appropriate source if possible (if ungulates were involved) and went back to the office.
This was "in the good old days", agencies don't do much if any of that anymore. Tend to pay insurance or compensation, also less research going on - no money.
Was a chance to do some "hunting" that most guys will never experience, learned a lot about how to put a critter down. Even killed a few with tranq guns loaded lethally.
With that background I still love being out there with the big furry rascals - they are more interesting to work on than whitetails. Had one at fifteen paces the other day, got some neat pictures and would have "tuned" him if he came any closer. Had some nasties in the past, they are very dangerous creatures.
When are you going to hunt Saskatchewan? Less driving and we could pull some triggers at about any distance you wanted. The place we just visited would be a great spot - huge burns that we could glass and see a bear from long distance. I could have shot one at 350 but wanted a bigger one. Assure you there wouldn't be any 23 mile quad rides - that is getting pretty close to torture if you ask me. Guess I am getting too old for that stuff, kind of enjoyed fishing for lakers and big northerns on the way out to the bear baits.
Neat that George's rifles went bear hunting, probably the first time GA Precision rifles went after bruins. I took up some Federal Trophy Bonded 165's and BHA 175's for long hurling. Would have used the new Black Hills Gold ammo but couldn't get to it in time.
Glad that you had a good trip, one of these days we will get together. I have a bunch of shooting to do right now, could use some help with the mover project...
Sorry about the double post, don't understand how that happened, Len.
I have a neat story to share with you guys. One of the fellows on the recent fly-in caught a northern pike and used one of those mouth openers when he removed his hook. Opener is a simple spring device that spreads apart. Anyhow, the fellow was so excited by the fishing - he released the fish and didn't remove the opener. For the next three or four hours he was looking for it, needed it but it was lost - he was very concerned that he might have let it go with the fish, was not sure. Those darn pike have very sharp teeth and a couple of the guys got cuts as they tried to remove their hooks - this was a catch and release lake although we could do shore lunches with fresh caught walleye or whatever.
We returned to the same bay and the guys in the other boat said that they had just seen a fish with the opener in its mouth - "yea, right" he said back. I happened to spot it a few minutes later. We snagged him, got it into the boat, removed the opener and let him go again. Fish was strong and swam away. This was four hours after he first got caught. The poor fish would have died, pretty lucky we were able to get that thing back.
By the way, this isn't a "fish-story", it really happened.
Ian and anyone else in this situation

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Allright Ian, if you say it ain't just a fish story, we'll believe you! Hey, since you been around so many bears, what would you say is the "3" most important things to help out when hunting 'em? Thanks a bunch, littletoes.
My suggestions would be:
Shot placement - break them down by shooting the scapula (shoulder) or central nervous system (spine or brain) and you have control. Bears should not be shot like deer, get them on the ground with your first shot. Why follow and track something with big teeth and toenails.
Habitat - they like water - try to hunt or place baits along or near water. Beaver damns are excellent, they are bear sidewalks.
Bait - can't beat beaver (that might get some reaction...). Another good bait is stale bread-products soaked in cooking grease such as deep fryer grease you mooch from a restaurant. Easy to carry, garbage bags for the buns, sealable pails for the grease and the bears like it a lot. As for other baits, about anything that Mr. Bear decides to munch. Ranges from used Pampers to T-Bone steaks... Canned sardines do a good job to attract and are usually the first thing et.
I sure don't consider myself an expert on anything, learned from some good people and was fortunate to get to play in the woods a lot.
I don't know if I can compete with Ian's "work" story but I will try.

Regulars on this list may have noticed I have not been around for quite a while. This is because I have been busy with my part-time job as a Technical Advisor to a Canadian company selling weapons and equipment to military and law enforcement agencies

For the last few weeks we have been testing a variety of tactical rifle and handgun suppressors. Lucky for me my boss is not very familiar with suppressors so he hands me all the cool toys to play with and test.

I'd bitch about all the extra work but nobody will listen for some reason.

This weekend we are off to do a demo for a military unit. Hopefully we can get our hands on a C9 (cdn version of the M249 SAW belt fed machine gun) to showcase our suppressors.

The next thing coming after that are sniper rifles suppressors which will need testing.
Actually we have a test rifle that is fitted with a scope mount that can slide forward to make room for a quick mount night vision device. The sliding mount ensures that proper eye relief is maintained even when the night vision is attached. I told the boss we are going to test the suppressor and night vision on the wiliest of all creatures....the coyote. Of course this will mean I will have to get up at 0'dark thirty to get out while it is still dark but someone has to do it.

Peter Cronhelm
Wow Ian, must of been great working with them. I never knew.

Peter, I seen one of those SAWs last week at work. Jammie, a dealer came down, picked one up we shipped up for him. He opened it up and put it together, I guess they ship them unfireable he sayed. 223 cal. and belt fed. Bitchin weapon! His was full auto, well he did say it isn't ever his technically. Dealer sample stuff I don't know alot about yet. Said he'd be edjucating some officers this week on it.
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