For success on the big bears, we continue to count on our trail cameras. Below are a few Manitoba samples from the numerous great pictures we got this year.
1. Huge boar with his sow, shortly before getting shot;
2 & 3. It would take until June to pick up this huge 392 lb. black; his last day before Rich Raney dunked him.
4. Likely the biggest bear of the season, this one was missed by a bowhunter.
5. This 325 lb. boar was passed by two hunters waiting for a bigger bear on the same bait.
6. Huge chocolate that our niece killed with a crossbow.
7. Beautiful but skittish chocolate, passed by rifle hunter that shot a huge black on the bait.
8. This 300 lb. boar was passed up while waiting for a larger one.
9. Not a big chocolate, but we saw more colored bears this spring than ever before.
For those looking for a no-brainer hunt, our land-based bear hunts continue to get better and better. With additional area in the past couple years, plus additional new baits, we are finding ourselves steadily into daily bear action. Combined with the fact that we can watch the trail cameras on a day-to-day basis, we are able to fine-tune our hunters onto baits that are going to produce as well as likely give the opportunity at a big boar. The hiccup this year was struggling with either misses, wounded bears, or hunters just not being patient enough and shooting early on smaller bears. For me, the big highlight was watching Richard Raney from Wamego, KS wait patiently for three evenings for his massive boar to finally offer a proper bow shot, having the huge bruin in every night. Not too often is a bowhunter this patient to wait a bear out for a proper shot and for the bowhunter this can often be one of your obstacles.
On the flip side, with our first early season fly-in hunt, the Wyoming gang nailed down three nice bears. But from there, the hunting on fly-in locations was sporadic and, although we had numerous other kills, it just wasn’t our normal line of hunting. One thing that I can say is for those that do these fly-in hunts, we always see them down the road again on this style of hunt. But for those that would rather see much more aggressive bear action, then we would highly push you to get on board with our land-based hunt.
Samples below, from top and left to right are Richard Raney, Madison Lambley, Steve Classen, Tom Fisher, Eric Dunn, Steve Finegan, and myself after other hunters were gone.
We returned to Alberta after a year off due to the wildfires during the spring 2016 season, and for those that waited, they would not be disappointed. With 16 bears being shot, nine of these would be easy contenders for record book, and a wounded bear would have put it at 10. I can’t say that we saw more bears than in past seasons, just that the overall number of big boars was what was needed to complete one of our best ever spring seasons to date. Combine that with the fact that the hunters capitalized on those opportunities with only one lost bear for the season. Quite a few highlights, but Ben Sample nailing down the largest blonde bear I have ever seen, as well as cousin Jeff nailing a massive chocolate, one that we saw during the 2015 seasons, were just a couple of many great moments to our season.
All photos will be in our end-of-the-year booklet, but sample photos follow of Ben's bears and a wolf; Jeff Sample, Joel Batdorf, John Havens (2), Steve Bradley and Tracy Kauffman.