Actually Moosie it's kind of embarassing, but here goes...As most of you know I recently returned from 3 weeks in extreme northern Saskatchewan. I was there as a guest of Lost River Outfitters. My job was basically to photograph and video tape as much as possible. The idea being that I could put together a nice promotional tape for LRO. Now that I'm back I doubt that is going to be much of a problem as the bears were cooperative (save maybe one) and the fishing was nothing short of unreal. I spent most of my time video taping and only actually hunted 4 days for myself. Here's a brief rundown. I'd been in camp two minutes when they asked if I wanted to go on a bait run. 15 minutes later I was looking at my first bear of the trip a nice looking 250 pound jet black boar. He was actually racing the boat along the river. I was so caught up in his antics I forgot I had a video camera. Five minutes later, upriver we approach a bait sight when suddenly my partner stops and whispers there's a bear. I look up and only a scant 18 yards away is a bear working over a 55 gallon barrel. I can't see his head but it's obvious he's bigger than the barrel and a fairly decent bear. After filming him for a while we decide to let him. I didn't want my month long hunt to end in only 20 minutes. I later lived to regret that decision as a bowhunter killed the bear 2 days later. The bear's skull scored 20 12/16", couldn't weigh him as we didn't have a scale. Anywho, as time passed I saw and passed up many bears. Somewhere during all this a bowhunter video taped a large bear with a unique light spot on his backside about the size of a 50 cent piece. It was a about a foot above his tail and to the left a little bit. We all discussed that if a person saw that mark while hunting that bait sight one should shoot first and ask questions later. The bowhunter went home and I decided to basically marry that site, as I really wanted that bear. Long story short, 4 nights later a bear steps out right at last light. It's broadside for just a second or two, and my initial thought was that it wasn't that big. Then it turns and starts walking directly away. Dang, that looks like a light spot, my eyes and brain tell me. I put up the scope and sure enough there it is bright as a beacon, a foot up from the tail and a little to the left. Hmmmm, must of judged the bear wrong as this must be the big boy. Ka-Pow I drop that sucker with one shot up the old Bingo Hole at around 50 yards. Barnes 180gr X bullets out of a 300 Win Mag have a tendancy to do that sort of thing. As I approach I'm at least 20 feet from the bear and I see it's the wrong bear. Turns out to be a friggen sow, and the light spot is two tiny pine bows caught in her fur. Damn, Damn, and triple DAMN! Her face is badly rubbed and she's about as ugly as bear's come. I returned in the morning to skin my bear out as it was getting dark fast and I had a long lonely boat ride to make in order to back to camp. The next morning I'm about 5 minutes in to skinning my bear when I hear a stick snap. I'm all alone, on a very rocky beach as you can see in the photos. The boat is 50 yards behind me and all I have in my hands is a Gerber folding knife. I look up and there stands a large sow with two small cubs less than 20 yards away. She's about as happy to see me as I am to see her. Ever wish you had a gun, ever wish you could transport yourself somewhere else, ever wish you could fly? I was wishing for all three at once and trying not to lose control of any bodily functions. Finally after a yelling match, I won, and the sow beligerantly stowed off with her cubs in tow. Man, what a rush! I commenced to skinning the bear in world record time. I had the bear hide in the boat and was headed back to camp in less than 40 minutes. I'll have you all know just about anybody can hold out for a big bear, but it takes great skill to pass up over a dozen larger bears in order to kill a rubbed out dink. I'm look at that stats. Out of 20+ hunters I managed to kill one of the smallest. Like I said great skill. Somebody had to get that bear out of the gene pool.
The first Pic is of Mrs. Ugly herself.
Notice the light spot (pine bows) on her back in the photo below.
Here's the bear carcass if you look about two feet above her shoulder (the highest part of the carcass) and maybe a foot to the left there's a white object in the trees. That's actually a bait bag and where the sow with cubs was standing. Pretty darn close to say the least!
Moosie, I never got out to hunt Montana this year. By the time school let out I only had a few days to get my affairs in order and then head for Canada. The season was over by the time I returned. Through it all I had to listen to Greenhorn's reports of plenty. Sounds like he had quite a time bear hunting this year. I can't say I actually choked on that bear either. It was one of those darned if you do, darned if you don't situations. The only thing I wish, is that I'd never seen the video of the bear with the light spot on it's backside. On a good note earlier this spring I didn't think I was going to get out and bear hunt at all so I guess I really can't complain. As far as blackflies and mosquitos go...they weren't too bad at first but by the time I left around June 20th, they were getting down right nasty. The mosquitos up there are so big they actually crunch when you smack'em. I should of taken a photo of them, but I would needed a wide angle lens.
Moosie, I expect you'll kill a very nice bear with Lost River Outfitters. I saw more boars than sows and the majority of them were over 225 lbs. There's a whole slug of bears in that 225 to 275 pounds range with skulls that measure 17" to just under 18". It's really hard to pass them up as they look pretty darn good. In hindsight I wish I'd of whacked one as I saw plenty of them. The tough part is waiting for one bigger or being able to judge between one that's 17 3/4" and 18" or 275 pounds to 325 pounds. I can't do it as they pretty much look the same to me, unless they are standing side by each. Apparently the week I left things really heated up and they whacked some nice bears. I believe they killed 2 over 18" and one over 20". About the only way to shoot a smallish bear up there is to rush and shoot the first bear you have a shot at or shoot a sow. Everyone that waited any time at all had multiple choices. The place is plumb lousy with bears.
THATS my problem though, Judging bears.... I hear guys holding out on 19" bear wanting a 19 1/2" - 20" bear... WTF ? Who judges bears that accurate on the move ? I know I can't. I guess some can ? CAN CASEY ? If so, I'll need him by my side, Maybe I can bring something to bribe him with.....
Judging in general. Just like a 6point bull. a bull is a bull is a bull.....untill the tape measure comes out.. Before that I'm lost. MAybe I'll get enlightend one day !!!!
How spooky were the bears, Were some holding there ground ? I'm jsutthinking of cool Video footage and think sneaking up on a bear and YELLING "BOO" while I grab there back legs would be funny.... Uhhh for at least a second
NOW I just have to wait till JUNEish next year... HO-HUM... TICK... TOCK... TICK.... TOCK.... HURRY UP !!!!
Funny you should ask that about how spooky the bears were. These were the least spooky bears that I've ever seen. Some of them acted as though you didn't even exist. I hit them with pine cones, yelled at them, stood and waved my arms and still about half the time they ignored me. About the only thing they don't seem to like is any kind of metal to metal click or clank. Like an arrow against your riser, bow limbs/wheels or rifle barrels against the tree stand, shells rattling around in your pocket ect. I'll be perfectly honest with you Oscar the numbers and quality of bears in Casey's camp were much better than I had anticipated. I hope you guys can get a group together. The only thing I would suggest is maybe limiting the group to 6 to 8 hunters unless they get more sleeping arrangements. Many more people than that and it gets down right crowded. However Casey is working on buying another nearby camp and if that happens he can comfortably house a whole heap of hunters and fishermen.
For fly-outs this year the bear hunting was a bust. The fishing was out of this world, but there were no bears. What happened is the area Casey had planned on doing the bear fly outs had been burned severely, more so, than anyone anticipated. We are talking it burned everything down to the sand. It was basically sand dunes, no trees at all, hence no bears. However the burns had zero affect on the fishing. I had planned on going on a fly out to film, but since the bear hunting wasn't any good and I have a hard time getting it up for fish I passed. They did catch some dandy fish though and hopefully Casey will post some of them soon. Personally I'm not sure the bear hunting would be all that much better on a fly out than out of the main camp. Three bears with over 20" skulls and one other coming up just a frogs hair shy of 20", plus a whole slug of 18+" bears is pretty darn good anywhere. They pulled all those bears out of fairly small area. Casey's place is so big that there's no reason to hunt that same area next spring. As far as I know they plan on rotating areas each year on a 5 year or better rotation in order to keep the pressure and harvest light and spread out. There's no reason that there shouldn't bear lot's of mega bears for years to come if they stick to their management goals.
Its almost midnight and I only had about 3 hours of sleep off night shift. I promise to get some pictures up and answer some questions in the next day or two. Just trying to come up with some good family time, had to be back to work the day I got home and sure missed my girls. Happy hunting, Casey
PS Big Sky is being modest, he does a great job judging bears, just got caught in a funny situation. He also was limitted on time to hunt because he was working his tail off taking photos and video and being a great help taking care of baits.