In Blog, Hunting Articles

Outdoors With John L. Sloan
Feb. 24, 2016
A Bear of a Different Color.

It was one of those cold, windy, bleak days that hit us this time of year. I picked that day to read, “The Bear Hunting Obsession of a Driven Man”. It is book, co-authored by Bill Weisener and my good friend, Glenn Helgeland. Both have almost lifetimes of bear hunting experience.

Bill has been hunting and guiding for bear for most of his adult life, in several states and Canada. He is a much sought after seminar speaker at many outdoor shows. Glenn has hunted black bear in various locations for many years. In fact, he was my hunting companion on my first three hunts in Canada and I learned a lot from him. He is an author and editor of some repute and formerly the producer of the most successful outdoor/hunting shows in the Midwest and TN.

The book covers everything from how-to, to where to go, to skinning to eating and stories about past hunts. As the bear population and range increases in TN, I suspect there will be an increase in desire to hunt them. If you have any desire to hunt bear here or hunt them anywhere, either in spring or fall, this book is a must. It was my mistake in starting to read, “The Bear Hunting Obsession of a Driven Man”. Thirty minutes after I started reading, I made a phone call.

I suddenly had a deep desire to kill a big, color phase fall bear. Fortunately, I knew exactly where to go and who to call. I have killed one chocolate phase bear, my first bear, ever. But I wanted one over 400-pounds.

I called Bob Shebaylo.

Bob, a longtime friend and hunting partner lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada. He has a hunting camp in the Assiniboine River Valley of western MB and great guy to share a camp with. He is also overrun with bears-big bears with lots of color. I’ve seen them.

It did not take long for the groundwork to be formulated. I would fly to Winnipeg in early September. Bob would meet me and we would drive to his camp near Russell, MB. He would have had baits out for a week or two and then come the plusses.

Deer season would also be open, duck season would probably be open and the walleye fishing in the lake a short drive away was fantastic. I did the math. Unless the airlines go crazy, I can do the whole shebang for less than $1500.

I’m in.

Now. Why Manitoba instead of my usual haunts in New Brunswick? First, as the book will confirm, that is the best chance for a color phase black bear. The farther west you go, the more color phase bears. Second, I can combine the hunt with other activities. Bob’s deer herd has rebounded from a drastic drop and some big bucks are being seen. Third, through past hunts there, I have developed a friendship with a local taxidermist who can take care of the hide and get it back to Foster Butt, my taxidermist here. That takes a lot of the work off me. Although I know how to skin and care for the hide, it is real work. And maybe of greatest importance to me, I can more or less, do things my way.

I have a couple decades of bear hunting experience under my belt, killed close to a dozen and sometimes, I like to start a new bait out of curiosity or slightly change an existing one. I am fortunate, I knew what I needed to do. But all that information is in the book for those who may not. And, I like to deer hunt in the morning, run baits and bear hunt in the afternoon…or maybe just go fishing.

Bob’s camp is a modern house with three bedrooms. He and I get along great and have no problem with camp chores. If I don’t feel 100% and decide to sleep in or get up at 3:30, he is fine with that. There are also some advantages to going in the fall instead of spring. First, I am after big, heavy bear with a good coat. That is best in the fall when they are putting on weight and have not rubbed. And of course, not only can I combine hunts, the insects should be much less a factor.

But that is me. Often, your best chance to kill a bear is in the spring when they are the hungriest. If you are a first time hunter, I can’t stress strongly enough, the importance of reading this book. It will help you make the right decision of where to go, depending on what you want, when to go, how to book, how to D-I-Y, if that is allowed and so on. It takes you step by step through the whole process from the first inkling to cooking the meat. It is an invaluable book and if you never go bear hunting, it is a good read.

This book has 10 “how-to” chapters dealing with all aspects of hunting black bear: On your own as a D-I-Y, Guided with an outfitter, Spot and stalk hunting, hunting with hounds and more. I’m serious, this book will save you time and money beyond belief.

My hunt is over six months away and I am getting excited. MB not only allows the use of crossbows, (I would not consider hunting black bear with a gun but that is just me), Bob, has three or four crossbows I can use so I don’t even have to take one. Oh, did I mention the fishing?