By Chris Yasher
Figure 1 “Photo” Chris Yasher on his remote Canadian black bear hunt.
You have done your research and called references, spoke to friends and watched all the shows. You have decided this is the year that you will spend the money that you have been hiding away in the hopes that you will soon send off that proud picture of you and your trophy bear to your friends. You ask yourself, Should I pay for a luxury Hilton in the woods type lodge, or go with a more remote, primitive deep in the bush style hunt? How should I prepare? What should I take? What if I get injured or stranded? How will I prepare my trophy for the travel home? These are some of the questions you want to ask yourself prior to embarking on such an adventure. Hopefully I will answer these questions and more within this article.
During the research phase you should make sure to ask the right questions and convey exactly what you are looking for to your outfitter. This way, when you show up, there will be no
surprises to you or your outfitter. Every hunter has a different personality, and each group of hunters attending will present a different atmosphere. After speaking with our outfitter/guide we were placed within a group that hunted the third week of the four week Canadian spring black bear season.
Now that you have decided on the outfitter and know the location of the hunt, you can plan accordingly. Personally I enjoy and welcome this phase as it presents time to reflect on where I am going and who I am going hunting with.
Getting there and back
Approximately one month prior to leaving, we planned a time and location that most of the hunters within our group could attend. This proved beneficial in many ways. Not only did it allow us to review the “basic” packing list, but also a chance to meet and get to know each other a bit prior to the trip. One of the hunters who had been to this location and used this outfitter before led the meeting and distributed a packing list that entailed such items as which bug spray to use, the type of boots to wear, and the average shot distance from tree stand to the bear bait. Lastly, we discussed crossing the border and past experiences when entering another country, especially with hunting equipment and gear. Canada is a beautiful country with wonderful people, and knowing what is expected of visitors upon entering will only expedite your entry.
Traveling in pairs
We all know that experiences, good and bad, are best when shared with others. Traveling to and from a hunt is no different, especially when traveling long distances. During our meeting prior to the hunt, we all agreed to utilize two 4×4 extended cab trucks, and share fuel costs. Traveling in pairs allowed for us to catch up on each other’s lives, talk baseball, and share past season’s hunting stories. It allowed for each of us to arrive at the destination point more refreshed and ready to hunt since we were all able to catch some sleep.
Along time ago while in the armed forces I learned the hard way the benefits of knowing and caring for your equipment. Being prepared for the worst to happen, is being prepared! I believe this philosophy is transferable to any and every adventure that you and your family will participate in. Let’s face it, you prepare for tests, and spend thousands on a hunt, not taking the time to conduct proper pre-hunt checks is poor planning. For example, how often have you seen friends going on a hunt only to take a box out of their luggage and need time to figure out how that new piece of equipment works. Part of my enjoyment is knowing that I am prepared.
Most often, when preparing for a trip I will write an inventory list at least 60-90 days before I depart. That will provide ample time to add or subtract from the inventory list. It will
also allow for new equipment to be learned and extends the fun factor of the overall experience. Approximately 60 days out I attempt to have a meeting with the members going on the hunt. As discussed, this allows time to get to know each member if you do not already and review pertinent information related to the travels, the hunt, and anything else that your hunt buddy should be aware of such as medical needs. During our spring bear hunt, our meeting allowed for me to shorten my personal inventory list due to their past experiences at this remote Canadian black bear camp. I tend to over packing.
Once the packing list is complete and finalized I typically conduct another inventory to determine what items remain needed. This also allows me to conduct any needed maintenance on the my equipment such as weapon/bow, GPS, sleeping bags, tent, trail cams, walkie talkies, knives, wet weather bags, and much needed bug spray. Prior to departing I always try to pre-pack at least once so that I know exactly how many bags I need. I find a location for my sensitive items and ensure all necessary items are safely secured for travel.
One of the final areas I would like to cover within this article is the physical preparation needed for a remote hunting adventure. Hopefully months out from a trip such as this you have considered spending some time getting your body in shape for a successful hunt. While you might pay an outfitter to look out for your safety and well-being, he is not there to make sure your personal physical fitness will sustain you through the hunt. All of us live our lives in varying degrees of health, physical stamina, and physical ability. Prepare accordingly
and allow yourself to climatize to your new environment. Plan to drink plenty of water while traveling and before during and after each of your hunts. Allow your body to rest when you can. These are all attributes that will improve your success during your hunt. Being in as good of a sound mind, body and spirit as possible will ensure that you have more enjoyment on your adventure and at the end of the day improve morale around the campfire.
If you follow this philosophy, I believe you will be more prepared for the trip at hand and able to enjoy all aspects of your hunt to its fullest. Never get discouraged! Some hunts are unsuccessful. That is why it is called hunting. Do everything that you can to enjoy the time you have in the field. Ask your guide questions, share stories and learn what you can about the area you are in. Just remember that hunting is a privilege, just because it has gone slow thus far or has not turned out just like you dreamed, does not mean you cannot enjoy it.
Figure 2 “Photo” The view from one of the treestands on Chris Yasher’s Canadian black bear hunt.
Preparing the hide..
While a large manly looking knife is a nice attribute to have, it may not be the best tool for skinning and preparing an animal for the taxidermist. During our hunt we skinned four bears and each was done with nothing larger than a 4” knife. When I asked our guide which knife he prefers he mentioned that as long as it is maneuverable and sharp, such as a paring
knife, he’d be able to get the job done.
Excess fat and tissue should be removed while the hide is still fresh. Blood should be rinsed off the trophy as it attracts bacteria and can cause the hair to fall out. A burlap sack, or game bag, is best over a trash bag, and should be added to your inventory list for your next hunt. If you can not get the hide to the taxidermist within a couple of days from the harvest,
then you should salt and then freeze the hide as soon as possible! Most of the hunters that shot bears from our camp packed their bear hides on ice after being frozen and then left within
If you are being dropped off for a hunt for an extended period and will not have access to a freezer, make sure and take enough salt with you to properly salt the hide. You should pack salt around the face, ears, nose, lips, muzzle, feet, toes, and tail. Take at least 20 lbs. of salt for a black bear and 40 lbs. for a brown bear. By following these helpful hints, you will have a better chance of preserving your trophy and providing your taxidermist with the opportunity to provide you with the mount of a lifetime.
Figure 3 “Photo” One of the bears taken by a hunter in Chris Yasher’s hunting party in Canada. Chris had a close encounter with a Bear while hunting in PA in 2011. He video recorded the entire thing!! To see this amazing video, click the photo of the bear to jump to it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nicMfioLHM).
For many of us, spring bear hunting offers a nice refresher from the winter months. It is a time to reflect on the past hunting season, and prepare for the upcoming fall. Trips like this are why I will continue to hunt Canada and bring others with me. If you are looking for a quality primitive bear hunt, give Canada a try.