The road to Northern BC becomes more remote with each passing mile. Busy highways turn into country roads and soon it seems the only traffic comes from the wildlife crossing the roads. The Skeena Salmon Lodge is a magnificent; crafted from area logs, nestled along the banks of the Skeena River, every angler or hunters dream come true. When you book a spring black bear hunt with Milligan Outfitting, many of the hunters call this home for the week. Welcome to paradise.
On this trip, I was fortunate enough to accompany my good friend and guide Scott Miller with clients, Bob and Brian Hood for a father and son black bear hunt.
This hunt was truck based where we traveled across the seemingly endless logging roads, glassing logging cut blocks and mountain slopes. The many years of area logging has created the perfect habit for hungry bruins to emerge from the thick forests to feed on fresh young grasses and dandelions.
Brian was first up as hunter, using his bow, we had to get in and get close. Luckily for us, there were bears seemingly everywhere we looked giving us ample opportunity to connect on a bruin with spot and stalk strategies. These bears can get very large and are abundant in population; Brian was able to pick and choose bears that he wanted to put the effort into stalking.
Bears are difficult to judge, so sometimes we would stalk in, just to get a closer look. On one particular bear, we stalked in within bow range while the bruin lay resting on the edge of a cut. We were unsure of his size due to him laying down, so I pulled out my predator call to see if we could not only get him on his feet, but possibly create some excitement in the bruin and have him come our way for a hot meal.
My theory was good, the bears response was lacking. Instead of running in for an easy meal, the bruin batted his eyes at us sleepily, occasionally glancing in our direction apparently un-interested. There was only but a single dandy lion by his resting place, so I imagine he had already gorged himself on the flowers and was content right where he lay.
Eventually, the bruin probably annoyed with my constant predator call, stood, yawned and started to slowly move away from us. Once standing, we were able to determine the bruin was of good size.
Much to my surprise and amazement, Scott took off on foot literally chasing the bear into the thick trees. Never before had I seen such a thing, Scott had successfully treed the bear giving Brian the perfect opportunity to take the shot he had come to Northern British Columbia for. This turned out to be a thrilling day that none of us would ever forget.
The next day, Bob, Brian’s dad was up as hunter, so we decided to head towards higher ground. Bob was rifle hunting and had the option of reaching out and connecting on a monster bruin.
We glassed cut block after cut block, mile after mile but Bob was holding out passing up many young bears. We were in search for the perfect bear. The daylight slowly turned to dark and we went home that evening without filling a tag.
Bears are very conditional animals, meaning that if the weather conditions are warm and summer-like, the bears will be out and about feeding most of the afternoons, which is exactly where we spotted the gorgeous chocolate bruin. He was laying in the shade on a grassy flat filled with dandelions adjacent to the timbers edge filling his belly on the lush green grass dozing in between gorging sessions.
We made our way towards the bear but age brings wisdom and he quickly grew uneasy and started making his way towards the timber. Bob slowly crept his way towards the bruin. Taking aim, Bob made a perfect shot on the stunning chocolate bruin.
The bears in the spring feed lazily on grassy flats and openings, sure to remain close to the timber for quick access to cover. Sometimes it seems that they are in a food like coma, slow to alert to our approach. This sleepy state makes them fun to stalk upon while walking the miles of logging roads.
When you see a monster bruin, you know it without a doubt. When we spotted this bruin we all knew instantly that he was a monster and in a position for Brian to stalk within bow range. The bear was near timbers edge and he was dangerously close to disappearing out of sight and bow range. Brain was able to maneuver into a good shooting position letting his arrow fly…right over the bruins back.
That seems to always happen with the big ones. Our nerves can easily get the best of us. The bear bolted but by some miracle he stopped to take a second look at us giving Brian the needed time to knock another arrow and execute a perfectly placed shot.
There is nothing better than seeing the look of pride on a fathers face and in his smile. Bob’s excitement for his son was clear to see. Brain’s second bear was enormous. Spot and stalk success with his father by his side along the foothills of British Columbia’s stunning mountains.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.