As citizens of the United States, we are blessed with the opportunity to hunt the land that we commonly own- our public lands. As a hunter and conservationist, harvesting bears is an important aspect of sound wildlife management practices. Having the ability to construct a bait site on public land- where it is legal, is a great way to hunt bears. Click the link below to read my article in Guns America #Hunt365 for my top 5 tips for baiting bears on public land that have worked for me.
The Beasts Of Spring-
Now is the time to gear up for spring bear. Yes, after months of induced torpor, these magnificent beasts of spring are awakened by longer days and a rising barometer, and it's nearly time for us to head afield and pursue them. This week on The Revolution Radio with Jim & Trav, presented by Outdoor Channel The Sportsman Channel WFN - World Fishing Network and My Outdoor TV we are here handing out tidbits and know-how we have to properly assist you in tagging a finely furred rug and for scoring a freezer full of delicious game meat. Join me, Chris Brackett & Skull Bound Jana Waller for our best tips.
On the back of a horse is where I spent most of my childhood, packing deep into Oregon’s wild country with my family to disconnect and get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Not much has changed since those earlier years of my life and I find myself always going back, deep into the Wilderness where man has not changed the landscape of the good Lords paintbrush. Experiencing all that is wild while on the back of a good horse with pack string in tow and my trusty dog Kruger at my side.
This was my fourth consecutive year returning to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy with A/Z Outfitters and I honestly cannot imagine a year passing without experiencing the Dutch Creek trail. The sound of the horse’s hooves drumming quietly along, the wind whispering through the trees, and the completely pure wildness that is found here is something that my heart and soul yearn for.
The rain keeping the dust tramped down and the slides green with the kisses from the occasional days of sunshine. The weather, always unpredictable in these mountains make the adventure even more real. Kaitlyn was our guide, we were an all-girl team with two black bear hunters from Finland.
The Ben Able Cabin, is a small one room cabin with all of the modern delights of cabin life including and limited to a propane stove and luxurious outhouse with a view that is second to none, in the world and I am not kidding.
One thing you realize up in this wild country is that everything requires work. Water is fetched from the spout that pokes out of the ground, our only to access pure, untouched mountain water, the horses must be fed twice a day and there is no refrigerator so you pack in with your fresh meat frozen, wrapped in a blanket and store it in the coolest darkest place possible. Dishes are washed by hand and there are no showers except the ones you get from a good rain storm, or if it is hot enough, you can climb into one of the mountain streams. Seven days of solitude, the way that man lived long before the modern conveniences that this world now affords.
Our morning hunt plans were for a short hike up to glass a green grass covered slide that was surrounded by timber and had a rushing creek through the middle of it. It was the perfect place to locate the bruin that we were in pursuit of. This was our second trip up the trail to the slide, the first trip had produced a sow with two cubs, but no boars. The hunter knew what to expect of the terrain and as the sweat ran down his face, gasping and stumbling along, his heavy rubber boots were sucked deep into the mud. It wasn’t just the boots that were heavy, all of his gear was. His nice quiet rain gear had a fabric exterior and mesh lining inside topped again with an even heavier pair of wax pants, all over his lighter weight long sleeve shirt and pants. He was seriously over dressed and I couldn’t contain my laughter when he said in broken English, “This is why we have horse.”
This was a great learning experience for him; start the morning hike a little bit chilly and add clothes as needed when we sit down to glass. With weather conditions changing constantly, he learned to adapt quickly to the mountain environment.
Typically bear hunting runs on a very strange schedule, sleeping late and hunting even later. Often times we don’t retire to bed until 1:00am. But the weather made this week’s hunt a challenge. Three solid days of rain had pushed the bears deep into the timber, reluctant to emerge, so to maximize our hunting opportunity we had to take advantage of every day light hour possible making for even longer days than normal.
Sows with cubs and grizzly bears seemed abundant but what we kept missing was the single bruin. Wrong place at the wrong time, all the time. I went on a scouting mission and found the track of a very large solo black bear. This was exactly the bear we were looking for.
The cool rainy skies cleared, like blue bird day clear. It was a perfect hot sunny day…This was our day to pursue the giant boar track that I had located the day before. Sometimes, the perfect plan requires perfect timing. Perfect timing we simply did not have. After sitting waiting on the bear’s home slide for over 12 hours, we returned to the Ben Able Cabin without laying eyes on the bruin.
Kruger took off barking as soon as we arrived at the cabin. The bruin black bear had literally dug the pipes out of our cabin seeking an easy meal. The bear wasn’t giving up his meal either and he literally drug off the entire bag of Kruger’s dog food into the woods.
The daylight was long gone and the sky was pitch black. Pursuing the bruin was not an option. While we were out hunting for bear, one had been hunting our cabin for his own meal. Our timing simply could not get aligned with the bears. We had one more day to be in the right place at the right time to find the bruin we were in pursuit of.
The day was unbelievably hot. I hate to say it, but it was too hot for the bruins to travel far from the shade of trees. We needed to hunt in a spot that had an abundance of features; green grass, water and shade. I knew the perfect slide.
As luck would have it, the bears had the same slide in mind. Sows with cubs and grizzly bears were abundant. We lost count as bears entered and exited the slide, over 20 bears in total. None of those bears were boar black bear.
Meanwhile, the bruin that had laid the enormous track had decided to show up on the slide. Unfortunately, we were not there, instead another horse wrangler saw him in a feeding frenzy on the slide that we had sat for 12 hours the day prior. Once again, wrong place, wrong time.
This was my first trip up this wild trail that had not procured a bruin or at least an opportunity at a bruin. Wrong place, wrong time, all week. In total we saw a plethora of black bear sows and cubs, grizzly bears and even the single bruin that was bold enough to break into our camp but we just didn’t get the right opportunity on the right bear. Such is hunting…
These so close yet so far away hunting moments are what keeps hunters returning to the mountain year after year. The pursuit, the thrill of the unknown and knowing at the end of the day that you tamed the mountain and will soon return again is a feeling that is second to none.
Below you will find tales from past adventures up the Dutch Creek trail in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia with A/Z Outfitters. You can even watch a 2 part series available online 24/7 which I have also liked below.
The trail awaits and I am looking forward to next year’s journey back in time…
Outback Outdoors BC Bear Hunt Part 1 and Part 2 featuring myself, Rockie Jacobsen and Jim Brennan is available to rent for as low at $.99. Click Here to Rent
The drumming sound of hooves striking the hard worn trail marked the beginning of the seventeen mile trek through the Purcell Wilderness to the Big Cabin. One of A/Z guides, Fred and the grizzly bear hunter Gare had a head start on Ritchie and me taking up the rear with six loaded pack horses.
The trail forked one direction leading towards our destination, the Big Cabin, another eight miles down the trail, the other to the Ben Able Cabin which is less than half a mile up the trail. Mules always take the opportunity to think for themselves and the one and only mule in the string, Fred, decided to take off with three of his horse buddies towards the Ben Able cabin.
Jumping off my mare, frantically tying her up to run after the wayward mule with his folly of horses, you should have seen the look on the mule’s face when I intercepted him along the trail spoiling his plans for reaching the Ben Able Cabin. After a short fifteen minute detour, we were back on the trail. Self thinking mule-ism #1 down for the day.
Long before you reached it, you could hear the creek just past the Ben Able Cabin roaring. The spring snow melt had all of the creeks flowing at full capacity, being a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Kruger naturally has an aversion to water, things were about to get interesting. This was Kruger’s first official day on the job as a mountain dog and he had never encountered such a water crossing before.
The horses steadily crossed the swift water leaving Kruger behind to figure out his own path across. He jumped quickly in to the fast moving waters in attempt to not get left behind. The water covered his back pushing him downstream, using his paws; he grasped a rock pulling himself to the safety of the shoreline. I met him on the ground giving a hoorah and party for his successful crossing.
The weather was typical for this time of year, warm sunny skies followed by multiple series of dark skies and showers. Rain gear on, rain gear off. Repeat. There is nothing that smells better than the mountain after a good rain shower, all the scents of the earth are revitalized and the breeze delivering all of those wonderful scents of pine and grass.
We arrived at the Big Cabin without major ado, tired from the long trek through the valley. It felt good to be back at the Big Cabin. Kruger had a successful day being a dog, the horses all did a fine job packing in our gear, now time to ready ourselves for Gares grizzly hunt.
Like an alarm clock going off, Fred the mule’s bray welcomed the morning sunshine. The older I get, the more that I find myself appreciating the solitude of the mountain. Waking up and looking forward to a nice hot cup of coffee, taking in the view from the cabin, no emails to check, no phone calls to be made, no people around, no cars driving by. This surely is what heaven must be like.
Gare, the grizzly bear hunter woke up to a tummy ache and decided to forgo day hunting to rest up. Fred and Ritchie made use of the time heading up the trail to mend some fence while I stayed behind in camp to do some writing. Kruger enjoyed his morning off and slept recuperating from the long trek in.
By early afternoon Fred and Ritchie had returned and after a hot lunch, Fred and I took a few of the horses out to the slide to graze on the fresh mountain grasses. Dutch Creek lines the valley below and the steep mountainsides jaggedly erupt straight to the sky. Overnight, the peaks had received a fresh dusting of snow. The only sound coming from the creek below, my only worry was watching over the hobbled horses as they grazed lazily up the slope.
You can learn a lot about a herd of horses by including one single mule in your string; they are quite animated causing lots of mischief and are always thinking for themselves. Like an alarm going off again, I knew the bellies of the horses surely must be full when Fred the mule began to do more traveling than eating.
One thing you will soon realize when you pack into the wilderness on horseback is that everything is work. Feeding horses, packing horses, keeping camp cleaned up, preparing meals, washing dishes, everything is done by hand and no one rests much. If you want water, you grab buckets and go fill them in the creek, if you want to cook, you light a fire in the wood stove, if you want to wash dishes, and you boil water on the stove, so on and so forth. Days like today where there is free time to meander around are few and far between so I enjoyed the time and the solitude while I could knowing that tomorrow would bring another 17 mile ride out to Whitetail Lake with only me, Kruger, three horses and the mule Fred. Fred the guide, Ritchie and the grizzly bear hunter Gare were staying behind to hunt.
Before departing for the trek back out to Whitetail Lake, I radioed to Brent to let him know as soon as my ride began. 17 miles in a completely road less area that is filled with black bears, grizzly bears and the occasional wolf is nothing to take lightly and with horse wrecks being an occasional occurrence, it was important that Brent know the minute that I left so that he could keep track of my rough location on the trail in case I missed a radio check in. This country is big and things happen quickly so no matter how many miles you have on the trail, you never take your safety for granted. The long trip out went perfectly, the horses and even the mule were all happy to trail along back to Whitetail Lake.
Our next group of black bear hunters was a very special group. Steve West from The Adventure Series Television show and Rick Krueter from the Beyond the Hunt Television show, both airing on the Outdoor Channel. This was going to be a fun hunt as I had already been on prior hunts with both Steve and Rick and I already had hunted with one of the cinematographers Dan. Ian the other cinematographer was the only one in the group that I had yet to be acquainted with and he happened to be the only one on the trip that had never been around a horse.
Packing the belongings of six people for a nine day black bear hunt onto six pack horses can get quite interesting, especially when it comes to packing in very expensive and fragile camera equipment. Luckily, these guys came prepared, all their gear was in duffle bags and they had packed light.
As I put saddles on horses, Brent began loading up the perfectly weighed and organized gear into panyards and putting them on the horses, topping the loads with a diamond hitch. Saddle fit is unique to every rider, so it was my job to ensure that everyone was comfortable in their saddle and that each horse had a headstall and saddle bags.
Soon everyone was ready to head up the trail, our destination, 17 miles away, the Big Cabin. We were quite the string with Steve, Rick, Dan, Ian, Brent, myself and six pack horses that were split between Brent and myself.
The winter run off had caused all of the creeks to rise up to maximum capacity making for swift waters and Kruger had only swam twice before on the first trip into the Big Cabin, this time, there was twice as many horses crossing the swift waters. Kruger made the mistake of jumping into the water upstream from the horses and I watched in fear as he was quickly pushed down stream and directly underneath Ian’s saddle horses legs. Somehow by the grace of the good Lord, Kruger managed to swim under the horse without being trampled.
The heavy winter snowfall causes giant snow slides that literally wipe out everything in their wake. These mountain slides are a favorite feeding area for all wildlife and you just never know what you are going to see when you are crossing them.
We took the hungrily feeding bruin by surprise. He was so ravenous with hunger just having come out of hibernation that he didn’t notice our giant string until we were practically on top of him, in a quick retreat, the black bear put himself up a giant tree. Steve and Rick both had black bear tags in hand but took the opportunity to simply take pictures of the bruin and hold onto their tags.
We reached the Big Cabin tired from the long day with much work that remained. Horses to un-pack and saddle, water to be collected, dinner to be made, it was going to be a late night.
Brent asked Ian what he thought of the long trek and he replied with “My horse is a better horse than I am a human.” It was right then that we knew Ian was going to be the trip entertainment full of quick wit and humor. Apparently, he was pleased with his horse’s behavior along the trail.
Spring black bear hunting hours are unlike any other hunt schedule that I am ever on, the summer days are long and the nights short. My typical day goes like this: wake up at 6:30 or 7:00am, feed horses, light a fire, make breakfast, wash breakfast dishes, fetch water, make lunches, wash lunch dishes, prep for dinner, saddle horses and hit the trail for the afternoon/evening hunt around 2:00-3:00pm, come back to camp around 10:00pm, unsaddle horses, cook dinner, wash dishes and go to bed around midnight or 1:00am.
During the day, Ian and Dan would be busy running around filming scenic in camp; everything was filmed from me cooking to the guys cutting firewood or Brent shoeing horses. Like I said before, everything in camp is work and there is always something to be done.
Roughly five days into our trip with the 12 horses eating alfalfa cubes and the entire string becomes exceedingly energetic, especially when they are not doing enough work, so Brent and I decided to take the entire string and turn them loose on one of the slides to graze on less potent feed while we all went hunting.
Kruger took the lead and I was second on my horse Tequila leading all six horses, Brent was taking up the tail of the string. The moose was running fast, chasing Kruger directly towards us. In the spring, cow moose are more dangerous than a grizzly bear if they are protecting a calf and I was immediately worried that this cow had a calf stashed somewhere nearby.
This was a bad situation. My horse felt like I was riding on a stick of dynamite, ready to explode at any moment and the horses behind me were getting more nervous at each charge by the angry moose. The horses were tailed together, meaning that if one freaked out and started bucking, there was no way they were getting untied unless Brent or myself did the un-tying. Kruger and the other two dogs were doing a good job of diverting the moose during her charge attempts essentially keeping the moose from charging over the top of me on my horse. Fortunately, my mare kept her wits about her and took the situation in stride.
The moose was not backing down and the situation was becoming dire so Brent had me attempt at turning around the entire string of horses. This was no easy feat with heavy timber and fallen logs. Things went from bad to worse when the horse I was leading pulled the rope tight and out of my hands. Instead of the horses funneling through the maze of timber and back onto the trail, they were winding themselves around the small trees, creating an absolute mess.
Being on the ground with a charging moose is less than safe, if the moose gets you on the ground, she is apt to stomp you to death. Brent had to dismount his horse and untie some of the pack string so that we could resume our retreat from the crazed moose. Keeping a watchful eye on the moose, Brent managed to get part of the string untied and away we went back down the trail towards the Big Cabin.
A couple minutes down the trail, we just started to relax when out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of the moose, charging at us again! She was not backing down. Up ahead was a wide spot in Dutch Creek where we felt we could safely swim the string of horses to the other side and out of the moose’s way.
The water was deep and swift covering clear up to my saddle bags, we were getting wet. Kruger was literally going to have to swim for his life or get stomped to death by a moose. Safety is something that is easily taken for granted and on the far side of Dutch Creek, we were still not safe from the moose. She was right behind us, swimming after us.
Brent had no choice but to take off running as fast as his horse would go charging towards the moose screaming and yelling. The moose finally took heed and went back across the water, taking a few moments to look around before disappearing back into the forest. The encounter lasted nearly thirty minutes but to us, it felt like an eternity.
Situations like this one are exactly why, when I ride the trail alone, I check in often on the radio. The mountains have a way of humbling you. No matter how much money you have or who you are, we are all on the same playing field out here.
The memories like this one and many more made during this trip are sure to last a lifetime, Rick tagging his first ever black bear after five years of trying and Kruger’s first mountain trip as a grown up dog and my 34th birthday celebration. You all will have to wait to see how the remainder of the week unfolded when you watch The Adventure Series or Beyond the Hunt on the Outdoor Channel.
What I can tell you is that leaving this land brings a sadness to my heart and soul that is difficult to put into words. Living here on the mountain, traveling back in time to a place where work is done with your two hands and aid of a good horse, this is my happy place and I can’t wait to head back up the trail to the Big Cabin next spring.
The sun was just peeking out over the top of the barn as I tied the laces on my shoes. Running was an early morning ritual for me and US Navy medical chaperone Tommy Neuens. Our trek leading us around Ron & Lisa Raboud’s beautiful British Columbia ranch.
This was my second year on this mountain, there is something magical that happens when you are here... The sound of the early morning breeze whispering through the Aspen trees, feeling the warm rays of sunshine erase the chill from the air, watching the wildlife making their way to their bedding area for the day.
This is no ordinary ranch, this is one of the homes to the non-profit, Wounded Warrior Outdoors therapeutic outdoor adventures. The mountains here will change your life, just as it has changed the lives of others for years.
Dave Wabnegger of Otter Lake Outfitters, offers exclusive access to 3,600 square miles of Crown Land, which equates to roughly 2.3 million acres to provide active duty servicemen and women an adventure that is not only memorable, but life changing.
Disability is as much a mindset as it is a physical limitation…
In 2010, Navy SEAL LT Dan Cnossen was on this same mountain, walking the same path that I ran every morning. Dan was using the steep uneven terrain to push the boundaries of what his current limitations were and rediscover just how much he could really do. You see, he had been recently wounded in action sustaining injuries that had resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee. Dan was on this mountain to challenge himself to learn how to function in the outdoors, doing whatever it took to climb the mountains in pursuit of a black bear.
The success of filling his black bear tag was not Dan’s true reward, it was the beginning, a place of realization, a place where the mountain taught him that despite his injuries, there was nothing that he couldn’t do and no place that he couldn’t go. Over 30 surgeries later, on March 7, 2014, Dan competed in the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi representing Team USA in Nordic Skiing.
There is no better therapist than Mother Nature, no hospital facility more motivating or challenging than the great outdoors and no better place to be than hunting camp. Ron typically does not know who will be attending the adventures that WWO provides to over 50 servicemen and women each year until a couple of weeks before the trip.
Each of the WWO guests are current wounded in-hospital patients at either Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Naval Medical Center San Diego (Balboa), or San Antonio Military Medical Center (Brooke). Warriors are selected for participation by medical staff at each hospital, each being paired with the adventure that provides them the greatest therapeutic potential. Some injuries are evident and some injuries are invisible.
This group was notable as they had all been on a WWO adventure in the past at other locations, but this was their first black bear hunt. WWO mentor and lead Kansas turkey guide, Vietnam Army Veteran JL Hendricks, US Navy Hospital Corpsman Javier Esparza, USMC Jed Morgan, USMC Darryl Charles II, USMC Jacob Delagarza and medical chaperone, US Navy Hospital Corpsman Tommy Neuens.
Gary Monetti, Lisa Raboud, her son Sam and Laurel Barbieri awoke every morning before the sunrise to ensure that everyone smelled the delight of a home cooked breakfast as soon as they rose for the day. In my family, when we care about someone, we feed them and I can honestly say that all of them treated us to a home that is full of love and good cooking. Working from dawn till midnight every single day to ensure that everyone was too full for another bite. You can see and feel the love that comes from these folks.
The first morning out, I hunted with USMC Darryl Charles II, we call him Chuck for short, guide/outfitter Colton Wabnegger and Ron Raboud. Chuck is a young, energetic handsome man with a smile and laugh that is infectious. He has a HUGE personality and loves the theater and ballroom dancing. We hit it off instantly with lots of shared laughs, maybe someday he will teach me to dance.
Our day was nothing short of non-stop excitement. I have hunted a LOT of black bears and I have tried year after year to call in a bear with my predator call without luck. Chuck brought us luck and lots of it on this first day.
We spotted the bruin just off the side of the mountain, it wasn’t a shooter bear but my curiosity and desire to call in a bear overcame me and I decided to give it a try. The bruin came in to my call just as if I had perfectly scripted it, getting so close that Ron threw a rock at it to detour its path towards us. What a rush for everyone. Chuck’s first bear experience was surely one he would never forget.
While we were calling in bears, we received word that Army Veteran and WWO mentor JL Hendricks had some luck on the mountain and had successfully tagged a stunning chocolate bruin with his guide Trevor. JL lives a life dealing with pain having taken shrapnel in his legs during the Vietnam War and to this day, his wounds have not healed. JL serves as a tremendously positive mentor for active duty WWO participants.
Back on the mountain, Ron spotted a hungrily grazing bear that was in a perfect location to make a stalk for Chuck to get a closer look at. Chuck literally had to crawl towards a horse fence so that he would have a resting position to take a possible shot. This is the part where the therapy comes in. You can’t replicate this in a hospital.
Chuck was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine regiment “3/7” for short, their nickname “The Cutting Edge.” During deployment, the marines of 3/7 faced daily attacks clearing some of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. The marines in 3/7 are noted as encountering the most contact with enemy forces since Vietnam. Due to his injuries sustained in combat, Chuck is a single above the knee amputee, crawling anywhere is no easy feat, let alone in the mountains of British Columbia. Like the true warrior that he is, Chuck reached the fence without hesitation, set up on the bruin and decided that he would hold out for a larger bear. This gave me the opportunity to take some stellar photos of Chuck on the gun, bear in sights.
Spring bear hunting is all about putting in countless miles in pursuit of a grazing black bear, so after passing on our second bear of the day, we didn’t waste any time getting back on the trail, putting miles on our ATV and using our Swarovski optics to search the seemingly endless valleys for another bruin.
The mountains of British Columbia are nothing short of spectacular and I am somewhat of an amateur photographer, so when I see a captivating landscape, I want to stop and take a picture of it. Yes, this can be annoying, but what I have found is that by taking some time and slowing down, often times what you are looking for isn’t too far away and had you zoomed by, you may have missed your opportunity all together. A good lesson in patience. As patience would have it, as I snapped photos of Chuck with the snowcapped mountains in the backdrop, Colton spotted a BIG bruin feeding on the mountainside some 500 yards away.
The stalk was on, Chuck was determined to navigate the steep uneven terrain in order to reach the feeding bruin. These mountains are very unforgiving for anyone but Chuck did what he does best, he climbed the mountain and made his opportunity happen.
Stalking a bear in thick brush is a little like looking for a needle in a haystack. Up close, everything looks different than it did from afar. Moving up the mountain swiftly and as quietly as we could, we managed to make it within 40 yards of the feeding bruin without being detected. Taking a rest, Chuck took the 40 yard shot on the massive bruin. Just as his shot rang out, a young sapling went tumbling to the ground, earning Chuck the nickname, “Lumber Chuck.” The bruin ran away completely unharmed by the deflected bullet that took out the tree instead of making its way to the bruin.
Patience and persistence…two of life’s best lessons best learned on the mountain, and persist we did. With a little over two hours of daylight remaining, we made our way back to the ATV and once again resumed our search for a bruin.
Fourth time is a charm, we spotted a bruin feeding through the Aspen trees and once again made our stalk over to the hungrily feeding bear. Chuck set up in the prone position and waited out his opportunity for the bruin to give him an open broadside shot.
This day was about more than Chuck tagging a black bear, it was about overcoming the mountain, beating any preconceived limitations. We all have them, some are physical and some are mental. The hunt is what drives us to endure, adapt, improvise and overcome all obstacles that get in our way of success. The hunt teaches us all lessons that we can reflect upon anywhere in regards to nearly everything in life.
The mountain teaches us all valuable life lessons, both human and animals alike. Kruger, my 10 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback accompanied me, Jordie and Deb Cook on the second day. The four of us (Kruger included) set out to be an extra set of eyes glassing the landscapes for a bruin.
Jordie and Deb have volunteered for WWO for many years. Last year, they were able to spot USMC TJ Tejada's black bear so that we could come and make the stalk. After TJ shot his bear, we were unable to get him to his bear via his wheel chair. TJ is a double leg amputee and at the time was not using his prosthetic legs. All of us cleared trail so that Jordie could literally carry TJ on his back and do a proper recovery. There isn't two nicer people out there with bigger hearts.
The last day of TJ's WWO trip, he used his prosthetic legs for the first time ever and walked to the car. I saw TJ earlier this year walking on his prosthetics. I can honestly say that in part because of Jordie and Deb, TJ's life was changed that day on the mountain.
Jordie is on a sprint boat racing team called “Fat Buddy Racing Team." This is a sport where people have carved out systems of channels into an ordinary farmer’s field and filled it with water to race speeds boats in. The night before a race, a map is handed out outlaying various turns that the driver must complete for time, without crashing. Jordie is the driver and Deb is the navigator traveling at speeds of 80 plus miles per hour in a field filled with water.
Jordie and Deb are too crazy people who love to drive fast, and there I sat in the truck with Jordie at the wheel. It was time for Kruger to have a grown-up dog experience so he was kenneled and strapped down in the back of Jordie’s truck. Oh boy…he was one unhappy puppy, crying and howling much of the morning.
Just when Kruger had settled down and was dealing with his kenneled fate, we got the call that USMC Jed Morgan had shot a bruin and it needed tracking and therefore, they needed help. Jordie knows the roads of those British Columbia Mountains like the back of his hand, navigating every turn like the pro that he is. Poor Kruger was in for the ride of his life.
When we reached the location where Jed had taken aim on his bruin, Dave let out the hounds to give chase. This was a great opportunity for Kruger to have a puppy lesson, so we began the blood trail and immediately went to work, also tracking the wounded bruin.
As Kruger did his job tracking, all became quiet and I was alone, on the mountain, trailing a wounded black bear without a gun. Feeling a bit unnerved, I pulled Kruger off of the trail and returned to the vehicles. If you have ever hunted with hounds, you know how crazy things can get once your dogs are turned out. A short time later, we located the younger two of Dave’s four hounds, two were still unaccounted for and still on the trail of Jed’s bruin.
Jed is a quiet man. It takes a huge effort to get him to talk, so since we had nothing but time waiting for the hounds to locate his bear, I took the liberty of chatting his ear off. I honestly think he only spoke just to shut me up. Ha ha ha.
Jed is a Marine Rifleman and the injuries that he sustained in combat attributed to the loss of both of his legs above the knee and much of the use of his right hand. I read on facebook where Jed’s wife AnnaGrace, stated that he is not only a devoted husband but a man that leads by example of what it means to truly have conviction, sacrifice and perseverance despite all obstacles and all circumstances. Jed and his wife AnnaGrace are expecting their first child, a daughter any day.
It is really remarkable how quick hounds navigate through the mountains and in a short amount of time, the remaining two hounds had located Jed’s bruin. This was Jed’s first hunt and he had not only successfully harvested a spot and stalk bruin in some of the steepest roughest terrain in the world, the bear that he tagged was an old warrior, just like him and the biggest of the trip. On the mountain, it takes a team. I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the Morgan family and have high hopes to do some more hunting with Jed in Oregon.
US Navy Hospital Corpsman (medic) Javier Esparza is arguably one of the funniest people I have ever met with a huge personality that captivates everyone around him. Javier loves his wife and their two sons and having spent a short amount of time with him, it is evident that they are his world.
Our guide Cody and his father Dan have been serving as guides since the inception of the WWO program and knows the mountains well which came in handy as Javier, who is from Florida, was eager to climb seemingly every mountain in Southern British Columbia.
Cody, Javier and myself are all the same age, so our in truck, the humor was off the charts. I am not sure that I have laughed that hard in my lifetime. Javier did not end up tagging a bear on this trip but that was not due to lack of effort. He has a heart of gold that is tough as nails. He was relentless in his pursuit with a couple of close calls along the way.
USMC Jacob Delagarza also went home without filling his tag on a black bear. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to spend time on the mountain with Jacob on this trip. Jacob has a reputation for being a strong leader who always set a good example, putting the needs of others always before himself, no matter what the situation is, Jacob is always there for his junior Marines, literally teaching them how to survive in combat.
Jacob was wounded in action resulting in the loss of his left leg, and has received not one but two Purple Hearts while serving our great country, one in Sangin Afghanistan and the other in Fallujah Iraq.
Jacob is a hero and devoted husband and father Priscilla and their two children.
The last day of the hunt, USMC Medical Chaperone Tommy Neuens perseverance paid off where after waiting out a short rain storm, he was able to tag a beautiful chocolate bruin. Tommy is an outstanding man that accompanies many WWO participants on outdoor adventures ensuring that they have swift medical treatment should they require it.
“Doc” Javier Esparza and “Doc” Tommy Neuens are men that have saved the lives of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters while in combat. Their love for our country and desire to save the lives of these servicemen and women knows no bounds.
The last day of the trip, USMC Darryl Charles gave me a very special gift.
The story behind the shirt:
The year was 2010 and Darryl was stationed in Sangin Afghanistan with USMC Female Engagement Team Member Sarah Bryant. Sarah was/is a legit Marine that always had her team members backs, Darryl included. Sarah is a true warrior. After Darryl returned stateside due to being wounded in action, he saw this shirt and bought it thinking fondly of Sarah.
When he gave me the shirt, he compared me with her, a true warrior and gave me the compliment of my life by saying that I too am legit…one of them.
It is an honor for me to share the mountain with Darryl and the other servicemen and women through the WWO program. The memories made, the camaraderie that is shared here and the true brotherhood that these men share cannot be broken.
The challenges that are encountered through the WWO program provides the perfect place, on the mountain with Mother Nature to break any preconceived physical or mental limitation, pushing yourself to the next level, reaching higher than one thought possible. WWO is about offering therapeutic benefits while sharing our outdoor world with the deserving servicemen and women that have sacrificed so unselfishly to protect us all.
In June, I met up with Gray Farnsworth and Dean Capuano of Swarovski Optik North America for a spot and stalk black bear hunt in Idaho with the Flying B Ranch. The Flying B lodge simply put is breathtaking. Everything from the accommodation, meals and guides was amazing.
I was excited as this was my first time hunting with and meeting Gray. Even more exciting for her I am sure as this was her first black bear hunt. Mid June is peak rut time for black bears so you will find many two year old bears that have just been weaned and mature boars on the move looking for ready sows. All the excitement that June brings gives hunters the perfect opportunity to spot a bruin on the move.
The weather could not have been more perfect to go along with the miles and miles of hillsides that we were glassing for bruins. On the second day of our hunt we spotted a nice boar on the move but were unable to stalk within range before he disappeared into the timber.
Big open country like Idaho can be very deceiving. What appears to be close can in actuality be miles and miles away. Having good optics brings those miles closer to you; however covering those miles to hunt can in reality be very tricky.
We were able to stalk within range of three bears, but unfortunately, they were all only two year old bears weighing in at maybe 70 lbs. each. We passed up these little guys in hopes of finding a mature bruin.
The weather in high country can go from good to bad very quickly and on the final day of our hunt we literally hunted in a down pour of rain. Our hopes remained despite the conditions and we hunted until dark hopefully seeking a mature boar without luck.
For me, one of the highlights of the trip was one morning while loading our gear into trucks, Gray spotted a bedded doe just in front of the lodge. Getting out her spotting scope Gray discovered a doe in labor. Literally right before our eyes, we were able to watch the birth of twin fawns and thanks to Swarovski Optik, we were able to digiscope stunning photos of the entire event.
This trip was a trip of forged friendships, good times and even greater memories in the field. Gray was able to take in the splendor of Idaho’s rugged landscapes for her first time. I am sure that her heart is now as fond of the western landscapes as mine and will return again sometime soon.
The waters of the Pacific Ocean were rough spraying cold sea water against the pier, the wind was full force making hearing difficult. When Bob and Brandon passed the jet boat off to Scott they warned of an exposed sand bar ahead that we should avoid and gave basic directions to where the Yukon Bear had been anchored. She is a 55’ fishing boat that we were going to be stationed out of while we patrolled the coast line and inlets for bruin black bears.
The sea water was spraying over the boats bow and windshield into our faces, rolling huge waves. I have no personal experience on the open ocean and especially not in a jet boat. This moment on the open water was very humbling to how small a person really is and how big and powerful the ocean can be.
With the waters murky and angry from an incoming storm it was difficult for us to determine exactly how far the sandbar reached and how deep the murky waters under us were. We knew where the sandbar was in theory but to actually realize how expansive a sandbar can be, well that was one part that we seriously underestimated. When Scott lowered the throttle on the jet boat and we lost our plane, we instantly knew we were right on top of the sandbar, nearly grounded.
Thankfully for us, Bob had a pair of hip waders in the jet boat that Scott was able to slip on and enter the frozen ocean pushing the jet boat back out to sea and off the shallow sandbar. We had gotten lucky and avoided having to call for help. That would have been embarrassing to say the least.
The Yukon Bear was in the distance rocking to and fro, pushed around her anchor by the sweeping sea. I had only been on a fishing boat like this one twice in my life; both times were in my late teens, half my lifetime ago. This was my first time climbing aboard and calling a ship my home.
The Yukon Bear was gentle by comparison to the jet boat. She felt sturdy underfoot in the rough ocean. That was a relief for me. I am a mountain hunter, the ocean is new to me and quite honestly that new naïve understanding of the sea made makes me fear it. Some love the ocean, I enjoy parts of it, I respect it but at the end of the day, I love my mountains.
Scott and I unloaded our gear, chose our sleeping bunks and prepared dinner for ourselves. One of the positive aspects about the ocean is fresh seafood. Bob had so graciously left us a gallon sized bag filled with giant prawns. Surf and turf it was for dinner and let me tell you that no store bought prawn can compare with fresh caught sea fare. Maybe the ocean isn’t so bad…
The rough sea had Scott and me questioning the security of the Yukon Bear’s anchor. We were spinning around the anchor so much in the wind and the sea level was getting so high from the incoming tide and storm it was slightly disorienting. We finally came to the conclusion that we had not lost our anchor, the sea was just deceiving us.
Sleeping on a ship for the first time was surprisingly relaxing; the boat rocked me like a baby in a crib. The sound of the water lapping the sides of the boat was like a lullaby. I slept like a rock.
The storm had arrived and was staying…the bear hunting was not good due to the rain but thankfully that didn’t affect fishing. Right? I didn’t catch a single fish, nor did I have one bite my hook, but I tried. Like I said before, I am a mountain hunter not a fisherman or sea go’er.
Fortunately, we did catch crabs; lots of them were babies and females that we had to release but there were several large males, enough for Scott and me to enjoy at dinner.
The warm sunlight tickled across my face. It felt good. The sea was quiet and the Yukon Bear was still in the ocean waters. The storm was over. We enjoyed a hot breakfast, taking our time to gather our gear. Scott filled the boats with gas and put the outboard motor on the tiny boat that we were going to take up river in search for bears.
The day was young and the bear hunting wouldn’t be good for several hours so we decided to stop on a beautiful grassy beach to take some photos for Easton Mountain products new Kilo tent.
After setting up the tent, taking a few photos and having lunch we went to get back into the boat and begin our search for bears. The tide was going out faster than we could move and before we knew it the small boat had been grounded.
No big deal we thought, we can just drag it back into the surf that was literally inches in front of us…The more we drug the farther the shore line receded. The tiny boat was heavier than it looked, even while empty. The sea was faster than us so we decided to make claim on the beach for a bear watch there until the tide once again returned.
Even though we were technically beached, we were actually in a great position to spot a bruin. During low tide, no matter the time of day, the bears will patrol the shore lines for shell fish. This provides an excellent food source for the hungry spring bear.
Like clockwork, 6 hours later the tide returned without us spotting a bear. Back on the boat we headed up the bay. There was one steep rocky mountain after another when finally we reached a beautiful grassy flat, the perfect place to tie the boat up and glass for black bears.
Scott and I were busy unloading our gear when I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye. A big grizzly bear was making its way over to us and fast. Our gear immediately went back into the boat as the bruin was fast approaching at the trot even though he was down wind of us. When the bruin swam a rather large tributary popping up on our side, he shook off the water like a dog and immediately continued trotting in our direction. This time he was less than 150 yards from us. To the boat we went and fast.
The bruin must have heard us get into the boat because we didn’t see him again but we did hear him in the timber just off from where we had just been standing. This was one dangerous bear to come at us from the downwind position and then circle us in heavy cover to lay and watch our retreat. That behavior makes grizzlies dangerous and scary, an animal that must always be both respected and feared.
We were both buzzing from adrenaline. Moments like that are exactly why I am a mountain hunter. The appearance of the big aggressive grizzly was sure to make a slow evening on that grass flat for black bears so we steered the tiny boat back to the Yukon Bear for the evening.
Waking up to the sea does grow on you. The setting is one that comes from a dream. Warm spring air, the sea gently lapping the sides of the boat, the snow capped mountains surrounding you; it just doesn’t get more beautiful than this.
The ocean changes her appearance very quickly and when the wind picked up, it was apparent that Scott and I were not taking the tiny boat out on the open sea due to rough water. There is specific technique to navigating rough waters in small boats, Bob has mastered those, Scott and I had not, so instead, we packed up our gear into the jet boat and made our way to the mainland. Logging roads and clear cuts is where we would end up hunting.
To the land we go…
Having both feet on solid ground we set out in search of a bruin. The weather although cold and windy on the ocean was mild and warm on land, perfect bear hunting conditions. The bears were seemingly everywhere we looked, ravenously feeding on Dandelions.
Some of the bears could not have a care about our approach choosing to lay and feed while others that were not so keen on our appearance would dart into heavy brush to hide. Now you see it, now you don’t. One particular bruin was there one second and then gone the next. With only but a brief look we knew instantly that we needed to take a closer look at him.
Scott ran into the brush after the bruin and I close behind in step. The brush was thick and heavy, visibility was down to what was right in front of you. My feet were treading through swamp water; Scott had treed the bruin just ahead.
On the ground bears are difficult to judge but up a tree can be even more difficult. We first made the verification that the bear was in fact a boar and second the diameter of tree that he climbed was huge. Instead of clinging to the sides of the tree the way smaller bears will tend to do, this bear sat atop several branches watching. This was the second largest bear we had seen since my arrival.
With a knock of my arrow and draw of my bow, my arrow flew true and the bear was down. On the ground, he seemed bigger as I approached him which usually does not happen with bears. His head was massive, his teeth worn from age; one of his giant paws was nearly the size of both of my hands. He was a fighter with old scarring nearly ten inches long that was severe enough on his side that it kept him from growing hair.
This had been an amazing trip to British Columbia. I had been able to experience in two short weeks two very different sides of the Provence, land and sea, establishing a new level of respect for those men and women who are masters of the ocean. There is so much for me to learn about hunting the ocean’s edge, so I do hope to someday return to British Columbia to pursue black bear once again.
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.
There is a great American story that’s seldom told- a story of battle-scarred heroes that we’ve yet to meet. It’s a story of Wounded Warriors trying to find their place in the world and to feel “normal” again. This is a story about Americans we owe a debt of gratitude to.
The steep rugged mountains of Southern British Columbia’s Cascade Mountain Range is the perfect place for anyone to get quiet, take a breath of fresh air and let your soul fly with the eagles. Time spent on the mountain, pressing yourself to go beyond what you “think” you can do breaking those self imposed limitations, doing things you have never before dreamed that you would ever be able to do. The mountain makes you work harder, fight longer and possibly even exhaust you, but at the end of the trail there is the triumph that you have risen to the challenge and owned the mountain.
Adventures Enabled that sums up Ron Raboud’s mission with Wounded Warrior Outdoors, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping active duty service men and women get out in the outdoors while attaining therapeutic benefit, rediscovering their ability despite their current physical challenges. WWO is unique in the fact that all the guests are current wounded in-hospital patients from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Balboa Medical Center San Diego, Brooke Army Medical Center or San Antonio Military Medical Center. WWO serves 50 active duty warriors every year.
This trip’s warriors were all Marines based out of Balboa Naval Medical Center; Guillermo (TJ) Tejada, USMC, Kaleb Weakley, USMC, Isaac Blunt, USMC, and Jordan Maynard, USMC, Medical Chaperone Anthony Shuford, USN, from Balboa Medical Center accompanies the warriors on the trip as well as wounded warrior mentor Jim Sursely.
In years past, over half of the warriors have never been on a hunt and Dave Wabnegger of Otter Lake Guide Outfitters makes certain that everyone from first time hunters to experienced hunters alike have an amazing experience.
After meeting Ron and several warriors at the Wild Sheep Foundation convention and sporting clays tournament, I was thrilled to participate in this year’s British Columbia black bear hunting adventures. This was a chance for me to honor and an opportunity to thank these American heroes for their service to our great country, countrymen and women. Chris Denham from Western Hunter T.V. was also along with two cameramen to document the journey to air over Labor Day this year.
The night before the hunt was quiet, everyone settling in, dining on good food and just getting the feel of the place. The first night is always the quietest.
Our first day out, I hunted with TJ, a double amputee with a smile bright enough to light up a room. Tj’s love and dedication to his country and his family is second to none, a noble man and true warrior in every sense of the word. The morning started out slow, driving logging roads to glass clear cuts. Dave and Randy were put to work as part time lumber jackers clearing the winter fallen trees from the roads.
Mid day, we got the call that Kaleb had taken a nice bear so we made our way over to where they had taken the bruin in case they needed help packing or skinning. The bruin was stunning a gorgeous cinnamon colored boar. Kaleb was beyond thrilled.
After a series of photos and skinning Kaleb’s bruin, we set back out in search of a bear for TJ. Kaleb’s bear was the first one that TJ has seen in the wild and the excitement had us all anxious for action. While driving a logging road, we came upon an old cabin, feeding a mere 70 yards from the road was a black bear. He was close…too close.
As soon as we spotted the bear, so did the hounds that were boxed in the back of the truck and when their alarm bark went off, so did the bear. Into the timber, we did not see the bruin again. The disappointment was felt in all of us after spending many long hours with the hopes of that moment but blessings come in many forms.
Within 30 minutes, thanks to the help of volunteers Jordie Cook, Omar Karame and Debbie Wabnegger; TJ was back on another bruin; this one, a big chocolate. He was playing peek-a-boo along the hillside between 300-330 yards away (or meters as the guys put it). The bear was a shooter and we just had to get TJ set up to take the shot.
TJ was set up as stable as possible in his chair on the side of a mountain. Unfortunately, the shooting sticks were too short we had to improvise off the tripod that I had brought along for my camera.
Falling Back on Training…
I always say that in the moment one rarely rises up to the occasion but most always falls back on their level of training. TJ is a 14 year Marine and has extensive training. After sorting out the reticle in his Swarovski Optik scope, he set his hand atop the tripod, wrapped the sling around his arm resting the stock of the gun along his wrist, all while balancing in his chair on the side of a mountain, took aim and executed an absolutely perfectly placed shot at over 300 yards.
TJ never wavered, he is a trained Marine and when the time came he had 14 years backing him to take the shot on the bruin. The excitement was incredible for everyone!
Getting TJ to the bruin was our next challenge. The entire crew lined up chain saws and we logged and off-roaded our way nearly to the bruin but we couldn’t get TJ all the way there in the truck. The bruin was going to have to come down or TJ was going to somehow get to him.
As a hunter, the moment of truth and reward lies in the recovery. The bruin was too large to drag down the mountain without quartering him up. TJ deserved better than that, he had earned a proper recovery for his bear, so the chain saws came back out and we all made sure that TJ was there, in the exact place that his bear lay, doing a proper recovery. TJ put his arms around the necks of Omar and Jordie and they literally carried him to his bear.
I have been on many hunts and I have never been on a hunt that has affected me so deeply. Words simply do not give this moment justice but in that moment, watching TJ with his bear, that is exactly why I volunteered to be part of the hunt. I could relate to TJ and knew from my own personal experience as a hunter exactly what he was feeling and I could not have been happier for him in that moment.
Back at the Ranch…
Now this is what hunting camp is supposed to be like, the guys were throwing jabs back and forth, telling stories, laughing and joking. A little bit of smack talk back and forth which was much more entertaining than the quiet evening we had had before. What a great day and night.
The next day, I was hunting with Isaac, the youngest of the group at 21 years old. The weather was not good. It was raining and the skies were dark and grey. Not good for bear hunting so we spent most of the day telling stories in the truck and learning a bit about one another.
Isaac is a strong guy and I would describe him as graceful. Strength tends to lend itself to grace. He talked about how he was getting new legs and arms that were going to take him atop a mountain in Australia in June. I believe that those legs will take Isaac just about anywhere he makes up his mind to go. He is strong in the mind like that. No limitations just small obstacles that can be overcame. There is great strength in the will to do something.
We did get some action when we spotted a big chocolate bear in the exact same spot that we had busted the black bear with TJ the day before. We had the same problem with this bear too…it was too close and it saw us when we saw it. No time for a shot.
Unfortunately I had to leave the next morning, so I was not around for the remainder of the week. The weather continued to be adverse and the bear hunting action came to a close with the continued adverse weather.
The weather was bad but the guys still received a lot of therapeutic benefit to the hunt putting in long hours and dedication. All in a normal day for these guys! Be sure to head over to facebook and “Like” the Wounded Warrior Outdoors or check them out on their website. It is through generous support and donations that WWO is able to ease some of the challenges facing our American heroes.
I am already looking forward to 2014!
Cougar & Bear Management Bills Scheduled for Hearings!!
The Oregon House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources has scheduled hearings on two bills that would allow better management of cougar and bear populations for this coming Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 8:00am in Hearing Room D (click here to view agenda). We need you to be there in support of these bills and to testify!
HB 2624 is one of the Oregon Outdoor Council’s top priority bills that was introduced on our behalf by Rep. Brian Clem. This bill would allow county voters to have a public vote and decide locally if they want dogs and or bait used withing the county to help manage cougar and bear populations. This bill does NOT change the law banning dogs/bait, but does allow voters the chance to opt out of the ban if the majority of them in the county support these critical management tools. We encourage you to immediately email the Committee Members and politely ask for their support on this important bill. For years the anti-hunters have said they support the “will of the people” and their ability to vote, but we expect them to show up in force and oppose our bill. That’s why we need you there!
HB 3395 Requires State Department of Fish and Wildlife to recommend rules to State Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding creation of pilot program that allows persons to use dogs to hunt or pursue cougars. This bill passed the House of Representatives last year, but was killed in the Senate. We need to support this bill as well!
To email the committee members simply click on their email address and an email will appear ready for you to personalize and send. Please remember to be respectful and feel free to add your own words to your email. Make sure to identify yourself as a member of the Oregon Outdoor Council and any other organizations you belong to!!
I am kindly asking for your support of HB 2624 & 3395 which are up in House Ag & Natural Resources on Tuesday April 2, 2013.
- HB 2624 allows voters to choose if they want the use of dogs and/or bait available for the management of cougar or bear populations in their County. If a county decides to have a vote on the issue and it passes they are required to immediately report that to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The authority to manage wildlife, set bag limits and quotas would still remain with the ODFW Commission.
- HB 3395 directs the ODFW Commission to establish a pilot program to allow the use of dogs for cougar hunting.
- Since these tools were banned in 1994 cougar and bear populations have increased dramatically and are well over management objectives set by ODFW.
- The increase in their populations has created a major public safety problem which has been highlighted in the past week with multiple sightings in cities like Eugene and Portland.
- It is only a matter of time until someone gets attacked or killed by a cougar and these bills give back the necessary tools to help prevent that horrible possibility.
- Predation on elk and deer has increased significantly resulting in over 45,000 deer and elk tags being cut. The severe predation has also caused cow to calf and doe to fawn ratio’s to plummet.
- A cougar will kill an average of one elk or deer per week. With over 6,000 cougars in Oregon that’s over 300,000 elk or deer killed by cougars each year! That doesn’t include the predation from over 40,000 black bears either.
- Dogs are still being used to hunt and kill cougars and bears in Oregon. Instead of sportsmen and women paying the ODFW to do it while at the same tine providing critical funding for wildlife conservation, state and federal agents are now paid to kill cougars and bears costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- The time has come to let us vote and let those most effected by these predators to have a voice.
Please share this with everyone you know and email each legislator asking for their support. Please also attend the hearing and show your support for these critical bills.
Below is a list of each member of the House Ag & Natural Resources Committee and their email addresses:
Rep. Brad Witt, Chair – email@example.com
Rep. Sal Esquivel, Vice Chair - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Caddy McKeown, Vice Chair – email@example.com
Rep. Brian Clem – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Wayne Krieger - email@example.com
Rep. Jeff Reardon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jim Thompson – email@example.com
Rep. Ben Unger – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Gail Whitsett – email@example.com