Western Bear Hunting
Bear Hunting Magazine|January - February 2021
Picking the right outfitter - Picking the right outfitter can make or break your experience.
Brian Strickland

He appeared like magic…literally. One minute the cluster of bait barrels I was guarding was void of life, and then it was filled with the bruin for which I had traveled nearly 20 hours. Although I had seen over a dozen bears during this five-day Manitoba outfitted hunt with Todd Wohlgemuth, owner of Baldy Mountain Outfitters (www.baldymountainoutfitters. ca), none had jumped my pulse like this one.

Big bears are different than your average bruin, and it was quickly apparent his sixth sense was telling him something wasn’t quite right. As he slowly scanned every direction while inhaling every scent molecule trying to sort it out, I made a move to adjust my camera. In an instant, his blocky head swiveled in my direction and he stared right through me. Our eyes locked as my heart pounded through my chest with each passing second, and when he turned to walk away, I thought my hunt was over. With less than an hour of shooting light left on the last day of the hunt, I knew my 20-hour drive home the following day would certainly feel much longer after this encounter. However, when he paused in the brush and stared back at the barrels and began to slowly inch his way in their direction, fate must have had other plans. I gripped my bow a little tighter with each passing second, and when he presented a clear broadside shot moments later and I witnessed my arrow fly true, I knew my 20-hour drive home wouldn’t be so bad after all.

When I started big game hunting over 20 years ago, outfitted hunts were generally off the table. I was either too cheap to part with the Benjamins needed for such an adventure, or frankly didn’t have enough of them. Furthermore, because I often prefer a DIY approach, I passed on the outfitted option. Over time those feelings have changed. Although the DIY approach is still my preferred method, using the resources that a quality outfitter offers is often a better approach, especially when it comes to spring black bears.

Why choose an outfitted black bear hunt you might ask? Well, they are often considerably cheaper than many other hunts, plus you get to hunt in the spring of the year when virtually everything else is off-limits. Also, with a baited bear hunt, which tends to offer the highest success rates, having the trap set before you arrive is a huge benefit. I’ve personally waited up to a week for a bait to see much activity on DIY hunts out west.

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