Bear Hunting Stories

Here you will find some bear hunting stories, enjoy!


The story of a do it yourself coastal grizzly bear hunt:
Ever since I started hunting, the grizzly bear was at the top of my list for my dream hunt. I have always been in awe of the top of the food chain, king of the North American forest grizzly bear. To say this grizzly bear hunt started with driving to the Bella Coola area of British Columbia would be largely incorrect. This in fact was my fourth grizzly bear resident draw in BC and to until this point I had not even seen one while hunting for grizzly bear. The timing was either too late or too early, or I was hunting in fall when I should be hunting in spring and so on.

This year would prove to be different beyond imaginable, this would be the hunt and animal of a lifetime. This success of this hunt was beyond what I could ever expect and I could never have done it with out the fantastic team effort from my hunting partners Randy Engh, Chris Dyck, and HBC members “Ike” and “Srupp”.

bella coola valleyAs we arrived in the area I drew my tag in the Bella Coola area of British Columbia I could not help but be taken back from the breath taking scenery. The steep mountainous valley is quite the incredible view, some people from the prairies might feel clausterphobic from the mountains constantly hugging you but I find comfort those rugged mountains. Along on the hunt were 2 of my regular hunting partners, Chris Dyck and my Father In-law Randy Engh. Hunting coastal grizzly bears alone could prove to be disastrous considering all the stories of being mauled by grizzly bears we heard about from locals. Another common theme from the locals we were hearing is that this valley is a particular hard hunt due to the thick forest, steep mountains, and no shooting area 400m off the highway centering the valley. This fact was something we came to terms with quite quickly. Most of the hunt-able areas in my zone were showing no signs of grizzly bear, the odd black bear sign was appearant but I was  beginning to thing I had timed this hunt wrong once again or something drastic had happened to the bear population.

We decided to stop in and speak with a friend in the area to see if he was willing to give some advice. He was very helpful and affirmed much of the important aspects of spring grizzly hunting such as waiting till last light for the big boars and working the likely feeding areas that have grizzly sign. After that encouragement and seeing his massive life size mount of a record book grizzly it gave us a second wind to continue pounding the areas we thought would hold a grizzly bear.

grizzly habitatThere was one drainage in particular that was very thick with small open feed pockets that had some grizzly sign and we hammered that area by walking miles in the morning and evening. By the fifth day we were a little discouraged as we did not see any new grizzly sign since we first came into this area, and up until this point we had only witness one black bear which is very slow for BC bear hunting.  Soon that discouragement morphed into enthusiasm as there was fresh grizzly scat and tracks walking the very same trail for miles that we were hunting day after day. Those grizzly tracks led us further into the drainage and once I saw this natural slide loaded with vegetation I  felt a feeling of promise. As the afternoon sun was at his highest we decided to head out slowly. Nothing was found on the way out.

BC grizzly bearBack at camp after lunch I had this overwhelming feeling of upcoming success. I said to Chris and Randy “I feel like tonight will be our best chance of the trip to get a grizz and we need to go back in there again for the dusk hunt”. It would be our last hunt on the last day of the hunt but I for some reason felt confident we would be successful on that evening. I wanted to say “guys, I guarantee you we will get a grizzly bear tonight” but I did not want to jinx our chances. As we drove as far as we could before we started our lengthy hike in, optimistically I brought my meat pack and Chris’ camera gear as I thought this was it. Two hours later we were watching the slide we discovered earlier that day as dusk began to set in so did the disappointment, my hunting partners were almost having to drag me away from the spot as they did not want to walk in the pitch black in grizzly country so I reluctantly decided to walk out so we could be at the truck as soon as shooting light dissipated.

coastal grizzly bearOn the way back I was thinking we were too noisy to see a bear as the grown in alders were rubbing against us, and in particular my meat frame pack every step of the way. No sooner than I said those words to myself I heard Randy say “Justin a grizz” I was in disbelief thinking my father in-law was playing a joke on me. Randy pointed me in to the tree line where there was a grassy swampy feeding area with a big grizzly looking broadside. I could not believe it. The grizzly bear was approximately 50 yards off our walking trail totally careless to our existence. Then all I could say to myself was “That’s a big round head”. The crack of my hand loaded 200 grain Barnes TSX bullets exiting my .300 Win Mag Weatherby Vangaurd rifle were not even audible to me. The bear was hit but not dead, it worked its way into a depression and was not visible but the roaring was unforgettable.  Chris was walking a little bit a head of us so when he heard the first shot he fired up the camera and doubled back into feeding patch. The large boar continued walking out of the depression and I continued shooting from approximately 40 yards away, I did not want this beast to get out of sight for a tracking job on a grizzly through thick brush is not desirable. I also wanted the quickest possible death for this magnificent animal. It was not until the fifth shot entered the chocolate coated monster that is could be pronounced dead. Now for the opposite of ground shrinkage, this bear kept getting bigger as time went on.

At fipacking a grizzly rst we thought this bear would be a seven and a half footer but when we rolled it over I realized his pumpkin head was something special. The dream of harvesting a grizzly came true for me and it could not have been with a more magnificent animal. A true coastal British Columbia monster grizzly bear. We took lots of pictures then began the work of skinning as dusk and helicopter sized mosquitoes were falling on us. We were almost finished but decided we better get out of there before it was too pitch black. It was a long walk back to the truck in the dark with our headlamps. I was emotionally and physically spent and I knew tomorrow would be a tough task to pack that hide and head out of this drainage. We told one of the locals “Ike” that had been in contact with us that we harvested a grizzly bear and showed him the pictures. He was impressed, we told him where we were going to be pulling that bear out of tomorrow. At first light we were back at the kill site, luckily no animal came to destroy this trophy of a lifetime. We continued to finish skinning the beast and flesh the hide as best we could. This spring bear was quite fat and stinky.

To my hunting partner’s surprise we folded up the hide and put it into my pack. Now for the hard part, the long hike out with this approximately 300 lbs hide on my back. I managed to walk at least an hour out with this monster on my back when we heard a vehicle running up ahead. Randy ran as fast as he could and to our delight “Ike” was there with his truck and drove us out to our truck. I was exhausted and my shoulders were quite sore but we were finished the hardest part.

hunting party with a grizzlyWe took the specimen to our friend to show him the spectacular harvest. He was immensely impressed saying we were extremely lucky to harvest a bear like this. We stretched the hide out on his lawn and measured the hide with the skull in and it squared 8’6″. We were all blown away, like I said this bear kept getting bigger, we did not know what we had.  We packed up camp and started making our way home but along the way we had to stop off and show the prized trophy bear to “Srupp”. It was nice to see one of the best grizzly hunters in BC impressed at our harvest. He was now the second grizzly expert to predict a Boone and Crockett record in this bears future. The last stop of our journey was made at Ray Wiens’ taxidermist shop. Ray Wiens (778-241-0208) was very helpful and accommodating to me willing to work on this bear on short notice. Ray was also impressed at the trophy bear. The skull on this bear green scored 25 14/16.” I cannot believe this happened. Everything came together perfectly for this hunt and harvest to happen. Thank you very much to all who helped “Ike”,”Srupp”, (that has taught me so much) and my hunting partners Randy Engh and Chris Dyck. A very special thank you to my supporting and understanding wife Monica, I could not have done it without this support group nor would I have wanted to. A grizzly dream came true for me.

six foot black bear

Spring 2009

.300 WM with Barnes 168 Grain TTSX bullets.

I decided to go for an early morning bear hunt locally with a buddy of mine. Wouldn’t you know it, a decent bear crossed the road and ran into a steep ravine at the beginning
of the hunt. Of course we got out and pursued the bruin on foot. As we got to the edge of the bank the bear was visible and I made an off hand shot approximately 100 yards away. I saw the bullet impact right behind the shoulder with a shimmer the bears coat from the Barnes 168 grain TTSX bullet. The echoing of the .300WM carried throughout the valley as I made a second opportune shot and we thought the bear was down.  We started our descent down the hillside getting scratched and clawed by branches and falling over logs, but could not see the bear where we thought it would be. My partner told me to stop because he heard noises. I looked at the top of the hill and saw a black bear crest the bank. Thinking it was not plausible but possible the bear walked past us as we climbed down the hill, we climbed back up. There were no signs of blood where the bear climbed over the hill. We contemplated that it might be a second bear and slid down the hill to continue looking for the first bear. My hunting partner spotted the bear and called me over, it was still moving so I took another freehand shot, this time at 40 yards. The bear bucked and took off.

black bear sowI began looking in circles for blood and so did my partner, we could not see any spots of red. Worry started setting in and my partner was questioning whether I hit the bear even once so far. I told him I was 100% confident that I hit the bear each time, but he did not believe me. I then started walking to where I would go if I was a bear and wouldn’t you know it, I crossed some fresh bear tracks in the mud, but again no blood. I paced in the direction of the bears travel and was walking over a log crossing a stream when I saw the bear expiring by a turned over tree stump. The bear started getting up and I shot. The bear started moving again so I fired again. The bear expired as smoke was leaving the carcass in two spots.  After skinning the bear we saw that all my bullets connected in the chest cavity and a few of them in the same place leaving a 4″ hole in the ribcage. We could not believe how tough this bear was with the direct shots from a .300WM in the boiler room. My partner apologized for doubting my shooting and we got to work skinning and boning out the meat. The bear was a sow and measured a half inch over 6′. I ended the 2009 spring bear season with a great adventure and lesson in persistence. I will make a throw rug out of the hide and enjoy some nice sausage out of the meat.


Spring 2009

.300 WM with 168 grain Barnes TTSX bullets.

As you may have been reading I drew a grizzly bear tag for the Horsefly area this spring (2009). I spent a lot of time planning, talking to hunters, going over maps, and google earth before going on this trip. I had a few people bail but a new friend (Nick) was gracious enough to offer his truck and quad to join me in the trip.

grizzly track in snow






When we arrived in the area we were planning on hunting I was soon disappointed as snow was covering all the areas I had planned to spot for grizzly. Above is a picture of the only grizzly tracks we saw. We staked this area out a few times for hours but there was no new sign or sightings of North Americas top predator.

grizzly scat on snow






This scat was found close to the tracks, I can only assume it is grizzly bear scat.

glassing for grizzly






We spent a fair amount of time spotting for grizzly bear but again we were not able to even look in the areas I pre planned from google earth. We could not access the slides but still glassed what we could to no avail.

In total we saw 3 moose, 3 grouse, a porcupine, and 5 black bears. but I connected on this boar on the left. He was not huge but I decided to take a meat bear on the first day of the hunt and invest the rest of the trip searching for the elusive grizzly that never presented itself.

The story was: We were quading down this main forest service road and the bear was 200 yards away on the road. Nick initially wanted a crack at it but it scurried up the hill into the woods. We tried to circle around the area it was traveling and I spotted the bear below me. The bear was walking out to the open so I loaded a shell and anticipated where the bear was going to walk. The bear had other plans and decided to go down across the road and towards the river. As it was walking through the bush on the other side of the road, I came across the road and saw the black bear walking through the trees. He stopped and looked towards my direction and his hesitation was his demise. I took a freehand shot and connected right behind the shoulder.

The bullets I had been using were Barnes TTSX 168grain out of my .300 Winchester Magnum. I hand loaded and tested them at the range as you might have seen on previous posts. The shot was from 60 yards (approximately) and was a one shot kill, the bear did not travel far before piling up on a tree. The boar was 5’4″ from nose to tail. I am getting jerky made out of the hind legs, garlic sausage, and chorizo sausage out of the rest.

Below is a picture of the exit wound of the Barnes 168grain TTSX bullet on the aforementioned black bear:

Barnes TTSX exit wound






Date of Kill: May 18, 2008

Time of Day: 6:00 pm

Weapon: Bowtech 70# Tribute with G5 Montec 100 grain broadheads and 5575 Gold Tip Pro Hunter Arrows.

Shot Distance: 20 yards angled up into tree 30′-40′

As the snow melts and the ground greens up with new growth, spring bear hunting is the first thing that comes to mind. This year we wanted to try something new by taking a boat into an inaccessible area to hunt trophy black bear. Due to conditions and logistical problems we could not line up proper transportation to explore the new area. We decided to go to our failsafe bear hunting area that holds great numbers of black bears.

When we arrived at camp we already had seen 2 sows, one sow had 4 cubs and one sow with one cub. Optimism was strong as Sid and I were off to a good start with sightings of the always healthy black bear population in this northern management region of BC.

The hunting started with a couple more sightings of shootable bears, 1 being a coloured bear with a cinnamon coat but it was too small. There were a few instances of me trying to convince Sid to rifle a bear but Sid surprisingly stayed true to his word of holding out for a 6’+ (nose to tail length) bear or colour phase coat by not shooting any suspect blackies.

In the morning I made a spot 350 yards away of a black bear feeding, we decided to make a stalk. First objective was to get downwind of the bear without being noticed and then make our way through the logging slash without being herd. The bear was oblivious to me when I ranged him at 32 yards, close enough for a shot with a bow presented itself. The stalk went perfect but I decided the bear was too small and we passed on him, I took a few steps closer and stood up only to see him stare at us and run for the tree line.

We decided to look down a couple far off logging roads and we got into bow range of a few more bears, none offering a clean shot so I had to let the arrow down on a few occasions. In total we had a good dozen stalks but either the bear was not big enough or the bear was not offering a good shoot by position or by brush blocking the shooting lane. I was beginning to think I was going home bearless.

A black bear ran across the logging road without even stopping to look at us and bolted into the trees. After looking into the thick forest we could not locate the bruin and we started talking while heading back to the truck. As I took my seat I thought I saw the head of a black bear through the trees. I put the 10 power binoculars to my eyes and saw the bear sitting on its hind legs. “Look Sid, the bear is right there.” The hunt was on, I looked into the forest and the bear started snapping its teeth while making aggressive movements. The bear was not pleased with us entering its domain. I herd the bear climb the tree while continuing to try to scare us out of his area with his tactics. I made my way around the tree to get a clear shot, at this time the bear was 30-40 feet up the tree. I settled my 20 yard pin just behind the rib cage as the arrow would move up into the vital area with the steep trajectory. A solid hit, the bear started bleeding out heavily while supporting itself on a branch, as It’s life started to wane the bear hung on the branch with nothing but its jaw. A clear display of this animal’s toughness was shown to me as it hung on for deer life despite being arrowed. I shoot again to help speed up the expiration of the bear and eventually the bear falls out of the tree. Upon inspection of the vitals, both the bears lungs and liver were destroyed.

The bear measured 5’5” from nose to tail and was my 4th black bear, my 3rd with a bow and arrow. The trip was a great success especially since we got to see so much game, it was a real pleasure. The game count was; 30 black bears, 45 deer, and 4 moose.

archery black bear


Date of Kill: May 19 2007

Time of Day: 12:30 pm

Weapon: Bowtech 70# Tribute with G5 Montec 100 grain broadheads and 5575 Gold Tip Pro Hunter Arrows.

Shot Distance: 15 yards


The spring bear derby of 2007 was especially neat for me as I got to take my younger brothers along for this great adventure. My brothers Mark and Andrew recently purchased a rifle and practiced at the range after completing their hunter education course. I was very excited to take them along as I knew they would get a great opportunity to shoot a bear at our bear hunting spot.

The first night we crashed at a long time friend’s house nearby before heading out to the wilderness. We quickly setup camp and then started hunting the in the afternoon. I went with my friend and Sid took my brothers the other way. When we connected at dusk coming back to camp Sid explained that they didn’t see anything but then Andrew could not contain his excitement with his first black bear in the back of the jeep. I had learned that Andrew made an exceptional 175 yard free hand shot on his first big game animal ever in order to harvest his first black bear.

rifle shot black bearThe next morning we did not see anything and came back to camp to do some fishing and grab some lunch. While Sid and Andrew were fishing for trout, I decided to cook up some moose burgers. Just when the burgers were almost finished, I looked behind me and there was none other than a standing black bear smelling the BBQ filled air. I quickly grabbed my Bowtech and cocked a Gold Tip arrow tipped with a Montec and drew back on the bear as he started to climb a tree, it was a close shot at 15 yards and I hit him perfectly. The arrow lodged into the tree and he broke it off and climbed 30 feet up only to lose his death grip and fall out of the tree. It measure 5’6” nose to tail and was a boar.

It was my 2nd archery bear and 3rd bear in total. Sid and Andrew came back from fishing all proud that they caught a few fish but immediately realized their lunch time activity was not nearly as productive as mine.

After making quick work of the cleaning and field care, Mark wanted to go and try for his own bear. Just after leaving camp we spot a bear on the top of a knoll. From 40 yards Mark raised the .303 British military rifle and pumped a round into the bears cavity. The bear started to move towards us and I told Mark to shoot again. After taking 3 shots the bear finally went down and Mark had his first ever big game animal, A black bear boar.

black bear with hunterThe same night Sid capitalized and rifled a black bear to punch his first bear tag of the season, a black bear measuring 5’8”. It was a great trip and if getting 4 bears in 24 hours was not a good enough feat, being with my brothers as they harvested a pair of black bears in northern British Columbia certainly was.

black bears

black bear shot with bow and arrow

Date of Kill: May 27 2006

Time of Day: 11:00am

Weapon: Hoyt 60# compound bow

With 100 grain Thunderhead broadheads and 5575 Gold Tip Expedition arrows.

Shot Distance: 20 yards

By the time I went on this spring bear black bear hunt I had been practicing for 8 months and was ready to take my first archery animal. I had tried to take my bow out the previous fall but had no success in punching a tag.

I was confident enough in my shooting ability to confidently take a black bear and since spring black bear hunting season was open and I knew where to find a plethora of arrow in flightblack bears, I decided that I would have a good chance to harvest my first archery animal in northern BC on a black bear.

The trip to the northern part of BC for black bear became an annual adventure due to the success of this trip. Sid and me drove through the morning to get to are hunting spot in the afternoon and instantly I had put a stalk on 2 black bears, Sid was hunting with his rifle so he decided to give me first chance with the bow. It was a 250 yard stalk and the bears were in heavy brush by the time I got there not offering a shot. It was good to have the action but I was disappointed that I didn’t get a shot at one of them. About an hour later driving by the same area we spotted another bear on the road. We got out of the truck and tried to cut it off before it entered the thick forest cover. Sid made a great shot and harvested the 6’2” nose to tail black bear with his hand loaded .30/06.

The next day we started looking for black bears in a different spot and almost immediately we spotted one, It was not huge but since I had not shot anything with my bow yet, I thought I should take any good opportunity since my objective was just to shoot something successfully with my bow. I walked into the forest and ranged the bear between the trees at 20 yards so I decided it would not get any better than this for my first archery kill. I drew back, anchored, and released the arrow. The bear went another 20 yards before laying down to make his death cry. After high fiving each other and loading the carcass in the truck we discovered a fuel pump issue and coasted down the gravel road for 10 km and got the truck running again. Luckily we made it into town and into the mechanic shop before the truck finally died.

Sid wanted a try with his bow to fill his 2nd tag as you are allowed 2 black bears a year in British Columbia. We headed out to the first area we tried successfully. On the way in to our hunting spot we found a black bear and Sid stalked it and shot it before it made its way down to the creek in the deep ravine. It was a hard pull but we managed to get it out of the ravine. After pictures we reflected on our successful hunting weekend, 2 hunters, 3 harvested black bears, 25 bear sightings all in 3 days.

black bear shot with rifle

Date of kill: Sept 10, 2005

Time of day: 10:30am

Weapon: .30/06 rifle with 180 grain Winchester sliver tip bullets.

Shot Distance: 150 yards

Area: Northern British Columbia, Canada

The annual tradition of hunting season began this year with an expedition of an 8 hour drive up northern BC with a new hunting partner, my Uncle Gerry. Gerry had been hunting for ions and I just recently got into hunting a few years prior, so it was good get out hunting together finally. My usual hunting partner Randy (now my Father in-law) went out to join a different moose hunting party that year so it was just the 2 of us.

Bagging 2 moose the year before in the same area gave us high moose expectations, but that was not to be the case this year. I had seen a multitude of black bears in that region in years past but the other hunters I was with always frowned on bear meat and did not want to distract from the all important task of harvesting that supple moose meat. I decided to pick up a bear tag before commencing on this trip, bears always intrigued me and I really wanted to finally harvest one after seeing 5 a day in the area we hunted on previous trips.

We arrived at the same camping spot we reside at every year and set up the camper, we chit chatted with some friends we ran into on the way in who were just wrapping up the early opening archery season.

On day one around 10:00am while touring the area we would be hunting on “a secret road” a black bear ran across the logging road and disappeared into the timber. My Uncle Gerry turned to me and gasped “Did you see that, it was the size of a grizzly” I agreed and said that bear was indeed a “shooter.” We barrelled out of the truck and glassed a close by ravine which looked like a natural path for the bear to wonder through. After looking through my binoculars I finally spotted the seemingly gigantic black bear across the ravine hiding by a tree. I chamber a few rounds into my .30/06 rifle and take aim. I squeezed the trigger and the loud crack of the rifle thundering through the valley was replied to with an almost equally loud “whap “as the bullet connected to the black bear on target. The bear was hit good but still running on the hill, I keep shooting until the bear is completely anchored. I did not want the bear to hide and die under a root ball or bush making it harder than necessary to track.

A few celebratory congratulations are given and then the realization of dragging the bear out of the ravine begin. We walk to the bear and I get my first lesson in ground shrinkage in black bears, bears always look huge from far and since I have learned to better field judge, although the bear was not small, it was by no means the record book specimen we originally thought it was. The bear measured 5’8” from nose to tail.

Gerry, recently recovering from lung surgery was unable to help with the lugging, but after I tie a rope harness around my upper body and drag the beast to the truck almost fainting. A local friend helped me skin it for a rug, since it was my first bear I had not done this before. This lesson was invaluable as I seem to skin out black bears more than any other thing under the sun. I got the bear made into a full rug mount and is currently gracing my friends home. I unfortunately did not make a  European style bear skull mount.

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