I just got back from my first bear hunt. Though I have booked a number of bear hunts for clients, including with this particular outfitter, I had just never had the opportunity to do a spring bear hunt of my own, so when one of our outfitters called to offer me an open slot, I could not turn it down. The hunt was in New Brunswick, Canada, in the northern part of the province. The outfitter maintains around 50 bait stations on over 600 square miles of Crown Land, so we were in remote, lightly hunted country. The lodge was just on the edge of this huge area, so while remote we still had the comforts of beds, running water, and electricity.
New Brunswick is not know for its large bears, but this outfitters opportunity rate has been 100% for the seven years he has been in business, so I knew I would have a chance to take my first bear. Being my first hunt, I decided to take my rifle instead of my rifle, but his stands are set up for both. I told myself I wanted to hold out for the best bear I could find, at least waiting a few days into the hunt before lowering my standard. The problem was field judging bears is very difficult. We watched videos all night when we arrived in camp, including the one where the bear charged our outfitter and he finally had to shoot when the screen was all black with bear!
When sitting on my stand that first day, the weather turned nasty, with rain and then snow, but I sat still with the excitement of the possibility of seeing my first bear while hunting. Then there they were, bear ears coming through the brush. Over the next thirty minutes the bear would come in to the bait, take a donut, and run off back into the brush, returning about every five minutes. He never really gave a great long look, but each time he returned I became more convinced he was a shooter. Finally, about the time I decided to take him, he did not return from his last donut run. Then about an hour and a half later, there he was again, seeming to appear out of nowhere. This time I did not hesitate, and promptly took my shot. He ran into the brush, but in just a few seconds I could hear his death moan just outside of the clearing, which is a sobering experience. Soon my outfitter came to help me retrieve my bear. I have to admit, there was a considerable amount of ground shrinkage, but I was happy to take my first bear. I spent the rest of the week riding around with the outfitter, filling up bait stations, photographing moose, and helping the other hunters with their bears. All six hunters in camp took a bear by the end of the week. All in all, it was a great hunt with great guides and great food (including lobster), and I look forward to booking more hunters with them.