It had always been my dream to head to the Canadian north, to tromp through thick boreal forests, to catch a ghostly glimpse of black fur mingling amongst green vegetation. Over the years my dream became an obsession. I could no longer watch north-of-the-border bear hunts on TV. I didn’t want to see another hero shot in a bowhunting magazine of someone holding a hefty bruin. Why? Simple: I selfishly wanted that hunter to be me.
Finally, after years of waiting, hoping and planning, my Canadian bear trip came together. I was headed north on a hunt with Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) and SCENTLOK (www.scentlok.com). Our team would be the guest of Troy and Lisa Foster of North Alberta Outfitters (www.northalberta.com), a top-notch pair of people who I’d recommend to anyone. Troy knows bears. Period. He has a wealth of knowledge and is a great individual. In fact, I have already booked my 2016 spring bear hunt with the Fosters.
Of course, we will be running a full print feature on my bear hunt – a bear hunt I will never forget – in the future pages of Bowhunting World. For this piece, my focus is on gear. Specifically, the gear I chose for this trip.
Because this was a bucket-list hunt, I wanted everything to be perfect. I spent months tinkering with and testing my gear. I wasn’t about to leave anything to chance.
The first item I purchased and was very impressed with was my new SKB (www.skbcases.com) iSeries 4719 Double Bow Case. Yes, I was taking two bows. I figured that since I was traveling so far from home and would be so deep in the bush, having a pair of ready-to-kill bear rigs at my disposal was a good plan. Plus, I had two bear tags in my pocket and wanted to harvest each of them with a different bow.
The case and its rigid-foam bunk bed system provided the ultimate fortification for my pair of longer axle-to-axle bows. And because the case weighs less than 20 pounds, I didn’t have to pay an overweight bag charge even with two bows, clothing and plenty of accessories crammed into it.
During my stint in camp, the case was rained on multiple times and fell off the back of a four-wheeler with a bow inside. The good news: no damage to my bow and no wet, rust-inducing foam.
Next item was my camo. Mossy Oak’s new Break-Up Country pattern kept me perfectly concealed at ground level. We weren’t hunting from treestands on this hunt. Nope, we just snuggled in the brush or built a ground fortress from small trees and brush. The pattern’s life-sized elements and true-to-nature look kept me very well concealed – even at 3 yards with a young boar trying to decipher what I was. The boar got so curious he stood up on his hind legs and pushed my makeshift ground blind in to get a better look at me. Another hunter in camp, Mossy Oak’s Pat Epling, had a boar and sow so close he could feel one of them breathing on his neck. Impressive.
The third item in this Part I of my Canada gear list was my New Breed (www.newbreedarchery.com) Blade. A 34-inch axle-to-axle bow, the Blade shoots like a dream and is silky smooth. Set at 68 pounds (factory setting was dead nuts 70 pounds), the Blade draws like butter. I even let a few of the guides in camp fire a few arrows, and they were impressed with the draw cycle. Transition to letoff isn’t at all abrupt, and due to the rig’s longer axle-to-axle rating, it holds on the target like a dream. At the shot, the bow is quiet and absolutely dead in the hand. No vibration. No shock.
I had been shooting the Blade every day for weeks coming into this hunt, and my confidence level was soaring. Though long, I found it easily maneuverable, and its 4-pound weight rating made toting the bow into and out of the woods a dream.
Stay tuned for Part II of my Canadian bear hunt gear list.