Canadian Black Bear Hunt by Ken Farmer


In May of 2004 I had a great black bear hunt in Alberta, Canada.  I was with two customers at a remote base camp about 100 miles from the community of Peace River.  We were all fortunate enough to take bears with our bows.

Our first hunt started about 4:00 PM and lasted until you got picked up by 4 wheeler…sometimes as late as midnight.  When we would return to camp we had a fabulous dinner that was a lot more than we should have eaten.  We would get up about 8:00 AM and start with breakfast, camp chores, and checking baits.  The standard bait was two 55 gallon drums full of cookies.  Off to the side would be a beaver tied up high so that you could judge the quality of the bear.  If the bear could stand on his hind legs and reach up and grab the beaver then he was a good quality bear.  Shot distance varied by stand but an average would be about 15 – 18 yards.  Most days we wanted a nap and we would get up about 2:30 PM to have lunch.  Each meal was a feast and I could not keep from overeating every time.

The first evening I had a few bears and one outstanding one that easily reached up and manhandled the beaver.  I had tried to train myself to be calm when this moment arrived and surprisingly I was ‘good to go’ without too much nervousness.  The bears know you are there but don’t pay you too much attention unless you are moving around a lot.  This stand was not ideal for drawing a bow but I finally got it done.  Each time I was about drawn the bear would ease off and watch me, without giving me a shot.  This went on for about 20 minutes and I was out of energy and pretty jazzed.  When I got at full draw he moved again between the barrels, but left me an opening that allowed a shot behind the shoulder and through both lungs.  I can honestly tell you that all my years of bow hunting and training were put to use to make that a good shot.  The bear ‘barked’ and took off.  He was so fat that he did not leave much of blood trail, but he only went about 75 – 80 yards.  It was a great moment for me when we found him.  That shot was about 15 yards.

My buddies got bears in the next few days as well.  We all had great stories about bears roaming around us and the times we got a little spooked.  Meanwhile we had elk and moose walk through our camp area and we could see the Northern Lights at night.  It was one of the few times in my life I could not see or hear an airplane, cell phone or TV.  What a gift that was!

Our last hunt was an evening hunt that started out quickly.  I had another big bear that was out in the brush and trying to decide if he wanted to come in.  When he came in I did not realize how good he was……… they are tricky to judge.  This stand was shielded by trees a little bit and the bear did not know I was present until the arrow blew through him and clanked off one of the barrels.  He left a good blood trail that stopped after a while…the amazing thing was that he crossed a large beaver dam that was 35+ feet tall.  I didn’t know they were that strong.  We followed along behind him as soon as the guide came and got me.  He was as large as the first bear but the skull is probably a little smaller.  The first bear made Pope and Young, but I am waiting for the second skull to arrive from Canada.  That shot was under 20 yards.

The experience was really incredible and some place I will probably never travel to again.  God’s blessing made it possible but I tried to do my part by being in shape and proficient with my bow.  I also had opportunity to witness to the camp cook, an ex-sniper in the Russian army…but that is another story.

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