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Volume 5 Issue 2 Summer 2013

A Yukon Hunt to Remember
John Gibbs - HH Pro Staff

With over 200 big game animals harvested, I still didn’t have a moose.  I wanted a big moose which meant I needed an Alaskan/Yukon moose.  In 2010 a friend and I decided to try and find a great moose hunt.  I spent the better part of a year researching outfitters in Alaska and the Yukon before I decided to book our hunts with Lone Wolf Outfitters out of Whitehorse, Yukon.   We spent the better part of the next year planning for our September 2012 hunt.

We flew to Whitehorse, Yukon on September 18th and then took a float plane the next day 100 miles east to our camp on Fish Lake, our home for the next eight days.  We would be hunting moose, grizzly and wolves on the lake and river system that the lake drained into. 

The first couple days of our hunt the weather was warm and beautiful, too warm for moose hunting.  I did manage to see one small bull and a few cows and calves.  My hunting partner, Eric, shot a nice bull late on the second day of the hunt.

The third day we decided to hunt the lake shoreline rather than the river.  We did see several small bulls, cows and calves and finally right at dark a bull that looked like a shooter.  He was 600 yards away as my guides frantically rowed trying to close the distance.  Unfortunately he didn’t hang around for us to get a good look at him. 

We decided to try the same spot the next afternoon to see if we could locate the moose.  He didn’t show up but a different bull did.  He was a shooter, but it was only the 4th day of my hunt and I decided to hold out for a bigger moose.  As I watched him, 3 cows and calf, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was making the right decision.

The next day we went back to floating the river and had no luck.  On day 6, we decided to head back to the end of the lake where we had seen the two shooters.  I wouldn’t be so picky this time.  Several hours before dark we were tied up on the right shoreline about 180 yards from the end of the lake.  Soon we heard a bull in the brush right next to us start grunting and raking the brush with his antlers.  We quickly moved about 200 yards from the shoreline so the bull wouldn’t be right on top of us if he came out.  Soon we heard another bull on the left shoreline which was about 400 yards away.  The bulls were not happy to be around one another and we figured it was only a matter of time before they would approach one another and show themselves. 

About a half hour later all hell broke loose in the woods to our right.  At first we thought the bull was fighting with another bull, but then we saw the bull crashing through the timber and running straight at us.  He ran about 40 yards into the lake before he spun around and faced the shore.  You can imagine our shock when we looked toward shore and saw seven wolves chasing him.  He was safe standing in about 4 foot of water as the wolves stayed close to shore.

My guides were yelling “shoot the wolves, shoot the wolves”.  I asked if the bull was big enough to shoot but their only response was “shoot the wolves, shoot the wolves”.  Finally one of the guides said the bull was not quite big enough so I picked out the biggest black wolf that was standing in about a foot of water and shot.  He went down but jumped up and ran into the bush.  After about a minute the bull decided he had had enough.  He swam past us and went back to shore about 400 yards from where the wolves had been.

You can imagine our surprise when after all of the commotion and a gunshot we looked up to see the other bull coming down the shoreline to check things out.  It was the bull from the third day and he was definitely a shooter.  He hit an opening in the brush at 210 yards and I shot.  I double lunged him but he spun around and ran about 150 feet out into the lake where I gave him another round from my Weatherby 338-378.  He went down; I had my bull. 

He was floating and we dragged him as close to shore as possible and then went back to camp to get a come-along to try and get him closer to shore.  We got him about 30 feet from shore before we could no longer move him.  We gutted him out in the lake and left him laying feet up in the lake until the next day when we quartered him in the lake.  It was a great hunt and I will never forget the image of that bull being chased by seven wolves.

I got a great moose and a large black wolf.  As it turned out, the wolf was bigger than we thought.  After a 60 day drying period the skull was measured by a master SCI measurer and he was ranked #5 in the world.  I’ll never forget the events of that afternoon; especially that pack of wolves chasing the bull.


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 Newsletter Spotlight  

 

Waterfowl Habitat in Prairie Pothole Region and Canada to Produce an Abundant 2013 Flight

Rich Radil - HH Pro Staff

Last season was one of the best waterfowl seasons in recent years for many. Eight of my buddies and I kicked the 2012 season off with 9 limits in a matter of about 2 hours, and the rest of the season had us shooting ducks and geese on nearly every outing. With some help from Mother Nature this past spring, the experts at both Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl are predicting another great waterfowl season for 2013. Late season snow fall in the prairie pothole region (PPR) of North Dakota and a later than usual spring in the majority of Canada have all added to one of the most positive habitat reports in recent years.

The late spring did prohibit many ducks from reaching the Canadian nesting grounds in a timely fashion, but once spring did arrive it came with higher than normal temperatures, which helped melt the snow pack quickly creating ideal nesting grounds. DU Canada confirms that in Saskatchewan most wetlands are full or beyond full thus creating some of the best habitat in decades. While spring did arrive late this year most of Canada has a good outlook for this breeding season, which should help our upcoming waterfowl season.

Much of what has been happening in Canada has also been taking place on the US side of the PPR – late season snow falls delaying spring. This is also going to be a very good thing for wetlands and waterfowl. Late season snow fall in North and South Dakota kept waterfowl from migrating back north to the breeding grounds in a timely fashion. However, once the snow pack began to melt it began to fill the PPR with ample water creating suitable breeding habitat. In 2012 much of the PPR was suffering from the drought, but duck numbers were still good. In 2013 the PPR has an abundance of water and the predictions are for an even better breeding season.

Overall, the past few years have produced wet, productive conditions for waterfowl in their breeding grounds setting the stage for yet another possible fruitful hunting season in 2013. Proof of recent breeding success may be soon to come from the Department of Interior. The United States Fish and Wildlife (USFW) has proposed raising the legal limit of teal during the early season to 6, up from 4; and increase the possession limit of all waterfowl from two daily limits to a 3-day limit. This decision would obviously make early season teal hunters, as well as all waterfowl hunters, very happy. DU Chief Scientist Dale Humburg states, "Harvest regulations are biologically based, and teal population trends have certainly been favorable in recent years." Organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl, along with their members, work extremely hard to give hunters the best opportunity to harvest waterfowl. Please do your part and join one or both of these organizations.

As I prepare for a North Dakota duck hunt in early October with my two oldest sons and 7 buddies, I can only dream of full straps for our group. Thanks to the efforts of conservation groups, and a bit of help from Mother Nature, it just may become a reality.

Take ‘em!

Rich

Information for this article was gathered from the following articles:

“More Teal in Early-Season Bag, Higher Possession Limit Encourage Hunters” by Andi Cooper http://www.ducks.org/news-media/more-teal-in-early-season-bag-higher-possession-limit-encourage-hunters?poe=whatsnew

 “2013 Spring Habitat Conditions in Canada - Above-average habitat conditions throughout most of Canada”                                                                                  http://www.ducks.org/conservation/habitat/2013-spring-habitat-conditions-in-canada 

“Late Spring Sets Plate for Duck Smorgasbord” – Delta News Archive http://www.deltawaterfowl.org/media/deltanews/130419-smorgasbord.php

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British Columbia and that Little Black Bear

Chris Sellers – HH Pro Staff

One word to describe hunting in British Columbia would be “Amazing”.  My friend Leo and I decided to make the journey up to Fort Fraser, BC with the idea of harvesting some bears. Well, we did that but got so much more. After several connecting flights we came into a small airport in Prince George, BC followed by a 2 hour drive west to Pitka Mountain Outfitters. Log cabins were nice with nothing more than beds and a wood stove, a wash house was a short walk away. Nothing more was needed as the long spring days were all spent hunting and enjoying the countryside. Meals left nothing to be desired with an early breakfast, a sack lunch and wonderful home cooked dinners.

Our hunt began with quite a bit of driving and scouting, trying to locate the bears after a very late spring proved somewhat challenging. Day two offered us a stalking opportunity on a large black bear only to have him disappear just as fast as he showed up. The next day brought about quite a few bear sightings and a lot of bear sign. We hiked to a beautiful mountain top overlooking a river bottom. Within the first 10 minutes we watched a bear swim across this river to reach the green pasture on the other side. Once across he turned and went right back, as if he was just wanting to go for a swim. We decided to hike out and move to lower ground.  As dusk approached we were able to stalk within 40 yards of what looked like a good bear. Bears are very hard to judge for size as they all look “big” when on their feet.  With the crosshairs settled on this bear the guide and I began to lite heartedly bicker back and forth on the size of this bear which took us past shooting light; we decided to return to the same location for day 4.

After returning on that fourth day we were not able to locate our black bear from the night before.  Little did we know he had guided us into an area that would define our hunting adventure.  As we continued down some older trails bear sign picked up. We followed several sets of tracks right into a field full of green grasses and clover. The tracks were large and promising, the field was full of bear scat and the decision was made to sit and wait. It didn’t take long and a large bear appeared in the field, merely 80 yards away. The bear was light brown with some silver hair along his back; care was taken to ensure this was not a grizzly. After watching him for some time the guide and I agreed this was a black bear and I hear him say “smack him”. Without delay I gave the trigger a gentle squeeze only to watch this bear take a step forward at the same time. I knew the bear was hit but leaving nothing to chance I quickly chambered another round and followed up with a 2nd shot which dropped the bear in his tracks. He was a beautiful brown and silver color phase black bear and will measure over 6 feet nose to tail.

Day 5 brought on morning snow up high, with rain and wind much of the day.  This would be the only day that no bears were spotted. With another guide in camp and 3 tags to fill the decision was made for Leo and I to split up on days 6 and 7.  Leo and his guide would head back to the clover field that evening with knowledge of a couple more bears in the area. My day was filled with hiking incredible country and spotting anything from silver fox to big moose.  As darkness fell I headed back to camp, shortly followed by my hunting partner who was nothing but smiles. Leo and his guide walked past the clover field where my bear was harvested and set up on another field full of sign just to the south. Guess who showed up, it was the black bear from day 3 that had led us to this area. My guide was correct as this was a younger black bear; while legal the choice was made to pass on this bear yet again. With a younger bear calmly feeding Leo and his guide decided to check the clover field to the north. And there stood his trophy, a couple hundred yards away.  Another really large brown colored bear.  Leo and his guide watched this bear as it lumbered across this field and approached 30 yards.  Based on color and size extra care was taken to ensure this was not a grizzly, but at 30 yards it was apparent they were looking face to face with a very large black bear. The guide spoke the words “shoot him” and the shot rang out. A well placed shot behind the shoulder followed by a 2nd shot brought his giant bear down. Another beautiful brown color phase bear, this one chocolate in color and measuring 7 foot nose to tail.

We were all amazed that not 1 but 2 large brown color phase bears had been harvested in this clover field. The guide mentioned that Leo’s bear is among the largest he has ever guided for.  Top it off with a light colored chevron on its chest and what an amazing trophy it really was.  He stated mine was the first black bear he has ever seen with silver hair mixed in with the brown. With so much vast wilderness to hunt that little black bear had led us to an area that would provide memories that would last a lifetime.

 Day 7 was filled with hiking to some of our favorite areas. Reaching the end of the day I was able to fill my 2nd tag by harvesting a nice black bear at 60 yards, this one jet black in color.  On this trip we watched an abundance of Mule Deer, Whitetails and bears throughout our days.  We had seen a momma bear and cubs that put on a show as she stood and kept a close eye on us and sent her cubs up a tree. We watched a momma moose and her day old calf as he stumbled around trying to stay on his feet. We had seen a wolf, bald eagles, foxes, and an array of small game. This British Columbia territory is nothing short of amazing. It holds an abundance of wild game and offers incredible hunting and fishing. Special thanks to Pitka Mountain Outfitters and our guides Colonel and Doug. We had the experience of a lifetime… 


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