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Exploring options for bear hunting in Canada

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POSTED March 10, 2011 1:10 a.m.
Over the years, I have always been interested in going to Canada on a black bear hunt, so in February when the outdoor show came to Great Falls, Mont., I decided it was time to find out if I was going to stay on the bank and cut bait or grab a rod and join the big dogs.

There were several outfitters at the show from Canada, and after looking them over I decided sit down with Jeff Downing and his dad, Chris, from True North Outfitters located in Alberta, Canada.

Jeff said they are located about 85 miles north of High Level, Canada and 28 miles south of the Northwest Territories. The temperature averages 65-75 during the day and occasionally reaching the high 80’s and can dip below freezing at night.

Jeff said he and his dad have been outfitting for about 18 years and belong to the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society. In fact, Chris Downing is a member of the Board of Directors,

Jett said True North Outfitters is a small volume operation and they remain hands on with all of their hunts and strive to offer a quality hunt with lots of personal service.

Jeff and his dad strive to offer all of their hunters with a chance to harvest a trophy animal and a camp experience second to none.

Jeff said their spring bear hunts provide great opportunities for hunting with rifle, bow and muzzle loaders over bait with shots averaging between 15 to 20 yard shots. Their trophy Canadian moose hunts are during the rut making calling an effective method for close range shots.

Also, they offer wild free ranging wood bison hunting and it is guaranteed to be their most extreme hunts, but it is a hunt like no other.

Jeff said the remoteness and lack of hunting pressures are the key ingredients for monster bears. Also much of the areas they hunt are accessible only by boat. They use trucks, boats and quads to access the individual bait sites. Jeff said they generally book 4 hunters per week, but they can accommodate up to six.

Jeff said keeping the group numbers low allows them to run a smaller, more personal camp with most of the amenities that you will need with comfortable wall tents with heaters for both sleeping and eating.

Jeff said the area they hunt in is a two-bear area and the hunting is done from comfortable tree stands and all of the sites are built for consistency and comfort. The consistency of the heights of the bait cribs helps the hunter to effectively judge the bear size.

The shot distance is from 15 to 20 yards and provides a near perfect condition for both bow and rifle hunters.

Jeff also suggested that while in the stand, you have a camera as wells as your rifle or bow ready as they are in a animal rich area and the chance for exciting footage and entertainment is most likely just behind the trees.

Also, they are in a wolf area and the possibility of harvesting a wolf is very good. The bear tag with wolf included is $200.

The cost of a 2011 six-day hunt is $3,200 plus tags. The spring bear hunts for 2011 are May 13-18, May 19-24, May 25-30, and May 31 - June 11.

If you want to harvest a second bear, there is a $500 trophy fee. If you want to bring a non-hunter along, the cost is $1,500.

If you are interested in one of the moose hunts, they take place from late September to early October in Northern Alberta near the town of High Level. Jeff said the area they hunt is very remote with no resident pressure.

The eight-day hunt is done from a spike camp set up for a maximum two hunters at a time. Also, a wolf tag is included with the fee and a bear tag can be purchased at a nominal fee. Also there is a $500 trophy fee if you elect to harvest a bear or wolf.

The fee for the eight-day hunt is $5,200 for two hunters and $6,400 for a single hunter.

If you are interested in a Wood Land Bison Hunt, they take place in the winter and done under extreme conditions with temperatures ranging from minus 30 to 40 degrees.

The hunts are conducted near the Wood Buffalo National Park using snowmobiles with much of the range inaccessible except during the winter months on frozen ground.

The hunt dates are mid February to late March and run $7,000 for two hunters. There is no license required to hunt Bison but there are bears and wolfs in the area.

If you are interested in hunting in Alberta, you can check out True North Outfitters on the web at www.truenorthoutfitters.net, or give them a call at 403-815-6634.

I just had surgery for a hernia and cannot pickup my bow for a month, but I am seriously looking at 2012.

If you have any questions about True North Outfitters, send me an e-mail and I will try and answer them.

You can contact me at wdgonefishing2@aol.com.
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