Journey 34
September 5-13, 2009- Canadian Bear Hunt

A 14 year old boy went on a bear hunt in Alberta, Canada.

Here is his Dad's account...

Well, we are back in Colorado and had a wonderful time in Canada!

We did not see any legal bears during the season so our young man did not get his bear. The guide did offer to have him come back in the spring for another hunt and we want to take him up on that offer.

The entire trip was amazing and truly was the wilderness experience he was thinking of. Many thanks to Josephs Journey for providing the hunt and paying the expenses. Also, many thanks to Wild Bill and his wife Tammy for being such awesome hosts and guides for both of us. We had a great time!

We arrived in Grand Prairie on Saturday afternoon and were met by our trusty and pleasant guides... Wild Bill and (not too wild) Tammy of Wild Bill's Outdoor Adventures in Grand Prairie, Alberta. We could tell right away that they were great people and they proved it many times over the course of the week!

We had to drive quite a while to get to the camp.. it was about 30 kilometers on a paved road.. then 100 kilometers on a gravel logging road! Pretty far from civilization and very beautiful. You can see a whole lotta stars when you are 100 miles from the nearest porch light!

We did see one black bear on the way to the camp. It was a little over 2 years old and was digging around some logs in a field. It would have been a legal bear but it was a little small. The bears are born in the spring so it was about 2 1/2 years old.

We got to the camp Saturday evening. The camp was pretty much set up the day before.. my son started right away with walking into the woods to explore the area. We had to reign him in a bit and remind him it was the wilderness and there were indeed bears in the woods.

On Sunday we drove about 3 hours, one way, to go white water rafting. The water was pretty cold. (The source is some glaciers and the river flows into the Artic Ocean). The water level was low but decent for this time of the year. We had 3 boats in our flotilla. There were a couple of areas where people fell out of the boats and I think that looked exciting to my son. We hit one of the rapids sideways and the raft dropped down into an eddie (the water flowing backwards) and my son flipped out of the boat!

I will never forget the look on his face (which was surrounded by churning white water)! I reached out my paddle to him and he swam to it, and grabbed the side of the raft. I reached down and grabbed his life jacket and pulled him into the boat.. It did shake him up a bit and he just about sat on my lap the rest of the ride which I thought that was cute!

We had a great time every night starting our own fires with fire striker survival equiptment instead of matches.

Camp was pretty cozy and we slept on cots in a large canvas tent. The guide's wife made sure we were very well fed with her great camp food and home made bread and desserts!

One afternoon, I went into the woods across the road from camp to check things out and found some old outhouses.. while I was there, I 'felt' something was watching me.. it was actually pretty scary so I left.. That night, the camp dog ('Digger' a very large Husky and something mix) started growling.. and our guide came out of his camper with a floodlight. I peaked my head out of the tent in time to see a wolf! Standing on the path I was using to go to the latrines! WOW! It was 100 feet away and went back into the woods while the guide and I were standing there. I tried to wake my son up. He acknowledged that there was a wolf but went back to sleep! There was no way I could sleep as it was pretty cool to know there was a wolf in my latreen area!

Then the howling started!!!!!!!!!!!! It lasted about and hour and was the coolest thing we had ever heard.. I mean it was really echoing and erie and cool! There were some wolves about 100 - 200 yeards from our TENT (key word TENT).. howling.. probably trying to entice Digger the husky mix to join there pack for dinner.

I was able to get my cell phone out.. start it and record some of the howls.. it is not a good recording by any means but it is still cool to have.

My son went right back to sleep but I could not.. all I could think of was that 1) we were in a tent! 2) I was hoping the wolves did not know how to untie bows to get into the tent! and 3) that I really had to go to the bathroom!

I layed on the cot thinking of Jack London's (bathroom) Call of the Wild and wondered if it had any passages about needing to go to the bathroom when wolves were close by?

I woke my son up and asked if it was ok if I went to the bathroom in the tent and he told me NO! (I had actually gone while the guide was holding the light after the wolf went into the woods and thought of myself as being pretty brave for doing so).

We were all pretty excited in the morning at breakfast. Our guide said he had never experienced anything like it so that made us feel it was a really cool thing to have been part of. We made plans to go out with floodlights and guns the next night if they started howling again but they did not.

We spent a few days driving around looking for bears and bear sign along the old logging roads. There are numerous roads and trails made by loggers and the oil and gas companies and that is the best place to see the black bears. We found plenty of huge raspberry bushes and stopped to eat a bunch of them. We also saw plenty of bear 'scat' (poop) and I got pictures of them to show the differences in their diet. Some were red with lots of berry seeds.. and some were filled with blueberries!

There was one pile filled with blueberries that was larger than the others and we suspected it was a grizzly bear..

sure enough, the next day we saw the grizzly not far from that pile! It ran when we approached and stopped about 30 yards away from us! It turned to look at us and was framed by the trees.. It made eye contact with us for a few seconds and then wandered off! I wanted to go over and pee on a tree to mark my spot in grizzly terratory! (not really, but it was funny to tell my son that and joke around about it) I truly think that was cooler than the wolf experiences!

We spent a day fishing on a lake but did not catch anything. It was pretty cold and windy so we were glad to get back to camp, some soup and a warm fire.

During the week we saw 7 different moose, plenty of mule deer, a couple of white tail deer, plenty of elk, a loon, lots of beaver dams but no beavers.

There were several cabins that are owned by beaver trappers and our guide was a pretty good in explaining how the trappers aquire a series of lines and make a living trapping.

We also saw some coyotes trying to surround an elk calf and that was pretty neat to see.

Saturday morning we took a long walk into the woods, following trails made by the elk and bears. Making our way back through thick forest we came across a bear den and I tried to get my son to crawl into it.. I offered him $25.00 if he would go into it.. he wanted to know how far he had to go.. so I told him to his waist!

He was thinking it over when I upped the ante and offered him my really nice leatherman tool if he would go all the way into it! He loves my leatherman so that was enough for him! He started to go towards it but the guide stopped him because of the danger and risk of infection.. apparently, they are really dirty holes in the ground.

(I had already told the guide that I planned to give the leatherman to my son at the end of the week so he thought it was pretty funny that my son was going to go into the bear den for it)!

We did see several black bear but none that were legal to shoot. There were 2 pretty big ones that were about 700 yards from us and too far away to shoot. As we were making our way down to them some cubs came out of the woods and that made the bears sows (female bears) and off limits to us.

The sows with cubs do not let the boars (males) around the cubs so we waited and watched for a good sized boar to appear but did not get a chance to see it at all. (we saw plenty of sign like scratched trees and piles of poop to know it was around). We went back to that area the next night again but still did not see the boar.

And that, our friends, was our trip! Again, thanks to Kim and Vickie Steuart of Joseph's Journey for making this wilderness experience available to my son! What a wonderful way to keep the memories of your son alive in the lives of others.. Your gift is truly appreciated more than we could ever express in words..

Thank you and many blessings to you!

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