Boone and Crocket Country – Black Bear Hunting in BC

(♪Boone and Crockett Country♪) Announcer: Boone and Crockett Country presented by (♪music♪) Narrator: The common American black bear is a species unique to North America Since prehistoric times, he has been found from present-day Alaska throughout the Canadian provinces, in 32 of the 48 lower states and the northern reaches of Mexico While the vast majority of black bears live in the north and west, healthy populations can be found on the East Coast, south through the Appalachian mountains and across the southeast, from Florida to southern Louisiana The black bear population is presently rising across almost all of his ranges Literally accounting for each and every black bear is an impossible task But scientific estimates currently put the number at one million animals, almost double the amount of black bears reported in a 1977 survey Seventy-percent of the world’s black bears reside within the provinces of Canada Of these, the most storied for its black bear, and therefore black bear hunting, is British Columbia (♪music♪) Narrator: Mark Werner and his wife Andrea are owner-operators of BC Guide Outfitters Mark is also the current president of GOABC – the Guide Outfitter Association of British Columbia In 2010, Mark donated a spring black bear hunt in his area for auction to GOABC to raise funds for their organization – a donation that had a well-traveled life cycle Mark Werner: I donated the bear hunt to the GOABC association And Buck Buckner and Keith Balfourd from the Boone and Crockett Club were there And they came and talked to me about the hunt And they said that they were looking to buy a hunt for Boone & Crockett Club to auction off at their awards presentation So we talked, and sure enough, they bought it And I understand that John was the buyer at their awards presentation John Wagner: One of my good friends killed the No. 3 musk ox in the Boone and Crockett record book And was gonna be honored at the banquet, I think it was the 27th banquet last year And he suggested that a couple couples of us go up there and take our wives and enjoy the convention and banquet For me, I’ll be 68 in August And I’ve been wanting to hunt bears all my life And this came up at the auction and I just stuck my hand up and pulled the trigger Just bought the hunt so I finally did it Narrator: Black bear are hunted in most regions in North America on a split-season basis, with the majority of hunters preferring spring hunts over fall In the spring, and in BC in particular, bears are predictably hunted just shortly after they have emerged from their winter hibernation – a reawakening that begins by the first of May The groggy bears’ first order of business is food Mark: On this hunt, what we’re really doing is we know that the bears are on the roads right now, gorging themselves to try to get some fat on and get the digestive tract going And so we’re hitting all the high points And glassing these spots, walking some of these green, grassy roads were necessary Going back up into some private land that has really good concentrations of alfalfa and clover and lots of these side skid trails on the logging blocks have real high concentrations of clover So we’re checking some of those out And lots of glassing along straight stretches, watching the bears And really trying to hunt the peak times of when these bears are moving This grass, like you can see the loggers, when they would have put this road back to bed, they would have seeded this heavy with a reclamation grass mix And it’s got lots of clover and alfalfa, which really sets good roots and holds the bank together So the bears, they love that In the spring when they first come out, they want to get their digestive tract going and so they’re attracted to it They smell it And you can see this one bear, I mean, he’s got scat there That’s an older one This is a fresher one So he’s livin’ right here Chances are that bear is only 150, 200 yards back in the bush And he’ll be here

this evening feeding So we’ll watch this spot But this historically, I’ve taken probably three or four big bears off this spot And it’s like I was saying early, a big bear spot is always a big bear spot It’s always good for some reason But it’s just – it’s got the feed John: That’s why Mark: So we will come back and check this out John: Okay Mark: This is what they’re after, right there John: Mmm-hmm Clover Mark: They’re watching us right now Mark: Yogi and his buddy (John laughs) John: Steely eyes on ya, huh? (John laughs) Mark: We’ll come back John: Okay Announcer: Boone and Crockett Country is in partnership with (♪music♪) Narrator: The province of British Columbia has a long and rich history of guiding and outfitting for big game Its diversity of habitat and vast tracks of unsoiled backcountry offer 16 of North America’s 32 big-game species. No other state or province offers this much diversity in hunting opportunity. The Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia is a membership organization of outfitters from across the province but also includes within its ranks members of the Yukon Outfitters Association, which adds Alaska Yukon moose and Barren Ground caribou under the guardianship of GOABC With such diversity, the roots and traditions of outfitting run deep in British Columbia, dating back to the early 1800s This is when news of the abundance of big game first began to filter out of the mountains, carried by fur trappers and gold prospectors boasting about the other treasures they had encountered Mark: The Guide Outfitters Association of BC, we have around 190 members And we provide a liason with government, as well as supporting our members with all of the programs, such as insurance, and other essential services Narrator: One of these essentials that has become of increasing importance of late is conflict with all stakeholders over the wildlife resources and the habitat that supports them Mark: One of the services that we do is through our Fish Wildlife Habitat committee If there’s an issue with an outfitter or just advice on how to work with different licensees and other stakeholders, we can provide a liason and advice to dealing with large companies A lot of our operators

don’t have the resources, the time or the expertise to deal with the large stakeholders, oil and gas, mining companies, etcetera But our office of our association, they do And we have experts And we use consultants as well So we assist our members when it comes to impacts from other stakeholders on the wildlife and on the habitat So what we’re gonna do, John, is the bears should be out feeding on the clover in the ditches right now And we’re just gonna catch ’em feeding And there’s some high places that we can park and glass John: Okay Mark: And some places that we can see them from a distance At least that’s the plan John: Okay I’m in for the plan Mark: See that log that’s all tore up? John: Oh yeah. Okay Mark: That’s them looking for – looking for grubs And there’s some on your side, too John: Yeah Mark: And you can see what happens John: Another one right up here Mark: See the bear, it walks along here and it goes from stump to stump John: See it’s right over here Mark: Yeah John: This one’s really good Mark: And over the winter, like that oxidizes, that turns gray I mean, you can always tell See he hit all of those Tears it apart looking for ants, looking for grubs And he’ll just walk along here and he’ll just keep rippin’ ’em apart as he goes And they’ll do that even before it greens That’s the first thing they’ll go after is that In BC, we separate ourself from other jurisdictions and provinces. And we pride ourself pretty much on the spot and stalk aspect of it We have thick bush We have mountains We have habitat that allows us to see these bears while they’re coming out feeding early in the spring, allowing us to see anywhere from a couple to five to 10 bears a day And that’s kind of a unique experience for the guys And so BC’s really separated themself in marketing that spot-and-stalk opportunity Mark: I could hear your heart pounding John: It beats fast Mark: There’s nothing like stalking bears like that I love it You’re asking why we chose not to have baiting John: Yeah Mark: Because you just can’t duplicate that John: That’s a great experience Mark: Yeah John: That was a nice bear, wasn’t it? Mark: Yeah, real nice Mark: Yeah The hide was just – the hair was like that long John: I could see that Mark: Yeah He’s gorgeous John: Beautiful Mark: Just eatin’ along, eatin’ the grass and the clover He had no idea we were there for awhile And then he pinned us down on the corner He wasn’t sure what we were, these big blobs in the middle of the road He couldn’t smell us John: They don’t see well, do they? Mark: No, not at that range He could see that there was a shape But he couldn’t see what the shape was They rely on their smell They have the nose 50 times of a bloodhound John: My goodness (John laughs) John: Wow Narrator: Fresh out of their winter’s sleep, black bear are much more predictable, and therefore patternable, than other times of the year They are also dependent on favorable weather to provide immediate green-up for fast food without extended travel If spring is late in coming, mature bears can and do return to their dens. What will be left out and about are younger, less experienced bears until weather and nutritional conditions improve John: Something I didn’t know, they shed their pads on their feet And so they’re tender feet when they come out Their pads are not toughened up yet, just like a human would be walking on rocks The bears don’t move very far and they feed on this clover along the edge of the road Mark: John, this is bear This is fresh ’cause it’s still green John: Okay Mark: This oxidizes right away and it turns black like within an hour So this bear was just here He’s probably feeding on one of these green little skid trails He’s feeding in the clover This is – this is recent (♪music♪) Mark: What we’ll do is we’ll just hike up here a little bit further and then we can glass across that clearcut John: Be a good vantage point Mark: Yeah Let’s go for a little walk Mark: Okay Announcer: Boone and Crockett Country is in partnership with ah

Okay we’re gonna go up and stop again (♪music♪) Mark: I think he’s a bit young John: Think so? Mark: Yeah See he’s a bit – he’s not blocky enough, right? His belly isn’t – it’s not hanging down a whole lot and it’s got more of a foxy head And also, the space between the ears – the ears are bigger John: Not wide enough Mark: The ears look big on the head And they’re quite – and they’re spaced closer together But he does look like a small boar I don’t think it’s a sow I think it’s a small boar John: Sure is a pretty color, though Mark: He’s about a three-year-old boar He is a gorgeous bear I tell ya John: Yeah he really is Mark: If he was six feet, we’d be takin’ him John: He’s on to us now Mark: He’s had enough (call) (♪music♪) Mark: He’s done Mark: That was fun John: That was fun John: Boy when he stopped there on that last and turned Mark: Yeah, he’s a boar He’s just a younger boar John: He looked good Mark: He’ll be good in about two years (♪music♪) John: He was a pretty color Narrator: Increasingly, questions are being raised about wildlife, who should have access to them, if this access should be use or non-use And if use, who gets what? Even in a relatively sparsely populated province like British Columbia, with its vast open and rarely-accessed expanses teeming with wildlife, these questions are becoming more prevalent More people than ever are weighing in, including activists seeking their no-hunting agenda and resident hunters wanting more tags, all while the thirst for timber and energy is driving the hands of man deeper into the backcountry Combined, there is a lot of conversation taking place in British Columbia right now and GOABC is addressing these issues and the divide they are creating Mark: Wildlife resource, it’s a public interest You know, it really doesn’t belong to the outfitters and it really doesn’t belong to the resident hunters It does belong to all of us tax payers Really what we should be doing is as the users and the stakeholders is coming together to grow more wildlife through proper habitat management, through predator control and lobbying government to what we need and having a strong objective and a strong mandate for growing wildlife And generally if we can find that common ground rather than fighting over the pieces of the pie, we would probably have more than enough allocation for all the groups So we’re taking those steps We’re going to begin to make wildlife stewardship one of our main focuses And we’ve partnered with many good organizations, including the Boone and Crockett Club And they’re now a key partner of the GOABC and this movement toward wildlife stewardship The relationship of Boone and Crockett really started with, a couple years ago, the attraction between the organizations is really the tenants of fair chase and the recognizing of that way of hunting that, not is becoming lost but has the potential

to become lost if we don’t protect it John: Mark said there was a good bear And we stopped the truck Mark: I think what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna sneak out and we’re gonna go down this ditch on the left John: Down there where this white mound is up there? Mark: Yeah We’re just gonna – we’re gonna try to close the distance Wanna get up by them trees and we’re gonna have to go slow ’cause then we’ll be within range (♪music♪) John: We both kinda realized that the wind was wrong for us, that we were gonna be stalking downwind instead of upwind And we thought we’d go try and get close to it anyway, see if we could get a look at it (♪music♪) Mark: Look from here Just check him once more Hang on (♪music♪) Mark: Yeah, he’s nice He’s a good bear John: Okay Mark: Go ahead, John (♪music♪) (gunshot) (♪music♪) Mark: I heard a good hit I heard a solid hit Yeah I think you hit him all right John: Do we need to give him a minute? Mark: Just give him a few minutes, yeah How’d that feel? John: It felt good Mark: Good, good It looked good And it sounded all right Mark: We’ll just give it a minute I think you got him, buddy John: Right on the white Mark: Right on the white Way to go John: Thank you Mark: I think we’re okay (crickets) Mark: When I came down last night, I could hear movement back in the bush there And when I went in up to the bush line, then I heard like that, like a growling sound And it wasn’t really like the death rattle But from the position that he is, he was just waiting in there to see whatever was following him And that’s how you get yourself in trouble I’ve almost had a bear charge me once before when I went to recover it, so that’s why we backed out last night and went back to camp for supper and came back today under better conditions So we’ll go down and we’ll go down – let’s go down and see your bear John: That night, replaying that shot over and over in my head, make sure that I thought I’d made a good shot But I was replaying that That was kind of nerve-wracking The wait wasn’t a real pleasant thing Mark: He’s a beauty John: Oh yeah Mark: Nice boar John: I’ve been wanting to do this for 50 years And I finally got here It’s great Mark: When the boars start to get a little older, they get that dimple in the head When we’re glassing bears and judging them from a distance and I see that, that tells me more of the class of bear that we’re looking at You know, by the look of his teeth, he’s in prime shape He’s still a very productive, nice, big breeding boar But he’s got that dimple, which his skull – we’re gonna measure it – but it could be close to 18 But his paw, that is what I like He’s a big – that’s a big paw (John laughs) John: Those claws. Mark: And his pelt is just absolutely spring pelt It’s prime (♪music♪) Mark: He’s probably only been out of the den for only a week, 10 days And he has a white spot on his chest, which we can’t see right now but it’s a little John: Oh yeah Mark: Traditional white spot fur area And it looks like you hit him right there, which was fatal Very nice bear, actually John: Yeah I’ve been mostly a stand hunter or a bait hunter And gettin’ out and doin’ a spot and stalk is really the difference in hunting and shooting, I think I’ve been a shooter in the past And this is a hunting trip I was just very, very pleased It was such a beautiful bear I was very proud and very pleased And the whole experience came together It was just – it was really neat Announcer: Boone and Crockett Company has been brought to you by (♪music♪)

Narrator: The hunting traditions in British Columbia are as strong as anywhere in North America, maybe even more so due to the diversity of big game and the amount of wildernesses still within its borders It just may be this same vastness that lures us into the comfort of thinking that there are at least some places left untouched by the demands of man or under the influence of uninformed citizens Vast wilderness and abundant wildlife aside, many people today remain uneducated over who the real vanguards for wildlife are and how these resources must be managed if they are to stay with us into the future For those who have tasted a small slice of British Columbia and must go back, and those who fight to keep the big game outfitting traditions alive, this comfort level is becoming less comfortable John: Haven’t see a lot of bears in the wild I saw more this week than all the rest of my life put together, including zoos, probably I’m already plottin’ how to get back here next year The Werners are just great folks I have such admiration for Mark’s hunting skills It’s just a great lot of fun So yes, I’ll probably try to get back and bring a friend or two with me and possibly one of my sons Mark: It certainly is something you can’t do many places And it’s not a growing industry in terms of guide territory In B.C., it’s actually shrinking a little bit just because of some takeovers of areas being turned back into non-hunting areas by environmentalists trying to buy them And although, you know, we want the members to do what’s good for them, I actually find it a shame that these territories that were traditional territories, outfits for generations, are being turned in to non-hunting territories And these groups have the money to buy them and shut down the hunting I think government needs to preserve this industry and to make sure that these territories are not all bought up and shut down Narrator: The right to hunt and hunting’s value was established centuries ago For some, these messages have somehow gotten lost along the way The good news is hunters, anglers and the outfitter associations that service them are more organized now than ever to re-assert what has proven to be the best for all – man, wildlife and the habitats we both live in Announcer: Closed captioning provided by (♪music♪)