The Best Black Bear Hunt Ever


By Bob Robb

I love black bear hunting so much that when I lived in Alaska I guided a bit for them and hunted them hard both spring and fall. I shot my first-ever bear in the early 1980s, back when you could chase them with hounds in Oregon. Before I left for that hunt, I thought it would be all peaches and cream. You know, dogs chase bear up tree, hunter strolls over and shoots bear, then heads back to camp for cocktails, not a hair out of place. Just like that.

What I found was one of the most physical hunts ever, as we had to chase the dogs up and down and all around some of the steepest, nastiest country in western Oregon. I loved it! That was some 25 years ago. And while I have followed hounds in pursuit of mountain lions and wild hogs a lot since then, I had not chased bears again.

So in late May 2011, my friends Derrick Nawrocki of Alabama and Jason Bear of California joined me on what would turn out to be an archery hunt with hounds that none of us will ever forget. We were hunting with Chris and Cody Korell of Emmett, Idaho-based Korell Outfitters. I’d bowhunted elk with Chris a few years back. And while I didn’t get an arrow off, I was so impressed with Chris and his outfit that I knew I wanted to hunt with him again.

“We do it a little differently than some outfitters,” Chris told me. “A lot of dog guides will turn their hounds loose on the first bear they come across. It might be big; it might be small. Whatever. Before we cut ’em loose, we get out and look for tracks. I will not set my dogs off on small tracks. We only want to shoot mature boars, and the only way to make sure we do that is to not chase small bears. Plus, you are only going to chase so many bears in a week before the dogs need some time off. It’s best to know what you are getting yourself into before you start running the mountains. And when we turn the dogs loose, 90 percent of the time we catch that bear.”

The first morning we split up into three trucks and the search began. There were two packs of dogs: the Korells’ and another belonging to Kidd Youren, a close friend and local houndsman who has been hunting with the Korells for years. Chris and Cody’s father, Larry Korell, was in one truck along with Cody and Jason. Derrick and I were riding with Chris. Kidd and a couple of his buddies went off on their own to see what they could turn up.

We weren’t in the game two hours when our radio crackled. It was Cody, who had found a good track and cut his dogs loose. They had treed a bear up a big pine, so we all vectored in on the tree. As we looked at the bear, I thought to myself how lucky Jason was to be first up. The bear was a stud, big and with a flawless cinnamon hide. Jason made a solid bow shot. Less than half a day into his first-ever day of hunting bears with hounds, he had had tagged a superb 250-pound boar.

Continue reading The Best Black Bear Hunt Ever

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McMillan Adds Caping Knife


Handcrafted knife is specifically designed for delicate work in small areas.

McMillan is best known for its lines of ultra-accurate high-end hunting and tactical rifles, but it also offers custom hunting knives. Recently, McMillan added to that line a small caping knife that’s specifically designed for the fine, detailed cutting necessary when removing a hide that’s going to be mounted.

McMillan Caping knife
When caping an animal, you don’t just remove the hide from the head, you also have to split the lips, nose, and eyelids, and also turn the ears inside out all the way to the tips. And you have to do all of that preferably without cutting a hole through the cape or yourself.

When caping an animal, you don’t just remove the hide from the head, you also have to split the lips, nose, and eyelids, and also turn the ears inside out all the way to the tips. And you have to do all of that preferably without cutting a hole through the cape or yourself. I ran a small taxidermy shop before getting into publishing, and have some experience when it comes to what works and what doesn’t for caping. What works is a sharp blade–one that’s fine, nimble and light, but not so light that it “flutters” around in your hand. For me, caping in the field always meant two knives–one a Victorinox 3 1/4-inch paring knife, and the other a small X-Acto knife with an extra pack of replacement blades. After removing the cape, I’d find a smooth stone about the size of a baseball and stretch the hide over that so I could carefully pare down areas using the Victorinox, and when I got to the delicate areas, I’d switch over to the X-Acto and its razors.

It would be nice to do both the major and fine work with a single knife, so I’m anxious to give the new McMillan a try this hunting season. I see several things going for it as a possible one knife replacement for my two. For one thing, I like its size.  Like the paring knife I’ve been using, the McMillan Caping Knife is big enough to manage making a “Y” or “7” incision at the back of the skull, but is also small enough that you can control it during that incision. Another thing I like are the small serrations along the top of the blade so you can more easily control it using your finger. That’s the type of control needed around the lips, nose and eyes. Finally, it’s made for McMillan by DiamondBlade and from what I’ve read on DiamondBlade, the darn things just stay sharp.

If it holds its edge, then this knife should be just the thing for guides who cape their client’s trophies. For everyone else, it’s a handy size for general utility and camp use.–Scott Mayer

Safari Club International Testifies Before House Committee


Al Maki testifying before House Committee.
Testifying before Congress are (l. to r.) Director Dan Ashe (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Dr. Al Maki (Safari Club International), Dr. Stuart Pimm (Duke University), Nick Wiley (Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation) Chairman of Conservation and SCI Vice President, Dr. Al Maki, testified before the Space, Science, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. The hearing covered “The Science of How Hunting Assists Species Conservation and Management,” and sought to highlight the role sportsmen and women play in wildlife conservation, both domestically and internationally. Dr. Maki highlighted how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) works against hunters and their conservation efforts, and spoke on the issue from the standpoint of a professional biologist, avid hunter, and conservationist.

“Government regulations, whether they are a part of the Endangered Species Act or supported by anti-hunting bureaucrats, should not impede conservation funding,” said Dr. Maki. “Hunters have provided too many resources in the form of excise taxes, license sales, and volunteering with organizations like SCI just to be casually overlooked by policy makers.”

Hunters and anglers have voluntarily contributed more than $10 billion dollars to conservation efforts through excise taxes alone since the 1937 inception of the Pittman-Robertson Act. They have been, and remain, the largest advocates of wildlife conservation, however, their efforts have been largely impeded due to the framework of the ESA. The Fish and Wildlife Service and environmental groups have used the ESA to prevent the use of hunting as a conservation measure. Dr. Maki presented several examples of the ESA’s inefficiency, including how the Act harms species enhancement within the United States and beyond.

“We greatly appreciate Congressman Broun and the entire subcommittee’s dedication to address government actions that continually undermine hunter engagement in the conservation of our nation’s wildlife,” concluded Maki.

SCI Donation Helps DNR Add K-9 Unit


SCI Donates money for Minnesota DNR K9 unit.
The Lake Superior Chapter of Safari Club International recently donated $9,500 to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allowing the department to add a third K-9 unit to its ranks.

The Lake Superior Chapter of Safari Club International recently donated $9,500 to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allowing the department to add a third K-9 unit to its ranks.

Dale Bruder, Lake Superior Chapter SCI president, said of the donation, “We believe organizations like ours have to work hand-in-hand with conservation officers because we’re against everything they are against — poachers and violators of any kind. Our board thought it was an excellent idea for the organizations to work together.”

K-9 “Axel” and his partner, Conservation Officer (CO) Pat McGowan of Hastings, have already completed nearly 12 weeks of human tracking, obedience and evidence search field training conducted by CO Travis Muyres, a certified K-9 trainer and experienced DNR K-9 team handler.

According to Lt. Todd Kanieski, K-9 unit coordinator, the dog comes in “green,” which allows DNR to train the K-9 how the department wants. Kanieski added that the internal “working drive” of both dog and handler are paramount to the success of the K-9 team. “Being a K-9 handler carries a lot of extra responsibility,” he said. “The handler must have a proven history of making solid decisions in the field. The dog must be social around people.”

Conservation officers typically work alone in a 650 square mile patrol area and the DNR working dog model is a lot like the civilian law enforcement patrol dog. It takes a dog of steady, stable character but capable of controlled aggression under certain circumstances, such as on command, when attacked, or when the handler is attacked. The added dimension of a DNR K-9, however, is the ability to sniff out game and fish violations, which is a force multiplier noted Kanieski.

“Searching for trace blood evidence or a shell casing in a large field or wooded area could take multiple officers several hours, but with the right K-9 team, that task can be done in minutes and the area would be more thoroughly searched,” Kanieski said,“We have had great success at finding fish/game evidence and shell casings in the field. That evidence helps us in protecting our natural resources. A K-9 makes sure of that.”

The K-9s are a small part of the DNR Enforcement Division and relies primarily on private donations from organizations such as SCI that have a heavy interest in conservation education and humanitarian projects. The ability to protect natural resources was a big reason why SCI made such a generous donation to the DNR K-9 program. “We see the benefits of establishing good rapport with game agencies, so this fell right in line with what our chapters need to do,” said Derron Wahlen, SCI field coordinator. Funds to assist with the acquisition of a K-9 are raised through SCI chapter fundraisers. “Without the support of the Lake Superior Chapter of the Safari Club…we would not be adding a third K-9 unit,” said Kanieski.

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