Hunting > Big Game

Back Country Bear Hunting

We packed into British Columbia’s wilderness seeking spring-green slopes and color-phase black bears and found a primal awakening.

You know you're going on a throwback hunt when you turn off the pavement at a store with a sign that boasts "Trading Post Founded in 1876." We were going to a backcountry bear camp in a hinterland so remote grizzlies, wolves and moose were never wiped out by market hunters and so was a destination early-20th century hunters dreamed of.

Our minivan, meanwhile, seemed to think a vehicle designed for urban soccer moms didn't belong on this oldfashioned adventure. It began to shudder as we went down wash-boarded dirt roads deeper into the British Columbia forest. Then it began to roil as rocks thumped its low chassis and ruts cut by logging truck treads attempted to bury its wheels. We joked this might be the wild's way of telling us it had some old-school surprises in store. Jason Nash didn't think it funny.

His face began to twitch. He's a marketer for Federal Cartridge who formulated the brilliant plan of hunting black bears with Federal's new bullet, the Trophy Bonded Tip. Engineers had taken the tried-and-true Trophy Bonded Bear Claw and added a ballistic tip, exterior skivings and a boattail design to enhance accuracy and performance; so, in comparison, the bullet is the same old muscle-bound 1964 Mustang, but now has a racing fin, more aerodynamic contours and fuel injection. But then we flew into Williams Lake, B.C., to find the rental car company was out offour-wheel-drive vehicles-so much for "reservations." The outfitter assured, "If you get stuck, I have chains." The outfitter, Mike Hawkridge, owner of Tatlow Mountain Outfitters, had that positive can-do spirit of a rural man used to making do; whereas, Jason had the sweating brow of an office worker who has to explain pesky things like bills for missing mufflers to suits who have bottom lines as masters.

Two jarring hours later we arrived with only character-building scratches to explain to the rental car people. We all thought, serves them right, and the next morning we woke to find ourselves in cabins by a lake rippling, not from rain, but from rising rainbow trout. We thought we'd found soft paradise in the wilderness, and then were sure we had when we gathered in a scenic main cabin for a hot breakfast. But then Mike assured us we were in true wilderness sure enough when he burst in bellowing......

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