by NRA Staff - Monday, October 31, 2011
It’s likely that no North American game animal can command our attention like the grizzly bear—especially when you find yourself in close proximity to an animal that’s huge, unbelievably strong, fast and possibly dangerous. For NRA’s John Zent, the dream to hunt grizzlies burned for more than 40 years, and after several hunting trips to the wild north-country, he finally found what he was seeking.
My hunting partners from Federal Cartridge, Drew Goodlin (l.) and Rick Stoeckel are happy to stretch their legs upon arrival at base camp. It's Drew’s fourth hunt with the famous Collingwood Brothers outfit; for Rick, it’s his first. Not sure how much I’ll see of these guys from here out, since most likely we will soon head out to spike camp.
My equipment served me well: Sako M85 rifle in .338 Federal shooting Federal Premium loads with the stout 200-grain Trophy Bonded Tip bullet; lightweight but tough Weaver Grand Slam scope and binoculars. For more, go to federalpremium.com.
My third grizzly hunt involving 30 hunting days trying to put myself right here! Unforgettable!
Just as Jake figured we were able to ride up the mountain and then locate and stalk up on the bear by noon. And just as he said, this grizzly is huge.
It’s smart for a visitor to strike up a friendship with his trail horse, so I spend some face time with Roy. He’s not the biggest, speediest or strongest of the string, but soon I will appreciate his smooth, sure-footed gait that makes long hours in the saddle much more inviting for a novice rider. And when the going really gets tough, Roy’s heart proves to be as big as any of his mates.
Welcome to Hyland Post, one of the world’s legendary hunting camps. What started as a Hudson Bay Company fur-trading post ultimately became a focal point of North American big-game hunting in the years following WWII. Name hunters like Jack O’Connor and Fred Bear came here, and now it’s our turn.
The pilot’s weather reports were right. Great flying weather and from the plane we look down into the wild north, country that hosts the largest variety of big-game species in North America—moose, mountain caribou, Stone sheep, mountain goats, black bears and the animal atop my wish list—grizzly!
After a day-long journey north to Smithers, British Columbia, there’s still one more leg by bush plane to camp in the Spatsizi Wilderness. The skies are overcast, but good news: The pilot says the weather ahead is clear, that we’re flying. Might be a bumpy ride, but way better than sitting around waiting to get started.
Back at Hyland Post, Jake, wrangler Esther Kopp and I reprise the exciting stalk and memorable time we shared grizzly hunting. (And note that Esther, who is as good a wrangler, camp hand and mountaineer as you will ever meet, also shot the video of the kill you can see here.) Along with other top-notch Collingwood guides I’ve met, they make a great team. For further details on these hunts go to collingwoodbros.com.
The grizzly’s fall coat squares nearly eight feet and is in fabulous condition. It will make a trophy rug our family will always cherish, so we take extra care to salt the hide.
Though he’s not quite 30, Jake Giguere is a seasoned guide with a long list of superb client trophies to his credit. And just a few minutes into our first glassing session, he spots a big bear within a half day’s ride of camp—incredible luck!
The Spatsizi trails are not always easy, but the scenery is forever breathtaking, and Reg Collingwood’s trail horses can be counted to take you over, around or through any obstacles.
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