This was my second time heading to Alberta to chase spring bears. Last time I had a great hunt and killed a couple of bears, but I didn’t have much of an eye for what makes a good bear. This time I vowed to hold out for a good bear, particularly one I thought would make the Pope and Young minimum of 18 inches. But that’s a lot harder than you might think, particularly if you’re from Kansas and only see a bear or two each decade while fishing or elk hunting.

So my plan was to watch, photo, and video the first day or two unless something came by that was clearly a monster. It’s easier for me to judge against other bears so I figured if I had some photos and videos my estimations would get better. I got dropped off on the first day. I climbed up into the stand and started to get settled. I got my video camera out, set up the tripod, knocked an arrow, and… there was already a bear coming!

The general guideline is that a good bear will be a few inches below the top of the barrel, and a great bear will be at or above the rim. It seemed to me this was a solid but not great bear, but as I said above, I really have no idea… Still, he looks alright here doesn’t he:

I was grateful that he didn’t climb my ladder. He was there for a quite a while, and I debated breaking my own plan. I guessed he was 16.5-17 inch bear and there was no doubt he would easily beat my previous 2 bears. The longer he stayed, the longer I doubted myself. Still, I stuck to my plan…

Camp was myself, The Old Man, and 5 of our friends and hunting partners. The first day brought some of my partners success.

One of the Arkansas Boys killed his first bear, with a recurve no less!

And a longtime friend and duck hunting partner fired his first ever hunting arrow:

Good start huh?