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Well, spring had finally arrived, and for me that once again meant it was time for one of my favorite trips..Bow hunting big Alberta black bears. Last year, Gregg Day and I were invited by Pat McLean owner of Alberta Bear Busters to come up and experience some great bear hunting. We weren’t disappointed! Gregg took a great bear early in the trip, and I had many opportunities at bears, but much to Pat’s chagrin, I held out for a very special bear and went home without one. Pat once again invited us back in the spring of 2013 for another hunt. I jumped at the chance. This year Gregg couldn’t make the trip, so I invited good friend Dan Thurston to join me on his very first bear hunt. Over the years Dan has been a great host inviting me to hunt with him in Kansas, so it felt good to return the favor. Now as all of you may know, Dan and I have had some challenging times in the tree stand in Wyoming. I was determined that this year, things would be different! I knew no matter what happened during the hunt, we would have a great time regardless. I just wanted to end with something on film!

Pat and his crew do an amazing job in all aspects of their bear hunting operation. This is a true northern wilderness hunt with wall tents, hot showers, and cook tent. On May 17th Dan started his long journey from Kansas, as did I from Pittsburgh. We met up in Minneapolis, and flew together to Edmonton. That started our long drive to northern Alberta and Pat’s camp. We arrived late that night and settled in for our first day’s hunt. Alberta Bear Busters operation is about 150 miles south of the Northwest Territories, so daylight came about 4am. While of course Dan slept in late, I was up and preparing for our first hunt. Since Dan had never taken a bear, and I have been blessed to take many, I told Dan he was up first. After a great breakfast prepared by our new friend John Youlden, and camp cook from Australia!, we spent the morning filming and preparing for our hunt. I was excited to have Scott Kennedy, one of Pats’ best guides, to spend the week with. Like all days, we had a wonderful lunch, and then headed out to run the baits. Most bait’s were being hit, so Scott put us in a spot he felt was the best bet. We weren’t in the stand much more than a couple hours, when I heard a bear approaching behind us. This bear came right in, and started right up our tree! Dan held his composure, and when the bear gave him a good broadside shot, he was at full draw with his PSE Dream Season EVO and sent a Rage Extreme right through his lungs! The bear went 30 yards and piled up! Dan was pumped to harvest his first black bear. On every hunt, we had multiple GoPro cameras running, including one behind the bait for a second angle. The footage is amazing as the arrow passes through Dan’s bear like butter! We had even more excitement that night when we returned to camp and learned that 6 great bears were taking on the first night, several of which measured over 7 feet!!! What a way to kickoff the hunt.

Now I was in up behind my PSE Dream Season DNA! Well, of course with my luck, things slowed down a bit due to the full moon and some bad weather. This gave Dan plenty of time for napping every day! He eventually developed a new nickname..Bedsore! Our baits were being hit, but what our cameras were telling us was that the bears were feeding early and very late. On the third hunt, we had a decent boar come in and actually fall asleep multiple times in front of us. He surely was just out of hibernation. He just wasn’t what I was looking for, so I let him walk. I almost changed my mind when he decided my GoPro camera looked like a great snack! You have to check out the footage in the summer of 2014 on Bow Madness TV. The next day we actually woke up to cold temperatures and snow! Finally the weather warmed up and more bears were being harvested every day, including some real monsters! We came down to our last day and decided to change things up. Typically, we hunt evenings exclusively, but decided to get in a stand for the last morning hunt. A great bear was seen at a bait closer to camp, so much to Dan’s protest, we got up after a few hours sleep and climbed in for a morning hunt. At 8am, I about fell out of the stand when I looked up and spotted the big boar we came in to hunt walking right in to the stand. He had a beautiful big chevron on his chest and looked huge! The bear worked right in past the GoPro, and I laced him at 12 yards! The footage of the arrow blowing through him from the GoPro is phenomenal! This bear was a beautiful Alberta boar, and I was thrilled to take him. One great benefit of hunting Alberta is that you can take 2 bears on your license. That meant Dan was back up for the last evening hunt. We once again sat a bait that was being smashed. As the hunt played out literally into the last 10 minutes, we just couldn’t believe we had not seen a single bear. We knew the full moon was having a major impact on movement times, so we stayed diligent to the last minute (well, at least I did). As we were preparing to pack up, I heard a crack behind the stand. Seconds later, I saw black moving through the spruce. A huge bear was working in! This bear was extremely cautious, pausing for minutes at a time to check his surroundings, and I was worried we would run out of filming light before he made it. Finally, the bear worked in, and gave Dan a great broadside shot. With light fading, Dan put a perfect shot on the 6’8” giant. Once again, the GoPro camera showed the Nocturnal tipped arrow rip through him from behind. What awesome footage!!! After a lot of work by our guide Scott to get this bear out, we ended what was one of the most amazing weeks of bear hunting. We want to thank Pat McLean and his crew at Alberta Bear Busters for another amazing experience. The camp actually took 15 out of 16 bears, and I could have tagged out! I have bear hunted in many places, and Alberta Bear Busters is one of the best. We can’t wait to be back next year to do it all again