It's been more than three decades since I hunted coastal brown bears and more than four decades since I hunted interior grizzlies, but I must say that hunting them provided a measure of drama and excitement not found in hunting most game. Both interior grizzly and coastal brown bear are the same species — Ursus Arctos. The coastal bears generally grow to larger size due to a more favorable food source, which includes five species of Pacific salmon, and lots of sedges and bear grass in the milder coastal regions.
Politicians love to portray themselves as good ol' country boys and girls who are just like you — they grew up in a small town or on a farm, and are lifelong hunters and shooters. They'd have you believe that they continue to have an undying respect for the Second Amendment and firearms.
The common black bear, Ursus Americanus, is indeed usually black, but particularly in the West, a black bear is as likely to be a number of other colors. I have seen cinnamon-colored bears with brown or black legs, chocolate brown-colored bears, blond bears with dark brown or black legs that looked like huge tarantulas from a distance, and also jet-black bears that one would expect. These were bears from Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
An acquaintance of mine from Wyoming is such a nut for spring turkey hunting that he usually hunts them in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming during one long trip. My own turkey hunting has been far less intense. One time in the Black Hills of Wyoming I rested my .22/250 over a fence post and clobbered a hen in the head from 75 yards, handed the rifle to my partner, Al, who killed another hen with his first shot as the flock was moving off. He handed the rifle to a third partner who fired three shots at the departing turkeys without touching a feather.
"Hey, John," I call from my folding chair in the back of his pickup, "If I don't get 40 gophers today, I want my $200 'guiding fee' returned. And I am only at seventeen." That causes a chuckle from Dr. Dean Center, who is standing and shooting from a rest he built that sits on the cab of John's pickup. John is at the wheel, driving us slowly around some pastures in the Gallatin Valley of southwestern Montana.
Of the couple hundred big game hunts I have embarked upon on this fortunate continent, only about 15 were guided, and most of those were hunts where a guide was required by law (i.e., grizzly bears in British Columbia, Dall and Stone sheep in B.C., the Yukon and Northwest Territories.) I have nothing against guided hunting trips. However, the current cost of most North American hunting trips has become almost unaffordable. Some hunts almost cause me to swallow my cigar in disbelief!
The state of Utah has been the leader for years in the effort to transfer federal lands to the states. Well, last month the state got a thumb in the eye on two fronts. First, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in the face of a firestorm of opposition from hunters, anglers and other conservationists withdrew his bill that would have transferred some 3.3 million acres of BLM land in the West to respective states.
When I went back to college in the early 1970s after a three-year stint in the Marine Corps, I took an English course from a professor named Mary Caldwell, who probably was close to 70 at the time, and I liked it so much that I ended up taking every English course that she taught at UND. One of my favorites was, "Literature of the Northern Plains" and I still have the three books that made up the course. I reread them every decade or so and never tire of them.
If you have never tried it, calling red foxes in winter is a challenging activity, and the squalling cries of a mouth call alone are enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, but to a fox they sound like the dinner bell. Each time a fox kills its prey, the victim emits cries of fright and pain. Naturally, the predator/furbearer associates this with eating, so when it hears a predator call there appears to be a chance to muscle in on an easy meal.
Cottontail rabbits breed from early March through September, so February was the final month of the hunting season for me as a rabbit hunter. Now, I’ve been a rabbit hunter since about the time I learned to read, and I favored a .22 rimfire rifle over anything else. I hunted cottontails in many dozens of places in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, and even though I have hunted a great deal of exotic big game, I never quit being a rabbit hunter at heart.