Author’s note: George Flournoy has made numerous hunting trips to Canada, Alaska and Africa and is a PSE pro. He also provides information for hunters about hunting in these countries and books trips for hunters.
For many hunters, a black bear hunt is the trip of a lifetime. On a black bear hunt, you have several different options and methods for hunting. You can go on a baited hunt, which means you’ll be hunting over bait. On the baited hunt, you may be asked to pay for the baiting, and/or for the pre-baiting of the bear, before you arrive. Farther east in Canada, in Saskatchewan and Alberta, these hunts are fairly reasonable and will cost from $2,500 to about $3,000, for a week-long hunt. On these hunts, you will be put on a stand and hunt over bait. You will be hunting out of an established camp, but on these hunts you may be like the 37th hunter to hunt out of that camp, that year. Your chances for killing a really big trophy bear won’t be as good as if you’re hunting somewhere else. Also, in British Columbia, you can go on dog bear hunts, which cost about $4,000 to $5,000. The majority of these bears will be black color phase and larger than the bears you find in Saskatchewan and Alberta. But in Saskatchewan and Alberta, your odds will be better for taking a brown color-phase black bear. These hunts over bait are usually scheduled for April, May, and June. The dog hunts are usually scheduled in late August and early September.
An Alaskan black bear hunt is usually an add-on to another hunt, like a moose hunt. On most all of your hunts in Alaska, you can add on a wolf tag for $25, and a black bear tag for $25. This way, if you see a black bear or a wolf on your hunt, you also can take those animals. There are some boat hunts for black bears available out of Prince William and Prince George islands that take place between May and June 1. Your camp is the boat. You get off on the island and hunt every day for five or six days along the beach for black bear. These boat hunts cost about $4,500 to $5,000. The success ratio on these hunts is usually pretty high.
If you’re hunting for a really big trophy black bear of a lifetime, I probably will go on a spring hunt in southeast Alaska or British Columbia. That hunt will cost about $6,500 for everything, which includes a six- to seven-day black bear hunt. Always read your contract with your outfitter carefully. Make sure you know what your financial responsibilities are, before you sign the contract with your outfitter. On the black bear hunts, you will have to have a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permit issued by the Canadian government. Once you get that CITES permit from the game department, you will have no problem bringing your black bear back into this country.
A question I’m often asked is, “How far in advance should I book a hunt?” I always recommend you look at a minimum of two years in advance. The only exception to this rule is if you can go at anytime that your outfitter might have a cancellation. You may not have any more than 24 hours’ notice to take advantage of that hunt. Remember, you must have a lot of flexibility to leave quickly, get on a plane and go on one of these hunts. Just about every outfitter will have from two to four cancellations every year, to hunt each one of the species we have discussed.
For instance, if you go to the Safari Club Convention in January 2013, if you want to hunt moose, you probably will book your hunt for the fall of 2014, with the exception of black bear or caribou. You often can book a hunt for these two species in January for the fall of the same year, but for sheep, brown bear, or moose, you’re more than likely going to have to book two years in advance. If you book two years out, most outfitters or booking agents will expect a 25-percent deposit, to confirm your booking. Then, they will expect a 50-percent deposit by the year of your hunt. If you have booked a two-year hunt, you have put up a 50-percent deposit, and you cancel that hunt two months before the hunt takes place, you’ll usually lose your deposit. Once again, read your contract where this information is spelled out. If you cancel six to eight months before your hunt, you may have the option to roll your hunt over to the next year or may have the option of trying to find a buddy who will take your hunt. This way you can get a partial refund of your money that you put up for deposit.
For more information, you can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 1-755-673-5513.
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Images courtesy John Phillips/George Flournoy