Bearpaw's spring 1998 season was as good as it gets. Dry, warm spring weather enabled us to get our baits into some previously unhunted areas which paid big dividends.
Hunter success was 160%; 46 hunters harvested 77 bears. Two unsuccessful hunters; Tom Dremel and Tom Cirucci failed to connect on their 1998 hunt. Sightings were up slightly to 7.3 bears per week per man. Color remained constant at approximately 33%. The average bear taken was 6'2", 235 lbs. We exceeded our average on large bears; traditionally 1 per week over 7'; this year almost 2 (1.74). Wounded bear numbers were a little higher than I like to see, at 7, mostly due to not waiting for good shots with archery equipment.
We operated 57 baits in 1998 over a huge area approximately 5000 square miles, thus enabling us to take mature bears most of which were 5 years or older. Some ancient bears were harvested; 7 are estimated at over 15 years old. Light hunting pressure, large area and the finest guides in the business have allowed us to maintain these exceptional numbers. Our 5 year average is 154%.
Rick Beaman of Wills Point, Texas enjoyed a relaxing golf and hunting vacation in the Peace Country, taking a 6'10" bear as well as a few birdies home. Second time hunter, Bruce Robel took a 7'8", 400 lb + brown bear with rookie guide Kevin Congdon. George McManus joined the Ken Faith group on their annual bear hunt, taking a superb 7'5", 20 inch skull bear on Ben Kunstleben's swamp bait.
The third hunt saw Dave Newcomb take a once in a lifetime bear at 7'10", 450 lb +, 20 5/8" skull. Also on this hunt, Desmond Clapp took a 7', 375 lb, 19 4/8" skull and David Andrus took a 7'7", 450 lb monster all off of Guy Bruneau's remote Cadotte River baits.
Archery hunters, Jerry Laton harvested a 7'5", 400 lb, 20" skull and Larry Osman harvested a 7'2", 19 4/8" skull bear; Bearpaw's 45 and 46 Pope and Young Bears in the last 5 years on the 5th hunt (1 st week of June).
Our last hunt was exciting as the full camp was Father and Son teams. Mark and Dan Minium, 3 out of 4 bears, Rick and Scott Fortenbaugh, 3 out of 4 bears, and Dave, Justin, and Jared McClure, 4 out of 6 bears, rounded out our excellent season.