By Kent Danjanovich
The sun started lighting the sky at about 4 am. By 9, we were all up and around, getting prepared for a long afternoon in our tree stands. Kelly Udell, owner of Udell’s Guiding and Outfitting, along with his head guide Ben were busy getting a big breakfast put together as fellow pro staffer, Dave Heath and I got our packs ready, with cameras in tow for what was to come.
Ben, Dave and I loaded our equipment in the Polaris Ranger at about 1pm and headed out of camp. We would be setting up on one of the many baits that had been serviced for the last three weeks, ever since the snow had receded enough for Kelly and his staff to make their way into the area. A long, cold winter had made for a late spring and a tougher time for our hosts to get everything perfect for their clients. The hunters the week before we arrived had shot four nice bears and our anticipation was running HIGH.
As we approached the brink of the hill before the gentle slope in the logging road to our bait, Ben applied the brakes to the Ranger, backed up about thirty yards and putting his finger to his lips whispered, “There is a nice bear about a hundred and fifty yards in front of us on the road”. I turned on the camera and started to film Dave as he hurriedly grabbed his Browning X-Bolt .270 WSM and then headed for a small pile of dead-fall at the brink of the hill. Ben and I followed him to the spot as we all knelt down and slowly took a peek over the fallen trees.
Dave whispered, “He’s gone”, but Ben quickly assured him that he was just standing behind a small pile of brush about 100 yards from us. All of the sudden, the bear started to slowly make his way back to the middle of the logging road and on a straight path for our location. As each of his steps had him rocking back and forth toward us, Dave whispered, “What do you think”. It didn’t take me long to come back with something like, “Are you kidding me? That is a great bear”! Ben also gave a big nod of approval and Dave got into position.
At about 50 yards, Dave again turned and said, “Is he going to turn?” Ben and I both motioned to shoot him in the brisket. I slowly raised up with the camera rolling and Dave quickly did the same. The next second I heard Dave click off his safety and BOOM. The bear folded as Dave bolted another Double Tap 130 grain bullet into the chamber. The big bruin jumped up and Ben yelled, “Hit him again”. Dave fired another round into his first Canadian black bear as he rolled into the thick brush to the side of the abandoned logging road. A few seconds later, the bears fate was assured as we heard the sound our preys death moan. Now, is that an epic start to a hunting trip or what?
Dave made his way to where the bear had entered into the brush as I followed with the camera and Ben hopped in the Ranger and quickly had it parked next to Dave. Ben was first to take a peek into the brush and with a big smile on his face, extended his hand to Dave and exclaimed, “Well done, he’s a beauty”! After Dave posed for a few photos, we loaded the big ball of black fur into the back of the Ranger and continued down the trail to the bait we had planned on sitting on this first afternoon and evening.
We made our way to the stand and Dave and I climbed up to our tree stands as Ben dumped a bucket of fresh, sweet smelling offerings on the pile of logs about 40 yards in front and below us. It was now about 2:30 pm and believe me, it was a little tough for both of us to wind down enough to be able to hold still in our perch. At about 8 pm, with Dave slightly dozing off below me, I heard a rustling below and behind me. As I slowly turned, my eyes got wide as a big bear was quietly working his way to our bait pile. I tapped on Dave’s shoulder and pointed to my left. Unbelievable as it was, Dave was going to have his second opportunity at a big Alberta black bear in less than seven hours.
The big boy quickly worked his way in front of us and over to the bait. As he started to inhale the trail mix and licorice concoction, Dave eased his rifle to his shoulder and gave me the thumbs up. He slowly squeezed the trigger and the impact of the shot had the big bear on his back the next second. He would never move from that position as Dave now had his second tag filled with another big Canadian black bear, this one even bigger than the first.
Since we were about 100 yards into the brush, we decided to not try and kill ourselves, trying to drag him to the logging road. We decided to instead have our photo shoot right there and after we finished, we climbed back up in our tree stand and waited for Ben to arrive at about 10:30 pm. As he approached our stand, he started to do his “Bear jig” as the smile on his face grew and grew as he walked closer to our stand. “I had a feeling about this stand tonight. I knew you were going to get another one”!
The next morning Kelly, Ben and Dave hopped into the Ranger and headed back for the recovery while I stayed at camp, going over all of my footage and photos to make sure we had everything that we had hoped for. That afternoon, after a hearty brunch, we headed to another bait, a new one that they had prepared in a small meadow equipped with a ground blind for a little different look. We didn’t have any visitors this night, but with three days left on our hunt, we were definitely not worried too much.
Our third full day found us back at the stand that we had sat at the very first night that we arrived. We again startled a bear off of the bait as we approached. Dave and I quickly got into our tree stand as Ben loaded up our bait and then headed back for camp. Our first visitor worked his way in at about 6:30 pm. He was a little leery and didn’t want to give us too good of a look. About 30 minutes later, Dave spotted a sow and two cubs making their way across the beaver dam to our left. He was able to get some great footage of them as they meandered on the other side of the pond.
All of the sudden, another bear appeared across the pond and started to work its way in our direction. As it approached to about 40 yards, both Dave and I strained to see if it was a sow or a boar. We finally decided that it was a young boar, about 200 pounds worth and that I would hold off for maybe a little bit bigger opportunity later this night or the next. Soon a big rainstorm engulfed us and proceeded to drench us for the next hour or so before Ben returned to pick us up.
After we made it back to camp, Ben grilled up some thick rib-eyes and all of the fixins’ as we dried off in our wall tent and changed into some dry clothes before devouring it all and then hitting our sleeping bags for a good night’s sleep. The next afternoon found us heading back to the area where Dave had shot his two bears earlier, since trail cam photos had made it very evident that there were a number of good bears in that area. As we approached our stand, a nice bear rumbled off of our bait and into the thick brush. Dave and I quickly climbed into our tree stand and Ben again waved goodbye as he dumped another bucket of goodies on our bait pile.
All was quiet until about 6:40 pm. Dave was perch above me and a little to my left. All of the sudden I spotted a black patch along the edge of the trail to our left. It quickly disappeared into the cover, but would just as quickly re-emerge below us. Another great Alberta bruin was strutting his stuff just a few yards below us, but he could sense that something was just not right. He never did quite make it to the bait pile and as he turned to again walk into the brush, I gave Dave the “here we go” and quickly clicked off my safety and rolled him with one shot of my Browning X-Bolt. Our Alberta black bear adventure, courtesy of Udell’s Guiding and Outfitting had come to an end and every aspect of it was nothing short of first class.
The next day found us taking our hides into the town of Slave Lake and freezing them up for our return trip to the states. Ben even stopped us off at the boat dock near his home in the town and Dave and I did a little walleye and northern pike fishing, landing fish after fish for a couple of hours, while keeping a couple of nice ones for dinner that night (Ah, bacon wrapped walleye!).
All of our expectations had been met and I would have to say exceeded and it is easy to see why you can find Udell’s as one of our endorsed Platinum Approved Outfitters. We have now had the opportunity to hunt both whitetail and black bear with them and you can bet that it won’t be too long before we are back for moose and a little waterfowl action as well. Kelly and Ben do an excellent job of taking care of their clients and you can be assured that you will have a great opportunity to harvest a true Canadian trophy in their Northern Alberta hunting areas, about 160 miles northwest of Edmonton. Give Kelly a call today and he might just have a last minute opening for this fall. Udell’s Guiding and Outfitting , visit them on the web at www.udellshunting.com or give them a call at 780-722-0243.