The Spring season was here and my turkey tags were filled. Now I could switch gears to one of my favorite animals to hunt the Black Bear. I was heading up to the far Northern reaches of Alberta Canada to hunt with Interlake Safaris and the owner Jason Lambley. He runs operations in both Manitoba as well as Alberta for bear, moose, deer and wolf hunts. I was going to be headed into a very remote area in his Alberta camp where the only way in is on an Argo. These 8 wheel machines are incredible and when you put tracks on them they become almost unstoppable. The area is a combination of big timber and vast open marshes. These Argo’s can get you in when no other vehicle or ATV can. I have never been in one and we had a 3 hour ride just to our cabin where we would call home for the next 8 days. The permafrost was just breaking free and the ride in was more like covering 10 miles on a giant sponge but the weather was supposed to be perfect for coaxing Spring bruins out of their winter dens.
Once we got to our camp we had a very warm comfortable sleeping cabin and another cabin that shared the cooking dining area as well as another sleeping area. It was perfect for a wilderness hunt and the water would come from a close by creek for cooking and showering. Once I got into camp myself and one other hunter unpacked and got settled into our cabin.
We did have a slight problem of a pine martin that decided to use the cabin for his winter condo. He was able to eat and chew through just about all the food that was brought in over the winter. After a few hours of cleaning and doing inventory on what was left we were ready to turn in for the night.
Each day we would head out to the bait sites to refresh and put up trail cameras. This way we had the latest intel on what bears were coming in and at what time. The majority of bear action is from 6pm to about dark which this far north is close to 10:30pm. I had chosen a nice stand site for my first hunt and Jason asked if I was interested in carrying a rifle along with my bow in the event that I see one of the many wolves in the area. After all I had 2 bear tags and a wolf tag in hand. I chose not to for the first night and boy was I about to be sorry. I saw a small bear the first hour and later on another good size boar came in. I have taken numerous bears in the past and on this trip I was looking for a big boar or a color phased bear. Right before dark I heard noise behind me and to my dismay it was a black wolf!!!
Here I was with no rifle and a beautiful wolf at 60 yards behind me in the timber. I sat sulking a little while until the engine noise of the Argo coming to pick me up broke the Canadian silence and snapped me back to reality. I told Jason about my sighting and he said that the chance of seeing a wolf again the rest of the week was slim. He smiled and said, “told you so take the gun”. The next night found me in the same stand sight with a bow and a rifle this time. I saw the same small bear which became a regular at the bait sight as well as a hungry pine martin and a fisher. An hour before dark a new bear came in and was right on the line for being a shooter for me. I elected to pass and sat until dark with no wolf sightings. I thought for sure that my window had closed on my life time wish of a wolf.
Day 3 after the usual 90 minute argo ride through a mile long swamp and timber found me in the same set up as the previous 2 days. Again I chose to just carry the bow and let the other hunter have the rifle as he saw a wolf over in his area. By 7 I had my usual visitor bear and the next few hours were quiet. About 9 I heard a bunch of commotion in the timber and saw 2 black objects running through the thick area behind me. I figured it was 2 bears fighting. I turned the camera on in time to see a nice chocolate bear run across an old oil pipeline and then the other black animal appeared. Well you got it, it was another wolf. A perfect jet black wolf was chasing the bear passed me at 60 yards and again I had no rifle. I could not believe it happened again. The wolf returned and decided that he would lay down in the grassy area in front of me for the next 10 minutes as if to say, Ha Ha!!
Day 4 was here and after a rough night sleeping and some ribbing from the outfitter I was perched again in the same spot. Now I was going to carry the rifle with me for the duration of the hunt, I am a slow learner I guess. A few hours into the sit my friendly small bear came and went several times. It was again a little slow until right before dark. I heard something walking in the leaves and I could see it was another bear but this one was a chocolate color phased bear. Wow another animal on my bucket list. It was too dark to get good video of it and certainly not enough pin light for a shot. He was very nervous and turned back into the timber. I sat there for the last 10 minutes and waited to get picked up. Just then on the grassy area in front of me stood my black wolf. I could not believe I was going to get a third chance. It was too far and dark for an archery shot but I was not going to let this slip away. I brought up the rifle and had enough light to try and steady the cross hairs. My breathing was that of a person who just ran a half marathon after eating at Chucky Cheese. I did manage to steady the gun and made a perfect shot dropping the majestic wolf in his tracks. I could not believe but I had just shot my first wolf.
I just about jumped out of the stand to retrieve my trophy and I was all grins when Jason came to pick me up. We took a few pictures and I relived the hunt a hundred times that night back at the cabin.
The next night again had me back in the same tree and I wanted to get a good look at the color phased bear from the night before. I sat for a few hours and sure enough about 7:30 here he came. I could see while he walked in that he had a perfect pelt on him and was a good size boar. My mind was made up quickly and a few minutes later I had my second dream animal down in as many days. I got great footage of the hunt and he went down only 30 yards from the shot. I climbed down and recovered him and took some quick photos and was back in the stand. I still had 2 hours of hunting time left and another tag in my pocket.
Riding on cloud 9 now my trip was a dream hunt and anything else that happened the rest of the week would just be the proverbial icing on the cake. It has been a great hunt with Interlake Safaris and the food and camp have been outstanding. The same night I took this bear a wolf was missed with the bow by the other hunter in camp. He also took a nice black bear himself on the same night.
Now it was down to the last day and after smiling for what seemed like days, well I guess it has been I was sitting in my stand for the last time. I have seen 5 different bears while on this stand but knew unless a very big bear came in I would not punch my last tag. It was a little windy tonight and I had no action. This was odd even my friendly resident bear was no where around. The night was winding down and the wind finally laid down by 8:45 but still no action. I figured my last night was a bust and was satisfied with that. About 9 I heard a branch snap behind me. This for a bear hunter is always a good sound. I turned behind me to see a very large black bear heading into the bait. I powered up the camera and stood up getting ready for possibly a shot at this nice bear. Could this be happening, I said to myself. 3 great trophies in one week. The mature boar came in like he owned the place and sat down for a tasty treat in the bucket of cake icing we had out. After 10 minutes the big bear finally stood up to go to the next course in the dinner barrel and I had my shot. The arrow zipped right through the bear and he sat down and looked around. He had no idea what happened and a few seconds later he jumped across the logs walked 5 yards and tipped over. I had my third animal and a trip etched in my memory for the rest of my life. He was close to 350 pounds and a very nice thick hide. I sat back and recounted the past week before climbing down to put my hands on him. Pictures were taken and once Jason came we loaded him into the trailer for another great ride back through the swamps to a warm camp.
I can’t thank Jason Lambley enough for his great hunt that he puts on. Everything you want and need is taken care of and the best part is that he only takes a low number of hunters in all his camps to ensure good quality animals. He runs land based hunts in a nice lodge, river access hunts, float plane trips into remote hunting camps as well as argo based hunts to small comfortable cabins in the wilderness.
For your next great adventure be sure and contact him as his rates are very reasonable.
Interlake Safaris can be found at the following contact information:
Jason Lambley 204-372-8504 or www.huntsfromtheheart.com