British Columbia and Vancouver Island Black Bears– By Default

Sometimes bad things happen that you can’t control, and sometimes bad things bring good things.  Ralph’s unfortunate luck of needing emergency knee surgery turned out to be a blessing to Zendal and I.  We’d both been to Trophy West Guides and Outfitters filming Ralph and Vicki in the past, and I was slated to go back and film them this year.  However, the tables turned when Ralph was given the unfortunate news that he’d have to cancel the trip and entertain the idea of a full knee replacement instead!  Since my airline ticket was already purchased for filming the trip, I was offered to go, not only as a cameraman, but also as a HUNTER!  WOW… what a surreal experience. Believe it or not, I’d rather be over Ralph and Vic’s shoulders with the camera than for Ralph to endure what he had to deal with for surgery and recover, however, I was very grateful for the chance to have the TC Muzzleloader or my HOYT in my hand for part of this trip!  Ralph and Vicki decided it would be a good trip for Z and I to go on together since we had both been there and had an idea of what to expect, so we began preparing and training! 
Long-time guide of Trophy West, David Vey, had brought Z and I out on a tall bluff overlooking an estuary where the bears are known to come and feed early in the spring in hopes of seeing a bruin trying to fatten up after a long, hard winter.  The hunting had been tough, however, as the areas that Trophy West NORMALLY hunt were still under several feet of snow due to this unusually late spring.  We’d caught a glimpse of a bear and David decided he’d take a solo trek down the cliff into the valley to glass the base of the bluff and see if there were any bears in that area we could see from our current vantage point.  It wasn’t long, and an out of breath David came running up the path to Z and I and said he’s spotted a shooter at the base of the bluff and we were going to make a move!  Now, the blood’s pumping as we’re running, sliding, crawling and climbing down this bluff!  Once we hit the estuary, we spotted the bear about 250 yards across the estuary, and the stalk was on.  As you can guess, there’s NO cover and we’re on our hands and knees with one bush between us and the bear.   David reached the bush first, with me and then Z in tow.  We got set up and decided we’d have to wait for the bear to feed towards us to present a shot as he was still about 190 yards out.  All of a sudden, David spots a bear coming out from the base of the bluff directly over our left shoulders… and it’s a DEFINITE shooter.  We slowly shifted positions and waited for the bruin to turn broadside, and at 90 yards he did!  I was about to pull the trigger on a Vancouver Island black bear, I STILL couldn’t believe it!  Calming my breathing, I squeezed the trigger on my TC muzzleloader.  As the smoke cleared, we could see the TC Shockwave slug hit its mark and instantly flipped the bruin on his back, and dropped him in his tracks!  I couldn’t believe it.  I actually killed my first British Columbia black bear, and on Vancouver Island with Trophy West.  What a dream… 
Thanks Ralph and Vicki for the opportunity, and thanks to Glenn Venus and his crew at Trophy West for their faith in Zendal and I to get it done.  They worked their tails off in those adverse conditions, and made it happen for Z and I…  Great food, Great scenery and THE BEST people with this crew at Trophy West!  Can’t wait to be back over Ralph and Vicki’s shoulders next year!!!

Hunter: Joe Rush

Cameraman: Zendal Carroll