Dream Black Bear Hunt on Vancouver Island

It was April when I found out I would be hunting Black Bears on Vancouver Island with Joe. He and I had not hunted together since we had hunted Alaskan Moose with Wade Renfro a few years back. I knew it was going to be a trip to remember. We would be spot and stalk hunting with a Thompson Center muzzleloader on the island with Trophy West, owned by Glenn Venus, located in Sayward, British Columbia. Both Joe and I had filmed on the Island with Ralph and Vicki in the past as they have hunted with Glenn for several years now.

The rifle we were using was sighted in with 130 grains of loose triple 7 powder behind a 250 grain TC Shockwave bullet. The rifle shot exceptionally well out to 200 yards. Our confidence was very high with this weapon.

Glenn’s family played a big part in his operation, his wife, his son, who is a highly experienced guide himself, and works day in and day out with the business. Glenn’s wife, along with a helper, prepares meals that are just amazing. Several nights at dinner we dined on fresh prawn and crab legs that had been caught that very day. They’re beyond being fresh. The dinners were five star events, definitely some of the best I have ever experienced. Everyone in camp that week had a great time, really enjoyed themselves, and had an excellent hunt.

Our days were filled with spotting for Black Bears from a high vantage point with Glenn and one of his guides David Vey. We glassed the scenery in every direction and it was amazingly beautiful. The winter had been a very cold one and the spring was late, so there was quite a bit of snow left on the high mountain tops. We actually had the truck stuck in snow on the logging roads that were usually open, which cut down on the amount of area we could actually hunt.

On my second day of hunting, we had spent the morning glassing in a misting rain, not perfect for spotting bears, with low clouds and fog that hindered our efforts to find a bear in an area where we could make a move on him. Glenn only hunts very mature boars and we spotted several younger bears that would need a few more summers to reach the size they strive for. We also saw some sows with cubs, which is a show in itself.

As the afternoon went on, with Glenn, David, and myself glassing while Joe was running camera, we finally found the bear we wanted to try for. The bruin was maybe a mile away and below us in a small open area feeding on the young grass that the warmer temperatures had brought to the island. We would have to get in the truck and move closer to get in a position to try a stalk, I said, let’s try because the winds on the Island never stop and the mountain terrain cause it to blow in just about any direction.

Glenn, Joe with the camera, and myself made our way back to the truck and started down the mountain. Dave stayed where we were spotting to keep an eye on the bear and to watch the stalk from above. Glenn knew exactly where we would need to be to get a chance at him. As we came to a stop, we quietly got everything together and I placed a primer in the rifle. We started climbing up through the timber, mostly spruce and pines, that covers the island and drive the logging business that the island is known for.

As we neared the opening where we knew the boar was feeding, we had to slowly work our way out into the open to get to where we could see the bear. He was still feeding at the edge of the meadow and didn’t have a clue that we were even in the area. As we glassed him, we knew he was a great bear and definitely one we wanted to try for. We also had a slightly smaller boar feeding to our right, just over the bank we were on at about 75 yards. About that time Glenn saw an absolute monster further down the clearing. We tried to figure a way to have a chance at him, but we would have to get past the two bears that were closer to us. With the tricky winds, Glenn and I soon decided to go ahead and take the original bear we were after, The giant would have to be for another day. By now the winds were swirling and the smaller bear on the right sensed that something was up. We actually had 3 beautiful bears in the clearing and were standing within 45 yards of an exceptional trophy we sure didn’t want to lose.

As I settled the rifle onto the shooting sticks and pulled the hammer back, I knew the wind was about to blow our chances. As soon as I was comfortable and the crosshairs settled behind his shoulder, I touched off.  All I saw was the smoke every muzzleloader shooter knows so well. As it cleared, I saw the big bear run towards us and turn down the bank and into the timber. It was awesome to actually shoot a great bear with a muzzleloader. The shot hit perfectly and took out both lungs making for a short tracking job.

After I reloaded and we gave the bear some time, we went to where he headed into the dark trees and soon had him spotted. He had only made it about 40 yards. We got him out into the clearing, looked him over better, and knew we had a great bear with an excellent coat. We later measured him at 6’ 11” with a 19-1/2” skull—a really great Trophy West Black Bear.

Dave had heard the shot and was soon there, as was another guide and spotter who had been in the area. We soon had him skinned and quartered, and were on our way back to camp. It was a great experience, spotting and stalking Black Bears on Vancouver Island.  Glenn and everyone at Trophy West made it the trip of a lifetime. Thanks to everyone there, it was a very special hunt with really great people.

Hunter: Zendal Carroll

Cameraman: Joe Rush