Alberta is a hunter’s paradise, with thousands of acres of roadless wilderness and an abundance of big game that includes black bear, elk, moose, mule deer, and some of the largest whitetails to be found anywhere in North America. In May, I traveled to Grand Prairie to hunt with the team from Crimson Trace at Red Willow Outfitters (www.redwillowoutfitters.com). While lasers are most often considered a tool for defensive handguns, their use for hunting is growing in popularity. Where legal, lasers offer an advantage in low light and allow for rapid target acquisition, especially on a dark target like a black bear.
It didn’t take long before bears began to show up, and the first one that approached my stand slipped in quietly from behind my position. It’s an unnerving feeling to hear the crack of a limb behind you and to suddenly see the long shadow of an unseen bear walking directly beneath you. As it turned out, that bear was aware of my presence (probably smelled me) and barreled back into the woods with a whuff and a great deal of tooth-popping.
Later in the hunt, I managed to take two fantastic bears, but not before we stumbled upon an enormous track (possibly a huge black bear, possibly one of the area’s scattered grizzlies). We switched stands to avoid being at close quarters with a griz, but before the weeks was out I’d seen over twenty black bears at close range. For me, the greatest thrill was having the opportunity to be up close and personal with some of North America’s most magnificent predators and to observe their interactions for hours, an experience I won’t soon forget. The Ruger American Rifle I used was outfitted with a Redfield scope and Railmaster Laser from Crimson Trace, and the rig worked extremely well. Articles to follow in several magazines!