Hunting Color-Phase Black Bears Behind Dogs In California


Published: February - 2009

If you're looking for a black bear hunt try this exciting hunt for color-phase bears behind dogs in California. Andrew Gregory of Deadwood Industries has been guiding clients for black bears behind hounds in the Tahoe National Forest for the past five years. It's been six since he last saw a black bear - a black-colored black bear that is. Bears in this part of California's High Sierras are dominantly color-phase bears, with a chocolate pelt most common. Cinnamons, blondes and even brindles are available as well.

I hunted with Gregory this past fall. On our first day, we treed a sow with two cubs. The second day, we treed and tagged a two-year-old boar with a light chocolate pelt. The third day brought me a six-foot, 300-pound-plus boar with a black pelt and a white `V' on its chest. That's right, mine was the first `black' black bear seen here in six years.

Gregory hunts primarily in Sierra and Nevada counties, just west of Reno, Nevada. This is gold rush country, where the habitat features lots of steep and deep canyons, oak trees, ponderosa pines, firs and granite peaks. The elevations range between 4,400 feet and 8,100 feet above sea level, and access can be limited by snow or heavy rain. Fortunately, there are enough bears in and around ranchlands and gold rush ghost towns that Gregory can hunt terrain suited to any hunter.

The day starts early with breakfast at 5 am. Hunts are conducted from four-wheel drive pickups with a strike dog (the dog with the best nose) riding on top of the dog box where it can catch a scent as the truck moves slowly up a road. When the strike dogs scent the bear or its trail, more dogs are released for the chase, and the race is on. Depending on the experience and skill of the dogs, a track may be started `hot' or `cold.' From the end of October into December, bears can be found moving from food source to food source as temperatures drop. Fall food........(continued)

 
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