If you are in the market for a black bear hunt, one outfitter who I think is worth checking out is Dave Handrich. He has been hunting bears with hounds all over the West for almost 40 years and has close to a 100 percent success rate. He is currently focusing on hunts in New Mexico and Arizona, where bears are plentiful and can be taken in highly desired colored pelts. Most of them are chocolate, with some having a reddish tint; a few are blond. Two years ago, one of Handrich's hunters took a nine-foot bear - remarkable for this species - and he has produced many Boone and Crockett-class bears. Handrich's Arizona hunts take place in Apache National Forest near the Blue River, close to the New Mexico border. He usually conducts six hunts here every year, mainly in Units 1 and 27. Tags for bear hunting in Arizona are available over-the-counter, and can be purchased any time during the season. You need to be aware, however, that hunting in each unit closes once the female bear quota for that unit is reached. Moreover, bear hunting in Arizona is closed during elk hunting season, though Handrich expects this restriction to be lifted east of the Blue River starting next year.... Over in New Mexico, Handrich conducts hunts in the Apache, Gila and Cibola National Forests. There is no spring bear season in Arizona or New Mexico. Handrich's prices are $1,500 for a four-day hunt on a 1 x 1 basis. His 2 x 1 hunt for the same duration is priced at $1,250 per hunter, but Handrich told me he often gets another guide to help. By the way, Handrich has a very successful elk hunting operation in western New Mexico. This year, he was very successful in getting his clients drawn in some of the best units near his home. I will follow up with a report on his elk hunts later. Since I know many of his guides and the units he is hunting, I expect that some big bulls will be tagged.