I wanted to let fellow subscribers know of a great bear hunting experience I had this past October in my home state of California with Bill Sweetser. He owns and runs Blue Ridge Guide Service out of the town of Springville, in the foothills about midway between Fresno and Bakersfield in central California. I spoke to several bear guides in early 1998 to find the one I wanted to hire, and chose Sweetser because I was impressed with his attitude and experience. He has been guiding full time since the early 1980s and currently offers bear hunts behind hounds on both private and public land in Tulare County and the surrounding area. Moreover, he made me an offer I could not refuse - a two-day hunt for $1,000, about what other guides charge, but on a no-kill, no-pay basis. No other guide service offers this type of arrangement. After several conversations about scheduling, we finally decided I would arrive in Sweetser's camp in Sequoia National Forest on October 6, and then hunt on October 7 and 8.
The campsite has a few trailers and cooking facilities, but Sweetser's fee does not include food, so I had to bring my own. There is also a nice campfire in the evening. The outhouse leaves a little to be desired, however. If these facilities are not up to a client hunter's liking he can always stay at a motel in town. There are several that are affordably priced.
The next morning I got my bear, as Sweetser said I was likely to, thanks to the diligence and professionalism of Sweetser and his houndsman. My bear was a large sow that weighed about 300 pounds. Not record-class, but still a very nice bear. I was glad to be successful on the first day, as the hunt is very physically challenging. You can not be in too good a physical condition for this type of hunt. I should have spent a little more time on the stairmaster myself! Sweetser and his hands had the bear skinned and dressed out in about 45 minutes. Then........(continued)