The hunting chronicles: A holy antler and cooped up Hutterites


By Bobby Dale Welch

My first Canadian bear hunt was some kind of fun experience. My ferocious bear guide, Natalie, sure did a good job.

One day while we were running bait sites, I yelled for her to stop the four-wheeler. Up in the trees, I saw it. I ran to it, picked it up, held it over my head and declared, “I have found it, the antler of knowledge and wisdom!” You should have seen the look on her face. I had found a big moose shed antler, and I was one excited redneck. I explained to her that you can’t find the antler of knowledge and wisdom and not make a big declaration.

We had enjoyed a great week. We had worked hard to get our bears. We had been entertained, and we had enjoyed quite a few naps. One day a truck showed up with five or six men in the small cab to deliver oats to camp. It seemed odd that they would pack into the truck like that. We later learned they were Hutterites. They weren’t allowed to drink or smoke in their community. Our outfitter didn’t recognize those rules and would let them partake when they delivered to his camp. So when a truckload of oats was to be delivered, they packed the truck. When they got out, they went straight to the fridge on the porch. Good times!

After killing my bear one evening, I walked out to a bluff and waited to be picked up. I remember looking out over the Peace River Valley at the vastest wilderness I had ever seen, just miles and miles of God’s creation. I can still remember thinking, “God made all this, and yet he still loves me.”

Now all we had to do was get home. We had an early flight and arrived at the extremely small airport at 4:00 a.m. We checked in our bags and loaded into the small plane. Our connection went through Calgary. We arrived and were walking through the airport when my friend said, “Hey, I think I heard my name on the intercom.” My response was, “Whatever.” Turns out, they were paging him to a nearby desk.

We got to the desk and found out my friend had inadvertently left a bullet in the magazine of his rifle. The lady at the desk told us this happens regularly and should not take too long to remedy. So they took my friend back through a door behind the nice lady, and she told me to go ahead to the gate and that my friend should be along shortly. Boarding began, and there was no sign of my friend. A decision had to be made.

It sure was comfortable on that flight home. My friend spent the night in a Canadian jail, and when he was released, began to look around for his trusted friend. Bobby Dale was at home with his wife! My friend did make it home the next day, and after a drawn-out battle with the Canadian government, we were able to get his gun returned.

What a hunt!

Bobby Dale Welch was born and raised in East Gadsden and graduated from Litchfield High School in 1988. He is the founder of and partner in BD Welch Construction and currently lives in Ashville with his wife Tracie and sons Daniel and Dawson. He may be contacted at

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