By Bobby Dale Welch/Staff Correspondent
My first hunting trip outside of the United States was in the town of Worsley in the province of Alberta in Canada. Some friends invited me to join them for a spring black bear hunt. I invited another friend, and we set off north.
Customs was both nerve-wracking and interesting, but we got through it. Our next experience with customs may not go as smoothly.
You must understand that we are Alabama redneck deer hunters arriving with no clue about bear hunting. We did learn a few things over the next week, including the fact that bear hunting includes a lot of nap time. I’m not sure if that’s due to how bears hibernate.
A normal daily bear hunt routine consisted of waking at 8 or 9 a.m. for a hearty breakfast for the six of us in camp. We took a nap and woke up for lunch around noon or 1 p.m. After lunch, we took another nap.
This was not exactly how we were used to hunting in Alabama, where we rise early and get in the woods while it is still dark. This was different, for sure.
Things began to get interesting after our afternoon nap. A discussion began of when we were going to leave camp and where we were going to hunt. This is when we learned that time in this part of Canada is not an exact science. We were told on our first day we would leave at 4 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., we were all on the front porch sporting our camouflage and anxious to see what would happen next.
At 4:30 p.m., we were kicking rocks and standing around in the front yard. The first truck finally came out of the back at 5:30 p.m., and two hunters went off to hunt. Another two hunters were picked up at 6:15 p.m., and off they went.
My ride arrived at 6:30 p.m.
At least in our camp, spring bear hunting was done from portable tree stands over established bait sites. Baits consisted of discarded restaurant grease mixed with oats and molasses in a barrel with an unpelted beaver attached to a nearby tree.
There were gazillions of mosquitoes, and when you looked at another person, there would be a cloud of insects hovering over his head. For full disclosure, I am not a fan of mosquitoes and other annoying insects.
At any rate, we were up in a tree stand at 7:30 p.m., which was not normal for me. However, I now I was finally in a situation where I had some experience. It would not get dark before 11 to 11:30 p.m. each night. We would return to camp by 12:30 to 1 p.m. and share fireside stories of the day’s hunt and have supper at 2:30 to 3 a.m. The next day, we would follow the same schedule.
I hope you can visualize the setting and picture me in the remote Canadian woods. I’m going to continue this story for the next couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to telling you about my first bear encounter, how guides are assigned, the antler of knowledge and wisdom and, ultimately, the trip home.
Have a great week and get those naps in when you can!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.