Like the swans of Capistrano, when the weather warms each spring, I am drawn north to Canada in search of bears. Today I jumped on a plane in Chicago. Two short hours later, I touched down in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A short plane ride to a seemingly different world. There I met up with Bob Kaleta from Zeiss, a bear hunting junkie and someone I find myself sharing a truck with this on this type of misadventure more often than i care to admit.
We grabbed a rental car and pointed it north. Three hours later we pulled into Bob's favorite camp, Agassiz Lodge near the village of Waterhen Manitoba. Owned by Rick and Colleen Liske for the past decade, Bob has spent his springs here almost as long. It is a Mecca for big bears but more importunately color phase big bears. Photos of cinnamon, blonde and brown bears take up as much space on the walls as big headed blackies. After a couple of late night 5% Molosons to celebrate our arrival Bob broke out his computer to show me video from last year and got me more excited than I already am for the following day. The first video he shows makes my jaw drop its of a massive brown color phase bear. Great video, great bear, but the question must be asked "why didn't you pull the trigger?" With a sheepish look Bob says "I misjudged him at first glance, then I just filmed him for 45 minutes. Looking through the viewfinder, it is hard to tell. It wasn't until I looked at the video later that I realized how big he was....don't even say anything, I'm still kicking myself." Hopefully this week, Bob can assuage the pain.
I roll into the bunk, looking forward to the following day.