As I topped the ridge after a two and a half hour climb, I encountered a sight that everyone who travels the backcountry hopes to see (at a distance, of course) : Grizzly! The bear, a boar I think, was grazing on a hillside approximately two hundred yards from where I stood and was unaware if my presence. I always carry a 44 magnum revolver while traveling the backcountry near my home in Northwestern Wyoming and though I have never had occasion to use it, it does give me a measure of comfort, knowing I am not defenseless. As an aside, I have actually had more troubles with black bears while guiding hunters both here in Wyoming and Maine, but that's another story for another time. My Brittany, "Jem," was with me and fortunately the bear was out of the pup's sight so we had no problems in that regard. With my heart pounding with a combination of excitement and, yes, a bit of healthy fear and respect for the bear, I backed out of the scene and headed back down the trail for the 6 mile hike back to the truck. In addition to the grizzly sighting, we had seen numerous mule deer, several elk and a band of big horn sheep during the course of the hike and on the truck ride back to our home, we saw to bull bison in the road! We live about 25 miles east of Yellowstone National Park and often see bison near our home! Now, my wife and I are blessed to live in the heart of some of the finest big game country in North America, with scenery second to none so adventure lies right out of our door. So what if you live in New Jersey or someplace similar because you need to make a living and cannot "live the dream" of guiding hunters and spending all of your time hiking and exploring the Rockies? The answer is make your own adventure.

I spent 40 plus years hunting, fishing, guiding, snowshoeing, shed hunting (you get the picture) in Northern Maine and from a very young age thought of myself as a backwoodsman and seeker of adventure. When I took up the track of what I hoped to be a big whitetail buck, the adventure began. So here is a thought for all who may be reading this: when you take to the woods this fall in pursuit of whitetails, make it more than a casual outing and make it an adventure by focusing all of your thoughts and efforts on what you are doing and live in the moment. Forget about work or the office; don't worry about what your wife and the children are doing, focus all of your efforts and concentration on the track you are following. Mark your truck with the GPS and go! I always carry a map and compass, in addition to the GPS, and if you are so inclined, you may also wish to carry an" In Reach" device made by De Lorme. I killed a big buck last fall a long way from the truck and help and was able to text my buddies and summons help to drag the old boy (235 lbs dressed) out, and the In Reach device gave me a signal where no cell phone reception as available. The one thing that cannot be overstated when tracking big bucks in big country is that you must focus all of your being on the task at hand. So don't worry about getting lost and stay on the track until dark, if necessary, and be prepared to go at it again the next day and the day after that. When you leave the truck in the morning think of it as more than just a day in the woods; plan it as a day of adventure. Life is short and precious so  give your wife a kiss, hug the kids and tell them you're off to a day of adventure!

Jim Bernardin
BWB Team Member
Licensed Wyoming Guide
Registered Maine Guide