Updated 7/7/2009

Steve Foshaug
Steve Foshaug

Paul Trepus
Paul Trepus

Tom Butler
Tom Butler

Jeff Butler
Jeff Butler

  The Delayed Hunt

     As I pulled into Fort St. James, British Columbia this last May, the thought crossed my mind that I almost did not come on this hunt, but as I was about to find out, I was very glad that I did.

I had hunted with Paul Trepus of Inzana Outfitters in May of 2006 and had taken a very nice Black Bear, but had not been able to get within range of a Mountain Grizzly Bear. I had seen a couple, but things just did not work out in my favor, which happens every now and then when you go in search of wild game of any sort. It can be due to weather, lack of game, almost anything including just plain bad luck.


     You just never know until you get there. Paul and his wife Marilyn, along with their daughter Julienne and son Aaron run their guide-outfitter business out of a very nice lodge about 15 miles north of Fort St. James. His guide area is approximately 1300 square miles in size. There is an abundance of game including moose, bear and wolves.


      I knew Paul had plenty of Grizzly Bears in his area and I just been plain unlucky on the first hunt, so I had booked another hunt with him at the Puyallup Sportsman show in February, 2007 for a hunt in May, 2008. I have to say the reason I almost did not come on this hunt was because I was a real estate broker with a small office and when the real estate market went down in late 2007, the money situation was not good at all. Since I had been making payments to Paul for almost a year prior to the real estate downturn, I was nearly paid in full for the hunt except for license and tags. I was in the process of starting a new business that was going to open somewhere around the time the hunt was scheduled for and would not be able to go on a hunt during the start up time for the new business. I called Paul a couple months prior to the Puyallup Sportsman Show and told him that I was planning on starting a new business and getting out of real estate so I did not think I would be able to come on the hunt scheduled for May 2008. I told him that if he wanted to sell the hunt to someone else at the show that he could do that. Paul was a real gentleman and knew how hard it was for me to give up that hunt. He said that he would hold the hunt for me until 2009. I cannot tell you how good that made me feel. It allowed me time to get my new business running, so when I did leave for the hunt that I would not worry about it the whole time I was gone.


     When I pulled into yard at the lodge Paul was outside with 2 other hunters who were there for Black Bear. They were Tom Butler and his son Jeff from Tacoma, WA, which is not far from where I live in Elma. After introductions we walked down to a little shooting range that Paul had set up. Tom and Jeff were using 338 Win. Mags and I was using a 325 Winchester Short Magnum. All of the guns checked out good. After that I got settled into my cabin and then we had an excellent dinner that Marilyn and Julienne prepared for us and then retired for the night.


     The first day of the hunt was fairly uneventful for me except that I did get to help Paul pick up some traps from his trap line that is within his guide area as well. He showed me some of the techniques that he uses in trapping and I was very impressed. I have to mention that Paul is one of the top trappers in Central B.C. if not the top one! When we got in that night we found that Jeff had harvested a nice color phase bear. He was pretty excited about that.


     The next morning we woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Paul said that the hunting would probably not be very good until the snow melted. It turned out that he was right. We came back to camp for lunch and by the afternoon the snow had melted and the sun came out. We went back out and started seeing a lot of fresh tracks and scat of both Black Bears and Grizzlies. I passed on a real nice Black Bear about 8 pm. It would have squared well over 6 foot, but I wanted to concentrate on Grizzly.

As it turned out, about a half hour later we spotted two nice grizzlies on a old logging spur that about 400 yards away across a small clear cut. I wanted to get closer to make sure that I had a good shot instead of chancing a longer one.


     We started across the clear cut but the bears kept feeding down the road and we could not see them after they got behind a small patch of timber. Luckily the spur made a turn and came out on the main line about 400 yards down from where we parked the truck. It was getting close to 9 pm and starting to get colder. We went back to the truck and grabbed our coats and I also grabbed a shooting stick that my friend and hunting partner Mike Skinner had bought for me on my birthday a year or 2 before. It was the first chance that I had to make use of it. We went down the road to where the spur came out and started walking up the spur knowing that the 2 bears were walking down it towards us.


     There were a couple of blow down trees across the spur and we had just reached the second one when we spotted the bears about 75 yards in front of us. They had no idea we were there since the blow down shielded us from them. Paul quickly confirmed which one was the biggest one and that it was not rubbed. I set up my shooting stick and waited for it to turn broadside so I could get a good clean shot on it. When I squeezed the trigger on the 325, the bear went down immediately and rolled over. It started to get back up and I shot it again, this time it did not get up. The other bear was totally confused and would not leave the one I had shot.

     We waited for about 10 or 15 minutes but it would not leave. It was starting to get dark so we backed our way up to the main road and discussed what we should do. Since it was almost dark and we did not want to have a confrontation with the other bear in the dark we decided to go back to camp and come back in the morning, with the other guys. We could only hope that my bear would not be eaten by the second one. Needless to say it was long night for me and I did not sleep all that well.


     The next day Tom Butler, his son Jeff and Gary the assistant guide went back with us. Gary brought his quad to haul my bear out on. When we got to where I shot from we could not see my bear, the other one had dragged it off the road. We finally spotted it not to far from where it had originally died. I was afraid that it had been chewed up pretty bad by the other bear. It turned out that he had eaten the heart and lungs from my bear leaving a small hole in the chest but a taxidermist will be able to fix it so that it won’t be noticeable. The other bear was still pretty close as we could hear it growl up on the hill a few hundred yards from us, but with noise from the quad and all of us, it did not come down to where we were. Four of us were able to load my bear on the quad, while Jeff stood guard. After getting it back to the main road and the pick ups we were able to take pictures and do a little back slapping.

Paul and I took my bear back to camp and Gary, Tom and Jeff went looking for a black bear for Tom. After we skinned it, we found the bullet from my first shot, the 220 grain Winchester Power Point had performed perfectly coming to rest against the hide on far side of bear. We measured the hide and it squared out to 7’ 4” which is average for a mountain grizzly. It is a beautiful hide and I am going to have it made into nice rug for my trophy room.


     The next day I was able to harvest a nice black bear. Paul had a limited entry permit for grizzly bear that are for residents only. On the fourth day we spotted 2 more grizzlies feeding on an old logging spur about 200 yards from us. They also did not have any idea we were there. We watched them as they fed their way towards us, slowly getting closer and closer. The grizzlies and wolves have been killing a high percentage of the moose calves so Paul decided to take one of these bears. It went down with one shot from his 338 Winchester; the other bear was startled so bad when the gun went off, that it attacked the one that Paul had shot. It realized that the other bear was not fighting back and stood up on its hind legs and saw us. It then turned and ran off up the hill into the timber. I have never seen anything like that before, it was quite impressive. We could hear it up on the hill growling and snapping brush real close so Paul fired another shot into the dirt on the hillside to try and scare it off. Thankfully that worked and gave us time to get his bear loaded up and get out there.


     Later we ran into Gary, Tom and Jeff and they were really surprised that we had another grizzly bear. It was getting on towards evening so we all started back towards camp. Paul and I let the other guys go ahead of us in case they saw a black bear which they did and Tom was able to fill his tag with a nice bear.

I had a great time on the hunt I almost did not go on. My thanks to Inzana Outfitters for allowing me to delay the hunt a year. The Trepus family provided great food and accommodations, besides a great hunt. Thanks to assistant guide Gary Ollinger for the use of his quad and Tom and Jeff Butler for helping me get my bear out of the woods in a potentially dangerous situation. It was pleasure to meet and hunt with them both. Oh yea, thanks Mike! I wish you could have been there, the shooting stick worked great!


If anyone is interested in going on a hunt with Inzana Outfitters, you can reach Paul Trepus at (250) 964-2257 or talk to him at the Puyallup Sportsman’s Show this coming year. They also have winter trap line adventures you can go on.


Dedicated to Wildlife Conservation, Education, Humanitarian Efforts and Protecting our Hunting Heritage