At Leupold, we practice what we preach. We’re hunters and shooters who love to get outdoors and put our rifle scopes, range finders, and binoculars to the test, so when Lucas Burt, Leupold Brand Creative Manager, and Michael Wunnicke, Leupold Marketing Director, were given the chance to go on a black bear hunt to collect photo assets and document the experience, they jumped at the opportunity.
Ryan Leef, a premiere guide for Jim Shockey’s Pacific Rim Outfitters on British Colombia’s Vancouver Island, took the guys out for five days in what would become a reminder that patience, resilience, and keeping a positive outlook are the backbone to a good hunt.
Ryan grew up immersed in the outdoors, hunting and even guiding as a teen. Guiding hunts in the Yukon Territory and British Columbia gave him an appreciation for the beauty of the region and, of course, the danger.
Vancouver Island, for example, is known for its thick, steep terrain and its high density of black bears, so any hunting trip must be taken with a certain degree of preparation and awareness. The island is the largest island on the West Coast of North America and is over 12,000 square miles. The weather is known to change at the drop of a hat, so being flexible and understanding the lay of the land are critical to success.
On this hunt, the Leupold crew wanted to experience the variety that the island had to offer. After several days of scouting and a stalks that came up short, Michael set his sights on “Ole’ Gimpy”, an ancient, three-footed black bear Ryan had seen around the island for years. The bear presented itself in the middle of an inlet at low tide. With a lot of patience and a little luck, Michael was able to get close and seal the deal.
Lucas, on the other hand, had to manufacture a little more luck. By the end of the trip, the weather had turned, which drove the black bears into the dense forest. But on the last day (with everyone tired, hungry, and sleep deprived), Lucas was finally able to take a shot on a bear in some thick brush. The trick, however, was then tracking it down in the bush - with visibility sometimes only being a couple feet in any direction. You don’t want to run into an angry black bear in those conditions.
With the set complete, the crew headed back to camp. Although Ryan has been guiding these trips for years, it never gets old. He sees firsthand how everyone can benefit from a good hunting experience. The key is just getting outside and giving it a try. Naturally, we couldn’t agree more.