Bullish on Boreal Forest Bear
Schreiber's corner of Northern Saskatchewan a hunter's paradise
Brandon Schreiber (right) drives Nicole Reeve (left) into the Boreal Forest on a recent bear hunt. (Steve bowman photo)
NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN, Canada -- Brandon Schreiber had an epiphany when he was 18 years old.
A young man growing up within the Boreal Forest in Northern Saskatchewan, Schreiber knew he was at the heart of North America’s hunting paradise. Big whitetails roamed everywhere, as did black bear and the occasional moose or elk. His home was in the center of the duck factory, where much of the mallard and canvasback populations are produced.
“It’s hard to grow up here and not fall in love with the wildlife and hunting,’’ Schreiber said. “It’s just a paradise.”
His family had always hunted. His uncle was a bear guide and Schreiber had spent his time guiding waterfowlers. At 18, he knew all he wanted to do was hunt and fish for a living, but do it in a way that showed honor to the game and the chase.
Click the image to view photos from Timberclaw hunts.
“To that point, hunting was just a way of life, I’d shoot a 130-inch Saskatchewan buck, which now I’d cry if someone shot that buck,’’ he said. “Then I realized that you could go out and manage these animals and create trophies.
“You can hunt a lot of places in the world for a chance at a trophy,’’ Schreiber said. “But you can come up here year after year and be successful with trophy animals every time you come up.”
He points to a recent spring black bear hunt he hosted for Pat and Nicole Reeve of “Driven with Pat &
Nicole.” The husband and wife duo pulled off a successful live hunt on Outdoor Channel.com on the first two days there, while Mike Jahnke arrowed a Pope and Young black bear at the same time several miles away. During the five days on the stand, every hunter on the stand saw bears of that size.
Schreiber realized early on that his neck of the Boreal Forest in Northern Saskatchewan was special. It combines remoteness hard to find in North America with the most northern sections of agricultural land in Canada. Together the area produces an abundance of wildlife.
“Look around when we drive, you don't see a house up there anywhere,’’ he said, describing the drive into the Boreal Forest. “You may see the odd person out there, but that's local people. They're going to go out and enjoy the area just like we do. But they don't get to those outer boundaries where you gotta work. It takes a little work and effort to get in there.
“We'll wreck our bikes or quads over the rough terrain. We'll wind up walking for miles to get out of the bush some nights if your quad breaks down up there. But that's what you do. You push the limits, you get back up in there where these bears haven't seen a human, I'm sure, or have even heard one, or know anything about them.
“When you get up in the bush there, lots of big animals. That’s what I like, to get on the boundaries and hunt where nobody's hunted before.”
To illustrate the point, Schreiber runs Cree Lake Lodge in extreme Northern Saskatchewan. There are no roads or easy way to get there, but clients fly into the lake to a plush cabin via float plane. To ensure an even better fishing experience, Schreiber has new boats on the lake, even though it took him 11 days of slicing his way through the bush, winching over hills and through the mud to get them there.
“We always go the extra mile,’’ he said, smiling. “But I’ll tell you, those boats won’t ever leave there.”
It’s a big reason why Schreiber’s operations Buck Country and Timberclaw Outfitters are a mainstay when it comes to trophy bear and whitetail. Schreiber, though, is combining the whole operation under the name Buck Country. But make no mistake; spring bear hunting will remain a big part of the outfitters workload, mainly because they are good at.
The outfitter has 100 percent success rate on black bear.
Click the image photos of the live hunt with Pat & Nicole.
“You will have an opportunity to kill a bear if you want to kill that bear,’’ Schreiber said. “But to put it into perspective for everybody, there are trophy animals for a reason. It's because there are fewer of those types of animals. It doesn't matter where you go. A trophy's a trophy.”
Bears are one of the hardest animals to judge. Even a small or average bear looks big to the average hunter. Schreiber admits he’s made the mistake in the past. But he also knows if you wait long enough, those sure-enough, make-no-mistake-about-it trophies are there and close.
“You can't fill a camp with any amount of people and have every hunter shoot a trophy in the eyes of whoever the people are that made Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young.
“If you could fill a camp with 50 bear hunters and everybody shoot a Pope and Young bear, I'd be giving you a gold star. But that's why they call it a trophy.”
An interesting twist to the area is the number of color-phase bears that are found there. They are all black bear, but there is always a sampling of cinnamon, blonde, and chocolate color-phase bears in the area.
“For some reasons we see a very high percentage of those color phases,’’ Schreiber said. “I don’t know why, but I’m glad they are here.”
Hunters wanting a hunt of lifetime for bear or whitetail might feel the same about Schreiber, just glad he’s there.