ONLY $7.00

(includes shipping)

 with Rob Miskosky

The Mystery of the Bugbee Bear

I ‘d heard about the Bugbee Bear some years ago and while the story was and interesting one, it was one soon forgotten. That was until I recently received the following email.

Dear Sir, would you be willing to help track down where this bear is? I had an article years ago about it ending up in a museum in Saskatchewan some place... they rearranged displays and it disappeared. The family was attempting to get it back at the time, so if a person could investigate who operated the museum at the time and any other officials involved, maybe it could still be returned to the family. Mrs. Bugbee is 100 years old now and would sure like to have some answers.

Not having the time nor the resources to begin an investigation, I still found myself once again enamoured with the story(s) of this fabled bear, a bear that apparently scored 29 1/4” and weighed near 1600 pounds. It is suggested that the bear was an Alaskan brown bear that had somehow managed to migrate to Alberta. Some say this was proven at the University of Alberta or University of Saskatchewan, nobody really knows for sure, as it was never documented.

However, the story of the bear’s demise is agreed upon, at least similarly. George Bugbee, a local rancher, guide and outfitter from the Caroline/Sundre area was guiding a party of hunters when they encountered the bear. According to a 1949 newspaper report, “...while going down a narrow box canyon along Limestone Creek in the Clearwater Gap, they broke through thick scrub timber into a small clearing to find they had disturbed a huge bear while he was feeding on a freshly killed moose. The bear reared to his hind feet, standing a good ten feet high or more, and sighting the disturbing element, he immediately charged them with a roar that should have terrified them if his huge size had not already done so.”

The story went on to say that Bugbee jumped from his panicked horse and after freeing himself from a tangled rope, he took quick aim at the charging beast. “The one bullet had done the job. Entering the open mouth of the enraged animal, it broke a front tooth in its passage, and lodged in the brain at the back of the skull.”

There are several stories about what later happened to the bear. One story has it that because Bugbee didn’t have a bear licence and having shot the bear in self-defence, it was confiscated. Later, after charges against Bugbee were withdrawn, the hide and skull disappeared.

Another has Bugbee being allowed to keep the hide and skull where he later donated or sold it to Lund Wildlife Exhibit in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where it later disappeared, either stolen or destroyed in a fire. Or, perhaps, it is still in the Lund family’s possession, nobody knows for sure. However, according to an email from the Prince Alberta Historical Society, “The Lund Wildlife Museum closed in the 1990s and was moved for a short time to BC. It came back to the family and is now in Prince Albert but is no longer on display. The building was taken down shortly after the exhibit was moved.”

I would offer that perhaps, the Bugbee Bear is still in possession of the Lund family.

One thing is for sure, this amazing story needs closure. The bear needs to be officially scored and the real story told. Was the Bugbee Bear an Alaskan brown bear that had somehow migrated to Alberta? Or was it just an extremely large grizzly bear, the largest ever killed in Alberta, or the world for that matter? The current world record grizzly measures 27 13/16, quite a bit smaller than the unofficial score of the Bugbee Bear. However, without the skull, we will never know. ■

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

Sports Scene Publications Inc.
10450 - 174 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5S 2G9
Phone: 780-413-0331 • Fax: 780-413-0388

Privacy Policy

© 2017 Sports Scene Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved