Jenn Rivet is the co-owner of Livin’ the Dream Productions, an outfitting business in Alberta that she and her husband started more than 20 years ago. She’s guided big names such as Cameron Hanes, Joe Rogan and Luke Bryan and has passed on the guiding tradition to her daughters. They specialize in moose, deer and bear hunts at their full-service lodge. where by the end of your stay you’ll be part of the family!
(As told to Courtney Nicolson)
On my grandpa’s farm, anything the boys were doing I was doing too.
He taught us trapping and how to live off the land. When I was on the farm I got to do a lot of things that I couldn’t at home. Hunting was mostly a men’s tradition in my family. My mom did hunt, and I would get to go to camp with them. I learned a lot from just being around the hunt. I would help skin, butcher, make sausage and cook. That’s been a part of my life longer than I can remember, so you could say hunting is really in my DNA! I did a little bit of grouse hunting, but I didn’t really get into big game hunting until I started dating my future husband, John. We would hunt for food, but that would also be our date!
For first time bear hunters, it’s kind of overwhelming.
You’re sitting there in the middle of the bush and you have these massive creatures coming around you. I’ll try and sit with each new hunter on their first sit, mostly for safety. I highly recommend on your first night, put yourself in their environment and just watch and learn. This would also be a great night to do some filming. Watch their body gestures, how they posture and interactions. If you’re on a DIY hunt, I’d give the same recommendation. One trick I tell our clients is when the bears are eating, it’s noisy and their heads are down. You can get away with little movements to prepare for your shot.
What is your dream bear?
Are you looking for a big bodied bear, a color phase bear or a large skull? Hides are prime in early spring or late fall, but bears will reach their maximum mass in the fall season. Genetics play a big part in a bear’s characteristics. In the Carolinas, you’ll have bears over 600 pounds, but just because they are massive it doesn’t guarantee a trophy skull. In Alberta we have great genetics, we can have 5- or 6-year-old bears with huge skulls.
There are many ways to hunt bears.
Up here we’re allowed to bait and we do. I think it’s an amazing way to acclimate a hunter to being around a carnivore that can eat you. In Alberta, it’s legal to harvest both boars and sows, but not a sow with cubs. However, a sow may come into a bait and leave her cubs up a tree, away from the site. That’s why we don’t harvest sows – because you can’t be sure. Baiting doesn’t guarantee you a trophy, but it increases the opportunity to see one.
Recommendations for calibers and guns from Remington Outdoor Company
– Shot distances are close
– Have time to wait for the perfect shot angle
– Generally in elevated stands or confined box blinds
– Model Seven in .308 Win is a great choice
– If not limited to just Remington, would also recommend our 1895 SBL
Spot and Stalk bears (Depends on where you are at in Alberta, could be a baited hunt or spot and stalk)
– Shot distances tend to be farther
– Hiking will be required so weight comes into play
– Weather can be wet
– 700 American Wilderness Rifle in 300 Remington Ultra Magnum
When you’re looking at a black bear against a bright green spring forest, it looks massive, no matter what it is.
Head, body, and foot size can all help reveal gender. Here are some tips that I share with my hunters. Sows’ front paws are usually smaller for their body size. If the sow is older, you see something I call the “mumma pouch.” After many years of having cubs, down at the base of her belly it’s a little pouch-like. For cow moose, it’s the same thing. You can also see their backs start to sway from carrying the weight of those calves. The biggest secret is to look underneath the tail. Sows’ urine has a lot of ammonia in it. That area gets matted and you can see it is faintly bleached.
Timing is everything.
Spring bear opens April 1, but their activities vary depending on the area. When they come out of hibernation depends greatly on the snow cover and the weather. This goes for a lot of species, but just because the season is open doesn’t mean there’s activity yet. You might need to do some research to find out when primetime is.
When you’re selecting an outfitter, think about how much interaction you want.
Some folks just want a key and to have solitude for their hunt. Others might want to be in a big camp with a bunch of other hunters. We love meeting such a variety of people from all over the world. It’s actually hard to do the client/outfitter relationship because everyone becomes friends! It’s a good thing, we’re a family operation. It sounds corny but we are who we are and we love what we do.
If you’re considering becoming a guide, ask yourself what is your purpose?
Some people think I have a dream job because I get to hunt and fish all the time. This IS my dream job, but my dream was to guide and I actually don’t get to hunt and fish all that much. Do you LOVE the outdoors? Do you like people? Do you want to be in a remote camp or at a 5-star lodge closer to civilization? Find some guides and talk to them about their experiences. Ask an outfitter or camp to come volunteer or help out.
I want to keep the hunting tradition really strong in my family.
It can be tough as a woman in the hunting industry and you may not be taken seriously! When I meet people they may say, “Oh, hi you’re the outfitters wife.” I believe women are competent, educated and strong enough to do an amazing job as a guide, even when some of your family or friends may not agree.
My daughters are guides now and I tell them they have to be confident in who they are and what they know!
If you love your job your passion with shine through. My motto is: “It’s the awe of the adventure, not the thrill of the kill.”
Livin’ the Dream Productions
Courtney Nicolson is an outdoor writer, hunter, and angler based in Denver, Colo. She is an active member of numerous conservation groups and is passionate about empowering women in the outdoors. Courtney is the senior producer/editor for Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks. View all posts by Courtney Nicolson