Acrobatic black bear video garners fame for outfitter

The video of an acrobatic black bear climbing across a rope to reach bait placed there by hunters has netted the outfitter international attention, so much attention he was forced to hire an agent.

Outfitter Pat Garrett enjoying '15 minutes' of fame

Outfitter Pat Garrett explains how his video of an acrobatic black bear has brought him both favourable and critical attention. (CBC)

The video of an acrobatic black bear climbing across a rope to reach bait placed there by hunters has netted the outfitter international attention: so much attention he was forced to hire an agent. 

"Everyday it's National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Daily Planet, CBC, Good Morning America, everybody just started phoning offering me all this stuff," said Pat Garrett. "It was just overwhelming to tell you the truth."

Garrett recently shot a commercial in Sweden and with the help of California-based Jukin Media is lining up a few talk shows.

"I'm going to ride this thing out as long as I can," he laughed.

Garrett, an oil rig foreman who lives and works near Edmonton, runs an outfitting business with his family that takes hunters up to the Fort McMurray area in the spring to shoot black bears. 

"We don't even think twice about it," he said. "It's legal in Alberta. The bear population is so huge in Alberta, it's only helping."

Baiting is the only way to hunt bears in the remote country, Garrett said. 

"The bush is so dense up there that you have to or you can never hunt them," he said.

Baiting bears can save nursing sows

Baiting the bear allows hunters to see the animal more clearly and avoid shooting illegal bears, said Brendan Cox, public affairs officer with Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

"Whether or not it's a female with cubs, and then they can be more selective with the animal that they're choosing to harvest," he said.  

Garrett said the area he hunts in, east of Fort McMurray, has no shortage of black bears.

 "They relocated 160 bears out of Fort McMurray last year," he said.

Garrett shot the two-minute video last spring, posting it on YouTube shortly after.

But it wasn't until it was reposted by somebody overseas that it took off, being viewed more than 750,000 times, he said.

The bear wasn't the only star featured in the video, he said.

"The way I was laughing and how funny it was — a lot of people say that made the video," he said. "I didn't narrate it at all. It was just natural."

Garrett did get a "fair bit" of negative response online, but not over the idea of bears being baited and shot. 

"The problem was when the bear let go," he said. "In the video it looks fairly high, but it really isn't."

As for the bear in the video, it was a small sow feeding three cubs, that eventually shimmied along the rope to claim the beaver carcass bait, he said. 

With files from CBC's Travis McEwan