Canadian Spring Bear Hunt

The big boar followed the sow out of the woods; then he turned and came straight at my son and me.

Mar 14 2014 - Mar 21 2014

Hank Seale

First posted Mar 28 2015 Last updated May 14 2015

Disclaimer: Telling this story over a year after the fact, so some details may be fuzzy. Thanks to Guidefitter for this opportunity now. Above is an example of the info we got ahead of the trip. Good, but I think more detail could help and I'll try to include some in my story. Don't misunderstand, Ganglers did an OUTSTANDING job as you'll see, but I think this is one area that Guidefitter can really help outfitters and hunters communicate the little details that can make or break a hunt.

On a puddle jumper, doing what puddle jumpers do, between Winnipeg and Thompson. This Texas boy has never seen so many lakes at one time.

My son at the private part of Thompson airport. Note: We didn't know this, but to get to the far side of the airport where you have to go to catch the private plane to the lodge, you have to catch a cab.

Some great folks from Alabama (I think) on a family hunt. My son is far right. We were all waiting on the plane to pick us up to go to hunting camp. Later we found out the gentleman at far left got real close to harvesting a 500 lb "spirit" bear. Ganglers had lots of big and color phase bears.

The plane that took us to camp.

The strip where we landed at Ganglers. A 5 min walk or 1 min golf cart ride to main lodge. I'm not sure how it could get any better. I don't have pics of the lodge, but it's very nice. We were here just long enough to transfer to a bush plane which took us out to spike camp.

Spike camp and home sweet home for the next several days. The mosquitos were out in force, even inside the cabin. Head nets, hardcore repellant, lightweight gloves, and anything else you can think of will help.

Our guide "Brother Larry". Our pilot had warned me flying in that Larry had a full vocabulary of words that you won't find in the family dictionary. As a joke, we all agreed that I would introduce myself as a vacationing pastor, and they would play along. When we all got off the plane and into the boat, we made introductions, and then I led a prayer to thank God for the opportunity to take this trip with my son, bless our hunt and watch over us. When I looked up, Larry looked like a coon caught in a trap. I couldn't help myself; I busted out laughing. We got along fine, and he must have been unsure, because we heard very little of his more "colorful" side.

We caught TONS of fish during breaks from hunting. We would hunt from late morning or afternoon until dark, but most of the time with a break at midday. No early mornings necessary. Yahoo!

We caught so many fish I got tired of it. My son never did tire of it. Several times we saw bears from the boat. Once we saw what we thought was a "shooter", put on a spot and stalk, but eventually decided he wasn't big enough. One thing I found interesting is that these bears, for the most part, weren't familiar with humans. The good part of that is it with no fear of humans, it easier for you to get close. The downside is they have NO fear of you. You're just third on the menu, behind fish and bait.

Brother Larry checking and refreshing a bait. Note he has a rifle? He was surprised when we showed up to bear hunt with bows, and we had no gun to use as a backup. We didn't know to bring one and he told us he never parted with his because of the number of bears and their lack of fear. This cerainly added to our "excitement". If I remember correctly, you couldn't bring a pistol into Canada. Larry carried a 45-70. I think the ideal backup gun would be a 30-06 or bigger, open sight, lever action, rifle.

Sunset view from our spike camp cabin.

Take a headnet. Hell, take two, in case you lose one. I had no idea, based on our instructions, that these would be so important. we would have been miserable without them.

This was the bug spray we brought and it worked great. It was the highest DEET content I could find. I highly recommend it.

These were the boots I brought. They're Red Wings. They're very comfortable and completely waterproof when properly treated beforehand with mink oil. They worked pretty well until we had to step off in water deeper than the tops were tall.

This was my back up pair of boots. The tops weren't any higher than my Red Wings, and it was unseasonably warm, so I opted to wear the cooler Red Wings.

These are the guide's boots, and what I should have brought.

This worked great for us. It's a "stuffable" pillow for hikers. It's very light and compact when folded up, but unstuffs to a reasonable pillow. I got ours at REI, but I've seen them anywhere serious hiking gear is sold. The picture is of the pillow folded in on itself in its self contained pillowcase. You'll have space and weight restrictions, so any shortcuts you can find to stay under weight will be helpful.

On the stand with bear on bait. Did I mention I love my son, and we had a blast just sitting for hours over baits watching nature? Looking back, that's the best part; hunting is just the excuse to do it.

More bear.

We saw lots of bears.

The stand. We had asked to hunt together, so Ganglers put us in stands that were in pairs. Gangler's did such an awesome job!

Dad getting a kick out of son's ability to sleep anywhere.

Now this looks interesting.
So here's the story: a sow, closely followed by a big boar, comes down a path from the thick wood from our right, and is headed to the bait. The boar spots us immediately and comes straight at us. Rut roh Raggy! He disappears in the brush under my stand. For several minutes I'm frantically looking for him. Later I find out, by looking at the video tape and talking to my son, who's in a stand right next to me, that the bear is only about 10 ft away (including height of the stand). He's peering through the bushes, watching me look for him. From the video it looks like he's sizing me up. My son later tells me that when the bear stepped from the brush to directly under my stand, the bear raised his head, sniffed the bottom of my boots, and then reluctantly strolled away towards the bait.

From the pic you can tell that my son SMOKED the big bear. He put on a perfect shot at 8 1/2 yards after holding draw for several minutes. No kidding, I have the whole thing on video. This is his first animal to harvest with a bow and he was a pro! PAPA IS SO PROUD!

The pic doesn't capture it, but Brother Larry was ecstatic too. This was a big bear which later measured out at just over 7 ft nose to tail.

We spent lots of time in the boat going to different baits around the lake. I focused in on a huge boar to the exclusion of everything else. My son hung with me through 5 days of stand sitting. Thanks bud! In the end, I didn't score, but couldn't have cared less. We had a ball. Thanks Larry and Ganglers!

Inside our cabin. Cleaning up the skull.

A well deserved bath, a la natural.

Robert's black bear "fighting" my Grizzly taken 3 months later in Alaska. That story is coming.