For the past 2 seasons I have been trying to take a bear by canoe off public wilderness on solo self guided hunts. No particular reason other than to make it a challenge and keep things interesting and I like that you can't get to these places any other way. My first attempt was in the spring of 2015 and resulted in no bears seen and a camera lost overboard. My next attempt was in the spring of 2016 and I had a lot more action and potential but I ran out of time. The third and final chapter was this fall and this weekend I finally managed to seal the deal.
The setup for this fall was essentially identical to the spring. Same location and same bait except instead of marshmellows I used jujubes in my mix. The jujubes were left over from a summer camp where my youngest son was a counsellor and the price (free) was right. So the bait mix was as follows:
265 lbs whole corn - $23.75
75 lbs molasses - $16.85
44 lbs jujubes - free
Total bait cost $40.60
A couple of pics from the spring setup (this fall was the same except I forgot my camera on the day I setup):
Loaded up and heading out to bait (usually done about 2 weeks before the hunt):
Getting the bait barrel setup:
The view up the shooting lane to the ground blind:
The remainder of the pics are from the hunt this weekend. This location is on public wilderness and about a 1 hour paddle from the put in where I camped. The camp (mostly in the box of my truck) - those tent cots are handy and very comfortable:
I hunted last weekend but did not see anything. I think it was too warm and the bears were hitting the bait during the cooler dark times. I know they were around as there were piles of scat and and a scat trail leading to my blind which the bears had torn down, turned the hubs inside out and several ripped the fabric in several places. I fixed the blind as best as i could and hunted out of it that weekend and left it standing when i left. When i returned this weekend it was the same drill:
This morning I set the alarm for 5:00 am and shoved off with the canoe at 5:15 am. The temperature was 34F on my thermometer and there was light fog on the lake. The fog rendered my headlamp totally useless as the light was reflecting and the glare reduced visibility to 2 or 3 feet. Fortunately there was some moonlight and with the fog being light I was able to navigate with the lamp turned off. I was at the torn down blind at 6:20 am and decided not to use it. Instead I sat inside some young maples behind the blind position with the tripod and hoped for the best. At 6:40 am (legal shooting start) I loaded the gun and waited.
At 7:00 am my bear came in and almost immediately presented a perfect broadside shot with the bait barrel on his off side. The bear was certainly not big but being as this was going to be my first attempt trying to get one out by canoe I decided to take him. I squeezed one off at his boiler room and the 35 Whelen sent a 250 grain partition his way. He immediately did a somersault and landed such that I could only see his hind quarters. As soon as he landed he snarled for a fraction of second and than switched to the death moan. He did not rise.
I decided to wait 15 or 20 minutes to be sure he was dead (I was fairly certain he was as he made the moan). After 10 minutes or so I notice some movement and thought what the #$%@. I got up thinking I had to put a second round into him and moved forward to get a view of his vitals. While moving forward my line of sight was momentarily blocked and during that time a bear gets up from his position and starts running away. It was about the same size and I thought what the ^*#%, this is not good. I take another 3 steps forward trying to get a line of sight on the fleeing bear and my bear comes back into sight and is laying right where I dropped him. A second bear had snuck in and was checking out the carcass - this was the bear now fleeing. Because my view was mostly blocked I never saw him come in.
After passing thru the bullet punctured the bait barrel and then stuck in the offside of the barrel:
Loading him into the canoe I narrowly avoided tipping and going for a swim. The loaded bear:
I used a shoreline rock that was slightly higher than the top of the canoe to get him up and over the gunwale:
I had him loaded by 8:00 am and was back at the put in about 9:00 am. By 11 am I had him dressed and camp broken down and everything loaded and was on the road back home. I stopped about 45 minutes into my ride and got 4 bags of ice to pack his chest cavity to enhance cooling. At the butcher he scaled 101 lbs dressed (skinned and gutted). Just about the perfect size for one guy and a canoe and probably going to be some fine eating.
I am thinking my next quest will be crossbow whitetail by canoe. I already have a place in mind that is on public wilderness land - we will see how much time I have to sort it out. I thought about the crossbow for the bear but than decided nah I'll take the Whelen and make sure there is minimal tracking