Back in December last year my wife and I made the leap into cottage ownership and lucked into a nice little cottage on a beautiful piece of land on a small lake about 15 miles west of Powassan. We back onto 10s of 1000s of acres of public wilderness and my thoughts immediately went to bear hunting. It is primarily a family cottage place but in season serves double duty as a base to hunt from. A small taste of my little piece of central Ontario paradise:
So this past spring I set up 2 bait sites on public. One was canoe access only via the lake and the other was either walk to or canoe to via a large beaver pond. The spring hunt was mostly a fail as I had a bad gout flare up that prevented me from hunting. Based on the action at the baits I did manage to figure out that the canoe bait on the lake was too exposed and hardly getting hit. This summer I relocated this bait further down the lake into a more protected/secluded area and activity picked up.
I started baiting again the first week of August and had action almost right away. I used shaker/roller barrels chained to trees and filled them with a mixture of whole corn, molasses and jujubes. The sites were visited weekly and bait added as needed. At the lake canoe site I was going through about 220 lbs per week and at the beaver pond site I was going through 330 lbs per week. Delivery by canoe looks something like this:
This is my canoe of choice when 2 people are available as it has an asymmetrical hull that makes it fast but also makes it awkward if you are solo. When solo I use my symmetrical canoe that you see further down the report.
Fast forward to yesterday (opening day). I left home about 10am after taking care of a few work related emails and arrived at the cottage at about 130pm. I had lunch and headed to the beaver pond site at about 3pm. I set up SE of the bait on top of a ridge about 25 yards from the bait. My shooting lane is shown below:
Normally you would see the barrel in this position:
but the bears rolled it into the bushes on the right.
At about 545pm I heard a ruckus that seemed to be coming from about 100 yards south of my position. The noise (mostly sticks snapping) carried on for about 15 minutes and I have no idea what was going on but fortunately it did not distract me too much and nor did it dissuade a bear from appearing from the west headed to the barrel. The bear stopped about 5 yards short of the barrel and looked like it was about to make me but gave me a hard quartering towards shot. I decided almost instantly that I would take it as this looked like the target bear I had chosen off my game cam pictures. I squeezed the trigger and the noise behind me stopped, the bear jumped and ran about 20 yards before piling up and starting the moan. I waited 15 minutes after the moan stopped and approached the bear and this is how I found it (less the tag):
Fortunately the bear dropped about 3 yards from the canoe landing. He turned out to be a dry she. I got her loaded into the canoe without too much issue other than going over my right boot and getting a wet foot. All loaded:
Approaching the landing at the truck:
Getting the bear unloaded proved to be a little more problematic and I ended a little wetter with a tipped canoe:
Once on shore I field dressed her and attempted to load her into the box of my truck. The plan was to drag her up some 12 foot 2x6s. Great plan in theory except for the six times she fell off part way up. Eventually I got her loaded.
Once loaded I packed her chest cavity with ice and started the drive to the butchers. The butcher is a family friend and he was happy to meet me at the shop so I could get the bear directly into cold storage. The bear weighed 175lbs field dressed at the butcher shop so probably 225-235 live and is about the maximum size I look for when solo with the canoe. Time line was as follows:
6 pm - shot the bear
8 pm - loaded and on the road
1130 pm - unloaded into cold storage at the butchers
And no story is complete without without the firearm details. 35 Whelen shooting 250 grain partitions hand loaded to 2500 fps. The rifle: