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Two fellow members from my hunting club and I leave tomorrow for Minitonas Manitoba on a truly different adventure. For those not familiar with Minitonas, it’s pretty close to Swan River. Still confused?.…how about near the Porcupine or Duck mountains? I doubt any of that helps a great deal. I guess that’s a good start on how you define an epic adventure…you go to some distant land that you never heard off and witness first hand a culture that is completely different than your own. It’s often said that hunting isn’t really about the kill; but about the journey of discovery which encompasses the entirety of the hunt; from the travel, the people, meals, and of course the actual hunting part. Having been blessed to make many trips like this on over the last four decades, I can say that while I do remember loosening my grip on the arrow on past hunts and everything associated with it; my fondest memories and stories I tell of are the places I visited and the people I met. The hunt merely gives you a good reason to go.

Which brings me to the subject of hunting bears….lots of good folks don’t have any interest in it. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are against it…rather it’s just not near the top of their bucket list for any number of reasons. The fact that they are predators makes eating them a non-starter for some people; though I think it’s quite good….not to mention the fat can be reduced to cooking oil that is highly regarded. Still, when I went to Alberta many years ago to hunt them; I remember the resident cost of a bear license was $35…and you got 5 tags! Bears have a respect problem.

This is a baited hunt. Frankly, I have always had an uneasy feeling about the practice of baiting as a hunting method. That said, I just don’t see my own personal ethical standard that I give other game animals applying to predators like coyotes, hogs, bears, etc. However, bears do start to balance on the peripheral edge of this view point; so I’m not sure I will ever make another baited hunt for them. Frankly, at my age this could be my last one period so my intention to hold out for a P&Y class bear; a lofty goal which probably will leave me just looking at the dead bears that other people have shot. I’m okay with that for this particular hunt. Go big or go bust!

Let’s get on with the trip! I’m anxious to see some northern lights in the sky and hear the wail of the loons on the lakes. It’s been too many years since I experienced these northern latitude joys. With a little luck, I can give an update closer to the Canadian border in the next couple of days
Best of luck on your adventure. Look forward to updates. Any OOS hunt for me will depend on tomorrow’s WY draw results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I really appreciate everyone’s comments! It makes it fun to provide the updates! I too would like to share a camp with you one day as well Bentstick54! The following post is posted from my phone notes this afternoon. It’s 10:14 and I have signal out in the field the first time. Just saw 17 elk on the field I came out on. This night will be different as I sit on a log under the cloud cover by a raging flood swollen creek. It’s going to be a long night as I suspect I will be waiting until midnight to be picked up by the outfitter. Read my below pasted notes to know more about what is going on. I

“Today is Wednesday and got to see first hand how hard bait access can be. We were unable to get to my stand this afternoon due to another bridge washout. We backed the truck and ATV trailer over 2 miles as the road was washed away on each side to the extent we couldn’t turn around. We went to another road about four miles further and came in from another direction with the ATV. I have to admit crossing a large flooded creek on foot was nerve racking as if you fell it might be your last crossing. To illustrate this more clearly, a dead elk calf was found in the bottom of the creek dead. Nature is cruel.

I told the outfitter that being 64, wearing 12 pounds of insulated rubber boots and a 20 pound pack might make it hard for me to get back across. I am jumping up the far side bank (rather than down)on the return crossing. Please understand that ….if I fail to post later in the hunt:)

I’m settling into my stand. Nobody has hunted it this year I’ve been told. It seems to only have minor activity but we will just wait and see.

While waiting on an oversized bruin to show up (maybe) I might be able to described this country better than what an I phone picture can convey. This place is cold. It’s very open wind swept country with miles and miles of endless prairie intertwined with “Crown” (national forest)land that is heavily wooded with aspen and spruce pine. There is not a lot in between these two extremes. Temps often reach 40 below zero in the winter and it’s June before the long johns come off. They put them back on 90 days later. The area is heavily populated with indigenous people that we would normally call Native Americans. Given we are in Canada, I’m not sure Native
Canadians is quite applicable….so we will just go with indigenous people for the purpose of this discussion:)We are far enough north that they appear Inuit in features but that might be a false observation on my behalf.

Two updates. I’m just about to get down and looks like the bears have won day three. BUT… Larry has smoked a really good one and has it recovered. More on this tomorrow when I get more details. Just down to me now. Unfortunately, the weather is wicked tomorrow so will see if we can get to the woods or not”
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
A follow up to yesterday’s hunt….Larry Carman shot a true monster. We weighed him last night after we got to bear camp and he topped the scale at a whopping 358 pounds! This bear will almost certainly make the record book with lots of excess over the minimum. It’s now down to just me as I am the only bear hunter left with three days to go. It should be an ideal situation. More later
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Day 4 of my hunt (Thursday) will be a bit different. Given that today has a 100% chance of rain until 11pm tonight, my plan is to just wear a rain suit with the best base layers I have and try to stick out the rain, wind, and high 30’s temps the best I can. Everything gets wrapped up today in terms of gear so my phone likely stays deep in my pack for the duration of the hunt….and my hands deep in my wool jacket that I will wear over my rain suit. Hand warmers will also be mandatory today. Anything that happens today will be shared tomorrow morning; barring any unusual event.

I need to share a bit more about Larry’s bear and the overall hunt yesterday. Larry’s bear is 20”. To put that in perspective, a Boone and Crocker bear only scores 21….so his first bear ever taken will likely be his lifetime’s biggest. Nobody was more excited that Larry about this trip so it’s only fitting that this massive beast will hold a special place in his trophy room. Larry and I loaded in the truck yesterday and he took the first stand we came too. I took the second one about 20 miles more distant. You all know now who made the best pick:)

Larry had a smaller bear on the bait that took off like a shot when the ground pounder bruin showed up. Larry had a video camera and turned it on as the big bear stalked in. Larry knocked the camera with his knees as the beast moved into Larry’s shooting window but luckily he still captured the shot. The full metal jacket Easton arrow tipped with a four blade Slick Trick traversed the length of the bears body from the rib cage to bear the back hams. The bear was slightly quartering toward him; which Larry wasn’t aware in the low light conditions. The bear, after the shot, merely shrugged, and walked calmly away with heavy breathing. Larry saw the bear for over a minute before the bear walked out of sight in a lake.

Larry didn’t hear a death moan so he stayed into the stand until a little before dark when our guide came. They found the bear floating in the lake. He hadn’t gone far after Larry last saw him!

Bears of the size we are hunting seem to be nuclear powered. Seemingly hits that would stop a whitetail in short order hardly faze these beast. The three other hunters at bear camp didn’t get back until 4am last night. All three hit good size bears and all any of them got was a long blood trail. I saw a video of one shot and the bear should have been in his trophy room. The tenacity of these bears is nothing short of amazing. The bear that spooked from the bottom of my stand on Monday had an arrow wound at the rear of his rib cage. I asked the guides if a bear had been shot off that stand last week and they confirmed it had.

All this wounding has me a bit troubled at my own prospects as my tackle is a bit light. I seem also to be snake bit as the only hunter left….as all the others have shot and either killed (Larry) or wounded (all the rest)

I will provide my own updates tomorrow. Wish me
luck this afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Thursday’s update…..the bears are 4-0. If the bears were a football team, they would be looking like they might be Super Bowl winners….undefeated!

However, yesterday had some good developments. For one, I saw some bears on a cold, windy, and miserable afternoon. At 9:45 a huge sow and her cub came in. The cub got a whiff of me and shot straight up a tree. (Thankfully not the one I was in) momma spent the next 10 minutes prancing around and popping her jaws. It was a bit unsettling; especially as the last rays of light were fading. Eventually the cub backed down the tree and mom and child ambled away in the last minutes of shooting light. My feet hit the ground at 10:10 pm and I nervously moved out of the area without further incident. The good part about yesterday is the 100% rain and snow forecast for the evening hunt didn’t materialize. The the cold 35 degrees and wind was the only thing that had to be overcome. Just like a deer hunt in January; it wasn’t a big deal. I was just comfortably chilled; a description only a hunter would understand.

Today(Friday) is a low 40’s day with snow changing to rain. Much better this afternoon as the temps hold steady and the wind stays lower at around 10-15 mph. This will feel like a day on the beach compared to yesterday!

Saturday will be nearly 60 degrees with little wind. It will be the best day to hunt since last Monday. The guides are excited about Saturday as they say that bear activity follows the temps. The warmer it is, the better the hunting.

Look for todays update maybe around midnight! I got two traveling companions just sitting around in the lodge wanting to start the 32 hour trip back. I keep hoping they haven’t left me when I get back each evening!!!
 

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Tuff conditions for sure but after traveling that far you have to hunt. Hopefully the bear start to cooperate now that the weather is changing.

The lodge looks very nice, can’t complain about that for sure.

I hope your traveling companions understand and don’t leave you lol. (I’m sure they won’t) A friend and I went on a 14 day public land DIY elk bowhunt in 2013 and the deal was if one killed early the other was in it for the duration. Neither of us killed so no pressure for either to leave.

I really enjoy your updates, you have a knack for storytelling. I almost feel like I was there reading your updates.

Good luck, aim small and wish you well.
 

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Hoping the weather helps you out and bears don’t go 5-0. I’m sure your companions are hoping you score!!! Enjoying the stories everyday. I kinda hope you hold out till last day!!😁
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
It’s about 5:30 pm and I’m settling in after a 10 mile ATV ride (that isn’t a misprint) I am cleaning my custom recurve of all the mud slung on it over the last one and a half hours.

I had a slight mishap….We stopped to fill a bait station along the way. When I climbed off the ATV, my snow mobile gloves hit the gas lever. If you can picture a 64 year old man going %+#hole over elbows you have a good mental picture of the actual event as it happened….as the ATV left the immediate domicile without the rider. After the horror stricken guide saw that I came up laughing in hysterics he was fine. We both laughed for a bit. I asked why he pulled me off the ATV as I was planning to fill the drum by myself to help him out! I will digress to answer the question that the reader wants to know first and foremost. Despite a one and a half somersault with a registered difficulty of 10 by the International Low Platform Dive Federation; I kept perfect balance/agility and stuck a perfect landing (defined as landing on my butt) with my beloved custom recurve clutched skyward in my outstretched hand. It suffered no serious injuries:)

Snow has been on going since 11am. It’s about 33 degrees so it’s just sticking under the spruces and exposed logs. It’s pretty to watch and only a small hinderance. The snow is melting about as fast as it falls in most places. The picture of the drum can be enlarged and you can see the snow a bit.

Now the important stuff. There is a reason we traveled in the snow and 10 miles. This must be the mother of all bear setups. There is nothing but mud for 10 to 15 yards around the drum and the bears have rolled all the bait out of the drum in just two days. The drum just has a few holes likely made by a chisel so it only drops a bit of trail mix with the rolling action on the drum created by the bears. If that isn’t enough to get a fellow excited; as soon as the ATV left; two cubs came down the tree just yards in front of me! We apparently run momma off the bait site.

The guide says “Tank” visits here; a 500 pound boar. If he shows up I’m not sure my arrow doesn’t bounce off him!!! The shot only looks to be 10 yards to the drum. If something shows up maybe I can keep it together for the shot. Looks promising!

It’s now 7:45. A large sow and two cubs just left the bait after about an hour. The cubs were comical as every time that got some trail mix out of the drum they would make little soft bawling sounds which apparently displayed their pleasure. Mom could scent me but as long as I planned to hold my ground she was happy holding her’s. I saw a third cub that never approached the barrel. I assume it wasn’t her cub. Not sure why it just was walking by itself in the woods.

It’s now 8:46 and the snow continues unabated. It’s starting to stick now as the temps fall. I’m comfortable as long as the wind keeps low.

I have seen four more bears in the last hour. A big sow (I think) came in weighing likely about 225 pounds. She was an ornery old cuss as another bear tried to come to the barrel to eat and she engaged in a high speed chase in figure eights that must have lasted three minutes. Eventually the bear climbed a tree and eventually left. Another larger bear came in and slowly worked its way to the bait. She eventually let him eat as she got full. That bear stayed for a very long time. You could tell his disposition was better as he seemed more relaxed despite knowing I was there. The smaller bear never came back.

At 9:50 two large boats appeared about 80 yards down wind from me. I lost sight of them as the shadows grew in the heavy snow. At about 10 o’clock I saw one moving in. I had only only began to judge this bear when it stopped and started huffing…obviously not liking my sent. The bear turned and walked back the way it come. At 10:05 the second bear appeared just two minutes until the end of shooting hours and was coming to me! This one was likely the one I came after! A minimum of a 300 pound bear walked past me at 20 yards. I started to pull back ….and just decided to let down. It was too dark to really define the vitals and most certainly past shooting hours.

I saw a minimum of 9 bears this afternoon in a snow storm. It was the best evening I ever spent bear hunting. The 5 hours past in a moment.

The bears won today. The bears are 5-0 with one day to go. Yet today I didn’t lose…I just decided not to win.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Actually the guide said we traveled 30 Kilometers. He thought it converted to 17 miles! The snow is gone except for the ground. It’s a nice sunshine day with the day warming fast! Should be a beautiful day to see my last sunset here!

The long trip yesterday was the exception. The typical day trip has an hour to hour and a half truck drive and maybe two or three miles in the mountains with an ATV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
This is my last day is here.

The outfitter asked me if I wanted to hunt this morning AND this afternoon; in effect getting an extra hunt! Of course I decided to do it. Getting up at 6am when you got to bed at 1:30am is harder as you get older, but today, I was more than up to it.

It’s about 10:00 o’clock and the plan is to stay until 11am. We will go back to bear camp, eat lunch and take a power nap before heading out around 3pm for the final hunt.

I haven’t seen a bear this morning even though I’m sitting where Larry killed his monster. Maybe this is why bears aren’t usually hunted in the morning?

The only thing noteworthy this morning is I’ve been listening to a ruff grouse drumming. It’s a unique sound and I encourage anyone to google the sound and listen to it. It serves the same purpose as a turkey gobble. Not likely anything to add to this mornings hunt unless we get some bears to the bait this last hour.
 
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