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Canadian black bears: father n’ daughter archery adventure (photo heavy)

Big Bend BrianBig Bend Brian Senior MemberPonte Vedra (Palm Valley) & Cedar Key, FLPosts: 1,459 Officer
From reports I've posted here a lot of you have seen my kids grow up doing outdoor adventures in the Big Bend and with Florida moving forward on allowing bear hunting here’s a report of my Canadian bear hunt I did with my 14 year old daughter 3 weeks ago.

Planning for my daughter’s black bear hunt started back in 2012 after I took my then 13 year old son Casey on a Canadian Spring time black bear archery hunt. On the last day of our 5 day hunt with 2 hours of light remaining a bear finally came in that we deemed a shooter and Casey got his first bear with a crossbow. That was an awesome trip!

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Casey and his black bear (2012)

Fast forward 3 years to today and at 14 years of age it’s my daughter Kaitlyn’s turn at a black bear hunt. Pulling her out of school (8th grade) for this 9 day trip hurt a bit as it was Final Exam preparation week but of course she thought it was a great plan! My philosophy is that life lessons, education and experiences aren’t limited to school alone.

Flying into Winnipeg, Canada we traveled another 2.5 hours to the north where we would bear hunt in the Crown Lands of Manitoba Province. Our Outfitter was Adrenaline Outfitters (http://www.adrenalineoutfitters.ca/) and we would be hunting their Rice River Camp. We would be meeting up with my Texan friend Dennis and his 12 year old son Riley. This would be their 4th year spring bear hunting with Adrenaline.


Upon arrival Sunday afternoon we filled out our bear licenses and discussed strategies then had our first meal which was fried local walleye!
I love fried phish………..
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The days Plan:
Pretty much the mornings would be dedicated to fishing followed by afternoon hunts from ~ 4 – 10 pm (last light). We’d fish till around 1 pm and then get ready for hunting. Our guide would quad us to the stand, leave, then comeback at dark (10 pm) to bring us out (or we’d walk out). To keep movement to a minimum we were using Bug Tamer suits and ThermoCells to keep the blackflys and mosquitoes away. The week before they got 4 inches of snow but with temperatures in the 80s the biting insects were rallying. The biting insects are much worse in Canada than Florida and we were using 2 Thermocells at a time. That didn’t even clear them all away – in Florida I only have to use one ThermoCell. That being said however, the bugs weren’t bad on stand. Dinners would be anywhere from 11 pm to 1 am depending on how far out we traveled to the stands.


Monday:
Morning was spent prepping gear and re-confirming crossbow & bow sights with just a bit of fishing time left.

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Riley with a nice small mouth (released)

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Beautiful walleye

Around 3:30 pm our first stand we would hunt was called “190” and shots would be right around 20 – 22 yards from a double man ladder stand. We couldn’t wait to get in the stand.
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Kaitlyn and guide Tom going hot


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Bear track

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“190”. View from the ladder stand

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Kaitlyn’s locked n’ loaded

Three hours later a bear comes in and it looked like a shooter (and a boar) but it was not a LARGE bear. Since it was the first day and the first bear of our hunt we just watched it for about 20 minutes until it caught Kaitlyn moving a bit too much and busted us. We did not see another bear the rest of the day’s hunt.

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First bear

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Working on the feeder


Tuesday:
After breakfast we headed out fishing in a 14 foot deep V jon trolling in 2.5 – 4 feet of water (no typo). We didn’t yet have worms and using plastics we caught a fraction of what others were catching near us. There were 4 other boats around us and at any point I could look up and see someone netting a walleye. Some of the fish we caught included pike, yellow perch and the fish noted below. We released everything we caught.

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Drum

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White bass

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Kaitlyn hooked up

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Beautiful lil’ walleye

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Small walleye

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Getting bigger

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Business end…..

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Kaitlyn

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5/8 ounce bottom bouncer trolling rig (we trolled in 2.5 - 4 feet)
The idea behind this rig is that it drags the bottom and the rotating blade spins the hook/jig/worm off the bottom. Pretty cool concept. I brought some rigs home with me to try trolling for trout in the ICW.

Hitting the woods around 3:30 pm we would hunt till 10 pm until it became too dark to see.

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Quad ride running to the stand.
Loving the father/daughter time!

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Typical scenery

Our second stand was called “Dead Bush” and was situated above 2 barrels in a granite rock setting with 2 chairs we packed in (you can’t leave anything at the sites as the bears will destroy it). This was a really comfortable stand and one I had hunted 3 years prior. Since we were on the ground they gave us a shotgun too – in 2012 we had one bear come up behind us in this stand. About 7 pm we had one small bear come in but it was hesitant to stick around. Kaitlyn counted him coming in 21 times with only a commitment at the end. The wind was skirting the line of his approach and he would lie down for a bit listening, smelling and watching the area. We got to watch him for about 45 minutes. We did not see another bear that afternoon.

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“Dead Bush” stand

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View from the blind


Wednesday:
After breakfast at 9 am we’d hit the water and trolling ½ a worm we started catching the heck out of the walleyes.
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Running to the flat

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Using worms the walleyes were larger & more numerous

Today’s stand would again be “190” and if the same bear came in as Monday Kaitlyn planned on taking it (the guides thought “it was a good first bear”). A cold front with rain was forecasted for tomorrow (Thursday) and bears don’t like moving in the rain so I was hoping bears would be moving pre-front.

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On the way to the stand we took a selfie

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Back at “190” ladder stand

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View from one of the barrels (taken during blood trailing)

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Selfie (we hunted with head nets down)

Around 4 pm to our immediate left I saw a bear walking up to the high rock where we crossed to enter the stand and it stopped at our scent. It continued but after about 6 yards it became nervous and turned tail and trotted away. Twenty minutes later a shooter bear appears below us but lays down offering no shot. We determine it’s a boar and about twenty minutes later it stands & turns broadside taking a step forward. Kaitlyn has been ready and turns loose her crossbow bolt. It appeared to be a good hit center mass and a pass through with the red Lumenok bolt stuck in the ground as the bear runs off. Reviewing the video we see it’s a great hit. Ten seconds later we hear its death moan and we give some High Fives! Using binocs I can already see a good blood trail along its exit route. I tell her that “Our trip is now complete and that it’s been a great adventure!” Kaitlyn is pretty ecstatic!

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Great shot!
Freeze frame video capture of the Lumenok bolt right before passing through the bear.

We stayed in the stand hoping that another good bear would come in and give me a turn at taking a bear. An hour and a half later another bear walks in and meets the criteria for a good bear (good size, pelt not rubbed, big “mitts”, etc). I stand and get my bow. After a bit it stands and turns to sniff Kaitlyn’s bolt in the ground and gives me a broadside shot. The shot looks good and about ten seconds later and real close, it gives a death moan, followed by 2 others - each progressively weaker. Reviewing the video it’s a solid hit with the death moans confirming it. We discuss staying in the stand for 30 more minutes then climbing down to retrieve Kaitlyn’s bolt. At the end of the 30 minutes Kaitlyn climbs down and once on the ground another bear comes into the feeder. I’m still in the stand and tried to push it off making both verbal noise and metal stand noises and the bear will not move off. Rather than retrieve the bolt we back out and depart the area.

Later, upon taking up the blood trail Kaitlyn’s bear left a great blood trail and went about 60 yards. At the bear Kaitlyn kneels down and says a prayer of thanks for the bear’s life and the opportunity to share this moment. After a number of photos & congratulations we go to retrieve my bear.

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Blood trailing

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Happy Kamper!!
(spots are from the misting rain)

My bear went 20 yards and we dragged the bears together for a few photos.

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An awesome father daughter adventure!!

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Paws

After skinning the bear we examined the organs and Kaitlyn took out one lung and a lobe of the liver plus scored the heart with 2 of the 3 blades of the NAP Spitfire 125 grain mechanical broadhead. The 1.5 inch cutting surface makes for a large triangular hole too.

Thursday:
Since our hunt was over we helped with some of the camp chores of filling feeders and then concentrated on fishing.


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Filling feeders

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Our guides (Tom & Grant). They did a great job and really tailored to the young kids hunting!

Back on the river……
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More solid “pickerel” as the northerners call them. They also call them “green backs”.

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Kaitlyn’s largest….went 26 inches

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Another fine walleye

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Drum

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We kept a few and released numerous smaller and larger ones too


Friday:
A cold front with rain came through and it dropped to 36 ˚F and WINDY.

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Dennis wearing socks for gloves (Riley in the bow). That cold wind was blowing 20+ knots so we stayed in a sheltered cove.

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A double on drum

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Walleye

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Kept a few to bring home (selfie)

Friday afternoon hunt/last day: The pressure is on…….
In the afternoon Dennis, his son Riley and their guide Tom ran a quad and a Rhino for 17 miles to the most northern stand. The wind was wrong for the ladder stand so they packed in a pop-up blind. That evening in a ground blind Riley made a good shot on a really nice boar with his crossbow however they didn’t hear the death moan (larger bears don’t always do). Towards dark at 9:37 pm a MUCH LARGER bear came in and walked straight towards them. As it approached the blind Dennis stated he was terrified and thought he’d have to throw himself on top of Riley to keep him from getting mauled. The bear sniffed the blind 2 feet from Riley and then walked away then stopping to give Dennis a perfect stationary broadside shot at 15 yards. Dennis, who is a veteran hunter and hunts in Africa, shot 4 feet under the bear and hit the rock it was standing on. Dennis said he was so shook up over that encounter that he can’t remember anything. He said it was beyond scary and he was a bit shaken up!

Saturday:
The next morning we took 2 quads and the Rhino back out to blood trail Riley’s bear.

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Beautiful scenery

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It was a good blood trail and it was fun to watch Riley work it up. It went about 120 yards. Even with 4 of us moving the bear to a spot for photos we were all huffing n’ puffing moving it. It was a great ending to our hunt!

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Riley & his father Dennis with Riley’s boar

With that we returned to camp and grabbed our gear to head back to Winnipeg. It was an outstanding Canadian adventure and one none of us will ever forget. It’s these types of memories that are seared in my mind and motivate me for more outdoor adventures with my children.

It’s been a great ride so far………

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Hoo Yah!!
Brian

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