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Your Success Is Our Goal – Black Bear Hunters [with video]

Andy's 475 lb (dressed)

Andy’s 475lb (dressed)

Black  Bear  are  known  predators  and  Ontario  has  the  largest  population of black bear than anywhere in the world. Furthermore, north-western Ontario leads in the concentration of these animals than elsewhere in Ontario, and, rates highest in population concentration  for all of Ontario that also allows for bating practices.

Many deem baiting unfair, giving the hunter a considerable advantage. But contrary to what some would have us believe, it’s far from easy and holds no guarantees!  Bear can sneak in undetected, grab a morsel of food and disappear as fast as they arrived. Bear can also skulk around the bait for hours, never showing themselves. As experienced outfitters we’ve learned that many of our bear will move in cautiously to inspect the provisions. The advantage of hunting in the fall is bear are eager to fatten up for the winter.  The biggest advantage to baiting is that, if and when a bruin finally commits to the bait, it allows the hunter a  an opportunity to assess size, stature and time for shot placement.

About Bear
Black bear habitant range can span from two to 10 miles and resident populations often hold a variety of boars, sows and cubs, so it’s not uncommon to have multiple bears visiting the baited site.  Ontario only offers a FALL BEAR HUNT therefore the chance for the large TROPHY bear is increased dramatically.  Most hunters fear poor coats or hides due to the fall hunt but our area does not suffer that fate. With little to no burrs or ticks, our bear don’t succumb to ticks causing ‘rub’ or dry patchy fur.  We also are known for our high number of white chevrons (patches) to make your trophy even more unique. Black bear

Jon Hanson - Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Jon Hanson – Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Black bear have relatively poor eyesight, but outstanding hearing and acute sense of smell. Once they get a taste of your bait, and, as long as it is replenished regularly, they will be reluctant to leave the area.  In fact, once a site is established properly, you can and will see the same bruin day after day.

Location is Critical
Our bait stations have been established for many years (since 1972) and placed along the bear’s natural movement corridor. Heavily  timbered forests near cutovers and waterways often sustain good bear densities.  With berry crops like wild blueberries and raspberries nearby, black bear favor the accessibility and abundance of such forage and most often reside in the proximity.

Claw marks on deciduous trees and there may even be fresh markings, these lasting scars unveil a historical presence. Nomadic creatures, bear commonly travel traditional trails along waterways and natural movement corridors like valleys and ridges.  Finding fresh scat can instill further confidence that bear have frequented the bait.  Keep in mind that well established bait stations offer much more success than new stations since bear follow these game trails year after year.

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How To BEAR Eating Bear Meat

As an outfitter, we often hear how many people would love to hunt bear but have no idea what to do with all the meat or if they did keep it, how to cook it (Ontario is a no waste province, it is mandatory to take all of the meat with you upon departure.)

Below is an excerpt from a great story written by Jackson Landers and how he dealt with an unexpected amount of bear meat…..and what he learned.

Now I had heard all sorts of stories from hunters about what bear meat is like: that it’s tough, gamey, and unpleasantly greasy. But in my experience eating a fairly wide array of unusual species, I had found that meat that tastes “tough and gamey” is more often a case of bad butchering and sloppy handling than an intrinsic quality of a species.

To maximize the potential flavor of my bear, I dry-aged it for a week before I started experimenting. Dry-aging meat, for the uninitiated, is the process of letting meat hang out for a while at cool temperatures while allowing moisture to evaporate from it. Dry-aging accomplishes two things. First, natural enzymes in the meat begin to tenderize it by breaking down the collagen in the muscles. (Collagen is what makes tough meat feel tough, and more of it builds up in muscle tissue as an animal gets older.) Second, dry-aging allows water to evaporate out of a piece of meat, concentrating the flavor. High-end steakhouses all do this with their beef, and I have been dry-aging most of my venison in my fridge at home for years.

Once my bear was sufficiently dry-aged, the very first thing I tried was cutting some simple steaks out of a forequarter (the upper portions of the front legs) and from the backstraps (the cuts from alongside the spine that are referred to as “pork loin” in pigs). I wanted to keep the recipe simple so as not to hide the true flavor of the meat, but I also wanted to have some fun. So I just ran with the bear theme. I pan-seared the steaks in olive oil and drizzled just a bit of honey on them. A handful of blueberries went into the pan with them (bears love blueberries almost as much as they love honey). Then I transferred the meat to a covered dish to finish cooking in the oven and deglazed the pan with a splash of Toasted Head cabernet sauvignon, which I had chosen on account of the wine’s label having a black bear on it. I made sure to cook the meat to 140 degrees and hold it there for a while, since bears, like pigs, can carry trichinosis.

bearroast

My girlfriend and I sat down to eat our first bites of bear meat, drizzled with that red-wine pan sauce. The texture was good, and the backstrap cuts were a bit more tender than the forequarter cuts. The flavor was mild; it tasted more or less identical to venison—which is to say a lot like beef, only with less fat and a blander flavor. There was nothing greasy or tough about it. It looked like a thick piece of filet mignon. Between sips of the bear-bearing Toasted Head wine (which paired very nicely with the bear meat, I should add), we soon forgot that it was bear meat that we were eating. By the end of the meal, it was just dinner, no more exotic than the artichokes we served along with it.

Heartened, I started putting bear meat in everything. And once I began running it through the meat grinder, the stuff became a household staple. Think bear tacos, spaghetti with bear sauce, lime-marinated bear stir-fry served over ramen noodles.

moosestir

Bear burgers in particular were a big hit. I mixed one egg with 1 pound of ground bear meat and just a touch of onion powder and pepper and broiled them under high heat. Three minutes per side seemed to get me up over 140 degrees every time, without taking the burgers beyond medium-rare. I invited some friends over to eat them, and the unanimous agreement was that they simply tasted like very good beef burgers and that nobody would ever guess they were bear.

I began to take the ground bear meat so much for granted that I confess to feeding it to a dinner guest in a ragout over angel hair pasta without thinking to tell her that she was eating bear as opposed to beef. She ate every bite. I’m still not sure whether I should tell her what she ate.

Lately I’ve found myself worrying about the dwindling supply of bear meat in my fridge and freezer. I have one whole hindquarter in my chest freezer awaiting a special bear dinner with a group of friends, but other than that and a pound or so of medallions, all I’ve got left is an array of very unusual bones that my dogs have been chewing on in the front yard. What will I do when I run out?

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Posted by on December 1, 2018 in black bear, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Planning your hunt

Planning a black bear hunt often a painstaking, long drawn out event that involves researching outfitters, contacting references, arranging for lodging and transportation, and choosing the proper weapon.

IMG_5703 (640x495)

Most people must apply for tags by lottery depending on location, but did you know that if you go through an outfitter in Ontario, Canada you are GUARANTEED a tag?!  With that in mind, let’s visit the outfitter planning phase.

NW Ontario is renowned for not only population but size of black bear.  In the last 3 years of our hunts, we have had 44 hunters.  Of those 44, 33 harvested 6 spotted and passed up and 5 did not spot  Pretty impressive stats.  We go a step further when we can boast that over 45% were 300lb+ with 8 being over the 400lb mark and our record (taken last year) was 475lb (dressed weight) and squared out at 7′

Whether you choose an outfitter (suggested for first timers) or set up your own hunt, be prepared to start planning at least as early as a year prior.  Do you have your area picked?  Do you know the native food sources? What was the weather pattern like this hunt season?  Were the bears active and what was the harvest from the season(s) prior to your arrival?

A good outfitter will have all of this information readily available as well as a list of references.  That list should include people that did and did not get their bears.  It should include multiple years and an honest overview. You need to know exactly what to expect when you arrive and during your hunt.

Patterning the animal by baiting is often preferred up here in the boreal forest as spot and stalk is very unlikely with our dense forest and thick canopy.  The bonus to baiting is the ability to cull the size and sex necessary to help maintain and manage the population.  Often times, in our area, those that spot and stalk often take the first animal they see as it may be the only one and most refuse to pass up the opportunity 😦

SAM_0025 (640x480)

Baiting and sitting a stand may seem like a ‘canned hunt’ but as most can attest to, it can be a grueling experience that will test your fortitude.  Most first time bear hunters assume (incorrectly) that if you feed them, they will come…..while that is often the truth, bears are as individual as people and even with food, there is no guarantee of compliance on the animal’s part….remember, you are dealing with a wild creature and trying in 14 days or less to train it to your will.  Those that have children or pets know that training anything can be a very difficult task but consistency is key!

When planning your hunt, ensure that you are prepared for the task at hand.  Don’t think that just because you showed up that the bear is going to get the memo.  Be prepared to sit that stand!  You cant harvest a bear from your cabin/tent/motel.

When you contact potential outfitters, ensure that they have answers to all of your questions and they are engaged with your plight.  They should be just as focused on you getting a bear as you are.  Your outfitter is your link to the area as well as in most cases in charge of ‘conditioning’ your bear prior to your arrival.  A good outfitter will be promoting consistency with baiting (by example of course).  We bait each and every day to ensure cycles and patterning is noted.

As mentioned earlier, bears are unpredictable to some extent and a bait that could have been hitting each time it was checked (hopefully daily) could quiet down for a day or two.  Be patient, if you trust your outfitter they will help you through this phase and often have backup plans including alternate baits that may be still consistent.  Ensure that your outfitter is the type that cares enough to keep up with you and your hunt and puts your success as a priority.

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No hunt is guaranteed but what you can guarantee is that doing your homework can save you the disappointment of an unfulfilling hunt, bear or not!

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How To BEAR Eating Bear Meat

As an outfitter, we often hear how many people would love to hunt bear but have no idea what to do with all the meat or if they did keep it, how to cook it (Ontario is a no waste province, it is mandatory to take all of the meat with you upon departure.)

Below is an excerpt from a great story written by Jackson Landers and how he dealt with an unexpected amount of bear meat…..and what he learned.

bearfordinner

Now I had heard all sorts of stories from hunters about what bear meat is like: that it’s tough, gamey, and unpleasantly greasy. But in my experience eating a fairly wide array of unusual species, I had found that meat that tastes “tough and gamey” is more often a case of bad butchering and sloppy handling than an intrinsic quality of a species.

To maximize the potential flavor of my bear, I dry-aged it for a week before I started experimenting. Dry-aging meat, for the uninitiated, is the process of letting meat hang out for a while at cool temperatures while allowing moisture to evaporate from it. Dry-aging accomplishes two things. First, natural enzymes in the meat begin to tenderize it by breaking down the collagen in the muscles. (Collagen is what makes tough meat feel tough, and more of it builds up in muscle tissue as an animal gets older.) Second, dry-aging allows water to evaporate out of a piece of meat, concentrating the flavor. High-end steakhouses all do this with their beef, and I have been dry-aging most of my venison in my fridge at home for years.

Once my bear was sufficiently dry-aged, the very first thing I tried was cutting some simple steaks out of a forequarter (the upper portions of the front legs) and from the backstraps (the cuts from alongside the spine that are referred to as “pork loin” in pigs). I wanted to keep the recipe simple so as not to hide the true flavor of the meat, but I also wanted to have some fun. So I just ran with the bear theme. I pan-seared the steaks in olive oil and drizzled just a bit of honey on them. A handful of blueberries went into the pan with them (bears love blueberries almost as much as they love honey). Then I transferred the meat to a covered dish to finish cooking in the oven and deglazed the pan with a splash of Toasted Head cabernet sauvignon, which I had chosen on account of the wine’s label having a black bear on it. I made sure to cook the meat to 140 degrees and hold it there for a while, since bears, like pigs, can carry trichinosis.

bearroast

My girlfriend and I sat down to eat our first bites of bear meat, drizzled with that red-wine pan sauce. The texture was good, and the backstrap cuts were a bit more tender than the forequarter cuts. The flavor was mild; it tasted more or less identical to venison—which is to say a lot like beef, only with less fat and a blander flavor. There was nothing greasy or tough about it. It looked like a thick piece of filet mignon. Between sips of the bear-bearing Toasted Head wine (which paired very nicely with the bear meat, I should add), we soon forgot that it was bear meat that we were eating. By the end of the meal, it was just dinner, no more exotic than the artichokes we served along with it.

Heartened, I started putting bear meat in everything. And once I began running it through the meat grinder, the stuff became a household staple. Think bear tacos, spaghetti with bear sauce, lime-marinated bear stir-fry served over ramen noodles.

moosestir

Bear burgers in particular were a big hit. I mixed one egg with 1 pound of ground bear meat and just a touch of onion powder and pepper and broiled them under high heat. Three minutes per side seemed to get me up over 140 degrees every time, without taking the burgers beyond medium-rare. I invited some friends over to eat them, and the unanimous agreement was that they simply tasted like very good beef burgers and that nobody would ever guess they were bear.

I began to take the ground bear meat so much for granted that I confess to feeding it to a dinner guest in a ragout over angel hair pasta without thinking to tell her that she was eating bear as opposed to beef. She ate every bite. I’m still not sure whether I should tell her what she ate.

Lately I’ve found myself worrying about the dwindling supply of bear meat in my fridge and freezer. I have one whole hindquarter in my chest freezer awaiting a special bear dinner with a group of friends, but other than that and a pound or so of medallions, all I’ve got left is an array of very unusual bones that my dogs have been chewing on in the front yard. What will I do when I run out?

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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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Bear Down: Tracking and Tracking the One That Might Getaway

 Black bear are very hard to kill, and they are hard to track when wounded. Even a good heavy-caliber lung or heart shot may not keep the animal from getting off into the woods, and that same shot may not leave very much of a blood trail. Wounded bear bleed into the porous fat layers between hide and muscle, and their thick fur absorbs external bleeding like a sponge. As the bear runs and the fat moves, it appears to seal over most wounds and even a heavily bleeding animal may travel a great distance before its wound begins to leave a visible trail again.

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There aren’t many more upsetting situations a hunter can face in this country than to put a carefully aimed shot into a carefully selected bear at virtual point-blank range, see it stagger, then vanish into the brush in two steps before you can even recover from recoil. You sit there, with dark closing in by the minute, not able to see more than 20 feet, and a wounded bear extending the distance. You have to get down onto the ground and do something about it. No wonder now why your guide and other experienced bear hunters kept telling you how important it is to hit a bear hard and solid and put him down and keep on hitting him until there is no chance he will get up and get out of your sight.

First rule is to wait.  Be patient and slowly gather your wits and be prepared for the next steps.

Second: Look.  Observe the direction your bear exited.

Third: Listen.  Bears are commonly known to turn into the direction of their wound (more likely if mortally wounded) and can actually end up circling the bait.  Those that don’t will run with such ferocity that the normally silent creature can cause major disturbances to surrounding areas and make enough ruckus for you to gage the direction to begin tracking.

If you are lucky, a short time after your shot is made, you may hear a drawn out, breathy cry often referred to as the death moan.  This likely means your bear is down and is not getting back up.  Don’t worry if you don’t hear one, not all bears will give you this satisfaction.

After waiting at least 30 minutes in your stand, cautiously come down and look at the area where your shot

connected.  Look for any sign of your shot: blood, tissue or even an arrow that carried through.

Start in the direction where you shot and look for any sign of blood in the direction you saw your prey evacuate from.  Take the time to bring and use marking tape to highlight your trail as you go, not only will it give you a general direction, but it will also make finding your way out much easier and stress free.

A good, clean shot should drop a bear within 40 yards but we have tracked bear that have gone up to a couple of miles away.

peroxide

On top of marking tape, I also suggest having a spray bottle with peroxide in your kit.  In the forest, leaves can often have brown marks that look an awful lot like blood and using the peroxide will help differentiate as it will bubble on contact with blood.  I often add the brightest yellow food coloring I can find to highlight the blood even further.  I also like to pack a small black light to use in conjunction with this mixture as it will illuminate if the natural lighting begins to fade.

It is not uncommon to spend a few hours searching if your bear has gone beyond the 40 yard mark but don’t lose hope.  Keep your eyes peeled for signs of foot prints, snapped twigs or torn leaves as this could be nature’s own way of marking your bear’s trail.

If the day ends and no bear can be found, ensure that you go back early the next day.  Look for any signs of scavengers in the area.  Turkey vultures are often a DEAD giveaway.  They feed in the daytime so be prepared to wait a bit for them to arrive.  We sometimes will suggest to our hunters to climb back in the stand and look over the area again from the original vantage point.

If on the second day there is no harvest found and no sign of scavengers, it is very unlikely you will find your bear and you will come away with one of the hardest experiences in hunting.  Disappointing for both sides.

So in closing, take time placing that shot and take time looking for any wounded animals you may have created.

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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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