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Bear Facts to Success

imagesS12UAEG6Simple Fact: The more effort you put into masking your scent, the bigger the Black Bears coming into your target zone will be.

All experienced Black Bear Outfitters have their little tricks to make their bear hunters hunt more enjoyable and also help with their success. If you are new to bear hunting you should know what you are up against. Every hunter wants a big trophy bear and this article should bring you a little closer to that goal, but remember, to thoroughly follow the advice of your outfitter, if you’ve chosen one, and, above all else:  DO NOT DEVIATE from the routine they have already established.

Black Bear hunting to the outfitter is about luring bears to a target zone for their hunting guests by baiting with food the bears like such as high-carbohydrate foods. Bread, pasta and other high starch content foods are rare in nature but it’s what the bears want most so they can quickly store fat for the winter. It’s also about setting up stands at strategic spots where big bears have been scouted. Black Bear hunting for the hunter is all about stealth, with the two biggest factors being sound and most of all, smell.

Black Bear’s Sense of Smell: Olfactory Receptors

imagesN9DAOG1VThe Black Bear has the best sense on smell of any land walking mammal on Earth. It’s really hard for a human to comprehend how well a bear can smell as we basically have to stick our nose in the pot to smell the sauce. Comparing the amount of Olfactory Receptors between a human and a Black Bear is mind boggling.

Olfactory Receptors are microscopic bulbs on the end of nerves in a mammal’s nose. The more you have the better your sense of smell is.

  • Humans:
    6,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (6 million)
  • Blood Hounds:
    1,800,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (1.8 billion)
  • Black Bear:
    12,600,000,000,000 Olfactory Receptors (12.6 Trillion)

A Black Bear can smell 2100 times better than a human. In addition the Jacobson’s organ in their mouth can taste the air, adding to their brains perception. A mature Black Bear can smell your breakfast from 20 miles away if the wind is right. Big mature bears can smell better than smaller younger bears as their noses are larger and more developed. Bears also know what unnatural smells are and associate them with a human presence. This can explain why Black Bear hunters that are not fanatical about the way they smell rarely see big trophy bears. There are procedures you can do to minimize unnatural smells to keep the bears concentrating on the bait that the outfitter has put out for them.  It is wise to check with your outfitter before applying anything new to the bait station that they normally don’t use.

1) Before your bear hunting trip; pick a couple of sets of clothes that you will only wear at the tree stand while hunting. Wash your clothes with scent-free detergent and when done, run them though the wash twice again with no detergent so they are well rinsed. This will ensure your clothes are scent free. If you live in the city and have chlorinated city water then go to a pet store and buy a small bottle of Aquarium Water Conditioner and add ½ oz. to the last rinse cycle you do with your clothes. The water conditioner will neutralize the chlorine in the water and keep the chlorine smell out of your clothes. Remember, they can smell 2100 times better than you so don’t feel silly getting fanatical. Then pack the clothes in a plastic bag to keep them scent free. If you consistently use fabric softener in your clothes dryer it’s best to hang your clothes up to dry because residual clothes softener might go on your clothes. If you are a smoker, do not smoke while wearing your hunting clothes.

Before we go to the next points you should be aware that Black Bears love the smell of mint. If you go on a camping trip in any of Ontario’s provincial parks the wardens will tell you not to keep mint toothpaste or mint gum in your tent because the bears will smell it and go after it. The bears craving for mint can be used to your advantage.

2) Think Mint: Go to one of those hippy tree-hugger heath stores and buy mint soap. The morning before the hunt take a shower using the mint soap. Brush your teeth with mint toothpaste. Chew mint gum while in the tree stand and if you really want to go all the way, have a glass of mint tea before the hunt and even keep a few bags of mint tea in your pockets. This will help cover up any scent.

3) Smoking: If you are a smoker and you smoke in the tree stand you are basically wasting your time if you expect a big trophy bear to come within sight. Wind direction can give you a little luck but it’s not something you should count on. It’s best to wear a nicotine patch while in the tree stand and if you need to; chew mint gum to keep your mind off smoking. Remember to brush your teeth and wash your hands and stop smoking before you put your scent free hunting clothes on.   This would also apply to cigars and chewing tobacco as well.

Black Bear Hearing:

The shape of Black Bear’s ears is mainly responsible for their great hearing. When detecting sound based on volume a bear’s hearing is about four times that of a human. However, a bear can hear a much broader frequency range; both higher and lower frequencies. Rubbing of cloth or twisting of your tree stand can produce sounds that the bear can hear and the hunter cannot. Big old male bears develop a crowned head and their ears move out to the sides giving them stereoscopic hearing, which allows them to pinpoint the origin of the sounds they hear. This is another reason why big old bears are harder to get.

With this in mind try to stay absolutely still. If you have to move; move very slowly. Take some nose drops before the hunt and if you have a cold or allergies. If your throat is dry and itchy bring some mint flavored lozenges with you. You can also oil the joints of your tree stand to make them a little quieter.

Black Bear Sight:

During the day a Black Bear basically has the same site as a human but older bears tend to be near sighted. As a result they cannot focus on things from a long distance. When one of an animal’s senses becomes diminished their brain rewires itself to compensate by making other senses more acute. This is known as neural placidity. As a bear gets older they become near sighted so the brain compensates by being more sensitive to color differentiation. If the bear sees colors it thinks are unnatural and he sees those colors move the game is up. Bears cannot see the same range of colors as a human. Hunter orange looks gray to them. But they can see dull reds and yellows as well into the blue/green cool color spectrum. This is why there are many different forms of camouflage clothing.

Picking the right Camouflage:

You need to talk to the outfitter when you book your hunt and ask what kind of plants will be at the tree stands. If the hunt is taking place in the southern range of Ontario’s bear hunting country during the fall you may have a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, thus you will need a camouflage that represents pine needles, pine bark and colored fall foliage. If you are father north in an area with only pine trees you will need a camouflage that represents pine bark and pine needles, which means dark brown and green. You need to blend into the scenery so their bear cannot see any unnatural color pattern.

Black Bears are nocturnal. They have a reflective layer in the back of the eye called the tarpetum lucidum. Just because you can’t see them does not mean they cannot see you. Since dusk is the hottest bear hunting time it’s also when you should concentrate the most on being quiet and motionless.

Bear Size:

In most cases, big ears mean a smaller bear. A small ear is usually a bigger bear. Once a bear reaches three years old (approx. 100 lbs.), the bear starts to grow into its ears. The ears and eyes don’t grow as much as they do in the first three years. Sometimes if a bear has a hard year with food, the ears will look bigger because the bear is thinner. Read our article:  How to Size a Black Bear

Cubs:

When a sow is with cubs, 90% of the time the cubs are in the lead. The cubs will make more noise than a single bear. Most of the time, adult bears make little or no noise.

Sow:

You can’t shoot a sow with cubs in the Ontario spring hunt, and in the fall we continue this policy on our BMA – DO NOT SHOOT SOWS with cubs.. So make 100% sure you know what you are shooting at. Take a really good look around to make sure there are no cubs. A sow’s ears are usually closer together, as a male bear’s cranium grows wider on top and the ears look farther apart. They also look smaller, which is really an illusion.

These tips and techniques are just a guide line for some things to consider and think about. Ultimately the outfitter is the person you need to discuss the different factors with. Bear hunting can be quite different in different regions.

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How to Size a Black Bear

……… WHEN SIZING UP A BEAR

WawangLakeBear
A big bear swaggers and walks with attitude. He doesn’t jump at every sound like a small bear will.  A big bear doesn’t have to; he believes he’s got nothing to fear. Once you’ve spotted your bear on the bait site, it’s time to get serious about analyzing how that bear is behaving.

It is important to note that long before you judge the size of the bear, you must judge the sex of that bear and here are some things to take into consideration:

A big, old sow will have all, or more correctly, almost all of the physical characteristics of a big, old boar. She’ll have the nasty looking face that’s seen one too many years in the ring, the potbelly and the sway back.

Watch to see if the bear stands on his hind legs and rubs his back on a tree, that’s a boar.  If it walks along and straddles small trees, wiping its scent on that tree, it’s a boar.  If it stands up and breaks saplings over its shoulder, it’s a boar.  If it encounters another bear and gives chase, it’s a boar and if it is following a smaller bear, it’s a boar.

SCALE:  There is one last general appearance tip to judging black bear that makes the top three in importance, and that is scale.   A big bear looks big . . . but so does a closer, smaller bear.   Here’s a help tip on how to gauge more accurately.  If the bear is 150 yards away but the hunter thinks the bear is 200 yards away, the hunter will overestimate the bear’s relative size by somewhere near 25 percent.   In other words, the hunter is in for a serious case of ground shrink when he walks up to his bear.  TIP:  Let the bear get as close to you as possible and preferably on the bait itself.   The closer the bear, the less chance there is of misjudging the distance to relative size.

SPECIFIC TIPS FOR JUDGING BLACK BEARS: If the bear fails any one of the above general conditions, then it’s advisable to pass up on it or let the bear walk. It’s tough and you could be wrong, but at least there isn’t a dead small bear lying on the ground.   Call it a personal aversion to guilt.

BODY SHAPE:    Bigger bear are older bears, and like most of us, they don’t have the svelte bodies they once did. They tend to look “heavy” and out of shape. Remember, they monopolize the best feed and habitat, and therefore exert less energy to live.

HEAD SHAPE:   A big bear (boar) will have a deeper, wider and longer snout than a smaller bear or a female. His ears will appear to be wide apart and small. If he is aware of you and looking your way, his ears won’t stand up on top of his head like a dog’s ears, they’ll seem to be aimed out to the side of his head. A big bear will have well developed “bulging” muscles on the top of his head.


WawangBear2

LEGS:   A big bear will have massively developed front shoulders. His shoulders will look big and burly. A sow’s wrist will pinch in directly above the foot. Not so with a boar. The lower forearm, wrist and the foot on a big boar are all the same width. A big bear often appears to have shorter legs because the body is so much thicker, but keep in mind that the best-scoring bears for the records book are often the lankier looking, longer-bodied bears.

There are bear that have meatier heads; bear that look great and are great trophies, but that don’t score well.  There are others that have short skulls, block- headed beasts that look impressive, but that don’t score well at all and there are lanky, skinny bears with donkey faces that score like the devil, but that a hunter seriously looking for  a  records book bear wouldn’t walk across the street for. Black bear morphology is just too darn diversified to make a science out of judging.

The best way to hunt for a record boar is to simply shoot the bear that looks good to you and that hopefully  you’ll  appreciate all the time and effort you put in for the hunt.  If it’s got a nice hide, be happy with your animal. If it has long claws and weighs a ton, good for you and congratulations. If it isn’t as big as  you’d like, don’t fret, you’re not alone and the rug on your wall will still look great. If it happens to be one of those rare few bears that has grown a skull that qualifies for the record books, thank your guide for the good fortune that made that bear come to the bait site.

To easily judge, remember:

  • Check out the ear size in relation to the head
  • Mickey Mouse ears means a small bear.
  • Watch to see if the belly is low to the ground
  • Legs that appear short means big bear.

Watch the bear’s behavior around the bait – small bears will be skittish and afraid of a larger bruin in the area.

Look for a log around the bait and use it as a reference, check to see the length and height of the log before climbing into your stand. When the bear enters the bait site use the size of the log to help determine the overall size of the bear.

 

SKULL MEASURING

 

WawangSkull

Hope this information helps develop your judging skill on your next hunt, and,  good luck out in the field.

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

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3 Guys, 3 Bears…One Awesome Trip!

There is nothing more fun for a hunter than taking a long road trip with the guys and getting away from it all. The difference between the average ‘getting away from it all’ and a hunter’s ‘getting away from it all’ is that the hunter’s version often times includes a stand and some great harvest stories. This rang true for Dave, Tim and Jason. One week in September they arrived at my front door with weapons in hand and excitement in their eyes. Though it was Dave’s second hunt with us, it was both Tim and Jason’s first time hunting a bear. Dave had acquainted them with what to expect and the basics of our operation and much to the boy’s excitement, we were providing them all with baits that seemed to be jam packed with bruin. The first night came with all guys coming to camp empty handed but Dave letting us know that his bait was just a Bear Highway….they were everywhere! Tim had heard a bear and Jason had yet to have any sign of.

The following night had proven fruitful to both Dave and Tim, taking their trophies earlier in the dusk hours. Jason had heard several sounds around him but had yet to spot. He was fine with that though as the following day was his birthday and he felt that a birthday bear would be that much more fitting. The next morning as the boys began to prepare their bears, Jason prepped and began that drive to his stand. Thoughts raced through is head as to what his day would hold and how he was going to handle harvesting that bear.  Early that evening, I spotted the truck pulling in, my heart was wild with anticipation….had he gotten his birthday bear? As Jason emerged, his face was pulled with a frustrated look and the color was drained. “I missed!” was all he said. After a few minutes of silence, Jason filled me in on the adventure. “I was just opening my pb and j and having a bite. I saw a set of ears pop up and slowly put the sandwich on my lap. I lifted my gun just as the bear emerged to my right and he stood and sniffed the air…I think he wanted my sandwich! He dropped and began to lick the tree directly broadside and I fired……the bullet went low and right below. No hit but just hit the ground. I have NO IDEA what happened! The bear took off like a bat out of hell and that was it. I sat for about thirty minutes and had to get out of there. I am so frustrated that I know I couldn’t shoot proper a second time. Tomorrow I am taking my .270.”

SAM_0016 (640x480)
With that we both agreed that this could happen to anyone and that it’s better than wounding and wasting a bear. I knew tomorrow he would have a different plan. The next day Jason came in for his coffee and sat quiet. The thought of the day’s play could be read in his eyes and it was obvious that today he woke up with serious intention.  Dave and Tim decided to load the boat and spend the day kicking back while Jason set out as tightly wound as he could be. The day wore on and not a truck in sight. As the night fell, Jason arrived with a tired, defeated look in his eyes. “Nothing. I didn’t see a thing today. It was a long day.” I knew that the events of the day prior had made today seem much longer but I knew that his determination hadn’t left. The following morning, Jason met with Terry and they came up with the new game plan. It was a variation of the original but the outcome was planned the same….Come home with a bear! As Jason left for the day, we all settled back into our daily routines, me in the lodge, Tami back to marketing and Terry back out to the baiting. At 3:12pm a black truck made a hasty entrance to the resort and straight over to cabin 6. Jason was back! He was energized as he exited the truck and fists pumped the sky! “I got it! It’s down!” With a couple of high fives and congratulations I could just see the pride in his eyes. He had finished the group with 100% success rate! As he tied the tell-tale orange flag for the other two on the lake to see, he began to load the truck with retrieval supplies. As they all arrived back with Jason’s bear, the camaraderie was thick. Each were successful and each just as happy for each other as themselves.

When a hunter ‘gets away from it all’ it’s what they come away with afterwards that counts!

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Maximizing Your Hunting Time With Trail Cameras

cameraOver the last five years, probably no other “gadget” has changed the way we scout more than the trail camera. For many of us, running trail cameras is a hobby in itself, bringing a whole new excitement to our deer hunting efforts. Much more than just something to pass time, however, running trail cameras can give you a unique insight into the patterns of deer on your hunting properties and really tip the odds in your favor for harvesting a mature whitetail. Let’s take a look at the features to look for when purchasing a trail camera, and how to get the maximum benefit from the camera once you have made your purchase.

As the popularity of these scouting tools has grown, so has the number of companies offering their own line of cameras. The features on these cameras cover such a wide spectrum that choosing the right one for you can be a daunting and sometimes confusing task. While this article isn’t meant to tell you WHICH camera to buy, it IS meant to help you sort through some of the most common differences among the various trail cameras to help you narrow down your search.

RESOLUTION
The resolution of a trail camera is a measure of the image size that the camera creates. So a 5.0 megapixal trail camera will give you a much larger image – and therefore more detail – than one with 3.0 megapixals. Which resolution you choose really depends on how important it is to have a large, crisp image. If you are only concerned with having a general idea of what deer are in the area and when they are traveling through, then about any resolution offered on today’s cameras will suffice. If you want a larger, more detailed image to print off for your friends, then you may want to shoot for something with at least 3.0 megapixels.

BATTERY TYPE & LIFE
In my mind, this is one of the most important considerations when choosing a trail camera, as it will have a huge effect on the cost of maintaining the camera. I have seen some “cheap” trail cameras that burn through six C-sized batteries in a week, and suddenly the “cheap” camera gets VERY expensive! Others claim to operate up to a year on eight AA batteries. So before you go buying a camera based on price alone, keep in mind the battery life, as it may be the most expensive choice you could make in the long run.

TRIGGER SPEED
Another important feature is the trigger speed of the camera, which is simply how long it takes the trail camera to shoot a picture once something has “triggered” the motion sensor. A faster trigger speed can be the difference between having a great shot of that trophy buck and just having a picture of a deer’s butt as it walks out of the frame. If you plan on placing your trail cameras over feeders or a mineral lick, then trigger speed will not be as much of an issue as it would if hung along a trail.

FLASH TYPE
This is almost a moot point, since most trail cameras today have gone to infrared flash. An infrared flash, as opposed to the incandescent flash found standard on most consumer cameras, is less likely to spook deer, uses less battery life, and is less likely to be detected by other humans (i.e. thieves!). While I’ve gotten plenty of pictures of big, mature whitetails with an incandescent flash trail camera, there is no doubt that some animals are spooked by the bright flash. If you can afford the infrared flash, the benefits certainly outweigh the small increase in cost.

OTHER FEATURES
While we have covered some of the most important features to consider when buying a new trail camera, there are many more options that could impact your decision. One of these options is the size of the unit. Size varies greatly amongst trail cameras, and some companies are now producing models that are as small as your hand. Other models go as far as being able to send the pictures it takes directly to your email or cell phone, so the only time you have to check them is when the batteries need replacing. How’s that for convenience?

Before you head out to buy your next trail camera, take a minute to think about how it will be used and what features are most important to you. This will make the task of narrowing down your choices much easier when you start the shopping process.

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MAXIMIZING TRAIL CAMERA USE
Once you have waded through all the details, made your decision and laid down your hard earned money on a trail camera, all that’s left is to hang that thing on a tree, right? Let’s take a look at some ways you can be sure you are using your camera to its potential this season and getting the most bang for your buck.

DRAW THEM IN
One of the easiest ways to maximize the effectiveness of your trail camera and insure that you see a good representation of what is in your hunting area is to use some type of attractant to lure the deer into camera range. Probably the most common attractant used across the country is shelled corn – it’s cheap, readily available, and the deer love it. For the purpose of getting trail camera pictures, there is no need to invest in an expensive feeder; just simply spread 100 pounds on the ground in an eight to ten-foot circle area where you want to hang your camera. For safety reasons, do not place the corn in large piles or in an area that holds moisture, as this can result in molding that can cause disease in both deer and turkey. Depending on deer density and other available food sources, this should get you five to ten days worth of pictures. Be patient, as it may take a few days for the deer to really key in on the corn and for you to start getting good pictures. Once they find it, though, it won’t last long!

Before you start dumping corn on your favorite hunting property, check your local game laws regarding baiting. If corn or other “feed” is prohibited, but would still like to attract deer to your camera location, then you may want to consider creating a mineral lick. You can buy one of the many commercial mixes available today, or simply create your own by mixing 50 lbs of trace mineral, 50 lbs of feed mix salt, and 10 lbs of dicalcium phosphate. Break the soil up with a shovel in the area where you want to create your lick and work your mix into the soil. Once the lick gets a good rain on it, it shouldn’t take long for the deer to find it and start paying regular visits.

KEEP IT MOBILE
Unless you are hunting a really small property, or you have the money to invest in lots of trail cameras, then you are going to need to move your cameras around to really get a good idea of what the deer are doing on your hunting property. Don’t get caught in the trap of leaving your camera in the same spot all season. This will not only limit your ability to pattern the deer, but it may keep you from discovering that trophy buck that could be hanging out on the other side of the property!

images40V5Z2FA2By experience, two weeks seems to be enough time to get a good representation of what deer are in the area, without your camera spending too much time in one location. You can always bring the camera back to the same spot at a later time, but the idea is to cover as much of your hunting area as possible.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS
Once you have moved your camera around your property and gotten plenty of pictures to look at, the real work has just begun. Now is the time to sort through the pictures, identifying as many unique animals as you can, analyzing what camera sites each deer is visiting and the times that they were there. This should start to give you an idea of the travel patterns on the property, as well as potential stand locations.

This season, make sure you use these tips to get the most out of your trail cameras, and the next picture you get of that monster buck may be the one with you behind him holding his antlers, OR, even that BIG bear 🙂

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Canning Wild Game

mainMeat, poultry, and game are low acid foods and must be canned or processed in a pressure canner to assure it is safe to eat.

1. Canning frees up freezer space for other things.
2. Pressure canning can make the less tender cuts versatile.
3. Home canning meat means jars of meat on the shelf ready to go at a moment’s notice. No defrosting time. Ever tried to defrost an elk roast quickly in the microwave because you forgot to take it out earlier? Doesn’t work so well. (Ask me how I know!)
4. The best benefit? My guys love it. We are an active hunting family with 4 sons. Much of our meat is provided by the men of hunting age in our family.

Meat, poultry, and game are low acid foods and must be canned or processed in a pressure canner to assure it is safe to eat.

11 pounds pressure with a dial gauge pressure canner
15 pounds pressure with a weighted gauge pressure canner for required times.
Choose only good meat for canning, and handle it quickly and with total cleanliness, because bacteria grow rapidly in meat held at room temperature. If you have a large amount, store the part you’re not working on in the refrigerator.

canning-venison21You can:
Start with properly cleaned and chilled product.
Can fresh meat and poultry within 2 days or freeze it.
To can frozen products, thaw in the refrigerator until most ice crystals have disappeared, then handle as if they were fresh.
Trim gristle and fat off meat before canning. Fat left on meat melts and climbs on the sides of the jar during processing and may interfere with the sealing of the lid.
Salt is optional in canned meat and poultry.
Fish should be canned immediately or frozen until processed.
For large game animals (deer), follow beef processing times and methods.
For small game animals and birds, follow poultry processing times and methods.
Use canned venison or canned elk in stews, meaty soups, and even chili. You can use it to make Sloppy Joe’s and killer Enchiladas.

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Pay Attention to Detail

Scent can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy

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Black Bear are attracted to the aroma of a free meal, but if they catch a whiff of you, you can often kiss them good-bye for a day or two.   Keep your clothing and footwear as scent-free as possible. Be alert at all times while hunting your bait. You will most often see bear before you hear them. With padded feet they move with calculated precision. Remember, when they come into a bait station they know the treats were left by humans.

 

Shot Placement

Regardless of your choice of weapon, whether it is a gun or bow, learning when and where to shoot can mean the difference between an expedited kill, or, the outcome of tracking a wounded animal. We advise our hunters to wait until the bear is preoccupied with the bait and is facing away while standing broadside or quartering away. Bears are extremely tough, so a double lung or heart shot are always your best option therefore taking your time will be important.

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When archery hunting, bows must meet the following specifications.

Crossbows: Draw length must be at least (11.8 in.);

  • Draw weight must be at least (119 lbs.);
  • Bolt head must be at least (0.9 in.) at the widest point; and,
  • there must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.

Re-curve Bow:    Draw weight must be at least (48.5 lbs.) at draw length of (27.6 in.) or less;

  • Arrow length must be at least (23.6 in.);
  • Broad head must be at least (0.9 in. at the widest point; and,
  • There must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.

For bow hunting Black Bear we recommend a compound bow with a draw weight of no less than 50 pounds and a 100 grain broad head

Recommended Knowledge base
www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/FW/Publications/MNR E001275P.html

For rifle hunting black bear we recommend using nothing less than a .270 caliber.
Other recommended calibers: 7mm magnum; .308; .30-06.  NO 30-30’s

Firearm Information www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index.htm

The bottom line – baiting is a proven strategy for attracting a wary game animal with a voracious appetite. It involves much more than just tossing out a few tasty morsels. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and our experienced guides take pride in their skills and knowledge. Keen attention to detail and listening to the guide is the key to your success.

In order to ensure the highest possible success to our hunters we take only an average 14 hunters a year. Should we have an increase in bear sighting throughout the spring and summer we may take a few more hunters but our first obligation is to ascertain a healthy black bear population together with satisfied hunters for years to come.

Most importantly, remember baiting is a ton of work and takes weeks on our part for each hunter. From collecting legal paper work to buying and picking up the ingredients, materials along with travelling for miles and then finally establishing and maintaining each site daily prior to your hunt. It requires foresight and commitment on our part and we do this because of our passion for the outdoors and careful management of our Black Bear.

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STAY CALM

If you’ve had any trouble in the past “keeping it together” when shooting at game,
right now is the time to find a cure.

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Countless of hunters who practice shooting regularly, months before the season opens, and they still have trouble closing the deal when Mr. Big shows himself. Getting excited is fine — excitement is a big part of why we hunt — but there is a big difference between getting excited and falling apart. We owe it to ourselves to perform under pressure. Even more, we owe it to the game we hunt to stay calm enough to make good shots and clean kills.

Below are six steps that have helped hunters stay cool at the moment of truth.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice Nearly all bow hunters practice their shooting, but many fail to practice properly. To many average bow hunters, practice means flinging 20 to 30 arrows once or twice a week. This is not considered practice. When preparing for a hunt, practice every possible shot sequence, just as if you were actually hunting. That means shoot a 3D target from every possible angle while wearing camouflage, and shoot from any position that might become a possibility during the hunt. You want to be prepared for all contingencies.

Also practice at distances considerably farther than you will shoot on animals. A typical whitetail shot is closer than 30 yards, but practice regularly to shoot out to 80 and even 100 yards. That kind of practice will leave you very confident for any shots closer than 40 yards.

Lack of confidence is the biggest reason some people get shaken at the shot. They just keep thinking they may not make that shot. There are two things to offer those who lack confidence. One, restrict shots to your comfortable shooting range. Two, practice enough different scenarios that when an animal steps into your shooting lane, you’ll have no doubts about making the shot because you’ve already done it dozens of times in practice.

  1. Run & Shoot Now that sounds kind of dangerous, but it’s not meant in a literal sense.  During practice sessions, sprint anywhere from 60 to 100 yards, then pick up your bow and try to put a kill shot on a 3D target. This simulates the adrenaline rush you get when shooting at game. Some people may think it sounds crazy, but, it builds confidence like no other drill. You don’t have to do this every time you practice, but do it often enough to build confidence in your ability to shoot accurately when your heart is racing — whether from running or from watching a buck walk within range.
  2. Flex Those Muscles! When you see a big buck coming down the trail and your heart rate skyrockets, tense every muscle in your body while holding your breath. Then, after five or six seconds, let your muscles relax, and exhale. Do this several times as needed.

This is especially helpful during frigid hunts, when your muscles are stiff and your circulation is poor. It helps improve blood flow, regulate body temperature, settle your heart rate, and relax your muscles, all of which will calm you down to make a good shot. This muscle-tensing tactic has will help keep your cool on numerous animals.

  1. Focus On The Sweet Spot Once you decide to shoot an animal, you have no need to look anywhere other than the hair, scale, or feather you want to hit. Keying in on that certain spot keeps you calm and focused.   Some people miss when they focus on the headgear because they are looking with their mind’s eye at a beautiful shoulder mount gracing the wall above the fireplace. Don’t worry about the headgear while the critter is alive. You will have years to stare at it — if you focus on the vitals before and during the shot.

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You tend to aim where you are looking. Look at those wide antlers coming your way, and you might put an arrow right through the center of them. Instead, concentrate on the vitals, and that’s where you’ll put your arrow.

  1. Close Your Eyes This isn’t always an option, but when it is, it works. The longer some people look at an animal they want to shoot, the more stage fright they develop. If that’s you, closing your eyes or looking up at the sky will allow you to clear your mind and reorganize your thoughts.

Some people can perform on a moment’s notice, but, others prefer to have some time to evaluate the situation and to analyze every move before actually making it.   If too much time transpires and the nerves start taking over, close your eyes to regain focus before the animal gets within bow range.

  1. The Inner Voices Although you might not have demons and angels on your shoulders taunting you one way or the other, you certainly have inner voices that control your mind when you’re face to face with your prey. Listen to the positive voices and let them build you up.   Feeding your mind with positive thoughts will weed out the negative ones that flow through the minds of so many bow hunters. Doubt is where many archers fail at crunch-time. To eliminate doubt, talk to yourself — positively.

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