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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.


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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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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.

bow-hunting-wawang-lake (2)

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Wild Mushrooms

The main edible find in our region is  lobster mushrooms, Hypomyces lactifluorum, in some pretty good quantities. On any hunt, it’s good to bring home dinner, but one doesn’t typically expect to bring home a bundle of lobsters too late into the fall.

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Typically, by the end of August and into September the brush is filled with mushrooms, edible and not. Unlike spring hunting, fall hunting in and around our area is more mushroom identifying than actually trying to find mushrooms growing. But some year the lobsters can account for a major harvest.

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So on your next trip out into our region whether you’re fishing or grouse hunting be sure to hike the old logging roads in search of these very delicious mushrooms.  Stay tuned for a great recipe that easy to prepare.

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The Elusive Woodland Caribou In and Around Wawang Lake

This improved understanding will help the ministry develop resource management practices that will minimize the impact of human development and resource use on caribou.

Caribou

Caribou @ Wawang Lake Resort

It is a relatively unknown fact that the Woodland Caribou once thrived in the Wawang area.  Herds lived freely and well fed on the abundance of lichen in the surrounding area.  In the last century, due to logging, hunting and forest fires, the population not only migrated but was also put at serious risk.

In 2012, the Woodland Caribou was escalated from the Species at Risk list to the Endangered Species list in our area.  With the stringent management and extensive research taking place, the Ministry biologists suspect that it may be slow but the Woodland Caribou will eventually once again become prolific in the English River Forest which encompasses Wawang Lake.

With such rarity, it was a real treat to see on right on our very own beach….what a majestic creature!

If you’re not familiar with northern forests, it would be easy to think that forest-dwelling woodland caribou are more or less on their own in these woodlands. But caribou share the landscape with many other species – including other large mammals.

The program is researching ways to maintain healthy caribou populations in the province. Since 2010, program researchers have fit more than 190 caribou with collars that transmit information about their location and movement behaviour in three large study areas. Their objective is to sample animals in relatively undeveloped landscapes, as well as in more disturbed and developed areas, to collect information on how survival, reproduction, habitat selection and movement patterns are affected by human influences. They plan to analyze this information to develop a better understanding of the factors that influence woodland caribou persistence. This improved understanding will help the ministry develop resource management practices that will minimize the impact of human development and resource use on caribou.

A shed radio transmitter collar used to track the movement and behavior of the Woodland Caribou

A shed radio transmitter collar used to track the movement and behavior of the Woodland Caribou

The Northern Mammal Ecology Program at the Ministry of Natural Resources Center for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research studies caribou, wolves and moose to learn what determines the density and distribution of these mammals on the northern Ontario landscape.

The abundance of other large prey species (e.g., moose) and predators (e.g., wolves) on the landscape are believed to influence the caribou density. When intact forests are affected by development or resource extraction activities, these disturbances may cause changes in the abundance, behaviour and the amount of habitat available for species like moose and wolves. These changes have the potential to have a negative impact on caribou density and persistence.

To gain a better understanding of how predators and other prey species might be affecting caribou, researchers are also collecting information on the distribution, density and behaviour of these other species. For example, more than 45 wolves have been fitted with collars that transmit information about their location and movements. These collars have been placed on animals that inhabit the same three study areas as the collared caribou. Information collected focuses on the types of habitat (e.g., forest types, landscape features) that wolves inhabit and travel through, the prey species they eat, and the characteristics of the locations where they catch their prey.

The collared movement data for the caribou in North W

The collared movement data for the caribou in Northwestern Ontario

Researchers have also conducted aerial surveys within the study areas to calculate moose densities and identify the characteristics of locations with relatively high and low moose densities. They are also examining historic information gathered from moose collared in other areas of northern Ontario, to develop a more detailed understanding of how moose respond to different types of forestry practices.

This holistic approach to caribou research – which focuses on the species they interact with, as well as caribou themselves – should provide some important insights into caribou ecology that will help the ministry develop effective caribou conservation measures.

In time, it will become more and more common to spot these animals on your visits up to Wawang Lake….stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled!

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Posted by on April 16, 2017 in caribou, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Bargain vs. Premium Ammo

You get what you pay for. That’s an adage we generally believe in. But does it hold up with respect to ammunition? We set out to answer that question by testing the accuracy of a variety of value-priced .308 hunting ammo against more costly stuff.

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Methodology
Using three .308 rifles in the test—one hunting rig and two precision rifles that we knew would be ringers.

We put a number of budget and premium loads through all three rifles over the course of one day, ensuring the results wouldn’t be influenced by different environmental conditions. We also used a standard 5-shot-group protocol, and shot two groups with each load at 100 yards. As a control to establish a baseline level of accuracy for each rifle, we also shot 5-shot groups using Federal’s Gold Medal load with 175-grain Sierra BTHPs.

Using the baseline match load to calculate a ratio for each hunting load by dividing the size of the hunting-load groups into the size of the match-load groups. The closer to 1 that ratio is, the better the hunting load performed. None of the hunting loads outshot the match load, so all these ratios were greater than one.

Results
The outcome was interesting. The best hunting ammo was Hornady’s American Whitetail 150-grain Interlock SP. Compared to the baseline groups with the match ammo, this budget-priced load ($19.29 for a box of 20) shot nearly as well as the match ammo in all three rifles and had an impressive 1.41 average ratio. Federal’s Fusion, another bargain ammo ($21.49 for a box of 20) was second best among the loads, with an average ratio of 2.02.

The only expensive load that delivered consistent performance in all three rifles was Federal’s 165-grain Trophy Bonded Tip ($34.49 per box), The two Winchester loads had nearly identical levels of performance, though again, the less expensive 180-grain BST (2.11 ratio average) outshot the more expensive 150-gr. XP3 (2.81 ratio average).

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It’s worth noting when purchasing premium ammo that the promise of greater accuracy is certainly implied because it uses better quality components, but that much of its benefit is based on the idea that it will perform better on game.

Conclusion
It pays to try different loads in several different bullet weights in your rifles. Investing money to find an accurate load is the cheapest way to get the most from your rig.

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Tinywood Home on Trailer with Built In Outdoor Hot Tub

Have you ever heard about a tiny house that is also a hot tub? Yes, the project can be made and it already exists, thanks to a small company based in Warwickshire, England. The architects thought about building a home that offer comfort, relaxation and entertainment at the same time, and built this amazing tiny home that comes with an attached hot tub.

hot-tub-tiny-home-on-wheels

The company is specialized in building tiny homes and merging utility with creativity.

The inside is fully equipped as you will find a small kitchen, lounge area, two bedrooms upstairs and a functional heating system.

So after taking a look, you can say that it is the most perfect small vacation house for you and your family. As tiny as it is, there is still plenty of space inside for a family with two kids.

The outside hot tub is just an extra feature that tops the awesomeness of this house.

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Moose Rack – How It Grows

Moose are the largest living member of the deer family (Cervidae) and fittingly bear the largest set of antlers. Moose antlers are usually paired and shaped like the palm of a hand with outstretched fingers, thus the expression palmate.

After a male moose reaches one year of age he starts to grow antlers that increase in size (becoming more elaborate with more points and heavier) for each new set of antlers he grows until he reaches his prime. After a male (Bull) moose reaches his prime the antlers start to recede each year until the moose dies.

Mature Bull Moose Antlers

North American Moose Antlers have larger antlers than their European relatives. World record antlers consistently come from Alaska, where antler spreads of six feet have been recorded.

Every year the cycle is the same. In the spring antlers begin to grow from the skull covered with a tissue called “velvet”.

By September the growth has completed and the velvet dries and falls off. Moose will often aid the removal of the velvet by rubbing their antlers on trees and shrubs (on occasion they’ll eat the velvet too!). The continuous rubbing on trees, combined with the dried blood and dirt will give the Moose Antlers the brown color hunters are accustomed to seeing in the fall.

What is the purpose for Moose Antlers?

Antlers do not serve a useful purpose until the fall and during the mating season (called the Rut). Even during this period of time, which in British Columbia is typically the first two weeks of October only serve as a tool for intimidation.

You see Moose for the most part only have to show off their antlers to scare off the rivals – younger and weaker males. On occasion a mature bull moose will chance upon a moose of equal stature; where intimidation and posturing will not work they may then face off head to head and engage each others antlers.

There have been situations where these wrestling matches have led the moose antlers to become so entangled that they cannot separate and both moose die.

Broken and/or damaged antlers can lead to a long road to recovery for a moose. It would take more than a morningside recovery to heal the damage. Recovery in the wild is a long process. At morningside recovery, we take it one step at a time.

When do Moose loose their antlers?

Between January and March is when moose typically lose their antlers; younger moose keep their antlers until later in the winter and it is usually only two year old moose that may still adorn their antlers come March.

Two distinct types of moose antlers are the “palmate” or shovel-horn type characterized by broad up-reaching parallel palms, and the “cervina” or “pole-horn” type, having long tines or spike-like architectures. The palmated antlers are either fully palmated in shape or of a split –palm, 

An antler from a yearling male moose

(1) An antler of a yearling male usually has two or three points on each side. Some may have four or more points on each antler branch or a small palm.

Yearling moose are the most easily aged identified, they typically have two or three points on each side and are of the cervina type. These young moose have small circumference of main antler beam, few points and narrow spread.

An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose

(2) An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose. Note the increasing palm development into an upward and backward pointing component and the forward and downward pointing brow tines. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(3) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the two point or forked brow palm development and wide distance between the innermost points on the brow palm. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(4) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the offensive architecture, forked brow palm and wide gap between opposing points. 

The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life

(5) The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life. Antlers are a butterfly or split-palm type. Note the palmate on the brow palm and the protective architecture afforded by the short distance between the innermost points of the brow palms covering the facial and eye areas. 

Antlers of older moose vary to such great extent that it is an impossible task to accurately identify an animal’s age.

Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose

(6) Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose. Note the changes in the brow palms. Palmate is beginning to regress and defensive structures are being changed to more offensive juvenile forked structures. 

Antlers of a senior bull moose

(7) Antlers of a senior bull moose. Note loss of points, regression of palmate and reversal of brow palm to the forked or two-point offensive structure typical of juvenile males. 

Antlers of a late senior bull moose

(8) Antlers of a late senior bull moose. Note the reduction in number of antler points, further regression of the palmate and accentuation of the juvenile offensive characteristics on the brow palm. 

Moose antlers will vary in size and rate of growth. Other than the yearling moose any attempt to judge a moose age is purely guesswork.

Until a bull moose reaches its prime at five-and-one-half years of age its eye guards will be of singular or two point (photos 1-4). As the moose age increases you can see a marked increase in the development of the palmate and the number of points. A moose in its prime (photo 5) shows distinctive butterfly-shaped antlers which signifies a moose is high ranking and breeding potential.

After the bull moose passes its prime the marked reversal of antler development shows. Photos 7 and 8 show the decline in the architecture of the moose antlers and therefore the social standing and breeding abilities also suffer.

Moose at very old ages of twelve and beyond will have moose antler development that may be described as grotesque or misshapen almost beyond recognition as typical moose antlers. No form of rehab or morningside recovery will aid in the reshaping or repair of the antlers.

Even though we are unable to determine a moose age by its antlers we are able to learn a considerable amount about the social structure and reproductive status of moose as they age.

If you are fortunate to shoot a moose (weapon or camera) with a trophy set of antlers, one thing is certain; the record head or picture mounted on your wall, is a bull with many years experience behind him.

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