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Bear Baits – Consistency is Important

Consistent Baiting and Timing is Important
wawanglakebearbaitWe begin baiting two to three weeks prior to the hunters arrival as baiting is lucrative and can vary based on native food source availability, weather pattern and population.  If baiting is done too far in advance, bear can lose interest and become complacent.  The most impact for the hunter is when the food source is new and interesting yet dependable. The baits stations are checked regularly each day and documented as to its status:  whether it’s been hit or not.  This is also the ideal time to determine if the bait station has a sow with cubs or the size of the bear according to tracks.

wawanglakebearbait

Other animals frequent the baits as well.

All the information collected will determine if the bait station will be suitable for the hunter or not. Stations with sows will continue to be baited in order to confine that they remain in that specific area so they don’t wander and disturb the more suitable bait stations held for the hunters.

What Do We Use
Bears are omnivorous and will scarf down just about anything from produce to pastries, bread and meat scraps. The key is to make sure your offerings have a strong odor – sometimes the more putrid the smell, the better … at least when it comes to attracting them as we don’t place this directly on the bait.   However, during the fall bear do not especially like this strong scent on the bait therefore we use these attractants to drag the area ensuring to lure the bear to the bait station where more delectable bread, pastries and leftover good scraps are waiting. Visiting bear that walk trails and roads we’ve dragged will beneficially establish their own scent trail to and from the bait as well luring in even more bear.

The Set Up
Our baits stations are naturally set up and made from logs and other forest fragments. These logs are large, very heavy and piled in a manner making them difficult for smaller animals to move.  When hunters walk into the bait and notice that logs have been tossed around they are certain that a bear hi the bait.

bait

Know the Rules
Study the Ontario hunting regulations.  Know what you can and can’t do, season dates, licensing guidelines, bring firearms into Canada.   We want our hunters to be comfortable while hunting in Ontario and it is also important to know that you will need to bring along a state/province license as proof of hunting experience to show the Ontario license issuer. Always ask if you don’t know that’s what we’re here for.

When to Sit Baits
Our hunters are required to bring their own tree stands.  This is not only for liability reasons, but, also because you will be more familiar with your own tree stand and the more at ease you are with equipment the more it will increase your odds – less to think about. Upon request we will setup ground stands for those that are not able to climb. If this is the case be sure to bring along a comfortable chair.  Evening hours are by far the proven time to encounter bear on the bait. This however is simply a higher percentage timeframe.   Approaching the bait cautiously is always a must due to the fact that hunters have stumbled upon bear contently feeding at all hours, including early morning and mid-day. You can bring along trail timers and cameras to satisfy your knowledge of the activity of your bait station.

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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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Ontario’s Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed GrouseAlthough sometimes regarded as “wilderness” birds, Ruffed Grouse have no aversion to living in close proximity to humans if the cover gives them adequate security. In some areas of Ontario, Canada –  Ruffed Grouse are more abundant in remote wilderness forests. They thrive best where forests are kept young and vigorous by occasional clear-cut logging, or fire, and gradually diminish in numbers as forests mature and their critical food and cover resources deteriorate in the shade of a climax forest.

Ruffed Grouse response to man varies greatly across their range, depending upon their experiences. In southern Ontario generally they are usually quite elusive and difficult to approach. Yet they can still be killed with a canoe paddle or thrown stones in NW Ontario wilderness forests.

When the ground is bare of snow, Ruffed Grouse feed on a wide variety of green leaves and fruits, and some insects. They have also been known to eat snakes, frogs as well. But when snow covers the ground as it does for most of the winter across the major portion of their natural range, Ruffed Grouse are almost exclusively “flower-eaters,” living on the dormant flower buds or catkins of trees such as birches and pin cherry bush’s.

Known as solitary in their social behavior they do not develop a pair-bond between males and females, although there is usually at least one hen in the woods for every male. Young birds, especially, collect in temporary, loose flocks in the fall and winter, but this is not equivalent to the covey organization of the quails and partridges.

Male Ruffed Grouse are aggressively territorial throughout their adult lives, defending for their almost exclusive use a piece of woodland that is 6-10 acres in extent. Usually this is shared with one or two hens. The male grouse proclaims his property rights by engaging in a “drumming” display. This sound is made by beating his wings against the air to create a vacuum, as lightning does when it makes thunder. The drummer usually stands on a log, stone or mound of dirt when drumming, and this object is called a “drumming log.” He does not strike the log to make the noise, he only uses the “drumming log” as a stage for his display.

The drumming stage selected by a male is most likely to be about 10-12 inches above the ground, in moderately dense brush, (usually 70 to 160 stems within a 10 ft. radius) where he can maintain unrestricted surveillance over the terrain for a radius of about 60 ft. Across much of the Ruffed Grouse range there are usually mature male within sight in the forest canopy overhead.

Drumming occurs throughout the year, so long as his “log” is not too deeply buried under snow. In the spring, drumming becomes more frequent and prolonged as the cock grouse advertises his location to hens seeking a mate. Listen to an example at the top of this page.

Courtship is brief, lasting but a few minutes, then the hen wanders away in search of a nest site, and there is no further association between the male grouse and his mate – or the brood of chicks she produces. A hen may make her nest more than 1/2 mile from the log of her mate.

Nests are hollowed-out depressions in the leaf litter, usually at the base of a tree, stump or in a clump of brush. The nest is usually in a position which allows the hen to maintain a watch for approaching predators. Sometimes hens will nest under logs or in brush piles, but this is less common, and a dangerous location.

A clutch usually contains 8 to 14 buff colored eggs when complete. Eggs are laid at a rate of about one each day and a half, so it may take 2 weeks for a clutch to be completed. Then incubation, which usually commences when the last egg is laid, takes another 24 to 26 days before the eggs hatch. A nest has to be placed so that it will not be discovered by a predator during a period of at least 5 weeks.

The chicks are prosocial, which means that as soon as they have dried following hatching they are ready to leave the nest and start feeding themselves. Grouse chicks are not much larger than a man’s thumb when they leave the nest. They are surprisingly mobile and may be moving farther than 1/4 mile a day by the time they are 3 or 4 days old. They begin flying when about 5 days old, and resemble giant bumble bees in flight. The hen may lead her brood as far as 4 miles from the nest to a summer brood range during its first 10 days of life.

Although grouse broods occasionally appear on roadsides, field edges or in forest openings, these are hazardous places for young grouse to be, and broods survive best if they can remain secure in fairly uniform, moderately dense brush or sapling cover.

wawanggrouse1The growing chicks need a great deal of animal protein for muscle and feather development early in life. They feed heavily on insects and other small animals for the first few weeks, gradually shifting to a diet of green plant materials and fruits as they become larger. Chicks grow rapidly, increasing from about 1/2 ounce midgets when hatched to 17-20 oz. fully grown young birds 16 weeks later. That is a 38 to 46 fold increase in weight. At 17 weeks of age, a Ruffed Grouse is almost as large and heavy as it will ever be.

Biologists and others who want to age Ruffed Grouse rely upon certain peculiarities of the molt of the primary flight feathers. The booklet A Grouse in the Hand explains this aging procedure. And following the first complete molt by a 14 to 15 month old adult grouse, there are no known physical characteristics which reliably identify the age.

When about 16 to 18 weeks old, the young grouse passes out of its period of adolescence and breaks away to find a home range of its own. This is the second and last time that Ruffed Grouse are highly mobile. The young males are the first to depart, when they range out seeking a vacant drumming territory, or activity center, where they can claim a drumming log. Most young males find a suitable site within 1.8 mi. of the brood range where they grew up, although some may go as far as 4.5 mi. seeking a vacant territory. Many young cocks claim a drumming log by the time they are 20 weeks old; and once they have done so, most will spend the remainder of their lives within a 200 to 300 yard radius of that log.

Young females begin leaving the brood one or two weeks later than their brothers, and they normally disperse about three times as far. Some young hens move at least 15 miles looking for the place where they’ll spend the rest of their lives.

Occasionally a hen and her brood will remain together as late as mid-January, but this is unusual, and most groups of grouse encountered in the fall and winter are composed of unrelated individuals who gather together temporarily to share a choice food resource or piece of secure cover.

In fall and winter some inexperienced young grouse frightened by a predator or something else, crash into buildings, trees or through windows in a so-called “crazy-flight.” Sometimes they are evidently simply trying to take a short-cut when they can see through two large windows on the corner of a house. After all, young grouse in their first fall have never been confronted by something that can be seen through but not flown through, such as glass!

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Want More Grouse? Watch the Thermometer Drop!

P1040063Cold, blustery days in early winter are not the best days to go grouse hunting. Neither are, humid, September days. Essentially, the best time to go grouse hunting is when you can. And if that means dealing with the weather de jour- so be it. That doesn’t mean you can’t find some grouse, and even pocket a few, regardless of the weather.

Grouse like to stay cool in early fall when Indian summer days send the thermometer to summer-like temperatures. During those glorious fall days grouse will sleep in on their cozy roost and then venture out into a sunlit patch to soak up the warming October rays. November and December is a transitional period when cover becomes as much a priority as food. Staying warm and out of the wrath of heat-sapping winds and cold makes the places that grouse frequent during the late fall and early winter months predictable. Most times the mercury can give you a heads-up on which way to go.

Ruffed grouse seasons open in September in Ontario. Going hunting then is more a testament to tradition than it is to wanting to kill grouse. Foliage is thick, dense and green. But, if you insist on subjecting yourself to this kind of brutality you might as well give yourself the best chance at finding birds.

Look at the thermometer and you’ll realize that one of the best places to look for early season grouse is near rivers and streams. Waterways provide cool summer oases for grouse and you usually won’t find them far from the same habitat come early fall. During especially dry years, the moist soils found along rivers and streams may be one of the few places that you’re going to find the types of vegetation that produce the fruits and berries that grouse love so much.

Another reason early season grouse can be found along waterways is that the thick vegetation protects grouse broods from predators. Moist soils produce lush habitat that is ideal for protecting young grouse broods and the temperate environment produces a lot of high-protein invertebrates that are critical to young grouse growth and survival. Working along river bottoms and creek beds can be a good tactic because grouse broods can often be found in or close to their brood habitat.

Grouse are often still in broods or tight-knit family groups in September and October and can be concentrated and difficult to find. Perseverance can pay off. You might hunt several prime coverts without success and then bust several coveys in a short period of time. The trick is to keep at it. When you do run into some birds, you’ll usually find a bunch and chasing down singles after the flock is broken up can produce some quick shooting.

And quick shooting is what you can expect this time of year. Shooting grouse is never easy, but the task is made increasingly difficult when foliage is thick and catching even a glimpse of a bird is tricky. In the early season, you need to post, plan and resist the temptation to go in after them. It’s fruitless. If you have a dog, let them do the dirty work. Instead, look for openings, deer trails, clearings and post where you can get a shot if a bird flushes in your direction. Put a bell on your dog so your can keep track of his location at all times. Let one hunter bust the brush while the other walks a logging road where a flushing bird just might offer a shot. Don’t wait for an open shot. You’ll never get one! Instead, instinctively point and shoot even if you only catch a fleeting glimpse of the bird. Many times I never even knew I’d hit the bird until the dog came back with the grouse in its mouth. Be sure to keep in constant contact with your hunting party and know their location for safety sake and wear plenty of hunter’s orange.

Think wide open chokes and small shot during the early season. Grouse are not difficult birds to bring down, so put a lot of shot in the air and maybe just a pellet or two will get through the trees and hit its mark.

Weather and temperatures can be quite diverse in October. You might be rewarded with one of those cool, sunny, perfect fall days that grouse hunters live for. But don’t be surprised if you’re forced to pull out the woolies and gloves either. And you might even wake up to some fresh tracking snow. That’s just how October is- transitional- and it’s a transitional period for grouse too.

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Grouse have a smorgasbord of items to choose from in October and finding their preferred food source is often critical to finding numbers of grouse. Ripening fall fruits can draw grouse from far and wide. Grouse favor edge cover, and it’s no coincidence that some of their favorite culinary delights do best on edges where sunlight can penetrate the forest canopy. Depending on which state you live in, grouse can usually be found keying in on edge cover fruits like wild grapes, chokecherry, and a host of other fruity edibles. These open areas also produce some of old ruff’s favorite greens like wild strawberry and clover and are also places where they can find high-protein items like grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects.

When grouse numbers are high, they can be found in variety of cover types at this time of year. Even marginal grouse habitat will hold a few birds as grouse begin dispersing into new territories during the fall shuffle.

Cover becomes an increasingly important priority as the month wears on. October begins with it plenty of foliage and grouse can move about uninhibited. By the end of the month, the trees are bare, the wind has a foreshadowing bite to it and grouse must rely on their camouflage and staying hidden as much as possible. Still, you’ll find grouse wandering about in search of brunch or a late afternoon snack and those are two of the best times to hunt grouse at this time of year.

Obviously a peak time in October is the first week or two after the leaves have fallen. When this happens might vary by a few weeks from region to region, but it is prime time to be in the woods. Grouse seem to forget for a little while that they are not as invisible as they were just a few days earlier and their numbers are at a seasonal peak. You can actually see some of the grouse that you flush too. 

At this time of year you can find grouse in some pretty unusual places far from what you’d consider ideal grouse cover. I’ve found grouse under a solitary crab apple tree in the middle of a field far from what you’d consider grouse cover. I’ve shot grouse out of fields of goldenrod that you’d think were more likely to hold pheasants. No patch of cover is too small or too thin to hold a grouse then.

Once snow blankets the ground the whole ballgame changes. Grouse that have survived the onslaught of hunters, wolves, owls and know that when their environment becomes covered in white they are vulnerable. Snow also covers up many of the grouse’s food sources and feeding becomes a little more risky and perilous. Grouse don’t go on those aimless strolls in search of food. Their search is more deliberate and of shorter duration when the thermometer starts to dip and the weather turns cold. Cover becomes more of a priority.

It’s important to ferret out productive versus non-productive cover as quickly as possible. I don’t know about you, but I’m not as young as I use to be. Those all-day jaunts of pounding the woods are over. I’m usually only good for about a half a day of hard hunting and I want to make the most of it. To do so requires that you develop a since for identifying the absolute best cover and hunt it hard. Learn to not waste time where you THINK there might be birds.

Remember those light loads and wide-open chokes you used in September? Put them away if you’re serious about killing grouse once the snow flies. Shots will be longer and birds will be tougher. Replace your 8’s and 9’s with high-brass 71/2’s or even 6’s. Take the skeet tubes out and go to improved or even a modified tube in one barrel. With your shooting eye in late season form you’ll still get the easy shots and with the heavier shot and tighter chokes you’ll be able to add a few birds you wouldn’t normally pocket.

Grouse are tough customers. That’s why most of us hunt them. But watching the thermometer you can get a better idea of where to begin your search and make your days in the woods a little more productive.

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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in grouse, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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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.

bow-hunting-wawang-lake

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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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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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.

bow-hunting-wawang-lake

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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