What if someone told you that you could go to a place that has never been hunted? A place where most of the fish have never even seen a lure, and where the water is so pristine that you can reach your water bottle over the side of a boat to fill it up to drink safely? Interested? I’ve just returned from such a place and one of the most amazing hunts I’ve ever been on.
There are a lot of bear hunting outfits out there and a lot of people filming hunts but few of them understand how to execute both in the same opportunity. When Jason Peterson of Into The Wild TV presented me with the idea of flying into one of the most remote places the Canadian bush has to offer during last year’s ATA show, I didn’t hesitate.
The original plan was to spend 8 days hunting black bear in Northern Saskatchewan while occupying daytime hours with world class fishing. Jason has several other camps known for producing trophy-quality black bear and exceptional fishing through his outfitting business True North Adventures/Cree River Lodge. This service offers clients exceptional packages, but our trip took getting “off grid” a few steps further. With Jason and I having both taken several extremely large black bear, I am always looking for another, but what interested me most about this adventure was the chance to establish bait sites and hunt bears that have never been hunted in a truly remote and wild setting.
I packed my gear and left on 6/21/17 to take advantage of the last week of the 2017 bear season in Saskatchewan. My initial commercial flight took me from Newark, NJ to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where I then picked up a small commercial flight for another 3 hour hour flight to Stony Rapids. From there we drove to a boat and took a boat to the Cree River Lodge. Initially out plan was to leave on that day and fly to our camp but weather held us at Cree River for another 1 days taking 1 day from our total hunting time.
Upon arrival at camp for the next 8 days, we immediately unloaded the boat attached to the float plane, unloaded gear and set up camp. Initially we spent quite a bit of our time glassing the shore line from the boat that we transported attached to the float of the plane that dropped us off, and walking miles following bear trails, looking for pinch points, natural funnels and bear signs in general. With what we felt was adequate information to make a successful hunt we set 5 bait sites during the the first two days on site putting scouting cameras at each location. This territory is vast and there is little food for the bears, and while we know bear have an incredible sense of smell and can detect food for miles, the action was incredibly slow for the first 4 days.
In the downtime, we took advantage of the world-class fishing catching over 25 giant Northern Pike each measuring over 40 inches. I can’t even tell you how many we caught that were smaller. This was further punctuated with landing a few really nice Lake Trout which made for a several delicious meals.
Eventually our scouting cameras verified a small bear had showed up on a bait spot that I had selected and set up. Of course as luck would have it, we were treated to a day and a half of strong wind making it impossible to access our sites since water was our mode of transportation.
On day 7 the wind layed down and on the next to the last day of our hunt, which was also next to last day of Bear season, we checked all the baits. We only had one other small bear hitting a different bait. The last bait we checked was the one where we had seen the first small bear. We decided to give it a shot as with bear hunting you never know what might come in and it seemed as if they were just starting to find the food.
On the next to last day of the hunt, as we were going into bait, I had a feeling I should have my bow at the ready. As we get close to the bait we see a giant bear on the bait. He hears us, runs off a bit and then stops. Now picture this, we see the bear, the bear sees us. I know he’d never seen a human, he didn’t know what we were, but wasn’t happy about potentially giving up his bait. We dropped down and waited to see if he would come back to the bait. He stayed where he was and was extremely aggressive, swatting trees and stomping. Jason and I thought it would be best if Jason and Chad left in the boat, hoping the bear may think that danger was gone, leaving John and I in the field. Wrong. After Jason and Chad left, the bear circled around down wind and got above John and I and again started aggressively posturing towards us. He knew we were there. We had no firearm. I prepared for a defensive shot if we had to. After a few tense moments, the bear started moving away from us, and stopped long enough for me to get a quartering away, 28 yard shot. The bear went 20 yards and expired, swatting at trees, fighting until his last breath.
the most incredible hunts I have ever been on. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience wilderness like that again, but the whole experience is the definition of Live the Wild Life and one I will not soon forget.