The winter of 2013/14 was one of the coldest on record in 100+ years! Not only was it extremely cold, but it was one of those winters that didn’t want to leave and pretty much like the previous spring, the spring of 2014 was late in arriving. On April 14, a lot of places in the bush still had 2+ feet of snow yet and the lakes over 3 feet of ice. The odd bear was starting to walk around but, as the norm anyway, not real active yet. The high that day was -7celcius and the low was -17 celius which is a pretty good indication on how cold and late our spring was, although there was still hope that it would get warm quick. But on April 19th we were hit with another 8 inches of snow which we didn’t need, as the bush was extremely wet already. From now until around May 9 when our first group of hunters where to arrive, the spring saw lots of rain, snow and wind. By May 1st, the odd bait was just starting to get hit and the late spring had the bears behind about 3-4 weeks!
The first week of hunting, as predicted, was slower than normal due to the cold wet weather that we received the whole month of April. The weather at the beginning of May was no different. In fact, the afternoon/evenings were so cold and damp; a couple different evening two of the guys couldn’t hunt. Hard rain, heavy winds, sleet and snow!!! That kind of weather can cut right through you here in Manitoba!! Thank god for the warmth of the fires in the cabins. But hey, amidst this ugly and bad bear weather, Cale from MI saw 3 bears that evening, Ray from IL saw 4 bears (2 nights in a row) and Steve from MI was also seeing bears, one huge black that wouldn’t give him a good shot. Paul from Mi is seeing wolves. Both big greys!! The nights are still dipping down to -2 Celsius. By Thursday, Ray shoots a good 6’ black with his bow. Cale is seeing lots of bears, but still looking for a big one. Cale’s patience pays off and shoots a good 7’ black with his bow the next night as soon as he gets in his stand. Paul saw 4 bears that night but no shooters. Jack and Jake from Wyoming don’t get their bears this week but will be back!!!!
By May 19th, we were finally seeing more sign at the baits. The bush was still extremely wet and the days/nights still cool. This week saw 7 repeat bear hunters from MN and a huge 7 ½ foot black was taken the first night in the hard rain. This big bear did not want to come in as he sensed something was wrong, but he gave Daryl a good shot as he was walking away behind the barrel. The next day saw cold north winds and heavy rain so once again this time, 4 hunters didn’t go out as to keep everything dry. However, Aaron shot a nice black that night and saw 3 others. The next day, May 22, unfortunately Brandon missed a nice black and Steve was passing up some nice bears in pursuit of a bigger one. The ice on Cedar Lake was still on and once again we had light rain all night. The fishing by camp was excellent and the guys were catching huge northerns pretty much every cast!! The next evening a monster black was missed by Ken a.k.a.”Brutus” and also said he saw other bears and one that was huge but wouldn’t come in, circled the bait and left like so many big bears do. Steve shot a good black and saw other ones. Gerry saw 5!!
Now by the week of May 26th, baits were finally heating up and were being hit like they should have been back around May 1. The bears were still a good 3-4 weeks behind and still no indication of the pre-rut though. Just another indication on how late the spring was, there was barely a mosquito yet. This week saw another excellent group of repeat and new hunters and the first night lots of bears were seen. Still not the numbers that guys should be seeing for this time of year but the bears were getting more active as the weather warmed up. We still didn’t see any good spring weather but would we?? The first night a couple hunters saw 8 bears each and a couple more saw 3 and everyone else saw at least 1. Everyone was being patient and looking for a big bear as it was early in the week. However, on Tuesday, my good buddy Jason from WI took a big black with his bow, which was the third bear in that evening and it was only 6 p.m. Don from Washington also shot a big black and was the 6th bear that he saw that night. This was a good 7’ bear with a good white marking on his chest. Lots of other bears were seen too that night with a lot of exciting stories told that night back at camp . The next day saw another good friend, Dr. Grady from WI who was hunting with his son J.T. shoot a nice black. They had 2 more come in after this. Unfortunately, J.T.’s gun jammed as he went to shoot at this bear so his dad being ready, took him! Great job guys!! Greg from MN saw 4 bears and shot a nice one with his bow. Chris from MN who was also archery hunting, saw 2 more bears that night, but was still holding out for something real big or an average color bear. Mike from Michigan had no luck this night. The fishing for pike remained incredibly hot as everyone was catching huge pike. If Jason can catch big pike, anyone can and did, lol!! As you guessed it, the next day saw rain and heavy winds, surprise, surprise!!! But 19 year old J.T. who went out early afternoon had his first bear ever down early and saw another right after. Good Job J.T.!! Chris saw 5 more bears and the baits were heating up even more by now.
On Sunday, June 1 a great big reddish chocolate was hit on the highway just north of our camp by a semi. This big chocolate was aprox. 450 lbs. Sadly what a waste and not even a mile from one of my baits.
By June 2, a little pre-rut was evident around bait sites. Some of my trail cameras had young boars with sows and hunters were starting to see them fight and chase a tiny bit. Still way behind though. That afternoon, one of my guides and archery hunters walked into a bait site with a 400+ lb black laying at the barrel already with no shot, had to wait for him to leave, hoping he wouldn’t spook and hopefully come back. That night lots of bears where seen, and as many as 12 by couple hunters reported. This week 7 of the 9 hunters were archery hunters and a lot of bears in the 400-500 lb. range were being seen! When the guys were showing me the footage of these big bears they where passing up and listening to the stories, I couldn’t believe it! Of course, some of these “Monster” bruins gave them no shot but some did!! But the 4 indicated it was early and they were after color bears. A good chocolate was seen that next evening but no shot. While bating that afternoon, I came to a bait site that had a chocolate sow that treed her 3 chocolate cubs a few times till I finally had to leave and go do another bait and come back later that afternoon. By Wednesday, that week, our good friend John from MN shot a big black with a huge white patch on his chest as he had lots of action all evening in a “new” stand I moved him too. Another John from Wyoming shot another big black with his bow in another “new” stand. John also saw another bigger one after that he wishes he would have held out for and then a huge white wolf! Richard from Wyoming also shot a big black bear at 5:30 p.m. that evening after moving him to another bait. All the other hunters were seeing lots of bear, and still passing up 400+ lb. bears and videotaping these monsters!! Another archery hunter saw 2 white wolves that night circle his bait and then 2 different 400 lb. bears that where nervous and would not come in, wolves will do that!! And that night, one of my guides walking into a bait station to get a hunter walked into a 450+ lb. black bear on the barrel that would not leave. The hunter wanted to shoot this bear bad that had been there for over an hour with his bow, but once again, gave him no shot at 20 yards. Finally, in the dark with the flash light on the big bruin a.k.a. “black ghost” he sauntered away into the thick spruce. Wow!!! The next night saw plenty of action and draw backs with bows but lots of close calls and dirty shorts, LOL!!! 3 more wolves where seen, this time a white one and 2 greys by “Grizz” from WI. On Friday, Faye from Wyoming shot his first black bear ever and with a bow to boot. Making a great shot it only ran 30 years! Dave from Arizona shot a huge black with his bow but what walks in 5 mins after and he videos would have any experienced bear hunter shaking, especially being only 14 years away! A huge boar that is easily 500+lbs. and pushing 8 feet! Wow, wow and WOW!!! Meanwhile, “Grizz”, Floyd and Dale are still seeing and passing up huge bears but finally “Grizz” decides to shoot and arrows a huge 7 ½ foot, 400 lb. black! The nights are still cool as we still have a fire going at night to take the chill out and it is already June 7th.
The last week of the season I had the privilege and honor to guide for the 4th time, Mr. Earl O’laughlin from MI, a General 5 Fighter Jet Pilot who has in the past, taken some really big bears with me. He told me that he wasn’t going to shoot this year unless it was a color bear so the pressure was on, ha ha!! The first night when I picked him up, he said that he passed a huge black that was only about 400 lbs!!! O.K., I knew he was serious then. The pressure was really on. The next night I moved him to another area that is also good for color bears and it paid off. A really good looking cinnamon came in that he took. What a gorgeous bear! Way to go Earl!! Any serious and experienced bear hunters knows that most bear hunters can hunt there whole lifetime and never see a color bear unless you are in an area that has them. Fortunately for us, we do!!
In closing, the spring of 2014 saw a little bit of everything. Some great bears taken, some good bears missed, lots of good bears seen and lots of un-settled weather. As we closed up camp, the bush is extremely wet. It was a very long/cold winter, a cold and wet spring and now the start of summer is seeing lots of rain. Is the weather changing?? Hopefully, we have a normal spring, weather wise in 2015. This past spring has to be the most challenging as a black bear guide in all my years weather wise. The reports from most experienced and full-time outfitters across North America are pretty much the same in regards to the bear activity at baits the past 2 springs being behind. But all in all, it was a great spring none the less. Our success rate as always remained extremely high and a lot of huge bears taken, missed and seen!! As always, a huge thank you to everyone who hunted with Agassiz Outfitters this past spring and can’t wait to see you all again real soon!!
*We look forward to hosting Don Polanuff of Bow Hunting Addiction T.V. and Luke Hartle of North American Hunter in the spring of 2015.*
** Thank you to all the bear hunters who caught fish for all the great fish fry’s and fish chowder we had in camp this past spring.**
***As an added bonus, hunters took advantage of the excellent fishing that is included in our “World Class” Bear hunts!!***
****If all goes according to plan (fingers crossed) starting in 2015, we will be offering “World Class” fly-in trophy Moose/Bear Hunts. Stay tuned!****