Forever Hunting Buddies

A Father/Son Canadian Black Bear Experience

I breathed a sigh of relief as I checked the mailbox and pulled out an envelope from old Uncle Sam with my ticket to a Canadian adventure. My son, Kolby, had set me up with my first bear hunt, and now I had my passport in hand three weeks before our departure on a Manitoba adventure. I have hunted all my life and never thought about hunting black bears. My son has always been my favorite hunting partner and once he developed a passion for bear hunting, I knew it was only a matter of time until I became a little “bear curious”. 

Having only been out of the country on a trip to Mexico when I was young, I was surprised how easy it was to cross the border into Canada. Even with a rifle, it only added 15 minutes and $25 to fill out a form (RCMP 55899). We were through the border and on our way in less than 25 minutes. Texas, my home state, is not known for its cool climate, so the chilly breezes of Manitoba were a welcome change. I was surprised to find snow and even frozen lakes this far into May. At first, we were surrounded by crop fields and farm land. Once we began seeing the quaking aspen, pine, and spruce trees of the Duck Mountains, my excitement peaked! We made it to camp and settled into our small, rustic cabin. While unloading the truck, we watched several deer making their way through camp. Then with all the travel behind us, it was finally time to get some rest. 

Day one of the hunt, we met up with our outfitter, Todd Wohlgemuth of Baldy Mountain Outfitters. Todd was a very nice man and the guides with him were just as kind. We got licenses, tags, and lunch, then everyone went to check sights on their guns. At 2:00 pm, all seven hunters were off to the stands. Since it was my first bear hunt, my son wanted to sit with me and show me the ropes. The weather was cold and rainy, which I learned is not good for bear hunting. That being said, I got my first bear sighting as a sow with white on her chest made her way into the bait. It was a blast watching her and it was special sharing this moment with my son. That bear was the only one we saw that day. The guides came to pick us up just after legal shooting light was over and we made it back to camp for one of the highlights of the trip—sharing a meal and talking about everyone’s hunt. This became one of my favorite times of the day. 

Even though no bears were taken on day one, the morning of day two was full of laughter around the table. My rifle had taken a tumble, so one of the guides, Bryan, and I took off to the range to check the rifle and make sure it was all good. If anything, it was a little better. At 2:30 pm, Bryan put me in the stand and checked the bait sight. As he was heading to the wheeler and out of hearing range, I saw the first bear walking in at 40 yards. He stopped, turned, and walked back the way he came. I texted my son the news. Two hours passed and the bear was still walking around 100 yards out in the brush, then he wandered out of sight. At 8:00 pm, I saw bear three across the creek and up the ridge. When he was at the top of the ridge, he turned to the left and straight into a 40-yard broadside stance. The 350 Legend barked with a well-placed shot, then the bear broke and ran. I put a second round into his chest as he climbed a tree. Next, since we are instructed to put as many rounds as we can into bears since they are tough critters, I put another round into his neck and then heard his death moan. I called Bryan to let him know the bear was down. 

On day three, we took photos and skinned the bear after the morning breakfast and jibber jabber. I’ve always been interested in the life of an outfitter and Todd graciously let me tag along with him. I was surprised to find out how hard an outfitter works after he puts hunters in the stand. Once the last hunter was in the stand, his evening was spent getting oil and grease for bait sites, then we checked baits to make sure they had plenty of feed, moved some stands, and checked trail cameras. You really don’t know how much the guides do for you to have a good hunt. Outfitters work for you, so I feel very thankful to all outfitters and guides for everything they do. After all that work, it was time to pick up hunters and retrieve any bears harvested. After collecting two bears killed on day three, it was time for the normal sharing of stories around the dinner table. 

Day four was my day to recharge. The ice was finally gone off the lake and I wanted to spend time around it with no worries. Kolby daily offered for me to sit with him, but my back doesn’t love long sits in a tree these days. I did a little fishing and fiddle-faddled around until the guides got back with the hunters that night. It was a night of nights; all four remaining hunters tagged out and the camp was seven for seven with one massive bear (Kolby got a beautiful cinnamon color phased bear with a chevron on its chest). 

On day five we skinned all four bears, packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed back stateside a day early. Everyone in the camp had an amazing week and wholeheartedly thanked the guides Todd, Bryan, and Jordan for a great week. Todd runs a great camp and has an excellent team with very supportive attitudes. If you’re looking for the hunt of a lifetime, give him a call—you won’t be disappointed. A very special thanks to my son, Kolby, for putting everything together, creating the memory of a lifetime. I've toted him around on all kinds of adventures and it's special that he was able to tote his old man on one. Love you son.