My husband (Walter) and I made the decision to go on a hunt for
the Black Bear. Neither of us had ever hunted bear and thought is
was time to add Black Bears to our ever-growing trophy room. Due
to my numerous and various health problems, finding an outfitter
who could accommodate my special needs proved to be quite a task.
After calling and talking to many outfitters who could not accommodate
my needs, I mentioned to a friend that we were interested in finding
a Black Bear outfitter. Within several days, we started receiving
calls from outfitters in Manitoba. Turns out it was one of those
"a friend of a friend of a friend" type things. After talking to
several outfitters from Manitoba and Ontario, we decided on Trapper
Mike's Outfitting based in Thompson, Manitoba, Canada. We spoke
with him on the phone several times and exchanged letters. He sent
us his brochure and I sent away for information on Manitoba.
Because of my health problems, we decided we would drive to Thompson.
However, arrangements could have been made to go by air. We left
our home in Illinois and traveled to Thompson, Manitoba.
I was disappointed to find that Manitoba is not how I pictured,
thanks to television, Canada. It is not the portion of Canada with
all the high, snow covered, mountains. Where we were was more flat
with a lot of fir and birch trees. Since spring was late this year,
the birch trees were just beginning to bud and to begin with we
actually thought they were dead, but then we realized they were
just beginning to bud. By the time we left Canada, one week later,
the trees were getting their leaves and were turning green and pretty.
We arrived at our Thompson, Manitoba destination on a Sunday afternoon
and were greeted by our outfitter, Trapper Mike. Trapper Mike (Mike
Sinhor) is a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer and quite
an interesting individual. He has more stories to tell than we had
time to hear. He has a bit of a devilish streak also, and loves
to tell and play jokes. His wife, Anne, is a retired nurse who loves
to cook and bake and in her spare time is an artist. She has won
awards at art shows for her paintings. We met their married daughter,
Michelle, who was there for a short visit. Blaine, their son was
there to help out with the outfitting.
Before I start telling you about the actual bear hunting, let me
tell you about the accommodations. We stayed in the lower level
of Mike and Anne's home. They have it set up to accommodate up to
4 hunters and in the off season, Anne operates a Bed & Breakfast.
The meals were wonderful. Anne makes most things from scratch. We
would have breakfast that alternated between a big breakfast and
a light breakfast. Lunches were always "home made" hot soup and
sandwiches. Those soups were so good. I am not particularly fond
of mushrooms, but Anne made the most delicious mushroom soup (using
locally grown mushrooms) that I had a second helping. After lunch
we would try and catch a nap before the hunt. Bears are not active
during the day, and we did not usually head for the stands until
about 4:00 PM. Dinner was served late every day as the hunt ends
about 11:00 PM, we would eat our dinner when we got back to the
house, which was usually about Midnight, sometimes a little before,
and sometimes after, depending on how the hunt went. Dinners were
awesome. Anne really outdoes herself with the meals. She can manage
to have a delicious dinner ready whatever time the hunters get in.
Her dinner meals consisted of at least 2 types of salad (coleslaw
and a lettuce type), potatoes or rice, another vegetable or two
and the delicious main dishes, followed by some of the best desserts
I have ever had.
Now, for the hunting. I was quite nervous about how the hunting
would be done as my health problems limit my walking and I was worrying
about how exactly I would get to and from the hunting stands. I
should not have worried; I was taken right to the stands by 4-wheeler.
Walter got to walk in to his stands and he watched as the bait was
put out for the bears and then Trapper Mike would leave and Walter
would sit and wait all alone. Since I couldn't be left alone, Blaine
would take me to the stand on the 4-wheeler and would get me all
settled. Then he would have to put out the bait for the bears and
take the 4-wheeler far enough away that the bears could not smell
it, park it, and walk back in to sit in the stand with me.
Sitting in those stands can get to be difficult and boring. You
have to be very quiet, you cannot talk and you really cannot move
around very much. Black Bears have a good sense of smell and they
have great ears and can hear any little movement. During the first
two days of the hunt, I saw, and managed to take some video of one
bear each day who came to enjoy the treats. On the first day Walter
didn't see any bears, but on the second he saw seven.
On the third day of the hunt, the weather forecast was predicting
bad weather and I felt (due to my health situation) that if I were
going to get a bear I would have to get one on that day so, off
we went to the stand. Blaine got me all settled in and went off
to park the 4-wheeler and returned. We waited, and waited and waited.
We watched the birds come and go and the squirrels come and go and
come back again and FINALLY at about 9:45 PM out came a bear. I
saw him come out before Blaine did as we were looking in opposite
directions. The moment I saw him walk in to the bait barrel, I knew
I was going to shoot him and I started to shake. I am one of those
hunters that always shake before I shoot an animal. Anyway, I shook
and shook and shook. The shaking made it very hard for me to get
my gloves off and pick up my rifle, but moving totally in slow motion,
I finally had the rifle in my hand and was looking at the bear through
the scope. I was still shaking and wondering to myself if I could
hit anything the way I was shaking. I had no rifle rest so I knew
it was up to me. I also knew that I did not want a wounded bear
running around because there was no way I could help track him down.
I heard Blaine say, "take him" several times, but I wanted to wait
until I was sure. FINALLY, I shot and I saw the bear jump and run
and I could not see him any longer. I looked at Blaine, thinking
I had missed, and asked, "did I even hit him". Blaine was watching
and said "good shot, he is down". I looked around and still could
not see him. We waited for a few minutes and then Blaine told me
he would go make sure that the bear was dead and he got down from
the stand and walked a short distance. He yelled back that he was
dead. I could actually see Blaine and at his feet was this big black
spot that was my bear. He had run about 20 yards.
Blaine went for the 4-wheeler, got me out of the stand, skinned
and loaded and off we went back to the house. When we got back I
found Walter had not seen any bears, but I took great pleasure in
telling him I had gotten mine. Naturally, he didn't believe me until
he saw the bear. A rough measure of my bear put him at 5' 5". Not
a huge bear, but he was MY FIRST BLACK BEAR and I got him with ONE
SHOT all by myself from the decision to shoot, to the selection
and the shot. .
After the collection of my bear, I spent my time around the house
with Anne. We had coffee several times with her friends and I met
other artists and saw their work.
Walter continued his hunt seeing one small bear on Thursday, nothing
on Friday and finally Saturday evening, the LAST DAY, Walter went
to the stand and at 10:05 PM a bear came out and he took him. He
got back to the house around 11:45 PM. His bear rough measured at
5' 1". Not a trophy bear, as he had hoped, but it was his first
Black Bear also and I feel certain he will go back and hunt for
the BIG ONE, possible a Fall hunt next time.
All in all, it was a good time and we are both very happy with our
bears. We left them at a taxidermist in Winnipeg to be made into
rugs and I am anxious to see how they will turn out. We would both
highly recommend Trapper Mike's Outfitting Service to anyone who
wanted a good hunt, delicious meals and a very good time.
Written By Norma S. Draper Sugar Grove, Illinois June 20, 2002