By Bill Miller
So do you have a Quebec black bear hunt in your plans for the spring (IF spring ever gets here)? If you do, you’re probably champing at the bit like me to get going. But if you don’t, it’s still not too late to find an available hunt with a superior outfitter. Some weeks will be booked for sure, but even the best outfitters may have cancellations or one-/two-hunter openings here and there. Best place to start the search, even at this late date is right here on www.QuebecOutfitters.com. At the home page, click on the “Hunting Packages” button, then on the “Black Bear Packages” icon. There you’ll find outfitters broken out by region. Now get to it!
If you have a spring bear booked, it’s coming up fast. We’re just a month away from the season openings. If this will be your first spring bear hunt, or if it has been awhile since you’ve enjoyed this amazing rite of spring and early summer, here are a few reminders on preparing to make the most of your hunt.
Check with your taxidermist — be sure to get his or her recommendations on preparing and handling the hide, cape and skull for the kind of work that interests you most. Are you looking for a full rug, a shoulder mount, half-body mount or a full-body mount? There are optimal ways of cutting and caping for each particular style, and you’ll get the best results by listening closely to your trusted taxidermist’s advice.
Check your Thermacell — got one? Good! Don’t have one? Get one! A Thermacell makes Quebec spring bear hunting a real pleasure rather than bug-plagued torture! Make sure to take along enough fuel cells and repellant pads, too. Some folks worry about the Thermacell’s scent keeping bear away, but think about it. If the wind is blowing from you to the bear, he’s going to know you’re there whether you have a Thermacell or not. So why worry? The vapors coming from the unit are BUG repellant not BEAR repellant!
Check your hunting tools — with the fall/winter big game hunting seasons having closed months ago, you may not have picked up your rifle or your bow since then. Don’t just trust it’s shooting like you left it … and that you’re shooting skills are still as sharp. Get out there and practice. That means shooting from field situations and from unknown distances. If you’ll be hunting bear from a tree stand, practice shooting from a tree stand. Get familiar with your equipment! Even if you’re hunting from a shooting house set-up, it’s best if you can silently move your gun into position and prepare to shoot without ever taking your eyes off the bear. Make sure you’ve taken every precaution to ready for the shot with absolute quiet.
Check your fishing tools – yes… I said fishing tools. That’s one of the wonderful things about most of Quebec’s bear hunting destinations. They offer great fishing, too. Most successful bear hunting is done in the late afternoon – from 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. until dark. That leaves you with morning’s free to experience lots of great piscine adventure as well. And who doesn’t like a meal of great walleye, pike or trout in camp?
Check your judging skills — chances are you’ll be alone in your tree stand or blind — no experienced guide by your side to tell you how big is the bear you’re looking at. The decision to shoot or not will be yours alone.
It’s not practical for most of us to get out around home and look at a lot of bears, so the next best things are videos and books. Study them. Stop frame the videos and look at the comparison of size between the bear and the elements in its surroundings. Look at those ears; where are they on the bear’s head? How prominent are they? Bear are the most difficult animals on which to determine trophy size. Fortunately you usually don’t need to make a snap decision. You can study on a bear that’s occupied with eating at a bait.
Check your optics – good optics are critical in spotting bear and in judging size on any hunt. Even if your bow stand is just 10 yards from the bait, good binoculars will help you pick up on a bear coming through the undergrowth and be ready that much sooner. Binoculars and a rangefinder are essential tools on any Quebec spring bear hunt.
Check your blaze orange – even when hunting from a stand or with archery equipment, Quebec’s laws require that you wear at least a blaze orange vest. Most outfitters will have spares if you forget, but the last thing you want to have happen is to get w-a-a-a-y back in the boondocks and determine your one vest short for your hunting crew! I’d be pretty upset if I was the guy who drew the short straw and didn’t get to hunt!
There’s your spring bear check up list. By running through it now, you’ll have time to adjust whatever needs adjustment in plenty of time for the season. Then get out there and have fun!