An invitation to hunt any animal in June is not something I will likely turn down, and when Tim Kent of Theory 13 Creative called me up to see if I would be interested in chasing black bears in Quebec I eagerly accepted. Tim and I, along with Hot Shot Manufacturing owner Dave White and his hunting buddy Mark Hancey, Robin Parks and Keith Riehn of Aim Low Productions and their good friend Rob Hancey, Bowhunting World Magazine Publisher Jared Pfiefer, and Charlie Rehor of Bowsite.com all got together at La Griffe d’Ours (www.griffedours.com) in Quebec.
Our guides for the week were Yvon Champagne and his son Phillippe. To say that the father and son team know bears and their habits would be a serious understatement. They run 70 to 80 baits a year while catering to both firearm and archery hunters. It became evident shortly after our arrival that La Griffe d’Ours was a quality operation and that all of us were in no danger of starving to death. It also became abundantly clear that Yvon and Phillippe were going to work hard to get us all a chance to arrow a bear.
Unfortunately, the bears didn’t think that was such a great plan. Whether it was the full moon, the humid weather, or some other factor that kept the bear movement to a minimum we will never know. What we do know is that despite the arguments that guided hunts are too easy, or that baiting makes the whole endeavor seem like a “slam dunk”, you certainly couldn’t prove those statements by our results.
While each day someone in our group passed up smaller bears, the big boars didn’t show. On day one Jared made a perfect shot on a decent bear and silently many of us questioned his decision to shoot the first one that walked in. As the week progressed Jared quickly went from potentially being an over-eager hunter who had jumped the gun to a genius bear expert that understood his window of opportunity was a small one and the need for capitalization was at hand. His bear was the only one that our group connected on.
But, the fact that we went 1 for 9 doesn’t do the hunt justice. It would seem that we were wildly unsuccessful, but I can personally say I’ve been on hunts where the meat pole was sagging under the weight of harvested game that weren’t nearly as enjoyable as our time spent at La Griffe d’Ours. The accommodations were perfect even for a large group, Phillippe and Yvon worked with each hunter to put us in comfortable stand sites for solo and filming situations, and the camaraderie was top-notch.
While we didn’t all end up with 300 pound bruins at the end of the trip we did get to see bear, moose, deer, raccoons and assorted game birds. We also had the privilege of shooting our bows each day at La Griffe d’Ours range while testing out Hot Shot’s Tempest, Infinity, and a top-secret prototype of a release that certainly isn’t going to disappoint hardcore bowhunters. It seemed that most days our hardest decision was whether to carry the thumb-trigger Tempest into stand or go with the wrist-strap Infinity.
As the week came to a close we were all carrying a few extra pounds, had seen plenty of critters, and survived the first earthquake to hit Quebec in a long, long time. After trading business cards and contact info we all went our separate ways with the wheels in motion for a new hunt. Next year we’ll head North during a cold front, while the moon is just a sliver…