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Spring Bear Hunting
Hunting bear in the spring over bait in northern Manitoba.
I lived in Manitoba for over four years, during this time I helped the brother in law who owned four fly in outpost camps to run his spring amp; fall bear hunts. It was my responsibility to fly out to the camps as soon as the ice went out of the lakes in the spring to get the camps up amp; running amp; to start the spring bear baits. In most years the ice would leave the lakes sometime in the middle of May around mothers day, I would fly out as soon as the lakes opened up.
The bait sites are established sites which have been used for many years now amp; keep the bears coming back year after year. All the sites allow easy access from the water amp; are placed near the lakes where the game trails skirt the edge of the lakes. Most hunters say that they see bears within about 10 minutes after being placed in the hunting sites, it seems the bears get accustomed to hearing the sound of the boat motor amp; associate that with their dinner bell. Raised platforms serve as blinds, roughly 10-12 ft off the ground with the bait pile 15 yards from the stand, this allows for the hunter to use either a bow or rifle for a clear shot at his animal.
During the spring more than one bear will frequent a bait pile at a time, this is something that does not happen to often during the fall hunting season. So hunters often have a choice of bears to harvest in the spring hunts. By the time hunters are brought into the camps, the bears are very active amp; hungry. The coats are nice amp; shiny but you do have to watch for rubs marks on their coats, depending on what your plans are for the hide.
In the spring time I would use popcorn as the bait, flavored with strawberry geltin powder. The bears seem to love it, I have sat in the stands amp; watched bears just lay in the popcorn amp; devour it, just laying their, reaching out with their paws amp; raking the popcorn into them, not even moving.
Spring also offers some of the best fishing you will ever experience, which is just an added bonus to the spring bear hunting trip. The walleyes are still hanging around the spawning grounds amp; they are normally on a bite that just does not stop.
I had some first time bear hunters in camp one year, it was really funny. I had taken them out fishing shortly after they arrived at camp amp; unpacked amp; got settled in. It was still pretty early around 1 in the afternoon, so we went down to one of the walleye hot spots I knew. Everyone was really excited amp; catching walleye after walleye, about 3 o'clock a couple of the guys started getting ansey amp; wanted to get out into the stands for the afternoon hunt. I kept telling them we had plenty of time amp; I thought maybe we would go back to the cabin amp; have some fresh walleye fillets for dinner before I took them to their stands. Well this did not go over very well with one of the guys, he really wanted to get started with his bear hunt. Who am I to argue, after all he is the customer, so I took him out to his stand around 4 o'clock to start his evening hunt. His two buddies were less insistant so we went back to camp amp; I prepared a nice walleye dinner for them. Shortly after dinner they got ready amp; I took them to their stands around 6 for the evening hunt. I told them I would be back shortly after dark to fetch them amp; left them to their hunt. What they failed to realize was that in Northern Manitoba it does not get dark until around 11 PM, in this area you could legally hunt until 11. The poor guy that was dropped off at 4 had a long 7 hours in his stand amp; I dare say by the time I picked him up he was ready to go back for something to eat amp; a tall cold beverage.
As an FYI, all three hunters managed to take bear during their week in camp. 2 of the hunters saw bear on their first evening in the stands but opted to pass since their hunt had just started amp; took their bears later in the week.
Northern Manitoba offers a lot of opportunities for spring bear hunting amp; awesome fishing. The weather is normally mild, the bugs are out. I advise the hunters to bring bug spray which contains Deat, while baiting I spray the stands with bug spray so the bears are accustomed to that smell. Hunters should also plan on using full face netting because in the woods on stand the bugs do swarm you. Normally out on the water while fishing amp; around camp you are not bothered with the bugs as much. Manitoba does require you to use an outfitter for any type of hunting (exception being goose), but their are many great outfitters working in Manitoba to assist you in taking your trophey animal. Have a great trip amp; just remember, any day in the bush is better than one in the office.