Anyone who knows me soon realizes that my favorite North American animal to bow hunt is the black bear. I’ve pursued them in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ontario, and now I was going to try Manitoba. In the early years my husband and I did our own baiting, but now we prefer to use an outfitter because, as anyone who has done it knows, it takes time, effort, and lots of muscle to establish and then maintain a site before and during a season.  
THE MEETING: I met Darryl and Dylan Kantimer, owners of DOA Outfitters, at the MN
Deer Classic in 2019 just before the Covid pandemic hit. I told them I was after my 25th bear with a bow and would be over the moon if it could be larger than any I’d arrowed previously. Darryl answered me thoughtfully and honestly, “Marlene, I can get you that bear.”  
Kantimer has access to and owns 2,000 square miles of hunting property and has been an outfitter for over 27 years. Their lodge is located less than 30 miles into Manitoba from the Minnesota border, which for me was an easy and direct route to drive. I was energized just chatting with them and eager to start my adventure once border restrictions were loosened.
THE ARRIVAL: Now let’s fast forward to May 2022 as my husband and I were motoring northwest to Manitoba, Canada. I’d followed Kantimer’s website ( and thought I had a good idea of what to expect when I drove into the camp. Was I wrong! The accommodations were nicer than many places that catered to tourists, let alone hunters used to “roughing it.”  Meals were provided and prepared from scratch by the most talented chef I’ve met. The bread was homemade, the vegetables served were homegrown, and the Guinea hens were free-range on his farm. The celebratory wine we toasted at the end of hunt successes was made using his personal recipe. I would have loved shadowing Devon for just one day or, frankly, just adopting him. The minute we drove in, Darryl and his staff made me feel like I was as special as my quest for bear #25 was.
I was sharing the week with Marshall and his grandchildren, Hallie and Landon—all from Kentucky. This was Hallie’s first bear hunt and she was excited. Even though Darryl puts two-man ladder stands at each bait site, all of us sat by ourselves. This suits me just fine because when people sit together, that means twice the movement, twice the human scent, and twice the noise when someone needs to stretch or chitchat. 
THE OPERATIONS: There were cameras placed at each site (most of which transmitted images back to Darryl’s phone), giving us all an idea of what to expect regarding size, number of bears, and time of each bear’s visit. Seeing these pictures heightened our anticipation for an exciting “sit.” I develop a different mindset when I’m just bear hunting and when I’m hunting a specific bear. Darryl had pictures of a bear visiting the site I’d been assigned to. One photo indicated this boar came in at 1:38 am and the second day he appeared at 5:47 am. I told Darryl that if after my first day on stand I didn’t see him, then I wanted to be settled down there by 4:00 am the following day. I’ve learned that with patience and a change in my hunting strategy, I might just be able to take this Black Angus bovine look alike. From my bear hunting experience, I knew he was absolutely “broadhead worthy.”
Kantimer knows how to bring multiple bears into his bait stations. His approach is simple: give the bear what they want and where they want it.  
•       He makes sure the resident bears have food available every time they visit the station. That means putting out lots of bait ranging from sweets to savory items.  He uses several 50-gallon drums filled with treats set at various yardages within the opening. This allows multiple bears to feel less threatened by a dominant one when they can feed a comfortable distance away from an alpha bear.
•       Minimizing the number of visits to the site is also key to making the resident bears feel secure enough to stay close to their food and water source.
•       He also makes certain that there is some source of water nearby. This year brought an incredible amount of moisture to the area, so there was water everywhere. Adequate amounts of food and water will help hold the bears within their home range and may discourage them from looking elsewhere for it.   
•       And finally, he selects a site where there is suitable cover around the bait station so that the bears can remain concealed until they feel comfortable enough to enter the opening and feed. 
THE HUNT: Since this was a special experience for both Hallie and me, we both made sure to take advantage of the practice range set up near the lodge. We knew there was zero margin for error on this hunt and each of us was confident that when a trigger was pulled—or an arrow loosed—a bear would be harvested.  
Darryl and his guides drive each hunter to their assigned stand. When each person has their safety harness attached, the hunt officially begins. Hallie mentioned that when she saw the ATV leave she was a bit anxious, but soon the woods produced a calming effect as she became aware of the orioles and squirrels entertaining her with their movements and sounds.
Neither Hallie nor I like surprises while hunting, so I found out that we both slowly scan the area trying to identify trails the bears might be using. Then I look for shooting lanes I can use should a bear come from a direction I might not anticipate. For this reason, I do my best to launder all my hunting clothes with Scent Killer® and pack enough of their shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant to last the week. Bears like to circle the bait and I want my scent at a minimum. I also always have a rangefinder with me so that when I’ve pinpointed a possible minor trail, I know whether I can reach it with an arrow. My comfort shooting range is 25 yards[1] . Any animal positioned beyond that gets a “pass.”
THE RECOVERY: One by one that afternoon, each hunter texted Darryl and the main guide, Kenny, that a bear was down. Hallie’s bear was easy to find since she saw it collapse 15 yards from the spot where she pulled the trigger. It had a beautiful white “V” on the chest. What a trophy. Landon harvested a bear more than 250 lbs with the most unusually colored coat. It almost looked bi-colored (black with significant brown tones). Again, what an unusual and subtle color variation for his first bear. Marshall ‘s bolt flew true and brought down another bear over 250 lbs. Three for three—that percent definitely deserved a high five all around.
I was the last hunter to text in that my #25 was down. He came cautiously in from the trail behind my stand, but I had been carefully watching that direction preparing for the unexpected. When I suddenly became aware of his silent approach, he took my breath away. It took every bit of my patience and focus not to move, knowing that sooner or later I would catch sight of him out of the corner of my eye as he walked out from behind me and toward the bait. When he stood at the bait and then turned to give me a slight quartering away shot, my pin was on him. He weighed in at 410 lbs, my largest. I was over the moon.  
It was a late night for all of us that involved bringing each bear back to camp, taking more pictures, and then skinning, quartering, and boning them out. Everyone slept in the next morning. Darryl had given each of us the opportunity to see bears and by the end of the first day of hunting, our harvest rate was 100%. That says so much to the ability of DOA to deliver a quality experience.  
Hallie had a couple of deer under her belt, but she wanted to experience a different type of hunting. She absolutely demonstrated the patience [2] needed to hunt bears by waiting until he was completely within the clearing. More importantly, she displayed the focus and skill to aim where her bullet would be most effective to deliver lethal results.
Since the hunt ended quickly for all of us, Darryl said we were welcome to stay until the end of the week. Winnipeg was only 90 minutes away with many attractions to see and would definitely be worth the drive. The morel mushrooms were out, but so were the ticks (no problem—we’d packed our ElimiTick® clothing). There were also lots of trails to walk around camp.
My husband and I opted for heading back to MN so we could process the meat.  Next year when I return, hunting for morels and visiting Winnipeg will be the #2 & #3 items on my to-do list. Arrowing bear #26 is the first thing on my list.