May 12 2016
On May 20th, exactly one week from today, I will be traveling to Quebec for my first spring bear hunt of 2016. Quebec is a tremendous spring bear hunting and fishing destination. There are lots of bears, and the hunts are affordable. Quality outfitters are abundant if you do your research. It will by my first time in the province, and I plan to give the first adult, male bear that I see a warm greeting from my Arkansas-made longbow. I planned to use my new Mathews Halon, but it just arrived in the mail this week and I didn’t want to rush setting it up. It looks like I’ve been forced to get primitive.
The author prefers First Lite hunting gear on all his spring bear hunts. Merrino wool is the perfect fabric for bear camp. It doesn't hold odor, it wicks moisture away from your body, and thermo regulates well keeping you cool in the heat, but warm when it's cold. Clay is also shooting a Timberghost Longbow in lieu of his Mathews Halon which just came in the mail last week.
Myself along with two other guys from Arkansas will be hunting with Rob Argue of Eastern Canadian Outfitters. Rob is a veteran guide, very hospitable, he’s a good communicator, and most importantly, he’s serious about his clients bringing home good bears. He hunts a great area about two hours drive from Ottawa, Ontario (just across the border into Quebec). North of his camp is nothing but wilderness, and he’s got some great bear hunting. We received a report just yesterday that they still had some snow on the ground and bears were just starting to emerge. I’m good with this. I would rather have a late spring than an early one for hunting bears over bait.
There is a lot discussion about the prime times for spring bear hunting. Most Canadian outfitters start taking their first clients in mid-May. The first few weeks, depending upon the weather, can be excellent. The bears are just coming out of their dens and they’re hungry. However, bear movement can be slow if the weather is cold. The warmer the weather gets, and the deeper you get into the spring, the more natural food sources become available. Later in the spring bears sometimes don’t respond to bait as well. However, the later you hunt (say…into mid-June) the more your hunt will be influenced by the bear rut. The peak of the bear rut is mid-June. To boil it down, early in the spring boars are locked onto a feeding pattern trying to gain some weight before the rut. However, they lock into breeding mode and become rovers as the calendar rolls into June. This is when you start to see new boars showing up on the baits. Anything can happen from late May through the end of the bear season.
My favorite time to bear hunt is the last week of May. The bears are likely still heavily hitting on the baits because natural food source is scarce. However, the boars are going to start rutting, so on any evening you might see a new boar on bait. Add in that the we’ve got a late spring in Quebec and I predict we’ll see some good bear movement.
Traditional Bow Hunting Bears
Bears are the perfect animal to hunt with a traditional bow. They’re big and have a larger kill zone than a deer. The shots on most spring bait hunts are going to be inside of 15 yards. A recurve or longbow over 45 pounds in draw weight with a 450-plus grain arrow is totally adequate for the largest black bear in Canada. It’s really all about shot placement. Don’t take a steep quartering shot, or any other marginal shot. Basically, shoot at a broadside bear with his onside leg extended forward, and the bow will make easy work of the bear. I’m shooting a bow that is 52 pounds at 28” and a 475-grain arrow. I’m undecided on what type of broadhead I will be shooting, but likely a Slick Trick Vipertrick. I’ve killed three big black bears with this setup and it works.
The author usually practices from 18 to 20 yards. However, while hunting he hopes to be inside of 15 yards from the bear. This group was shoot from the ideal distance - about 12 yards. It has taken him years to feel comfortable hunting with this bow. When is the best time to start shooting traditional bows? Ten years ago or today....
Quebec is the largest province in Canada covering over 600,000 square miles. It is bordered on the west by Ontario and the east by New Brunswick and Labrador. Its southern borders include the states of New York, Vermont and Maine. Quebec is an excellent spring bear hunting destination that is convenient to travel to, especially for hunters coming from the New England states that can simply drive across the border. (www.quebecoutfitters.com/bear)
More than 95% of Quebec is covered by the Canadian Shield, making it generally flat with some mountainous terrain. However, the Lauratian Mountains in southern Quebec, the Otish Mountains in central Quebec, and northern leg of the Appalachian Mountains stretch into the southern part of the province providing some mountainous terrain. The highest point in the province is Mount Caubvick that reaches over 5,000 feet in elevation. Needless to say Quebec has some of some great bear habitat and bear densities.
Quebec is a province known for providing high success rates and great opportunity on black bear. By holding out for a larger bear and letting some smaller bears walk, you’ll have a good chance at a 250-300 black bear in Quebec, maybe bigger. One of the biggest attractions of hunting Quebec in the spring is the fishing. The outfitters are equipped and ready for bear/fishing combination trips that will guarantee an excellent adventure. Check out www.quebecoutfitters.com/bear for the special package made for the readers of Bear Hunting Magazine.