In search of the black ghost – my first bear hunt

For generations, the pursuit of black bears has been a tradition enjoyed by many. The majestic bear has long been shroud in mystery and mystique, leaving a lasting impression on anyone who sees one. These animals are noble, intelligent and as tough as nails. Virtually every outdoorsman I know can recall in vivid detail, a graphic black bear encounter.

This may explain part of the bear’s allure. I have to admit I was one of those people so intrigued with these beasts that I just had to see what the hubbub was about. I had been an avid moose and deer hunter for 20 years at the time, but never attempted a black bear hunt.

It was year 2000, and I was excited for the prospect of my very first black bear hunt! It would offer a new hunting experience for me. Plans were laid and the trip was promptly booked with one of Quebec’s most well-established black bear outfitters; Domaine Shannon. Once all the formalities taken care of I was anxious for the excitement to begin.

Two evenings had passed with no bears in sight. As darkness approached like a slow moving cloud on my last evening of the hunt, I watched intently over my bait-site. “No sign of bear movement yet,” I thought to myself, while attempting to quietly swat away the pesky black-flies digging into my wrist. Here I was, perched high above the lush forest floor in an enclosed camouflaged tree stand, waiting for “ol blackie” to appear below me.

What a glorious place this was.

It took my guide’s intensive homework and planning to select the stand location for this final hunt. The distance to the bait was considerably shorter than with previous stands that week, with the goal of hopefully allowing my father (the photographer) to gather some footage of an approaching bear. At least that was the plan. After waiting patiently for three hours, and watching the odd raven pick at loose scraps around the bait site, I was beginning to grow doubtful of seeing a bear.

I checked my watch. It was 9 p.m., and still no sign of any bears. As I examined the hunt area more closely with my binoculars, a network of well-used bear trails converging at the bait was plainly visible. It appeared as though several animals had visited this location regularly but where were they all hiding?

Ten minutes later, a “swishing” sound emanated from the direction of the bait. I leaned over to my Dad, “there’s something down there!” my voice cracked. I had a gut feeling that a bear was finally approaching downwind. I continued to strain my eyes and ears hoping to catch a glimpse of any movement. All was silent.

Suddenly without warning, an ominous black figure moved across in front of the bait like a ghost, in complete silence. My guide had explained earlier that these bears are so familiar with their surroundings; they are able to approach the bait without so much as breaking a branch.

My dark visitor virtually blocked out the remaining light for a moment. “Oh my God, it’s a bear!” I thought to myself. My heart began to race and my palms were perspiring. I would have to act quickly if I wanted to take him. The black object mysteriously avoided the bait, and was more intent on scent-checking the area first.

“I think he is moving in our direction” my Dad whispered in my ear, sending chills down my spine. The dark creature then stopped and swiveled around to resume his course towards the bait. I held the sights behind the massive shoulder and slowly squeezed. In a matter of seconds it was all over. My body was trembling, as I climbed down the stand to collect my trophy. It was truly a magnificent and impressive animal and would be my very first black bear, a boar weighing 180 pounds with the prettiest coat I had ever laid eyes upon.

Such an awesome hunting experience with a bear outfitter is what draws sportsmen from all over to pursue these animals. Many top quality outfitters in Quebec and Ontario as well cater to hunters interested in pursuing these elusive beasts, and for good reason.

Black bears are a formidable adversary and quite plentiful. My outfitter, as with many of the province’s quality establishments, offers comprehensive bear hunting & fishing packages. They also have started providing a guaranteed bear hunt.

Thanks to sound management techniques by the province’s biologists and the outfitters themselves, Quebec’s bear population continues to flourish. The black bear is truly a provincial icon, and will continue to wander the northern bush for future generations to enjoy.

For those in search of the mysterious “black ghost,” one need not venture any farther than the province of Quebec. To book a bear hunt through one of Quebec’s many Outfitters, contact the Federation of Quebec Outfitters:




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