May 18, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
Turkey season is still rolling on here in the North Country. Hunting’s good because the toms and the hens have mostly gone their separate ways now, and the gobblers are on the look out for a willing hen most any place and time. They’re such romantics, aren’t they? Just a little more of spring’s passion is on their mind – constantly.
But the all-around hunter’s mind is turning to other opportunities, now, namely spring black bear hunting. At least that’s where my mind is turning. I’m packin’ for bear.
I’ll soon be headed for Quebec to join good friends at Domaine Shannon Lodge near Maniwaki, Quebec. That’s about a 3-ish hour drive from Ottawa, Ontario and about a 5-ish hour drive from Montreal. In the spring, the focus at Domaine Shannon is divided between baiting for giant black bear across hundreds of square miles of wilderness terrain and fishing for fantastic eating-sized walleyes in the lake right out in front of the resort. Visiting outdoorsfolk can enjoy the best of both – every day.
Domaine Shannon has managed to effectively deal with the two universal laws of spring bear hunting: 1) there will be bugs, and 2) it will create havoc in your eating and sleeping schedule.
No, they haven’t removed all of the bugs from the Quebec woodlands – far from. They’ve just come up with a great way to deal with them. For hunters hunting spring bear with a rifle or muzzleloader, the stands are each set with a comfortable, screened in shooting house. The screen windows in the front and each side of the house (yes, they do look somewhat like outhouses) seal out the mosquitoes and black flies, but open silently when it comes time to shoot. You can wait in silence, stillness and relative comfort without doing constant battle with the bugs.
As for the schedule, spring bear hunting is best in the evening. Hunters at Domaine Shannon aren’t even placed in the stands until about 5:00 p.m. Because you’re hunting during some of the longest days of the year, pick up after dark doesn’t come until at least 9:30 or 10:00 and then only if you’re the first hunter on the route. Many stands are located at least a hour’s drive from the lodge.
Before hunting at Domaine Shannon, every spring bear operation I’d hunted with served a big, Thanksgiving-sized meal after hunters returned from the woods. Shannon, instead, serves a mid-sized meal about 3:30 before you leave for the hunt. It works out much better than eating so late, trying to sleep on a bloated belly, and delaying bed time by another hour or two when you’re back in camp.
Then in the morning you sleep in, wander up to the lodge for a nice breakfast, and head out on the lake for some walleye fishing whenever the mood strikes! A week at Domaine Shannon is another “this is how life should be” opportunity! I’m looking forward to it very soon.
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