Published by admin on 15 Feb 2010
Hi Spirit: New Brunswick Bruins
For a rockin’ good time, try for a far-North spring blackie.
By Ted Nugent
The impenetrably thick dark spruce forests appeared to flow on forever in the Canadian North Country. Cruising up Highway 1 out of Saint John, New Brunswick, into yet another beautiful valley of green spring fields and rolling dairy farms, I see small, quaint white farmhouses that dot the wilderness landscape here and there. Yellow diamond-shaped moose crossing signs appear every few miles to remind us we’re not in West Virginia, and the stunning scenery has a calming effect on me as we wind our way deeper into what we know is serious black bear country. If it’s black bear habitat, baby, you know you’re in God’s country, and we take it all in appreciatively every mile of our Maritime Province journey.
Just last night, my band rocked the house royal with Lynayrd Skynyrd in Barrie, Ontario, outside Toronto, Canada’s number one cosmopolitan megacity. Amazingly, within a short drive of Toronto, just 100 miles northeast near the town of Bobcaygeon, some of the world’s densest populations of bear can be found.
Unfortunately, and in fact, quite sadly, all our bear hunting party again this spring would not, and legally could not, pay to hunt here because the Ontario government officials were caught taking bribes from a rich antihunting fanatic named Bob Shadd. They had the audacity to ban the spring bear hunt on a mindless, dishonest whim in direct defiance of their own Ministry of Natural Resources proven policy.
Thousands of bear hunters, including the customs officers we met crossing the border from Michigan, would not spend our tens of millions of dollars on this scientifically supported spring bear hunt in Ontario, and would instead take these precious revenues to New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, Idaho and elsewhere to buy licenses, permits, guides, outfitters, food, lodging, groceries, meals, supplies, sporting goods, bait, rental cars, souvenirs and assorted other goods and services that are essential for average bear hunting needs and desires. So be it.
Pathetically and indecently, Ontario will continue to charge the good citizens of that province to kill more sows and cubs than ever in recorded history, and then bury their wasted, desecrated carcasses in a pit somewhere like so much worthless trash. Good call Ontario. That’s how to respect black bears. Carry on.
Since 1983, Ron Slipp and his family have operated the Slipp Brothers Ltd. Hunting and Outfitting operation near the small village of Hoyt, New Brunswick. Specializing in spring and fall bear hunts, as well as other traditional fall hunting for moose, deer and small game like grouse and rabbits, they run a tip-top camp with mostly repeat customers from all over the world. It’s easy to see why as we inspect the well-built, comfortable cabins complete with bunks and clean linens, hot showers, refrigerators and wood stoves. At the bustling kitchen and mess hall, we put away a delicious hot meal of fresh salad, scrumptious au gratin potatoes and baked ham with ice cream for dessert. It turns out that every meal is like this.
There will be no roughing it at this far away hunting camp, that’s for sure. As a proud board member of the great Canadian Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA), I joined dedicated COHA directors Andy Kowalczewski and Ray Gosselin for a three-day bear hunt in between my Canadian concert dates. I cannot imagine sitting in a hotel room when hear good bear county with an open season underway. No way!
Ron has a perfect replica of his bear-set treestand right at camp, and after our hearty, rib-sticking dinner, we took some practice shots at the Delta and McKenzie bear targets to limber up our travel muscles and get our minds right for the Monday hunt.
Joined in camp by a good group of New York hunters, spirits ran high as they always do in such settings. The guys were hunting with rifles, shotguns and an assortment of archery gear. Videos and photos of past critter encounters were shared with growing anticipation for the afternoon hunt, and the camaraderie was thick and uppity. The Bear Spirit was in camp.
Our first afternoon and stand was like the majority of bear stand vigils—cold, wet and long. After six rugged, very wet and cold hours, a hot shower and wood stove heat felt nothing short of miraculous, and sound sleep came easily again.
Day two dawned colder yet with the icy rain still coming down hard. But later in the day, with slightly clearing skies, we headed into our stands with solid enthusiasm and hope. As the rain slowly subsided and the wind died down, the dark of night slowly consumed the day. Local hunter and trapper Randy Mercercou was able to videotape over my shoulder a pair of handsome black bears marauding in and out of the dense brush around tour treestand. With too little light to shoot, we nonetheless took great quantities of bear medicine into our hearts and souls.
Day three was the charm. Even as we enjoyed a fine day of leisurely camp life, clearing skies brought with them new hopes of increased bear activity. All hunters geared up and headed for their stands early, knowing that this dramatic upgrade in weather spelled bear all over it. Randy and I too were settled 22 feet up in our jackpine platform 90 minutes earlier, cocked, locked and more than ready to rock, doc! Patience is job-one when hunting anything, but absolutely essential for quality and effective bear hunting with the bow and arrow. Add to these nearly insurmountable odds the burden of videotaping, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a gonzo task on hand. Now in our 11th hour maneuver, nerves and tension were on a tightrope.
Nothing but birds for four hours, then, with but 45 minutes of shooting light left, a distant crack of a twig snapped us to attention. Right then a big black blob appeared 60 yards out in the dense boreal scrub. My heart pounded like a double live gonzo big bass drum gone Motor City Mad Man full-tilt boogie. I love when that happens. This first bear took his time peaking in and out of the thick vegetation. As it slowly tip-toed toward us, its head jerked up, looking behind, then dashed wildly off, galloping and splashing through the deep water to out left. We both knew why. The arrival of a larger, more dominant bear always scares off a smaller bruin, so our intensity accelerated further yet. And thar she blows! A larger black blob now poked its brown-muzzled head through the green foliage, and cautiously moved our way. My adrenaline glands had full liftoff! I forced myself to breathe easy. Here he comes! Imminent full bluntal Nugity or bust.
A typical move pulled by bears coming to bait is to snatch and run. As I came to full draw, that’s exactly what he did. Before I could hope to steady my hold, he was lurching back into the underbrush, beef shankbone clutched in his jaws. No shot. The bear was gone just long enough to devour his succulent hibernation wake up breakfast before he slowly sauntered in for more. This time I figured I was ready for his quickie maneuver. This time, as I thought I had properly anticipated his grab and run tactic, I released my arrow to a flash of fur and my 500 grains of razor-sharp Nugent Blade feathered deathray zipped harmlessly where there had been vitals and a ribcage a mere nanosecond before. Rats!
But I am here to hell you , my Pearson bow, equipped with a full compliment of Sims Vibration Laboratory silencing products was so quiet, the bear only leapt a few feat and looked back, confused. I was already loading another all-white carbon arrow onto my string when he ambled back for another crack at the free chow. This time I let fly a second faster and the arrow smacked hard with a loud, KRAK! My Magnus broadhead had penetrated deep into the bear’s neck completely severing the spinal column, bringing the beast crashing down hard like a pole axed polecat. An immediate second arrow slammed right through the beast’s head, penetrating the brain, bringing all movement to an abrupt end. All rejoice! The rug has landed!
Randy and I breathed a sigh of relief in unison, I scrambled down the ladder right away and the bear was dead. We celebrated the Great Spirit of the Bear and took many photos and video footage for the “Spirit of the Wild” TV show that will appear on the Outdoor Channel and numerous network affiliates nationwide. More than a little honor and respect were given the beast in its death and we dragged our prize from the depths of the Canadian forest with a prayer for the wild things on our lips.