Christmas shopping for my wife, Mary is actually a pretty easy chore for me as Mary is an outdoors woman.Still, it can be challenging to come up with something she doesn't already have.
Chad Fortner, of Nungesser Lake Lodge, gave me a great idea on how to surprise Mary.We were discussing the problem with he asked me, "What about a bear hunt?"It immediately hit me as a perfect idea.
So Mary had Christmas in July!When I told her of the upcoming hunt and that it was to be her Christmas gift, she could hardly contain herself.But she settled down quickly when I reminded her that we had some work to do before the hunt.This consisted mostly of target practice, but also included preparation of hunting clothes and scent removal.
Mary had the clothes she needed and since we hunt whitetails together, she already knew about washing them in special odor free detergent and packing them properly.With the addition of some spray-on scent eliminator, we had that part covered.
Now for the target practice.I recently acquired a very nice Winchester model 94 in .30-30 that a friend had won in a drawing in 1967 and he had only fired 5 shells through it.It shot good groups and seemed a good choice for this hunt.I checked with Chad and he told me he usually put his tree stands up about 15 feet, so I followed suit and hung a stand at that height.We tried several brands of ammo to see what shot best in the Winchester and settled on Remington.
After sighting in the rifle, Mary climbed into the stand and while I stood back, she shot what I considered a great group at about 25 yards.A couple of more sessions proved the group wasn't a fluke and we both felt she was ready for the challenge.
As the September date drew closer, I could tell Mary was getting both excited and nervous.Mary had wanted to hunt bear for a long time and the time was very near. After driving 50 miles northeast of Red Lake, Ontario, we arrived at the river access for Nungesser Lake Lodge around noon and were boated and 4-wheeled into camp immediately.Chad was waiting for us and told Mary to get ready as he had a hot bait just waiting for her.She grabbed a quick shower, unpacked her scent free clothes, dressed and grabbed the Winchester and ammo and off she went, leaving me to my own devices for the afternoon.
This gave me the chance to unpack the tackle and head out on the lake to catch some walleye for dinner.Walleyes are usually pretty easy on this lake and they didn't disappoint me this time either.I headed back to the lodge after catching 4 nice eating size walleyes and releasing several others that were over sized.
At about 5:30, Mary returned and I could see from a distance that she was excited.Her smile from ear to ear told the story and she soon confirmed my suspicions.She got her bear!One shot from the old 94 was all that was needed.Mary told me the bear staggered about 25 yards and dropped.
Chad and his assistant skinned out Mary's bruin while we watched and they recovered the spent slug.It had powdered the shoulder, taken out the heart and a lung and broke a rib on the opposite side, where it came to rest.
That night we celebrated with fresh walleye and ice cold Labatt's.Since this was a week long hunt, we were now free to spend the rest of the week fishing for more walleyes and some of the giant pike that live in Nungesser Lake, but that part is a story for another day.
In almost 30 years of Christmas gift giving, I can only remember giving Mary 2 other gifts that made her as happy as this one did, and one of those was her first gun.The hunt was certainly worth every cent and everything was done very professionally. Only one problem arose from the adventure.Now I want to go!