Bowhunting Spring Bear

By: Roy Goodwin

Stuck in the middle of the worst winter we’ve had in years its hard to imagine that this “white stuff” will ever melt away letting the green growth emerge and starting the spring/summer cycle of life. But it will happen. One of the things that I’ve most looked forward to over the years is spring bear hunting. Hard as it may be to believe I’ve been on 48 hunts with black bear tags in my pocket over the years. I really like chasing them!


While I’ve hunted them a lot over the years I haven’t shot that many, only nine. Two made the minimums for P&Y and have been entered into the system. I’ve passed up another 50+ bears at close range hoping to some day get a shot at a real “monster” that would make a worthy life mount for the trophy room. Perhaps I’m too fussy, but then again, it’s my hunt and I’m happy to just be in bear camp hunting and watching these magnificent creatures. My day will come.

A client called the other day asking me to set him and his dad up with a good bear hunt at a reasonable price. He wasn’t looking for a “cheap” hunt, but he didn’t want to mortgage the house for a high end Western Canadian trophy hunt either. Could I help him out? I was honest (that’s always the best way to deal with people) and told him it had been a number of years since I’d been on an Eastern Canadian bear hunt personally and that I didn’t have any camps I had been working with recently to send him to. I did however believe I could help him out if he gave me a little time.

Last year I spent a lot of time interviewing outfitters in New Brunswick trying to find the right camp/outfit to work with for a trophy whitetail camp project I have in mind. In the process I narrowed the search down to 3-4 operations that came highly recommended and worthy of continued research. Most of them specialized in baited bear hunts, and a couple seemed to have some “great” bear hunting potential. One in particular seemed very interesting, but I hadn’t completed my research as I was concentrating on the whitetail project at the time.

The more I thought about this the more I realized how much I’ve missed the annual spring bear hunts personally. It was time to finish my research and set something up! I contacted Mike Roy of Bear Paw Lodge and told him I was temporarily switching gears and looking for a great bear camp. I needed him to convince me that his was the camp I should be working with. It didn’t take him long to get the job done!

In the past six years he has had 100% shooting opportunities and he specializes in bow hunters. His average bears are in the 175-220 pound range and they take bigger ones every season. He sent me references and then some trail camera photos of some of the bigger bears that were not shot last season. Mike claims that if guys would hold out for bigger bears their average size harvested would increase, but most clients won’t pass on a 200 pound spring bear… which is understandable, especially if a guy never shot a bear before!

I won’t send clients to a camp I haven’t personally hunted, unless I book the entire camp and join the group myself. Given my interest in only taking a super large bear, I want to go the week of the season that typically presents the best opportunity. The best weeks are usually booked in advance, so Mike and I agreed on the first week of June for the 2012 season. I agreed to take the entire camp (nine openings) for myself and eight clients and told him that if everything “panned out” I’d take the same week every season going forward and make this an “annual Tag-A-Long” hunt. Mike said he’d make sure the crew was happy, and I’m sure he will!

The next step was to let the clients that had started the process know what I’d arranged. They weren’t “obligated” to join me, but if they wanted to have a fun hunt I was real sure this was “The One”. Obviously they jumped in. Next I sent an email to a few dozen guys on my client list that were either good friends or had expressed an interest in a good bear hunt if I ever put one together. That message went out a week ago and several more spots are already spoken for. There are a few spots left if anyone visiting Bowhunting.Net is interested, but you’ll have to act quickly. The cost is $1,650.00 (including meals, lodging, and active bait sites) and we are only looking for $500.00 partial deposits at this time to hold the remaining spots.

As I talk to more people about the hunt the desire to go has built to the point where I’m certain I can’t wait until 2012. I called Mike and he is squeezing me in this spring. It will give me a great opportunity to see the camp and take some pictures for the web site. It will also help satisfy the long overdue urge to spend time in spring bear camp. I’m looking forward to the fun of sharing camp with like minded people, sharing the excitement around the dinner table of each day’s sightings, getting in a little fishing in the morning, and sitting up in a tree in the late afternoon waiting for an elusive black bear to sneak in quietly as if from out of thin air. And, perhaps, getting to lose an arrow at the monster bear of my dreams… what more could a bowhunter ask for?

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