News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports Columns

January 18, 2014

REDNECK QUAKER: Hunting bear will provide challenge you seek

TERRE HAUTE — Brett Dalton and some fellow turkey hunters decided to try their hand at bear hunting, but found it to be more of a challenge than they thought.

Don’t forget, Mother Nature calls the shots!

After many years of going on a June fishing trip to Atikokan, Ontario, Canada, the Canoe Canada Outfitters finally talked him into returning in mid-August for a black-bear hunt. Brett had no trouble getting Shane White, Jason Jones, Bobby Knieriem and Jim Bush to purchase a hunt with him. One of the usual June fishing buddies, Kyle Schrink, went alone to fish only. After all, it was his third trip that summer.

They met up with Shane Selman on a Sunday; he runs the hunting part of the company, Quetico Country Hunts. It was unseasonably hot, in the upper 90s and very humid. No, they didn’t need all that long underwear that was packed.

They stayed on Nym Lake and managed to fish some, but for the most part this trip was dedicated to black bear. The guides, Shane and Peter, took them out to the bait sites and showed them how the baiting process worked. They hunted about 30 minutes from the cabin. Due to the extreme heat, they usually went out around 4 p.m. to hunt until 8:30 p.m.

Brett said the first night he had a large bear walk up behind, stand up on his hind legs and walk up to about 10 yards from him. He might have moved (or gotten ready to run) and the bear spooked and vanished into the thick bush. Little did he know that was the last bear he would see for five days. Later that evening, Jason scored on a 300-pound boar while sitting in a ground blind. The group was glad to see somebody broke the ice and maybe changed their luck.

The second night was a blank. On the third night, Bobby shot a nice boar with his bow right at dark. With the help of their guide Peter, they tracked the light blood trail about 100 yards in the thickest brush you can imagine. They could hear bears grunting and running in the brush. Yes, it was spooky. Shane White finally spotted Bobby’s bear; they walked up within 5 feet of it before seeing it. Luckily, it had expired.

On the Wednesday, they elected to hunt in the morning with no action. Brett moved to a ground blind that night in a new location. It was a good decision because it rained cats and dogs! Shane White had a large bear come in and he shot at it, knowing he had connected. They looked for a sign and combed the area Thursday morning, but found nothing.

Thursday night was uneventful. They had planned on going home Friday morning, but since they only had two bears, Jason and Kyle left and Bobby stayed back to be Brett’s camera man and lend moral support. Shane, Jim and Brett all moved to new locations on Friday night as a last-ditch effort. Bobby and Brett crammed themselves into a tiny blind, sitting on lawn furniture they borrowed from the cabin. It was the kind with straps that seem comfortable, but tend to sag after a while and cut the blood off to your legs. With about 30 minutes of legal light left, a bear stepped out in the clearing. He stared at them and ran back in the bush. A 20 minutes of eternity slowly passed when Brett realized his hunt was coming to an end. And on top of that, he had a charley horse that was about to bring tears to his eyes. With 5 minutes left in the hunt, the bear emerged from the bush again. With Brett’s luck, it was too dark to video. But given the heat and lack of movement all week, he didn’t think Bobby would have had time to video if there were enough light.

As soon as the bear turned broadside, Brett took the shot with the bear rolling a few feet and expiring. Talk about waiting until the last minute! They had some handshakes and pats on the back before snapping some pictures and with great timing Jim showed up with the truck.

They loaded the bear and headed to gather up Shane, which was an hour away and it was pitch dark out. When they found him, he was alone walking down a logging road listening to wolves howl in the distance. The guide estimated Brett’s bear at 370 pounds live weight, which is a good-sized bear. Anything more than 200 pounds is considered an average weight, so anybody would be proud of this bear.

They started their 16-hour drive back to Indiana that Saturday morning. Three out of five hunters had a bear under their belt. Typically, the outfitter runs close to a 100-percent shot ratio, but it was so incredibly hot the bears didn’t move until right at dark.

Brett had no idea what to expect and he was impressed with the wariness of those animals. It was not what he expected at all and it was very challenging. Brett would recommend Quetico Country Hunts; they do an awesome job and have 300 bait sites. He said, “I’m already looking forward to June to return to see my friends up North and catch giant pike and smallmouth.”

Thanks to Hope Dalton’s help in this story coming to life!

Kenny Bayless can be reached by email at kwbayless@aol.com.

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