During the 2017 SCI Novi Michigan Chapter annual fundraiser banquet my wife Amelia and I were the successful bidders on a 6 day black bear hunting and fishing trip with Big Spruce Outfitters in Saskatchewan Canada. It was determined by discussing dates with the owner of Big Spruce Outfitting’s Mark Belchamber that the hunt would take place the week of Memorial Day and we decided to hunt with archery equipment. In the months leading up to the hunt Amelia and I would practice shooting our bows and packing and repacking all of our gear. The hunt came up quickly with the Months becoming weeks becoming days.
The end of May would find us on a flight from Detroit Metro Airport to the City of Saskatoon. After an overnight in Saskatoon we would board a flight to the city of Points North Saskatchewan about 3 hours north of Saskatoon. Upon arrival our group boarded a Float plane for the short flight to Big Spruce Outfitters bear camp.
Immediately after landing, Mark and his guides assisted in getting us acclimated to our “home” for the next week. Soon after unpacking and getting to know the other hunters in camp we were off to sleep. We awoke to a hearty breakfast and we were off to the fishing grounds. We started fishing/casting large spoons in a shallow sandy bottom bay full of spawning pike. Amelia would catch 1 of many large pike caught on the trip
After several hours of nonstop catching of pike and Lake Trout it was off to the hunting grounds. Amelia was off to her stand which is called the “Y-Stand” due to its Y shaped peninsula location. I was off to the stand which is call “Red Rock” due to its surrounding red rock formation. Once settled into our stands the bugs came out and they were unrelenting. Bugs are not normally an issue this time of year but due to the unseasonably hot weather the bugs were bad. Two hours into my hunt I noticed movement off to my left. A quick look into the binoculars revealed a bear heading my way and not just any bear but a big blond color phase bear. The massive bear would meander underneath the stand for ½ an hour without offering me a shot opportunity. Knowing the Amelia has always wanted a color-phased I thought I would let the bear go as he never offered me a shot and he began to wander off. To my surprise the bear came back and walked past the stand offering me a clear 20 yard shot. I raised my bow drew back and let the arrow fly and it found its mark slightly behind the shoulder resulting in a complete pass through. The bear hardly reacted to the shot and slowly wandered off. Upon further observation with the binoculars the bear became unsteady and began to wobble and eventually toppled over in heap in plain sight 40 yds. away.
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Day 2 would be more fantastic pike/lake trout fishing with Amelia catching yet another 20 pound plus pike with me not yet breaking the 20 pound mark.
The next hunter to score with a great bear 2 on the second day would be Nate. A mountain of a man and former professional football player from Minnesota. Nate gratuitously purchased this hunt for a close friend and business partner Philip a fellow Minnesotan to celebrate him successfully winning his battle with cancer.
Day 3 would be even more fantastic pike/lake trout fishing with me yet to break the 20 pound mark. I did manage to catch some spectacular lake trout. Day 3 would be highlighted by Philip connecting with a huge bear he had previous encounters with in the stand called “Shore Lunch 1”
Day 4 would prove to be very eventful with 2 bears being shot and me finally breaking the 20 pound mark with a huge pike caught on a Mepps Cyclops Spoon.
Bear 4 was taken by a hunter from Arizona named Joe. This bear wondered into our shore lunch and was acting aggressively and Joe was able to take the bear with all of us present during our lunch break which was one of the most exciting moments of the trip.
Bear 5 was shot by a hunter from Nevada named Jodie. Jodie traveled many miles by boat and endured horrific swarms of mosquitoes to bag his huge bear.
Day 5 Amelia was entertained by a sow as she adamantly knocked the bait to the ground then lounged. She greeted Amelia a few times just under the tree stand.
Day 5 was the same program catching numerous huge pike and lake trout. Amelia hunting all day and not seeing a bear with temperatures near 90 degrees not much was moving. A caribou and an artic fox made their way through, however.
By the end of the day my arms were weary from catching fish and Amelia’s arms were weary from swatting mosquitoes all day in the hot spring air without a bear to show for her efforts.
Day 6 the final day of hunting for Amelia and last day of fishing for me. We awoke to cold temperatures and a driving rain. Amelia planned to sit most of the day as the bears would be on the move with the storm approaching. By mid-day the storm was building and the rain began to fall sidewise. The guide and I took shelter under a picnic table at one of the shore lunch spots to ride out the storm.
Amelia braved the storm perched in her tree stand. The guide and I soaked to the bone planned to pick up Amelia early as she had to be cold and wet after a long day in the stand. As we approached the stand we could see Amelia and she was not paying attention to us as if she couldn’t see us. Or perhaps she had a bear in her sights.
The guide and I were looking at Amelia through binoculars and witnessed her drawing her bow and take a bead on a target we weren’t able to see. After an anxious 10 minutes Amelia yelled for us to get out of the boat and start the track. As the rain was increasing we feverishly were looking for blood. We found a little here a little there. Amelia was giving us hand signals as she was still up in the stand guiding us to spot where she had last seen the bear and she thought she had seen it fall. Upon further searching we found the bear roughly 60 yards from the stand. What a beast the big black bear was truly a trophy of a lifetime.
What a trip of a lifetime with great hunting/fishing and companionship. The outfitter was great the guides were great the food was great the hunting and fishing was great. Our group was truly blessed to go 6 for 6 by 6/6 on Big Bruins with Big Spruce Outfitters.