Black bear hunting in Manitoba is one of the most exciting hunts that I have had the pleasure of engaging in and should be one of those hunts that you add to your bucket list, regardless of your age. Over the last several years, I’ve had the pleasure of hunting in Manitoba for both deer and bear, and while I am a die hard deer hunter, next year I’ll be back in Manitoba in the spring for black bear with Harry Walker of Sandy River Outfitters.
My first hunt with Sandy River Outfitters came a year after taking my first bear in Saskatchewan. While the hunting in Saskatchewan is pretty amazing for deer and, in some areas, bear, I just didn’t see the size of bears in the region that I was hunting to warrant going back. I had known Harry for several years, and I decided that spending a week with him over Memorial Day week sounded like an exceptional time. The promise of some quality pike fishing on the Winnipeg river 50 yards from the back door of his lodge certainly didn’t hurt my decision process.
I flew in for my first hunt to Winnipeg and Harry picked me up at the airport and after a quick stop for lunch we headed to camp and saw our first bear on the road up to camp. We had a great meal and when morning hit, I grabbed my rod and headed to the river to catch my first pike of the trip. We had a great lunch of fried pike and some walleye that some of the other hunters had managed to boat. I took a quick nap after lunch, got up and shot my bow, and at 3 p.m. we took off for the stands. I got into my stand at about 4:15 and proceeded to enjoy the afternoon. I was in a small stand of timber with a hill on my right side and I had brought a pretty good book to read. I had gotten about 10 pages in when I looked up and saw a nose poke up over the hill and saunter down to the bait. He was a good chocolate bear and while I know chocolate bears are rare, I just didn’t think he was the bear for me. I spent the next hour watching him before he ran off when a second bear came in; a third wandered along evening’s end.
The next night, I was back in the same stand with a rather full belly and that same chocolate bear came back in first thing. About 15 minutes into his stay, I looked out past the bait and watched an absolute monster come in about 50 yards past the bait. As it stood up on its hind legs and rubbed its back on a dead tree, I could clearly see it stood well over eight feet tall on its hind legs. The chocolate bear bolted and soon the big bear dropped down and, without a sound, walked out of my life just as quickly as he walked in. Paul Bambara was in camp that week and we were quickly becoming fast friends; he mentioned that his goal was to take a chocolate bear, so I asked Harry if Paul could sit my stand the next night. That chocolate bear is now mounted in Paul’s home.
Harry moved me to a stand in an area called Maskwa, which means bear to the local Indian tribe. We walked into a stand just off a trail, and I had a great feeling. Over the next two nights in the stand, I saw from four to eight bears each night, including one large one that never presented a shot. On the third afternoon, it was like the dam broke — I was actually surrounded by bears, with a sow and two cubs behind me. The black bear I wanted came right into the stand. I pulled back the bow and took the 11-yard shot, and he tumbled up 15 yards behind me. Those two hours on the stand were the most exciting of my life. I saw eight bears in two hours and took a great black bear that I was proud to have. Of course, that wasn’t as exciting as my hunt in the Maskwa area the next year, but that’s another story.
Hunting Black Bear in Manitoba with Sandy River Outfitters was one of the most exciting trips of my life. That’s why I’m headed back next year. If you’d like to book a black bear hunt with Sandy River Outfitters contact Harry Walker.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below.