When the Beasley Brother’s hunting schedule was decided and Kevin knew he would be returning to Red Pine Lodge in Northern Ontario for a spring black bear hunt, he was filled with excitement. Red Pine lodge is nestled on the beautiful Ivanhoe Lake just outside the small town of Foleyet. The Lodge is in the heart of an incredible bear hunting area in Algoma Country. Kevin very well knew how good the hunting was, having been there for a memorable hunt 6 years earlier with a dream hunt winner. That week was action packed with both them seeing some great bears and catching lots of fish. The trip resulted in the Dream hunt winner shooting his first bear and Kevin was able to harvest a unique bear that had club foot.
In June Kevin hit the road for his return trip, and those memories all came flooding back. There is something special about returning to a lodge that you have been to before, whether it is the familiarity of the outfitter and crew, the confidence in a hunting area you have already had success in, the nostalgia of the great memories that come rushing back, or all of it put together!
Pulling into camp, Kevin was warmly greeted by owner Garry Litt and his head guide, Richard. As great as it was to reunite with old friends, things were strange in these unique COVID-times, with social distancing and sanitary measures needing to be followed. No handshakes or hugs as the group caught up, but great to be back nonetheless. The team at Red Pine Lodge did a fantastic job accommodating to all the necessary safety requirements.
Before Kevin’s first evening hunt, he went and checked out a line of baits with Richard. With multiple promising spots, they were able to set up several ground blinds and tree stands to suit whatever wind direction they might face through the week. As they checked the baits there was a lot of great bear sign and a couple really nice boars on the cameras!
On the first night, Kevin was situated in one of the ground blinds they built. These blinds can look more natural than a pop up blind and you can often get away with making them the same day you sit there. Not long into the sit Kevin caught movement off to his left. Kevin stayed motionless as a cautious young boar slowly worked out and into the bait and as he did he was constantly scanning the area making sure that the bigger bear, that dominates the area, wasn’t around! Right when the bear approached the bait, he looked back from where he had come from and took off into the woods! A rustle came from that way and Kevin gripped his crossbow tight…until he saw that it was a porcupine. Shortly after, the bear came back to the bait. This was the only bear that Kevin would see that night, but what a great way to start his hunt in the wonderful Northern Ontario woods!
Hunting aside, Kevin had plenty to do during his week at Red Pine Lodge. Heading out around 4pm each day to go hunting left him the days to explore the endless ATV trails in the area or take to the water for some fishing! Ivanhoe Lake is a fantastic place to fish! It has a great walleye fishery, but also has plenty of pike, perch, and whitefish, and nearby lakes and streams you can find hot spots for brook, rainbow and lake trout. Kevin was able to catch some nice fish throughout the week and even brought some back for a nice lunch one day.
Back to the woods, Kevin and Richard decided the best bet for the next night was a tree stand 25 yards from the baits. With the wind blowing away from the bait, the conditions were right for a great hunt. The first hour of the sit was quiet, but then all of a sudden Kevin looked down behind him, along the trail that he had walked in on, and there was a great boar! Bears are often quiet coming in, but this one came down the trail and was super quiet. As Kevin spotted the bear, the bear also caught our movement or scent and ran 10 steps into the bush.
The bear quickly settled down and then slowly worked towards the bait. This gave Kevin the chance to slowly grab his crossbow and be prepared for the bear to step back out into the opening. As the bear stepped out he gave Kevin the clean broadside shot he was hoping for, so Kevin slowly pulled the trigger and the arrow went straight under the bear’s belly. The boar tore out of there in the opposite direction he came from. Kevin could not believe what had just happened. Kevin turned to his cameraman and asked, “did I miss?” But before the cameraman could answer the bear was spotted coming back in. Kevin now in disbelief was standing in the tree stand with an uncocked bow. As the bear worked back into the bait, Kevin was able to reach into his backpack and grab his Excalibur EXT Crank and put it on his crossbow and slowly crank it, super quietly, as the bear had his head down.
Finally, the bow was cocked, so Kevin reached for his arrow and loaded the crossbow. With the bear not looking Kevin was able to bring the crossbow to his shoulder and get the crosshairs on the vitals. This time Kevin squeezed the trigger and the arrow hit its mark!
When Kevin was down on the ground, he grabbed the two arrows and he reflected on the crazy turn of events that he had just experienced. Whatever the error was in missing the first shot, being able to still harvest this bear with the second chance was truly incredible. The blood trail did not go far, finding the bear down less than 50 yards into the woods. With the hot June temperatures, that night was spent butchering the bear.