To most avid hunters black bears offer the “next step” in big game challenges.
But for that same group of hunters, the nearly 20-year ban on Ontario spring black bear hunts put the skids on the activity.
Indeed, Ontario spring bear hunts had attracted thousands of Ohio and nearby state hunters over the decades until Canadian anti-hunters, close to the guy in charge of everything Ontario, convinced him and that spring hunters killed mother bears (sows) with cubs.
Apparently the guy in charge fell for that argument and in response banned spring hunts.
But a new guy in charge has somehow brought good sense to light and only recently began to allow spring bear hunting once again.
Perhaps it was an ear to the scientific evidence provided by knowledgeable game managers.
The realization that in fact the killing of a nursing sow with juvenile cubs is an extreme rarity since spring hunters sit over baits and typically have plenty of time to make sure there are no cubs with the adult bear.
And too, adult bears are fairly easy to identify by their overall size, body build, and head shape.
Of course sportsmen groups and outfitters found a sense of satisfaction on the issue as they fed Canadian officials a steady diet of real fact-based reasons to reinstate the spring bear season.
Too many bears
After years of closed seasons, the black bear population had exploded and because bears were not pursued in any way, the animals became fearless of humans and as a result became extremely problematic.
A few years ago, a trial spring black bear season was open for Canadian residents only. Hunters, outfitters, and camp owners celebrated the action and killed a limited number of bears.
Then, two years ago, the season expanded to include non-residents who were allowed to participate. This year non-residents are encouraged to hunt.
Reopening the spring season will certainly help to curtail the still growing number of bears, reduce nuisance and sometimes dangerous events, and significantly strengthen the tourism industry and overall economy as bear hunters cross the border with black bear hunting in mind.
Several Ontario camps are booking hunts right now.
Prime time is the month of May with most camps offering weeklong hunting adventures for just six weeks starting in late April, depending on the weather.
The most northern camps typically are restricted to a later start simply because spring comes later there.
Hunting adventures are strictly over baited stands — the only practical method of bear hunting in the thick Canadian bush.
Hunts can be as short as three days and as long as five. Some camps offer fishing and bear hunting.
There are choices as to housekeeping cabins or full service including meals.
Before booking, hunters should ask questions about the number of baits that will be tended and available for hunting and for a truthful account of last spring’s harvest.
Be aware that each management unit has restriction on the number of permits to be issued. It can vary from just a few bears in one unit to nearly unlimited tags for a camp with several prime units in its reach.
Plenty of bears
Interested hunters can rest assured there are lots of bears and the majority of outfitters and camps reported nearly a 100 percent success rate last spring.
Prospective hunters need to study the rules carefully.
Crossing the border is easy if you can present a passport and are prepared to show your firearm or weapon of choice, pay a firearm fee, allow a guard to check the serial number and have less than the maximum number of ammunition.
And no handguns under any circumstances. Next step is search the internet for Ontario spring bear hunts.