-By Brandon Wikman
Deep in the impenetrable, moss-infested bush of northwestern Ontario lays a land untamed and merciless to the heart of a city dweller. An environment choked with tangles of vegetation, sculpted by ancient rock bed cliffs, and home to some of the most sought after big game species in North America: monstrous black bear.
My cousin, Joe Nawrot, and I ventured into the north woods of a land lost in its own beauty and mystic. We brought with us video equipment, archery gear, and a grueling intention to defeat the black beast of the boondocks. Our journey provided us with a humbling experience to hunt with the most legendary Canadian outfitter in the entire province of Ontario; Dan Schafer, owner of Cygnet Lake Camps. Schafer hosts an enchanting vacation for those looking for a week spent in paradise. Cygnet Lake Camp is home to the finest fishing, hunting, and soul soothing excursions. It was my time to embark and make peace with a Canadian wilderness adventure.
The enduring pursuit to outwit a bear by bow n’ arrow has always been one of my most desired goals. I lugged the title of rookie bear hunter, but sported a relentless attitude to learn the craft of the trade. My mind sopped with information that Schafer flooded me with. Fine details that wise bear hunters like him could slowly drip into quenching amounts of vital information.
He explained that bears are extremely difficult to judge by size because they are completely shaded in black, a statement that fashion aficionado can attest! Bears are also super-stealthy. Many newbie hunters are baffled by the way bears silently drift through the forest like they’re walking on air. By the time Schafer finished wrapping up his sneak-peak course of Bear 101, I had my homework cutout for me.
The Canadian terrain may look marvelous to the casual observer, but don’t let the pretty looks deceive you. Unveil the mask of splendor and you find a hostile environment swallowed with flooded timber, bottomless marshes, and raging rapids of water tumbling from the skyscraping cliffs. The word “wilderness,” now resonates a whole new meaning to me.
The trek to the tree stand was an adventure in itself. An ATV was our means of transportation. The four-wheelers cut into the crusted moss beds that clung onto ancient boulders and fallen trees. An entire new habitat caked in spectacular colors of green decorated the depths of the spruce forests. Throughout the ATV venture, we slopped through puddles of muck, scaled stairs of protruding rock, and tore into scenery that echoed with mystery. The walk into the jungle began as the turkey trail transitioned into a simple footpath. As I walked along the trail with dazzling eyes of curiosity, I was in awe of how few people left their footprint in a land so virgin of human destruction. A humbled sensation of adoration crammed my soul with glee until it nearly exploded at the sight of a ladder stand in the distance.
The hunt for black bear began as I nestled myself into the mid-level branches of a spruce tree. My eyes scanned the snarled forest that hummed a nasty melody from an infestation of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. Wisely, I sat content with my bug-suit that shielded my skin from the annoyance of pesky bugs.
Moments passed slowly. Each waking minute purified my soul and sanitized my mind. I showered in a natural cleanse of Mother Nature; scrubbing the brilliance of wilderness and majesty of nature into my memory. My movements were slow and cautious. Each glance from side-to-side took a scrupulous amount of analyzing the twisted timber for a colossal mass of charcoaled hair.
As beams of glowing sunlight flirted with the Canadian horizon, pink shadows of streaming ribbons festooned the dusky sky. My eyes winced into the blockade of forage as I spotted movement beneath a cluster of white birch trees. A blob of black, which looked as dark as ink, sauntered toward my direction. From the shadows of the murky forest loomed a beast of the night.
My quivering arms snagged my bow as he eased closer. With each step the bear took, my eyes became larger and larger. My heart ached with pulsations of nervous excitement as my conscious failed miserably as a seasoned guide. I was as frazzled as a ball of yarn tattered by a militia of viscous cats. As my bow peaked and broadhead cocked into firing position, I let go!
Echoes of life still resonate within as I recollect the fond chronicles of the north woods. The Canadian wilderness is home to awe-inspiring scenery freckled with translucent lakes clustered with fish and bountiful forests hiding an assortment of wild game. As any true hunter would realize; the harvest only lasts a mere second, but the entire hunting adventure lasts a lifetime.