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May 31: John O'Dell & Dave Reisner

John harvested his P&Y Color Phase Black Bear on May 31 and Dave harvested his Color Phase Black Bear on June 1st, 2011

Dave and I were extremely fortunate to be the guests of Dawn and DJ Enns owners of Black Bear Island Lodge www.blackbearisland.com in Saskatchewan Canada for my first ever spring bear hunt. Dave had hunted with Dawn and DJ before and told me they have a world class operation with the best combination of guides, accommodations, fishing, and spring bear hunting that you could possibly imagine. Well seeing is believing and so after spending a week with Dawn and DJ on my first ever spring bear hunt I can honestly tell you that the trip far exceeded any expectations that I had and I already can’t want to go back again next year!

So to start our adventure with Black Bear Island lodge Dave and I met in Minneapolis and then flew to Saskatoon Canada along with Dave’s father in law Roland and his brother in law Curtis. We spent the night in a hotel then drove to LaRonge where we took a short float plane ride to the lodge. The scenery was breathtaking as flew in and landed on the lake. Then I met DJ and his lovely wife Dawn and DJ told us he had lots of Reconyx photos of several nice bears visiting his bait sites with regularity. He also went on to say that the fishing was spectacular and we could expect to catch some trophy sized Northern Pike. Dave and I were pumped to say the least!

After dinner DJ showed us some of the Reconyx photos and I decided right then and there that I was going to go after a big gorgeous color phase bear that he had lots of pictures of. Like many other hunters I have a bucket list of sorts and a big color phase black bear and a giant 40 plus inch northern pike are both on the list. I know that Dave also wanted a 40 plus inch pike and a big black bear.

Day 1 So after very little sleep anticipating the first day of hunting and fishing morning finally arrived (every morning at Black Bear Lodge you start the day with fresh coffee or hot chocolate, then have a great breakfast, then you eat a spectacular shore lunch, then you sit down for another great dinner at night). On day one Dave and I met Trevor our guide for the week and we both caught 40 plus inch pike! Dave decided our new goal was 45” J. That evening we did not see any bears that we wanted to take which was ok by me because day two I would be hunting the stand with the big color phase bear I wanted so badly.

Day 2 We caught more giant pike and my biggest was a 45” monster that also had 19” of girth! Dave caught a 44.5” monster too. Trevor is the man in mine and Dave’s book! We went to our stand at 5:00 and saw our first bear at 5:30 a nice black bear that I elected to pass. Then we did not see another bear until 9:00 (it starts getting dark at 10PM). At first we heard growling and then running in the thick timber. We assumed it was a big bear running off the smaller black bear that had come in to our stand. A few minutes later our suspicion was confirmed when the big color phase bear I was hoping for showed for the first time. It came in toward the stand and then ran off a ruffed grouse that had been drumming all afternoon near our stand. I remember my one leg just kept shaking as I was trying to remain calm and prepare for the shot that I hoped would happen. Soon the big bear returned on the same trail and offered me a 25 yard broadside shot. I drew back my PSE Dream Season Evo with my Rage tipped Bow Madness arrow and let it fly. Wow what a rush!! My arrow went through the front shoulder and stopped in the opposite shoulder so I elected to let the bear sit overnight (it was plenty cold and we actually had some snow flurries). It was a sleepless night but it was a quick recovery the next morning as my bear did not go 40 yards and I had my bucket list trophy of a lifetime! What a thrill! We took plenty of photos and then took care of my bear. We spent the rest of the day catching more giant northern pike and plenty of walleyes too.

Day 3 Dave was finally up to bat after giving me the first two days to hunt. We devised a plan with DJ to hunt a stand that based on the Reconyx photos had a really nice black bear coming on a regular basis. So after another great day of fishing and another awesome shore lunch we were back in the stand at around 5:00. Soon it was 6:00, then 7:00, then 8:00 and finally just past 8PM Dave caught movement out in front of our stand. It was a bear. It was not the big black bear we expected to see but another beautiful color phase bear. Dave made a quick decision that this was definitely the bear for him and when it offered him a 27 yard shot he made the most of it with his PSE Dream Season Evo and his bear went less than 70 yards!

So let the celebration begin as we had two great bears on the ground in 3 days of hunting and we still had 3 days left to fish and enjoy the scenery. So that is exactly what we did! We finished the week with 9 northern pike over 40” and another dozen or so that were 37” plus. We caught too many walleye to keep count and made lifelong friends in the process. This was the outdoor adventure of a lifetime but it is one that I want to do every year!! A huge thank you goes out to Dawn and DJ and we can’t wait to see you again next spring!!

Good Hunting!
John and Dave