Bear - Muzzleloader Record

1. Guy Stackhouse 20-15/16 1995

It was June 1995 and my seventh season of black bear hunting in Ontario. The outfitter was Phil Copp’s Black Bear Camps in Dwight. The area borders Algonquin Park, and the bear population is simply astounding. On six previous trips, I had taken six bears; so this year I wanted a big one. I found in past experiences, that the really big bears can be very difficult to bring in to bait during legal shooting hours. On numerous occasions, I have hunted over baits where large bears were hitting the bait almost nightly, but when I’d come in to hunt they’d always change their pattern and either come in well after shooting hours or just disappear altogether.

My first two nights were a bust. Phil’s son Rick, who handles most of the baiting and guiding, and who I consider to be one of my closest and best friends, kept telling me “Be patient and selective Stack, I’ve got a feeling this is your year.” The next two nights I passed on smaller bears. Rick suggested I go back where I was my first two nights, He had checked the bait and it showed signs of a big bear coming in. So on Monday, June 5, I was back in the stand; which was about 500 meters from the border of Algonquin Park. It was 8 pm and I had been in my tree stand for 4 hours. I heard sticks breaking and limbs cracking behind me and to my left out in the swamp. I then heard a crashing sound like a falling tree. I figured it was a bull moose stumbling around in an old blow down; no bear would make that much noise. The noises continued for another 10 to 15 minutes. Looking out through the woods into the swamp I spotted a large black object moving through the thick brush. A moose? At first I thought it was, until he stood up on his hind legs.He put his front paws on a dead tree about a foot in diameter and heaved with all his weight. My “moose” was the largest black bear I had ever laid eyes on. The tree cracked and groaned, but wouldn’t break. He heaved again and it broke and crashed to the ground. He came down on all fours and moved along another 20 meters and repeated the process on another similar sized tree. He then turned to his right and came in on the path to the bait. My heart was pounding like a drum. He then stopped behind a huge maple tree, giving me the chance to pick up my Knight 50 cal muzzleloader. With my gun ready, I took a deep breath trying to calm my nerves.

When he walked up to the 55 gallon drum that rested on its side holding the bait, I could see he was much bigger than the barrel, both in girth and length. When he turned broadside, I aimed and squeezed the trigger. My vision was momentarily obscured by the smoke, but when it cleared I saw that the bear was down. I quickly reloaded, but couldn’t get a percussion cap on the nipple (clearly a case of the jitters). After a few anxious seconds, the cap finally snapped on and I fired another shot into the bear just to be safe. What an animal! Phil measured the hide and it squared off at 8’3”. After the drying period, the skull scored 20 15/16”. When we skinned the bear, we found where another bear had bitten through the hide on one hind leg. The bite radius indicated another large bear.

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