In good company
After freshwater pike and walleye, the expedition continued in search of another worthy representative of the Outaouais region: the black bear, a species now highly appreciated by Quebec hunters. Fred's first black bear hunting experience began this way.
After some shooting practice and learning the bear's physiognomy, Fred and I decided to go to a site that was sporadically visited by a large specimen. However, before going to the site in question, we left our friend Ben Rochette at another promising site to spy for us with his camera what was going on there in anticipation of the rest of our hunting trip. Our first day ended half an hour after sunset with no bear sightings and in the quiet of a site we hoped would be more populated for the next few days. We left in a pickup truck through the forest roads to find Ben who was alone, unarmed, in the darkness, near a pass frequented by animals.
When we reached him, we quickly realized that Ben was eager to have us back and his face spoke volumes about the kind of evening he had just had. We learned from his colorful language that our friend, who was neither equipped nor an expert on the animal, spent most of his time surrounded by at least six bears!
He saw a huge female bear with three chubby cubs and two others that he thought might be males. The images he captured were very telling of the quality of this hunting site and a plan was immediately organized at this location for the next day, Fred's 40th birthday.
An unexpected gift
Back early in the afternoon at the busy site from the day before, we took the time to go through the instructions one by one about scents, sudden movements to be avoided and, of course, we discussed the desired and desirable positioning of the bear in case of a shooting. Soon the first bear appeared, then a second, a third and finally a fourth: the female with her three cubs. I looked at Fred out of the corner of my eye and thought to myself that he was experiencing quite a show with 100% wild actors.
Of course, there was no question of taking the female and we knew that at least one subject corresponding to our expectations was in the area. The forest became quiet again after the four bears left and we stayed on the lookout for a while when all of a sudden we heard a small cracking of a branch to our left. The next moment, a beautiful bear with opaque black fur appeared as quietly as a field mouse. I said to Fred, "That's a nice one and he's going to get a better shot." At the same time, the bear snatched a piece of bait from its mouth and retreated into the forest.
I'll remember Fred's face for a long time after the bear left.
"You'll see, he'll be back soon. They often do this kind of behavior before coming back more calmly,"
I assured him. He didn't seem to believe me, thinking I was just encouraging him. Nevertheless, five minutes later, the same bear came back from another direction and there he displayed a calmer behavior so that instead of running away with a bait, he decided to eat it on the spot. I nudged Fred to let him know that the bear was perfectly positioned for a shot and immediately the shot rang out. Before the echo of the shot faded, the bear died and Fred spontaneously experienced a range of emotions.
It was a perfect day for Fred and that evening he was offered a cake - courtesy of the outfitter - to celebrate his 40th birthday and his capture. It was around the table, in laughter and camaraderie that we paid tribute to this bear.
As the weather was still very nice for the next day, we organized a last walleye fishing trip, this time on the big lake Séguin where the majority of the cottages are located.
There was no way we could end this very diverse stay without a succulent shore lunch prepared on one of the many wild beaches of the area.
In my opinion, no gourmet restaurant menu can compete with fresh walleye and pike. As I ate this meal fit for kings, I looked at Fred, who was sniffing his feet in the water, and thought to myself, "Here's a guy who's entering his 40's with the best gifts Mother Nature has to offer!