Spring Bear Hunt at Olive the Lake

A return trip to Olive the Lake in Northeastern Ontario results in a big game hunt to remember.

Back in 2013, Keith Beasley harvested a massive bear weighing approximately 300 pounds in Northeastern Ontario with Olive the Lake outfitters. Today, nine years later, he was making his way back north for a return trip to Olive the Lake for another spring bear hunting experience. He was looking forward to evening bear hunts while getting to enjoy great fishing action during his mornings.

As with every hunt, Keith loaded his gear into the truck. With his plan to get out fishing during the hunt, an extra addition would be making the trip north with him; the Yamaha fishing boat. With the boat secured to the back of the truck, he drove out of the driveway and onto the road.

The trip to Olive the Lake was a total of four hours for Keith, but those four hours are accompanied by beautiful scenery. There was no shortage of boreal forest, freshwater lakes, and for this drive, a clear blue sky with the sun overhead. He even got to glimpse others out on the water fishing, something he was looking forward to doing himself in the coming days.

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The drive passed quickly, and Keith arrived at Olive the Lake. After almost a decade had passed, he was back in the cozy cottage camp. Olive the Lake features a stunning, comfortable cottage-like experience. Multiple, fully furnished cottage buildings, all right on the lake, make up this beautiful camp location. This is not just a place for hunters and anglers, but also a place for families to get out and experience cottage life. Inside the cottages, you can find bedrooms with comfortable mattresses, bathrooms equipped with hot water, and fully operational kitchens. On the lake, a dock rests by the beach for anyone wanting to bring their own boat during their stay.

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Keith settled in his cottage and unpacked his gear before meeting with Olive the Lake owner Dave Smetana where they discussed the drive and the week ahead. With the evening approaching, Keith wanted to waste no time. He got out his Excalibur Crossbow, fitted his G5 broadheads onto his Easton arrows, then sighted in at camp to make sure it was ready for the evening ahead. Afterward, once he had returned to the cottage to put on his gear and pack his bag, he set out with Dave on his UTV to head out for his first hunt of the trip.

Keith would be hunting out of a ground blind for this evening at a bait site that had been seeing lots of activity. With that information in the back of his mind, he was looking forward to seeing what would happen tonight and hopefully coming back to the lodge with a big, mature bear.

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Eventually, Keith spotted a bear heading in from beyond the bait. The bear turned out to be a young boar, however, so he watched and admired as the bear fearlessly approached the bait and enjoyed its meal. Soon after, it headed back into the timber. Unfortunately for him, that would be the only bear making an appearance on the first night. Still, he was happy to see action on the first night as he made his way back to the lodge.

That night, Keith and Dave enjoyed dinner together at the cottage he was staying in. Barbequed hot dogs were special for tonight. While eating, the two of them discussed the evening hunt and planned for tomorrow.

The second day at Olive the Lake started with another bright blue sky and temperatures that made for the perfect spring day. Not wanting to waste a beautiful morning, Keith quickly put together his breakfast then got outside to prepare his fishing gear and get the boat into the water, basking in the warm sun. With his gear prepped and the boat now in the lake, he met up with Dave and two of his sons, Cameron and Evan Smetana, where they then headed to the dock to get the fishing underway.

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The morning continued to treat them well as they headed to various fishing spots on the lake; Evan Smetana taking the lead as a guide for this venture. The boys enjoyed some fine fishing, catching a few smallmouth bass and varying sizes of walleyes, all the while sharing stories and engaging in good comradery. Keith couldn’t help but smile when he saw the excitement on Cameron and Evan’s faces as they talked about their experiences.

At noon the crew wrapped up their fishing adventure and returned to the docks. With a few hours to go before his evening hunt, Keith took the time to unwind with some outdoor activities alongside Dave’s family, then grilled up a classic cottage lunch: cheeseburgers.

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The evening rolled around and once more Keith headed out into the timber with Dave. Tonight’s hunt would be taking place in a tree stand at a new bait site, which was seeing recent visits from big bears.

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With crossbow in tow, he climbed up into the stand while Dave set the bait. Moments later, the distant sounds of the UTV heading back to camp signalled it was time to settle in for the hunt. Luckily for Keith, the weather from the morning had continued throughout the day. He enjoyed the sights and sounds in the beautiful weather, as many a squirrel and blue jay made their way for a quick nibble at the bait. However, about two hours into the sit, the critters had gone silent.

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Out of the corner of his eye, Keith caught a glimpse of a silhouette making its way down the four-wheeler trail. He soon recognized the figure; the mature bear Dave had shown him pictures of from the trail cam. With no wind heading through the area, he made sure to stay completely silent. This proved to be vital, as the bear was ever so cautious as it slowly made its way in towards the bait. The bear did not want to approach and spent a long while smelling the area. Still not moving, Keith could only watch and hope for the bear to keep heading to the bait out of the bush where he would have a clear shot. The bear, however, turned back towards the four-wheeler trail, and for a moment his heart sank.

As luck would have it though, the bear stopped at the trail, smelling the area some more, then cautiously made its way back towards the bait. This time, it came in full to the bait, twenty minutes after Keith had originally spotted it. He knew this might be his only chance at the mature bear, and so when the bear ducked its head down at the bait, he slowly shouldered his crossbow and waited. Once the bear turned from the bait and presented a perfect broadside shot, Keith pulled the trigger and hit his mark.

The bear took off, and Keith waited a good several minutes to give the bear some time, then began the tracking. Now down from the stand, he spotted blood heading away from the bait almost immediately, a very good sign. Continuing to track took him down the four-wheeler trail that he entered on, then back into the timber. Just under 100 yards away, he found the bear amongst the foliage.

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Keith walked up to the bear full of excitement. The twenty-minute battle against the bear had paid off. “This is a trip I won’t soon forget,” he said as he examined the beautiful 200-pound mature bear.

A short wait passed by after a call to Dave until he arrived on the four-wheeler trail. Together, the two of them got to work pulling the bear out of the timber and starting the field dressing. Once done, Keith hauled the bear into the back of the UTV and the ride back to camp began.

Before heading to bed for the night, the bear was placed into storage. Keith exchanged stories with other hunters who were staying at Olive the Lake. A good night of comradery to end a great day of hunting.

Keith extended his thanks to Dave and his family the next morning. With the bear on ice in the back of the truck, he got into the driver’s seat and started the drive to the butcher shop back home. His return trip to Olive the Lake had been a success, and he was already looking forward to the next visit.

About Canada in the Rough

The Beasley Brothers' passion for hunting is only surpassed by their commitment to their family. Respect, integrity, a strong work ethic and an undying passion for hunting bond these youthful advocates of our hunting heritage at the hip. Also producing Ontario's only magazine dedicated to whitetail deer hunting, and running the day-to-day operations of the Foundation for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife (FROW), the brothers are anxiously engaged in promoting the joys of hunting and are thrilled to be part of Canada's most-watched hunting adventure television show.

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