A Spring Hunt to Remember

Thoughts of hunting keep me from noticing the miles slipping away as I drive towards McKerrow, a pretty town near Espanola and the Spanish River. There, I will meet Texas MacDonald, of Texas MacDonald and Sons Guides and Outfitters. Having guided since 1972, he is one of Ontario’s most experienced bear guides. He’s also one of the most interesting outdoorsmen I’ve ever met.

Settling In

When I arrive, he gets me settled, and then we visit his range to ensure my rifle is sighted in. I’m staying at his home, but most hunters stay at a local lodge where they can enjoy fine walleye fishing during non-hunting hours. I quickly discover Texas is a fine storyteller who loves hunting, history, and Harleys.

Everything has a story, and after a wonderful dinner, we hear them late into the night. He talks of old rifles, rusty farm implements, hunts gone by, mines worked in and trips taken. There’s comfort and camaraderie. This place is a good camp indeed.

bear bait site
Texas MacDonald adding his bear attractant to a bait site in northern Ontario.

The next morning, I ask to help refresh baits. In doing so, we drive around his Bear Management Area and I get the lay of the land. Spring arrived late here and there is still snow in the bush. A prime stand is inaccessible due to flooding, so Texas decides to show me another on higher ground. As we negotiate our way along an old hydro cut on the way to the stand, I spot a distant bear.

The Hunt Is On

“How far do you think it is?” he asks. We agree on 325 yards. His laser rangefinder says 318 and the wind is in our favor. We watch to ensure it isn’t a sow with cubs. Once convinced, we plan our stalk across the rolling topography. As the bear feeds towards us, we crawl to close the gap. We set up, prone on a rise, 100 yards from the unsuspecting bear. I settle crosshairs behind its shoulder. Texas, once again, scans the area for cubs. Thirty minutes after our initial sighting, he gives me the OK. I shoot and it piles up.

harvested black bear
Texas and Steve with the bear they stalked near the northern Ontario town of McKerrow.

Within a few minutes, I place my tag on a 100-pound bruin—a good eater and exactly what I came for.  It’s the first bear taken by one of his hunters this season but not the last—six of seven would fill their tags. The biggest bear would weigh 300 pounds, field-dressed.

Hunters wanting a great Ontario bear hunting experience can book with Texas McDonald, depending on the number in the group.  That price includes lodging, boat and motor, guiding, and baiting, and non-hunters can join the group for an additional fee per person.

About Steve Galea

Steve Galea is best known as a humour columnist, but if it relates to hunting or fishing, he's serious about it. As upland game editor, he enjoys spending time in tangled places gunning for ruffed grouse and woodcock, especially in good company. When he's not there, he's chasing turkeys, stalking squirrels, hunting waterfowl, pursuing whitetails, or fly fishing. It really just depends on the season.

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