Spring Bear Hunt in Mattawa Voyageur Country

The spring bear hunt is back, and it’s better than ever. 

Big Bear Down Outfitter in Rutherglen, located just off  Highway 17 East, was thrilled to host their first visitors of the 2016 season. Host Mike Miller from Angler & Hunter Television, along with his camera master Brent and Angelo from Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, joined Garry and his two brothers Mark and Greg for the first spring bear hunt since 1999. 

Now into their second season of operations, catering to Ontario residents who are looking to get away, they offer a full weekend package to get the best of a true Northeastern Ontario hunting experience. With over 30 years experience hunting alongside their father, these three brothers decided to open up their own outfitters. They built a one-of-a-kind tree stand, also knows as “The Condo,” and enjoy what they like doing most—getting out of the city to go hunting. They pride themselves on providing visitors with a unique hunting experience, whether you are looking to use that new Excalibur Crossbow or to simply observe from the tree stand, they do it all!

During their four days of hunting, the crew covered 150 square kilometres of the region, spotting four bears—one was well over 300 pounds. They bagged two black bears, around 140 pounds each, and were lucky to get away with a close call on Wednesday night after shooting the last bear at dawn and having to travel out of the bush while the wolves howled. Due to an extended winter and colder temperatures this spring, the snow has just recently left the deep forests of Mattawa Voyageur Country and the spring bear hunt is just getting started. They are estimating that the bear count will continue to grow, estimating between 40 to 60 black bears within the region by the time the spring bear hunt is in full swing.  

For 15 years hunters and anglers could only hunt black bears in the late summer and fall months. This year is opening up a new market for outfitters, with opportunities to expand and grow within the Region as well as helping to reduce the bear density. Ontario residents and hunters will have the chance to hunt and gain some personal and individual benefits—improvement of their game, food for the table, a sense of knowledge and understanding among other hunters and, most of all, the fulfilment for adventure in their own backyards. The return of the spring bear hunt is a win-win situation for Northeastern Ontario communities and businesses. 

I have been out to Big Bear Down Outfitter twice—last season in the fall and once this spring. Not only was Garry one of the most welcoming hosts that I have ever met, but so are his brothers. These guys love what they do and take great pride in the outfitting service they have started. From last year’s season to this one, they have built a new kitchen building, completed the finishing touches on the bunker, and built an amazing fire pit—who knows what new upgrades will be complete on my next visit!

If you are looking to go bear hunting, Northeastern Ontario is the place, Big Bear Down Outfitters are your guys, and Mattawa is the hotspot! Mike Miller said it himself when we sat down for a mean steak barbecue lunch. This Region is where it's at—I had no idea there were so many lakes and amazing spots that you can't even see on a map. When it comes to Mattawa Voyageur Country,  we have amazing vistas and experiences to impress, and businesses that are waiting to welcome you with a BIG smile and open arms!

About Sarina Goad

Staff writer for Mattawa Voyageur Country, social media mastermind for Antoine Mountain, and Tourism Coordinator for the Mattawa Bonfield Economic Development Corporation. Born and raised in Southern Ontario cities, educated and migrated in the north. Day dreamer, artist, photographer, and explorer extraordinaire spending Monday’s in the office and weekends left to be discovered.

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