On this adventure, I learned a lot about myself. Had some great experiences, met some wonderful people and was presented with a couple of opportunities to do something nice. Not always does that happen. Hopefully I changed the life of one very lucky husky. She is a beauty.
Flight to Ottawa then overnight and off to Pond Inlet the next day. Shane and John, the principals behind Canada North Outfitters picked me up at midnight and this was awesome because the line up for the cab was a mile long. They arrived for breakfast and had tarps and bags and ropes for the hide and skull. Then they had a carryon bag with Mountain House, nuts, candy, tea and some Starbucks mochas and some other nice treats. (I had all my own food as I treated this like an 18 day backpack hunt).
My guide picked me up at the airport and we were off on the ice the next day.
69 miles out on the ice we had setup our first camp as the weather was getting bad. Whiteout the next day.
Hunted hard as I had 18 days of hunting. Was impressed that my guide got up early and we hunted late. Out at 8:00 am and often not back to camp or when we were moving until 11:00 pm and even past midnight. Was lucky with the weather and it was very very mild. Will just list some random thoughts.
1. Mad Trapper sent me the NO mitts and boots. Boots were awesome, I wore my down mitts and on the cold days put in some hand warmers. That is a nice treat especially if you had to take off your mitts to help set up camp and then your were warm right away when you put your mitts back on.
2. Two sets of goggles and a neoprene and another light face mask. Very few times they got fogged up but both were must have items.
3. Had the Sitka gear, and the Blizzard Jacket and pants and the down Kelvin pants and jacket. Was almost too warm most days, except in the big wind and when we were travelling hard and fast.
4. I stood as much or more than I sat. More fun and better to see for tracks and bears and the biggest bumps.
5. I brought all my own food. Oatmeal for breakfast, powerbars and Mountain House for supper. I drink coffee so I also brought a thermos and filled it each morning.
6. Just a -40 mummy bag and a good thermarest with a 7 R value. A huge square type bag would cost $250 in extra baggage fees to fly up so if you buy one you get it for half price. Maybe use it on a late season bighorn hunt :)
7. Kept my bow in the case until the moment of truth. Had broadheads ready and filled the quiver. Keep your stuff outside of the tent as it is very humid and will fog and steam up everything. Plus no chance to freeze up.
8. Light gloves and then I put on some lighter Schnee boots as the NO boots were not the best for running up and through the rough ice on a chase.
9. A camera and tripod is a must. Hard to get photos on the ice so do some studying about light conditions, snow is tough to get good exposures. Shoot RAW if you have it and photoshop to get great results. No issue with the camera and battery.
10. Used the Leica rangefinder and the rangefinding binos. Both worked well in tough ranging conditions. On some days in the ice crystals I wondered if it would work.
11. Binos fogged up as I stood on the roof of the sled to glass each time we stopped. Take lots of wipes and lens cleaner.
12. Bring paper towels as they are better than TP :) and with the diet you might be enjoying…..well you get the drift.
13. Bring hand wipes in smaller bunches and keep them from freezing in your inside pockets. Also small bottles of hand sanitizer. Your guides are not up on current cleaning programs though.
14. Sat phone and GPS and some food with you at all times. We had the ice split within 50 yards of our camp. Within an hour there was a 300 yard stretch of open water. Had we been on the other side, who knows how long we would have been stranded. Never leave home without it.
15. Bring a book or two. Its light lots of hours and the guides are not so chatty so a great way to kill some time. Keep a flexible and positive and patient attitude.
16. A roll of duct tape, knife and Leatherman. Heavy mitts, lighter fleece mitts, neck warmer and the lightest merino wool mitts.
17. The best piece of equipment is the Core Hoodie by Sitka. Wore it underneath the down hoodie and never needed a toque. Wish I had brought a ball cap.
18. Crystal light or powder to make the melted ice more enjoyable to drink. Drink lots in the morning, less a night so you don't have to get up so early in the morning.
19. An 8 inch pad width is close to a 9 foot bear. Measure the pad on any bear you think you want to run. Follow the track for a bit. Males walk in a straight line looking for females. Females wander, looking for seals. So take the pad width in inches and maybe add a bit but that will be the size of your bear. Maybe others will have a better rule of thumb but it might save someone from making a big mistake. If the pad is 6 inches wide, might be better to pass and keep on hunting.
Am lucky to live in Canada. Not trying to justify this adventure but biologists feel that many populations of bears are steady or rising. Harvests are controlled and males are targeted so that does reduce the impact. Natives will harvest bears, any bears and even females so your male will be better. Not sure about global warming and the ice melting. I saw lots of it. I have never believed what Obama nor Al Gore had to say. I feel they are liars have a hidden agenda in pushing whatever facts, or lies, or twisting the truth about the environment and to try to attach hunting. I would say to them, deal with your own problems and leave the hunting and what we are doing up here alone. I understand global interests but the actions to ban importing of polar bears is mean spirited and serves no purpose. Those bears are going to be harvested, so a controlled hunt and a hunt for males is better than what they are trying to do. Sorry for the political rant I know its not my business and I have many great American friends.
Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and sharing. Came home with some great memories, stories and best of all, rescued a sled dog. The newest addition to my 115 pound Kaiser and 65 pound Kenzie is the lovely Juno. My wife named her when I finally got her home safe and sound. Three vet visits and a few more but she is a gem.
I hope everyone gets a chance to do something special this year. The north, the ice, the people, the weather, the icebergs, and of course the dogs are something you don't get to experience every day.
Straight arrows and again, thanks for all the help and well wishes.
Here is Miss Juno on the way home. She was brave on all the flights but when I left her I could hear her howling. Broke my heart. I put my shirt and long underwear in with her and I think she knew I would be close.
Had to teach her to drink water, go up and down the stairs. My wife said she just had an accident this morning but she is only 6 months old and learning.
Last year on a late season bighorn sheep hunt, I tested a protype of the Blizzard jacket and pants. Laid on this ram for 3 hours. I don't know how my sons and friends stayed warm as Cam was beside me and Mike and Adam were below filming. I was warm as toast in the - 19 degree weather. Then it ended up - 31.
I decided to go with the Blizzard system rather than the Northern Outfitters gear. I think if you are paying big money for a parka that you may never ever need to use. One thing thought, many guys offered to lend me their gear so this is an option. The Blizzard system is a great add on to any cold weather sheep hunt, horseback hunt or for that matter a northern muskoxen or bear hunt.
It worked well, lots of well designed pockets and it is warm. But then it never really got that cold. Most days were -15 to -25.
Congratulations on your hunt even if you didn't get a bear! I know I enjoyed my hunt and I am so glad I did it before our idiotic government shut down the importation. I like your list of Items; I will say that of all the hunts I have been on it is the one where I knew I was totally dependent on the guide for survival but I would love to do it again.
Nice dog! The ones that were in my sled team were tough and just below a wolf.
Congrats on the new puppy!
Are we going to see any other furry white critters posted on this thread?
Ahahaha haha, oh man, I'm so screwed :(
Good luck, Robb
I would bet, there will be another in the distant future.
My best, Paul
That photo is not me. There is no way I could shoot with those mitts.
Plus I wouldn't have shot a bear with frost bit ears either.
You may have me confused with someone else :)
Was the lead frozen? Could you travel on it? There probably was a bunch of seals living there. I just wonder what would have happened if we had camped on the north side of the iceberg, might still be there floating around :(
I was thinking I was BigPizzaMan about that time.
I have entered the ring and spent hundreds of hours in there, not to mention a few unofficial fights. I stalked two polar bears and shot them at 42 and 77 yards, both times with my guide and his .303 well back of me. I was more afraid of those fights than I was on the ice. I do not think it takes courage to chase polar bears.
Cowards they are. I have seen fear in people's eyes. Its a reflection on a person how they treat their animals. Ask JakO about fear and cowards. Ask anyone who has ever been on a polar bear hunt.
You are dead wrong, in your comment. They are deadly afraid of bears. Who cares if they chase polar bears for a living. They truely are cowards.
I have never been afraid of cowards. Infact I pity them but do not suffer them. You can call them what you want. I understand its tough up there and they have to treat the dogs differently than we do here but there is little excuse.
Now one thing to know, is that I do not say anything to anyone or write about someone that I would not say to their face. Before, after and during the "standoff" on the ice I let him know that he was a coward.
Big Pizza Man is a beast and he can stand up to an idiot with a machine gun. I am just an idiot who felt the need to stand up to a coward with a whip, a club and an axe. I still beleive that it would not have gone very well for him had he swung that club again. Just a guess but....
Z bone, thanks for asking.
She is very weak as she is grossly underweight and getting spayed was very very tough on her. The "coward" said she was 6 months old. She was much older and the vet said if we had not spayed her Wednesday that she would likely have died. Another bowsiter hunted out of the same place just after and he saw Juno's sisters and he also felt that they would not survive much longer.
I don't think I did anything that anyone of you guys would have done, except maybe refraining from using that club as the "coward" did. That might have been the only thing that took courage.
Sounds like the trip did not go as well as you hoped for? Something like this would damper if not ruin the experience for me even if the "hunt" was successful.
It takes a lot of conviction to stand up to one or several men when out in the middle of know where.
Saving Juno is a good deed. Hope you and she have many happy years together! Glad at least that part of the trip worked out for both of you.
I guess this explains why you did not respond when I asked if you were going back. What I saw when I went was that there was no names for any of the dogs. They feared his whip but that was the only form of punishment .Thank goodness no clubs or kicking. I told my wife when I got home that I was surprised on how impersonal they were with animals that helped them. One of the dogs got grabbed by my bear and was taken care of the rest of the trip. When they hunt for bear themselves they don't use the dogs only snowmobiles so not sure what they do the rest of the year
The experience was awesome. Came home with two bears and a dog. No need to go back.
I wasn't alone, the Jakinator was over my left shoulder and Big Pizza Man on my right :) Plus every dog lover, animal lover and other Bowsiter had my back.
Not sure brave guide rather tackle thin ice than small framed Canuck
when up there did you see any indiaction otherwise or was what you saw the norm.
Even with enough back up to invade a small country you still did the right thing:)
Congrats on your hunt.
Got any bear pics? Congrats on a memorable BOW hunt!
You make a good point and are probably correct in your thinking. Perhaps if I had taken your thoughts with me when I went up there it would have helped me understand. I just could not understand the need for them to practice their accuracy with the whip on the dogs. An oil can could have sufficed. They left lots of those laying around.
My grandfather always told me that a good carpenter looks after his tools. I guess I am just a soft hearted pussy.
They had a snowmobile that broke down every 3 minutes, they didn't beat on it :)
A good thing for hunters planning on going up north for a hunt, to heed your thoughts. It may have been the exception but a person should prepare themselves for some "rough" treatment of the dogs.
Maybe bring a travel crate with you. Dogs are cheap up there and you might want to bring one home with you.
We have a 115 pound "wolf" and a 65 pounder, both double coated. My wife is giving me the evil eye right now. They look like Pigpen half the time with a cloud of dust and hair following them around Juno is fitting in well. I use the "down" for wind indicator. Have some extra colors now. I could go into business now :)
do we get to see the two bears you shot at 42 and 77 yards?
When you come through Calgary, you will get to see them for sure.
I was definitely there in spirit, my friend, as was BPM....and BPM was right, we had your back.....
Whenever I was struggling to stay positive I just said the words "Hello Bowsiters, this is tthomas, impersonating the Jakinator" It put a smile on my face and perked things up.
My guides thought I was losing my mind, maybe I was. Now Juno lifts her head when I say that out loud to her. She often lets out a big howl or a wooo woooo :)
I was lucky to have her come into my life.
Many kudos to you Tom!
I always enjoy your commentary, and I hope you'll chime in more frequently, it's guys like you that help make Bowsite top shelf.
Best Wishes, Jeff
You think liberal's beat dogs?
PS.... If Jake can't uplift you.... you need a fork lift...
And can't have better "back" with "Da two men, Medicine and Pizza" either... could make folks an offer nobody could refuse wid dem two standin' behind ya.... heheheheh...
We have a husky, named Sky Lee, she is the best dog we have ! Awesome & tolerant of young grandchildren, smart, howls great and sometimes "talks" to us. Loves to roll in snow and sheds enough to construct several dogs from each year! :) She also loves to roam....
Juno looks great!
Was hoping to shake your hand at P&Y. Maybe next time.....
When I was very young he told me "a boy and his dog is cute, but a man and his dog is a thing to study".
He was right.