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Our 2020 Michigan Bear Hunt
Our Son in Law’s Fall 2020 Michigan bear hunt began with word that he had successfully drawn a coveted Baldwin Unit permit. After 14 years of applying, he finally got one. To say we were excited was the understatement of the year. According to the regs we could start baiting on the 15th of August and his week long hunt would start on the 13th of September.
A little prelude - this is a gun kill. After waiting 14 years for a permit, we wanted to tip the scales in our favor in any way we could.
It truly was a family affair with my wife Gail, our daughter Melanie, son in law Mac (who drew the permit) and our grandsons, Josh, Caleb and Luke. It started with putting up stands in two locations we had previously scouted out. All of us were involved. Everyone helped lug two stands etc out to each location - a LONG ways out into a swamp near our cabin. We also spent time building up the spots with cribbing etc. where the baits would be located relative to each stand.
The 15th of August arrived and we were finally able to start baiting. While we knew it would be a lot of work, thanks to suggestions I got here on the Bowsite, we modified a deer cart to fit our needs. We strapped two 27 gallon tubs to the cart each time in, along with a bucket of fryer grease.
These were two of the hardest working bear baiters I know. They are also my two favorite girls ever. 8~)
We used lots of different baits but stuck to using ONLY those baits. We never switched anything up. We used Lucky Charms mixed with brown sugar, dog food drenched in fryer grease, and thanks to Spike Buck’s advice, we also used popcorn lightly coated with fryer grease, white sugar, brown sugar, strawberry and raspberry flavored powdered jello.
My daughter, son in law and the kids would prepare the popcorn at home and fill a 55 gallon drum full with each trip. The neighbor kids also got a big kick out of that. When Gail and I did the baiting, she also had to add her own treats - huge bags of marshmallows and big bottles of pancake syrup.
There were lots of trips to Costco & Sam’s for dog food, popcorn, oil, brown sugar, white powdered sugar and powdered sugar. This was one trip our daughter and son in law wished they had taken the truck.
When baiting, couple of us got really good at shooting fryer grease up into the trees.
We bought a couple trail cams with cellular modems so we’d know right away what was happening.
A few more baiting pics...
We were all set! Our two baits ready to go!
It didn’t take very long (only hours after we had left after our first baiting trip) and we had our very first bear on camera! Soon we had them coming during daylight hours. Seemed the parade would start around 5:30 PM each night and it would go on into the night. It was so much fun getting those pics each night around supper time.
The first couple of weeks because of work, school and football practices, we’d go up and bait on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They were definitely full days with the drive north and the trips into the swamp but we had so much fun. It was fun to see which bear would be the first in, especially on days we baited. We’d all go up on Friday nights/ Saturdays and then Gail and I would go up on Wednesdays.
The last week before his hunt was to begin, one way or the other, we got the stands baited every day. We were getting so many daylight pics we stopped saving them. The kids actually started to name the bears - Lucky Charms, Vector, Cookie Monster and so on. It was crazy.
As a Baldwin Unit resident....you have some nice bears coming in. Hopefully there is some success???
Nice pics, waiting for the hero shots. LOL
Ha yes, Baldwin Mich, area, fished the PM in the flies only stretch many times for spring Steelheads back in the mid 70. Camped at the Green Cottage just down stream. Good times. my best, Paul
Good luck. I hope all your hard work and preparation pay off.
Well I sure hope he got that big pot bellied one. Nothing better than having the family involved. My Drummond Island hunt with my young son helping is a top memory of mine. Great pics so far.
You guys have a fantastic looking family dynamic...great to see !!! I hope you ALL score... hard work always pays off..good luck to u all
On the afternoon of Sunday the 13th, my son in law and I said goodbye to the kids, our daughter Mel and my wife Gail as the kids had to be back for school on Monday. My son in law and I anxiously waited for 3 PM or so and headed out.
9 8 2020 photo. What's that? I'm hunting in the UP now and enjoying this. Keep it coming.
Not sure Bownut. We’ve looked at it a lot.
Around 5:30 or so, I have to be honest, I was getting a little uneasy. While I knew it was early, the conditions were perfect. Beautiful sunny day, temps in low 60’s, and very light wind which blew in our faces.
Finally, around 6:15 or so, we heard a crack in the swamp off to my left. Than a “sploosh” in the water out in front of us. I motioned to my son in law which trail I thought he’d be coming in on and it was less than a minute later he was straight out in front of us, about 30 yards or so, headed for the bait.
I don’t think there was any reluctance for either of us when we saw him. We both knew right away he was a nice bear.
In the Baldwin Unit, bait hunters have the woods to themselves the first day but after that, the dog hunters are free to roam. It was really important to us to try to get it done the first night.
My son in law didn’t hesitate the moment the bear gave him a nice shot. The bear ran off into the swamp about 30 or 40 yards and the woods went silent. We waited a few moments for a death moan but didn’t hear anything.
We got down and slowly and quietly checked things out. We found a little blood and several places where water/mud had been flung up into the weeds/brush. As we stood quietly looking for blood, we heard movement about 15 yards out in front of us. We decided right then to quietly back out and come back the next morning. It made for a long night but we were both confident he wasn’t going anywhere. We certainly didn’t want to push him if he was able to move.
The next morning we were back at the stand just before daylight. We had taken a quad and the truck. I walked back to the stand while my son in law worked at getting the quad back to the stand - no easy task. It took several winch pulls but somehow he got it back there.
When I had gotten back to the stand, I wanted in the worst way to go back to where we had left off but I waited for my son in law. This was going to be HIS moment.
We walked back in to where we had left off the night before and slowly went another 10 feet or so before we found the trail forked. I went one way and my son in law went the other. We were mere feet apart but couldn’t see each other. I hadn’t gone but 20 feet and there laid the bear.
I think if you’ve been there, you know what that feels like. The night before you’re 99% sure but that 1% is still huge and when you see him laying there, it’s the best feeling in the world.
After a couple quick phone calls to our daughter and Gail, the work of getting him out began. With the winch line from the quad and two long ropes, we slowly but surely got him back to close to the stand location. By this time, Gail and our daughter had made their way north and were just getting out of my truck and walking back to the stand.
The work involved in getting the bear out of the swamp was huge but to have all 4 of us there was so enjoyable. We all worked at getting the bear back to the cabin.
Our original plan was to just skin the bear but because he was bigger then the sled/tub we had to pull him out with, we decided to gut the bear and create a little more room to tightly strap the bear’s legs into the tub.
The trip out was just that - a trip but after an hour or so and several winch pulls, we made it from the stand back to the truck and headed back to the cabin.
Two tired guys right here. 8~)
Congratulations, and a great family effort.
Back at the cabin it was time for a quick lunch and LOTS of pics. Then skinning the bear as fast as we could and getting the hide/head in the freezer.
It was so fun having our daughter and Gail there with us that day. The only thing better would have been to have had the boys there with us.
Congrats! Not a bad looking bear. That was pretty cool getting the family involved.
The next day was spent having the bear checked at the DNR, retrieving our stands and cleaning up and then a very, very enjoyable trip home.
Thanks for following along!
Nicely done by all. The state of Michigan is surely a unique place to hunt with lots of opportunities if one puts forth the effort. EFFORT was not lost on this hunt by the total family and friends. This bear hunt will be remembered for many years. my best, Paul
in the photo in question, 9/8, looks like a bobcat
A Family Affair.... congrats on all of your family's success Chuck. From preparing bait site to getting the bear on the ground!!
Congrats- a Michigan bear is quite an accomplishment! We have deer hunted just north of there in Irons for 25 years, and have never seen a bear. The locals tell us they are seeing more every year though...
This thread represents the best of hunting, we need more adventures like this.
Also....thanks for taking the time to tell the story and post all the pics. Was there any video?
Congrats Nice bear that’s awesome the whole family was involved great memories thanks for posting brother.
Nice pics, nice bear, nicely done. Agree with Paul - bobcat or possibly a lynx.
The mystery animal is a bobcat.
Congrats on the bear!
100% is was a bobcat. Info from the DNR-----The first live lynx captured in the state in decades has been returned to the wild, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Monday.
"A once-in-a-career opportunity in the state of Michigan just took place,” said DNR wildlife technician Don Brown, who helped bring the animal north last week.
After a Sanilac County farmer notified the department that an "easily approachable" lynx had been feeding on his domesticated geese, the animal was trapped in Harbor Beach last month and moved to the Howell Nature Center's Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic to evaluate its health, officials said.
The cat was verified to be a Canada lynx, which are listed as a threatened species in Michigan. They typically are found in boreal spruce-fir forests in Canada and Alaska.
Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. This hunt filled two big voids in our family’s fall - there was no trip to Manitoba this past spring or fall and there were no plans for us to attend any Michigan football games. So, all in all, things worked out as they were supposed to.
Alexis... I thought a LOT about you and April this fall. Over the years I’ve learned a lot from you and it extends beyond bear hunting. Blessings to both of you.
Greg... (Grape), you prob haven’t seen this yet but thanks for your encouraging texts. I don’t know if there is anyone who knows more about bears and bear hunting than you. And nobody is as fun to be in bear camp then you.
Chris... thanks also for your encouragement and help. I don’t know if there’s anyone who’s as passionate about bear hunting as you are.
Re the “freaky” picture... I included it because it created a ton of interest and conversation between us. We thought everything from dog, to wet fawn, to bobcat. It’s a crazy pic for sure. Unfortunately we only got one.
When Gail and I baited, it was our habit to go in, bait, I’d suck the pics off the card onto my phone and then when we got back to the truck, Gail would go over them as I drove back to the cabin or to the other site. When she saw that pic, it was pretty funny... she said, “What is THAT?!?!”
Sorry about all the trail cam pics but it was such a huge part of the fun we all had. Two things I have really enjoyed over the years on this site are Alexis’s spring threads with all the trail cam pics and Chris’s threads where you get to see pics of “the story behind the story”. I tried to do a little of both.
That’s exactly what hunting is all about family and friends, congratulations
Nice Bear and thanks for the post.
I’m sure this hunt beats Manitoba any day as you did it all yourself along with the family! Agree with bobcat in that pic first thing I thought of when I saw it. Congrats nice bear!
Very well done- congrats!
Well done for sure, and I enjoyed all the pics.
Congratulations on getting your bear. Your hard work and preparations did pay off. It appears that your canceled trip to Manitoba didn't matter. Concerning Michigan football, you still may get to see the Wolverines be defeated by the Buckeyes yet. The Big Ten is supposedly to begin playing on October 24th. Sorry, I'm from Ohio and couldn't resist. :) Congrats again on the great bear!
LOL Old Reb... I read that one to my wife. Thanks so much from a Wolverine to a Buckeye!
Go Blue and go Ibow and family. Big thumbs up Chuck.
nice family story, thanks for sharing. did you get a weight on him?
Great way of enjoying the outdoors with family! Well done.
Thanks again you guys. And yeah Steve, we are “Going Blue”, beginning Oct 24!
MT Livin - no, we never did get a weight on him. Wish we had but we had no scale at the cabin.
He wasn’t the biggest one we had on camera and pics don’t do him justice but he was a nice bear for sure. So happy for our son in law!