Seize the Opportunity: Don’t Be Afraid to Stray From Original Hunting Plans

Posted by  Thursday, June 05 2014 6:00 am
expert

In mid-May, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in Ontario's pilot-project spring bear hunt. I used a rifle instead of a traditional bow, since a relatively short window of opportunity meant I might have to take longer shots in order to fill my tag.

The hunting tool I used is not what matters here, however. The lesson learned from that hunt is also applicable to hunting with a traditional bow.

SeizeYourOpportunity blogThe big thing I was reminded of is the need to take advantage of any opportunity you're handed on a hunt.

Texas MacDonald (of Texas MacDonald and Sons Outfitters near Espanola, Ontario) and I were making our way along a hydro cut towards a stand where I was to sit over bait and wait out the evening for an adult bear that was unaccompanied by cubs. But, just as we crested a rise, I spotted a bear in the distance. Tex and I estimated it to be 300 yards away. His laser rangefinder proved it to be 317 — not bad guessing on our part.

He immediately shut down the vehicle and we watched it for some time to see if it was accompanied by cubs (which would have made it illegal to take) and to see its direction of travel.

After a while, we determined the bear was alone and feeding on fresh green vegetation. We also determined that the wind was in our favor and that a careful stalk over the uneven terrain could get us within easy rifle range.

About 10 minutes later, we crawled the last 15 yards to the lip of a crest overlooking the bear, which was still unaware of us. The range was 125 yards and I hit it perfectly behind the shoulder on an angled away shot with my Remington 783 in .308. It was down for the count in two hops.

The transferrable lesson here is that no matter what your hunt plan is, always be open to opportunity when it knocks.

Two seasons ago, I had a similar situation while carrying my longbow where I saw two young bucks sparring on my way to the stand. They ran off but not too far and I switched gears, calling and still hunting as I walked into the wind towards them. Finally, they closed the hundred yard gap through the woods and I arrowed one at 12 yards.

The point is when the wind is right and game is near, sometimes the best option is to try to close the gap. It works often enough — and when it doesn't it still offers plenty of excitement.

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Last modified on Thursday, June 05 2014 8:59 am
Steve Galea
expert

Steve Galea makes his living as an assistant editor for Ontario Out of Doors magazine, where he is best known for My Outdoors, his back page humor column that has run continuously since 1996. He also writes columns for five weekly newspapers across Ontario and has contributed to several books on the outdoors. When not writing, Steve spends time fly fishing and tying. He also enjoys using bow, rifle or shotgun, depending on the hunting season. His English springer spaniel Callie is an eager grouse and woodcock dog and he values time afield with her.

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