The Spring Bear Hunt of 1999 was cancelled by the Harris’ Conservative Government of Ontario. That happened because a wealthy developer of Southern Ontario involving the Greater Toronto Area threatened to unseat the Conservative Government if Premier Harris didn’t cancel the spring hunt. Harris’ Government caved. He lost the next election anyway as most hunters were fed up with politicians arbitrarily deciding the future of this kind of beneficial outdoor recreation.
Then the Ontario Liberal Party’s leader, as Premier, maintained the same political stance as the former Conservative leader. Status quo for two more Liberal governments. However, as politics is more or less like a revolving door, the Liberal Premier got into trouble with the public on several fronts, including a stalemate on the spring bear hunt that involved the economic failure of lodges and camps in Northern Ontario — which already faced economic depression due to slumping businesses — where American hunters and fishermen were clients in years prior to the cancellation of the bear hunt. In facing a new election with the strong probability of the northern Liberal MPPs losing their seats in government — which would likely cause the defeat of the incumbents — the then Liberal Premier reintroduced the Spring Bear Hunt as a five year “pilot project” to insure their continued power in government by quelling the unrest of potential voters from the north of the Province.
Most of us didn’t care much for their motives, but the Spring Hunt was back for five years. Before the time of its extension was over they were defeated and the new Conservative Premier has announced the permanent continuation of the Spring Bear Hunt.
However, the current Ontario Conservatives are losing favor with many who voted them into power due to a more stringent economic social agenda, and a continual battle with the powerful Teachers’ Union. The revolving political door all over again! So who knows what the next Ontario Government will propose re: “the Spring Bear Hunt”? From a strictly economic point of view it’s more or less neutral, but that’s not the only political consideration. Checking the wind of public opinion will make the decision for them no matter what a few thousand resident bear hunters may feel about the matter. And public opinion is mostly decided by urban residents, not rural. And politicians are sensitive to their views since that’s where most of their votes come from.
A just cause, or the view of a minority rarely makes it to the table! Wealth has not only influence, but power! And scarcely does that exist in rural Ontario. The principle of a matter carries little weight in today’s politics. Occasionally they will introduce legislation that keeps the few happy, but only if it will tilt the balance in maintaining their party in power — such as the reintroduction of the Spring Bear Hunt.
Hunters therefore hold their respective noses and enjoy the return of a hunt that chases away the winter blues and the cobwebs from their minds!
Hail the Spring Bear Hunt!
For many seasons it was my favorite time of year. Planning would start sometime in Febuary — about the time that new bears were being born in the winter dens with their mothers. That involved what rifle and handloads. But there must also be a backup with handloads! Choices of rifles, cartridges, bullets and powders were thought about until the dream became reality. Also, the question of where to locate bait and stand became a preoccupation.
So it was in every spring that plans were made and executed down to the finest details. Often, before the bears were out of their dens, I was out and about looking for any signs of life. It was an adventure.
Speaking of which, I have tentative plans for patrolling some Crown Land semi-wilderness areas this spring with a bear ticket in my wallet. No plans yet for baiting but will do some hiking and calling, God willing. I expect to be toting the Ruger No.1 in .458 Win Mag. Not sure of the load yet, but it may be a heavy cast lead bullet at modest speed or what I was using last fall, a 300gr TSX at about 2778 fps/5140 ft-lbs at the muzzle. The rifle is sighted for that load and a few are already loaded. Recoil is modest (for a .458 WIN) at around 37 ft-lbs that has been tempered by the Mag-Na-Porting from 43 ft-lbs. With a 2 – 7 x 32mm Nikon scope mounted, four cartridges in a holder on the butt stock and one in the chamber it comes in at 10.75 lbs. Not a big deal if I commit to keeping fit.
I’ve a “new”(new to me, but used) set of wheels that has replaced the KIA CUV that was on a four-year lease. It’s about right for my purposes being a mid-size SUV. “No pickup?” That’s truth, and have never owned one in all the years of my hunting experiences.
The year that my son, Phil, and I did a moose hunt together in Northern Ontario, I towed a steel and iron 1000 lb lawn-service trailer hitched to my bright red two-door Pontiac Sunbird 1600 kilometers to our hunting destination. The motor was a 3.1 L, V6 producing 140 horses pulling a 3000 lb sport coup, loaded in the trunk with supplies and gear, plus the back seat with more gear and “stuff”, and the two of us weighing close to 400 lbs in the bucket seats, pulling the trailer loaded with camping gear, gasoline and water cans holding 5 gallons each. How much weight was all that? I dunno, but it was a bunch. Then, we brought home on the trailer 800 lbs of bull moose after we left innards, head and legs below the knees in the woods. We also cruised the rough, muddy and water filler ruts of the old logging roads in that coup looking for moose sign (without the trailer attached). I shot the bull 350 yards from camp on opening day and we were on our way home the following day! On the two day journey home it was most interesting in stopping at various Tim Horton’s Coffee Shops for a break, a change of diet, and gasoline, to see caravans of pickup trucks pulling long trailers loaded with gear and usually several 4x4s void of any moose!
That car and load worked beautifully together on the 1600 km trip home while getting an average of 26 mpg (Imperial)!
Speaking of which, no rifle cartridge for big game is more efficient than the eminent .458 Winchester Magnum. Say, have I not previously mentioned that? A few times? Nay, multiple!
Give her a try and bring home some bear and moose meat!