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2003 Fall Black Bear Bowhunt With Fred Lutger
by Robert Hoague

| Arrival Day & Set Up Day

My carefully laid plans for mobile internet fell into the Verison black hole and I was unable to update from camp. So I drove into the closest town and signed up with Atakokan IS and Pat Cox has me up and going now. I will come in every day to post the hunts. Look for the updates on this page.

Hunt Home Page | TO: Week 1 Hunts & Hunters
The bear passed by and didn't come to the bait. It was the strangest colored bear I have ever seen in 33 years of bear hunting. I also had a good shooter “black” bear on the stand that evening. I would have taken him but I wanted the odd colored bear --  a shot opportunity on a decent bear is hard to pass up. But I did. To Fred's Hunt...
Daryl Harris
Daryl was the first to find my bear and almost everyone else's as well. He is from Panama, Illinois and has bowhunted for 10 years, mostly for deer, wild turkey and bear. He owns 60 acres of good huntiing habitat for whitetails and wild turkey. Daryl is a residential contractor, he builds houses in the Panama area. He has taken seveal whitetail and and wild turkeys.

Darly enjoys being out in the woods with his bow, he loves seeing the animals and being a part of nature. Daryl told me, "You never know what you will see when you are bowhunting. You have to spend time to figure out your prey. It is exhilerating, every time."

Advice to New bowhunters:  Visit your local bowhunting stores to get correct information on how to set your bow up and use it. Take your time and learn the prey that you are hunting.

Wayne L. Smith
Wayne hunted the same stand for 5 afternoons in a row. The bait was hit every day but Wayne saw no bears. On the 6th hunt a bear came in at 7:50. This was the last hunt for Wayne and he decided to take the bear. It turned and walked to the bait bucket which was in fron of the bait pile, which was in line for a good shot from the treestand. The bear stopped and looked up at Wayne. THE HUNT & PICS
Jim Mitchell (JimboTX)
JimboTX checked his bait the 3rd morning and the bait was hit again. He returned to hunt at 6:30 and it was hit during the day. Jim baited and made a bacon and honey burn. At 7:00 he saw a bear walking 60 yards away in the brush. Jim got in shooting position and waited. Twenty minutes later the bear appeared in the original spot but this time it was walking away. Then it turned to the right. Jim figured it was checking the wind ... GO
Scot Neetz - "Bear hunting is a blast!"
Scot (age 16) saw a bear early in the afternoon. It came from in front of him, and walked around and sniffed the ground. It pushed away some logs and got some bait and ran back into the woods. It returned and got another piece and ate it. Then the bear stuck his head in the hole he had made between the logs. Scot shot the bear with a 20 gauge shotgun. (Last year he hunted with his bow.) It crashed down and Scot heard the death moan. He got down right away. "Because I wanted to see the bear so bad." The bear was 20 yards away and was pinched between a log and tree.

Scot says: "Bear hunting is a blast. It is something new to see. This year was even better because I got one. Seeing a bear is awesome."

He videoed his own hunt and did a good job. To Scot's Hunt & Pics

Kirk Neetz - The Lincoln Log Bear
Kirk watched the bear enter the area in front of him. The bear grabbed a bag of bait and ran into the woods! 
The bear came, grabbed some bait and went back to the woods 3 more times. The bear was large, the space between his ears was wide, and he threw the logs off the bait around like they were lincoln logs. But it did not present a good shot angle. The 4th time the bear came in it walked around the area instead of going directly to the bait -- and turned broadside. GO
Mark Bronson - Greatest hunting experience in 18 years of bowhunting
This is Mark's first bear hunt and he confesses to his first bearhunting mistake. Yesterday he carried candy into the bait in a plastic bag and set it on top of the logs. In an hour he saw his first bear ever in the wild. Mark expected it to stay but it quickly but cautiously left. After the sun set below the horizon a bear came in, loudly, from another direction, breaking sticks and limbs as he came. The bear headed straight for the bait pile, grabbed the bag of candy and ran into the brush. And that was that ... until the next day. To Mark's Hunt
My Bear - I Get Lucky
Chef Klaus (Mike Ditchler) and I sat in our treestands, passing my camera back and forth, looking at pictures of the bear that had walked though our area an hour ago. Suddenly Mike looked at me, and his eyes darted to our right. No doubt about it, he had seen a bear. I looked into the brush and immediately spotted its bug head. I carefully hung my camera on its hook and got my bow. The bear, a boar, cautiously circled and approached the logs that covered the bait. He was head on so there was no shot.

As Mike adjusted the video camera holder arm, it creaked and the bear looked up at us. Then it exited back to where we had originally seen it. Several minutes later it started back, this time coming in front of us, but behind a substantial amount of brush. 

I drew just before the bear stepped into the clear. It turned half way around and angled toward us again. He looked like he was going to leave.  TO THE HUNT & PICS

Last Days (and Bears) of the First Week's Hunt

The weather during the hunt has been unseasonably hot for Ontario, with highs in the upper 90's every day. The last day of the hunt a storm front blew in. The temperature dropped and the wind blew hard. Lightning and driving rain moved the bear hunters back to their pickups to wait out the inclement weather. 
Allen Knackstedt
Kirby Knackstedt
Brad Stanek
Allen Knackstedt
Al had a bear in the second day but couldn't get a shot. Today the bear came in from behind the bait. Al turned his video camera on right away. The bear circled the area and walked down the path Al had come in on. The bear stopped and looked at Al in the treestand. To Allen's Hunt & Bear Pic.

Kirby Knackstedt
The last night on the hunt a severe lightening storm blew in and Kirby got down at 7:00 and waited in his truck to see if it would blow over. At 7:30 Kirby left the video cameraman in the truck (can't video in the rain) and returned to the stand. High winds had blown down the tree next to the stand while they were in the truck. At 8:25 a bear came in and went to the bacon can, 15 yards broadside. To Kirby's Hunt &  Bear Pic.

Brad Stanek
Brad went to the stand at noon. At 4:00 the brown phase bear came in. Brad drew and shot the bear. It bolted for 35 yards and stopped. Brad was unsure of his hit and retrieved his arrow, it had good blood on it. The bear was laying in a bog and Brad approached it, suddenly the bear looked at Brad. To Brad's Hunt & Bear Pic.

DAY #3 - Bear Under The Stand

Bill Braswell bags a big boar.
Wind was blowing at 8:20 when Bill Braswell saw a bear 15 yards away on the other side of an evergreen tree. The bear went to Bill's bacon burn, knocked it over and ate every bit of it and then went to Bill's game camera and stuck his nose on it. Then he flipped the logs off the bait and laid down on his belly and ate the bait. The bear was laying facing Bill so he had to wait for a better angle. Finally the bear stood up and looked to the North ... and turned broadside. Bill drew and shot. The bear ran 20 yards and crashed. Bill heard a wheeze. The bear was dead.

This is Bill's 2nd bear hunt. He took a bear on the first hunt also. His advice for bear newbees is, "Patience. Let the bear come in. Take time to look the bear over. Use binoculars to check his head for the notch between the ears." To Bill's Picture With His Bear

A Bear Under The Stand
Chef Klaus (Mike Ditchler) and I returned to the same stand this afternoon, we were earlier today and were ready for action before 4:30. At 6:20 I signaled Mike that I had seen a bear sneaking up behind us. The bear worked its way through the dense ground vegetation until it was 10 yards to our left. I started taking pictures. GO

DAY #2 Continued - Mo' Bears
When Chef Klaus and I arrived at camp there were two more successful bear hunters. Here's what happened on their hunts. Plus, meet Kirby Knackstedt.
Don Kramlich
Chris Fulton
Kirby Knackstedt
Don Kramlich - "The biggest thrill I've every had bowhunting!"
Yesterday Don had seen a large bear cross the road while he was waiting to be picked up after dark. The bait was destroyed when Don arrived and he baited and went to the stand. Half an hour later he heard a bear. It walked right below him and stopped. GO

Chris Fulton - "The bear appeared on the same trail I was walking on!"
At 5:00 Chris walked into his stand. Twenty yards from the bait he heard a something run and make a half circle around him. It made a blowing sound and Chris realized it was a bear -- then it appeared on the same trail Chirs was on ... and it walked straight toward Chirs. GO

Kirby Knackstedt
Kirby brought 12 bowhunters with him on this trip. His first bear hunt was in 1993, with Fred Lutger's Wilderness Bowhunts. Since then Kirby has bear hunted with Fred 6 times, bringing a group of local bowhunters with him each time.

Kirby began bowhunting when he was 23. He has his own small archery shop, B & K Hunting Supplies -- a popular meeting place of local bowhunters around Alhambra, Illinois. He is a Drury Outdoors TV Show team member and is pro staff for High Country Archery. He has bowhunted Whitetail, elk, mulies, wild turkey and black bears. His favorite is whitetail. Kirby grew up in Alhambra, Illinois. There were hardly any deer in the area when he was a kid and now there are "plenty, and lots of big bucks". 

TO:  Group Picture of the Week One Bear Hunters

Here is the group pic and names of the bear hunters for week #1. GO

Day #2: The Skunk Bear
Chef Klaus (Mike Ditchler) and I checked the 3 baits on our road. They were all hit and we rebaited them. (See baiting pictures #1 and #2.) We returned to Stand #2. Just after 6:00 we heard a bear woofing quietly behind us. The bear came in from our left. (See pictures.)
This bear has a blond mane down the middle of it's back and a blonde streak on it's left shoulder. You can see it clearly by clicking on the thumbnails. GO
The bear went to the far side of the bait and ate some candy. That shot angle was no good. Then it circled the bait and Mike let me get a couple of pictures of the blond markings. Woops ... surprise! The bear walked into the woods. 

At 8:10 we saw a bear coming from the direction the earlier bear had exited. I glassed it and told Mike that it had blond hair on it's back. 
The bear walked toward us just as slick as you please, navigating through the ferns and thick ground level cover. Mike drew as the bear stepped into the clear. It took a few steps and quite cooperatively, stopped 12 yards in front of us ... broadside. GO
When we returned to camp there were two more successful bear stores, but that will have to wait until my next trip in to update, tomorrow.

Day #1:

Dave Eilers, Jason Pugh & Rich Moravec all bagged bears on the first day of our 2003 hunt.

Chef Klaus (Mike Ditchler) and I went to our stand. Today is my turn to video, Mike is the hunter. He has a cough and this afternoon untimely coughs cost us two chances at bears. (Tomorrow we'll go into town and load up on cough medicine.) To Todays Photos.

Meanwhile Dave Eilers watched a bear investigate his Trailtimer and got ready to shoot. As 
Jason Pugh tracked his bear -- suddenly the bear stood up on it's hind legs, it was still alive! And Rich Moravec bagged the 3rd bear of the day. 

Arrival Day

I flew into Minneapolis (a very bumpy flight) and switched planes for the flight into International Falls (totally smooth all the way). The plane touched down at 11:50pm and  Fred Lutger, Donald Duck and Mike Ditchler met me. Then we drove to Fred's bear camp and everybody hit the sack. GO

Set Up Day:  Clanking pots and pans woke me up. Mike Ditchler, Chef Klaus of Frankfort, Illinois, was busy doing his magic.  GO

Setting Up The Stands & Baits:   All 3 of our baits were slaughtered. Logs were thrown everywhere and all the bait was gone. We baited three stand sites and covered each bait site with logs.  GO

(Thanks to Canoe Canada Outfitters for letting me update from their place of business in Atikokan, Ontario.)

Fred LutgerFred Lutger, the owner of Freddie Bear Sports in Tinley Park, Illinois, is well known and respected in the archery and bowhunting community. His doors opened 27 years ago and his love for archery, bowhunting and helping new bowhunters and archery enthusiasts has made him one of the premier Archery & Bowhunting Pro Shop owners in the country. For information on our bear hunts visit or email us at

Scent Killer


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