As a flight attendant for a major airline, I have the opportunity to talk to many people. Being an avid bowhunter, my favorite conversations are those I have with the many hunters and outfitters I meet throughout my travels. In the spring of 2000, I had the pleasure of meeting two very nice men from Saskatchewan, Canada, Kerry Ukrainetz and his father, Jack. Kerry owns a lodge near Pinehouse, which is in northern Saskatchewan. They were coming back from a sportsman's show, and after talking with them extensively on the flight, I learned that they specialize in bear hunting and fishing. Before departing they gave me their business card. It just so happened that my husband, Jim, and I were in search of a good place to hunt bears in Canada. So we called a few references, and found ourselves booking our first bear hunt with Kamkota Lodge for the spring of 200l.
Time flies when you're having fun! Before we knew it, Jim and I were packing for our third trip to Kamkota, having hunted in 2001 and 2002. The previous hunts were so good we couldn't resist returning for the third year in a row. We flew into Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and then drove 5½ hours north to their camp, which is located about 12 miles west of a small native village called Pinehouse. Located on Pinehouse Lake and the historic Churchill River makes it the perfect getaway.
Before we left for Canada, Jim and I attended our very first Pope & Young Club Convention, which was held in Madison, Wisconsin, that year. We were very excited to finally be able to attend it. Friday night at the convention, a gentleman whom I didn’t know approached me asked me if my name was Michele Leqve, and if I was going to hunt bears at Kamkota Lodge that spring. I was startled. I smiled and stared at him for a second and said, "Yes, how did you know that?" He then told me his name was Mike Feldermann and reminded me that I'd sent him some of our bear hunting videos from Kamkota Lodge and that he would be hunting there the same time as us. Bingo, it all came together! He'd recognized us from our videos. Jim and I couldn't believe it. What are the odds of our meeting each other before getting to the Lodge? None of us had any idea that the other would be at this convention, and we looked forward to getting better acquainted. Mike would be making his first bear hunt, so he had lots of questions for us.
Saturday night's dinner had assigned seating, with 100 tables and 10 people per table. When Jim and I went down to dinner, we ran into Mike and his wife, Laura. While waiting to be seated, we made small talk, and I said to Mike, "Too bad we can't sit together. What table are you guys at?"
“Table 67,” he said.
My eyes about popped out of my head as I said, "You're kidding me! That's our table!"
We looked at our tickets and all started to laugh! Jim blurted out, "What are the chances of us getting the same table?”
There are 1,000 people at this dinner! Well, I know one thing, it's a sign, and maybe the three of us are going to get Pope & Young (P& Y) bears at Kerry's; We all laughed. The coincidence was a bit eerie, but at the same time very magical, and it just proved to me again that things happen for a reason.
As we neared the turn to Kamkota Lodge, I could hardly contain myself. Overwhelmed with excitement as we drove down the long, winding road through the poplar and pine trees, I turned to Jim and grinned as the sight of the lake and cabins all came into view. As, we stepped out of the truck we were instantly greeted by the smiling faces of Kerry's wife, Kamillia, and his mother, Audrey, who would be our camp cooks. They happily welcomed us back to their camp in the secluded wilderness.
Kerry and his family are friendly, kind people. Their cabins are cleaner and far nicer than either Jim or I ever expect them to be. There are two washrooms with showers, and one cabin has its own bathroom. There is a fish-cleaning house, and several new 16- and 15-foot boats for rent. They have a new generator for electricity, a freezer for your meat and fish, and a small store with the basic essentials. Kerry is even building a restaurant and now is in the final process of finishing it. Every year we come back we see welcome new changes to the place we call home for the week.
Jim and I had arranged with Kerry to arrive in camp two days before Mike and Bill. We wanted to hunt a couple of extra days in hopes of getting our hunts on video. On our first afternoon we had a three-year-old boar come in and put on a show. He was a beautiful chocolate bear, and I named him “Chance”. At the first sight of him I relaxed, realizing he was not the bear I would take. This would be my sixth bear, and I wanted to wait for a bigger boar.
The next day we went with our guide, Greg Sikorski, to check the baits. Using boats to get to and from our baits is always an experience. Kerry uses tasty treats such as sugar-coated oats, beaver, fish guts, restaurant grease, and table scraps. After checking all the baits, Jim and I decided we'd split up and sit at separate sites for our afternoon hunt. Jim would sit at active bait where a bear had snapped a pine tree in two like a toothpick! This wasn't a 200-pound bear, and Jim desperately wanted to see what had done the damage. Greg and I headed to another good bait, one that also had a lot of sign. Greg would sit with me in hopes of getting my hunt on video.
About an hour after reaching our stand, a mature bear came swaggering down the trail. I calmly stood up to prepare for a shot. As he got closer, he stopped 20 yards from the bait and licked the ground below a stinky bait bucket filled with tasty beaver meat hanging high in the tree above him. I watched him lick the ground for 10 minutes before he decided to make his way to the bait. Watching him patiently, I contemplated if I should take him or not! After all, it was only my second day hunting, and Jim wasn't there to help me judge him. Decisions, decisions. I watched him lay at the bait for 15 minutes while he lazily licked the sugar-coated oats. When he finally stood up and offered me the perfect shot, I made a split decision to take him, knowing that I would feel fortunate to harvest such a great bear.
Watching him for so many minutes helped my once-pounding heart to settle down, and I stayed totally calm as I drew, anchored, and sent the arrow right through his lungs. Running a short distance of 25 yards, he expired in less than a minute.
Shaking with excitement, I took some deep breaths and sent a huge grin to my guide. All Greg could say was, "Beautiful shot!" This was the first time Greg had witnessed and videotaped a bow kill. Needless to say, he was pretty impressed and thought it was really exciting. This bear was also the biggest I had taken with a bow and I was confident that he'd make the P&Y record book, but only time would tell.
After tagging my bear and having a quick photo shoot we went to go pick up Jim. His mood was a bit somber, because he hadn't seen anything. But that all changed when he heard about my success. He was thoroughly happy and proud of me.
The next day was Sunday and since there is no hunting on Sundays in Saskatchewan, Jim and I relaxed and took in all the peace and quiet of camp. We checked baits, ate, fished, and even took in a small catnap as we waited for Mike and Bill to arrive at camp.
It was high noon when they arrived from their long journey from Illinois. They were tired little campers, but definitely not too tired to talk bear hunting. They both were excited to learn that I'd already taken a nice bear. Jim had been busy all morning cleaning up the skull to measure it. It would make book, and that made me even happier than I already was.
The rest of the afternoon we sat around getting acquainted and answering every question that our two hunting partners asked. It was fun teaching them what we already knew. We taught them how to distinguish gender and gave them pointers on how to use the bait barrels to judge size. They listened intently, and I could almost see the wheels turning in their heads.
The next day was just like any other day at the lodge. We woke up to the fresh smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen and a warm smile from Kerry's mother, Audrey. We had breakfast and talked about what the day may bring. The guys all dreamed of taking a big bear. We fished and helped with baiting while Greg and the boys decided where each of the hunters would sit that afternoon. Jim already knew he was going to keep hunting the place where he'd been sitting. There was definitely action at that bait, and Jim wanted to see what was causing such a ruckus. I tagged along with Jim and hoped to capture any action on video.
The fun started about 45 minutes after we got there. A big, black sow came into the bait, then left, and then continued the routine throughout the afternoon. Every time she cautiously came back she'd eyeball me over and over again. Shortly after she'd first come in, Jim glimpsed a big cinnamon bear, but it disappeared just as fast as it had appeared. Jim didn't know why, until moments later when he saw an even bigger black bear coming up the trail. He was huge! Jim and I knew that he was the one. I glanced at Jim, and his eyes were like saucers.
The big boar played cat and mouse for a good hour before deciding to come into the bait. Jim didn't waste any time once the big bear finally swaggered into the bait. In one fluid motion Jim pulled back, anchored, and released to watch his arrow fly right through the big boar's heart. Jim watched intently, as it took the boar a mere five seconds to run 30 yards and pile up.
We carefully climbed down from our stands, Jim taking a bit longer since he had the climber, and we followed the blood trail to his beautiful boar. It was the biggest bear he'd taken out of his 15 bears, and this one had an exceptional pelt. We figured him to weigh at least 400 pounds!
We took pictures and video while waiting for Greg to come get us. When Greg showed up, he had Bill with him. They were very pleased to find us at the shore sporting our "Jim got a big bear" smiles! It was a tiring drag for the boys, but it went much faster than if it had just been Jim and I.
It was strange to have filled our tags in just three days, but in the same sense, it was nice knowing that we could relax and fish, take in the scenery, and enjoy the great hospitality. We also knew we'd still be able to help bait, and help the guys drag their bears should they be successful.
As the week went by, the guys did a great job of holding out for bigger and/or color-phase bears. Jim had set the standards pretty high, and every time the guys went out they'd come back and tell us what they had seen and ask our opinions. Bill brought his video camera, so he would come back every evening and show us the footage of the bears he'd seen at the bait. Bill could have shot several nice black bears throughout the week, but he was determined to wait for the perfect colored bear.
On Friday afternoon, the next to last day of their hunt, Mike was fortunate to shoot a very big boar. He was so funny about it. He was very calm when he came back to camp and said, "Yeah, I shot a nice bear." He told us that as soon as he saw the bear he knew it had all the qualities of a good bear. Shooting this bear was definitely no-brainer. He had a fat, pumpkin head, and we figured he'd weigh at least 450 pounds. Saturday morning Jim worked diligently cleaning up Mike's bear skull. Mike's bear, like Jim's, green-scored around 20 inches, easily qualifying it for P&Y. Mike was very happy and vowed that he'd return to Kamkota Lodge.
It was now Saturday, and Bill's last day to hunt. Keeping his chin up, Bill vowed that he wouldn't go home without one. We wished him luck as he and Mike headed to the stand where Jim had shot his brute. That stand hadn't been hunted since Jim shot his bear, and there was a nice cinnamon bear at that bait. Mike went along to man the video camera.
At this point Bill didn't care what size the bear was as long as it was a trophy in his eyes. Bill patiently sat waiting as the last afternoon of his hunt dragged on, and it looked like he might go home empty-handed. But then, in the last half-hour of light, a beautiful cinnamon bear came into the bait. It wasn't the big color-phase bear that Jim had seen, but the bear had a wonderful hide and Bill was quickly running out of time. When the bear came into the bait, Bill pulled back, anchored, and made a great shot on what turned out to be a big, dry sow. The bear only ran a short distance before expiring, and Mike captured the whole thing on video. It was a great afternoon for Bill. He took his first bear on video and his wife, Beverly, would get the cinnamon rug she wanted.
On Sunday, when we were packing and saying our goodbyes, we reflected back to the P&Y Convention and to what a coincidence it was meeting Mike and Laura there. Jim was right. It was a sign that the three of us would get P&Y bears! We owe our success to Kerry and our guide, Greg. And yes, we'll all hunt again at Kamkota Lodge, probably sooner than later!
Author’s Notes: Kamkota: Lodge Update: Jim and I returned to Kamkota Lodge in May 2004 for our 4th hunt. We were both successful in harvesting black bears, and on the exact dates and times as our 2003 bears! Those must be lucky dates for us! Jim's bear weighed over 400 pounds, and had a green score of 19 11/16ths P&Y. My bear weighed over 300 pounds and had a green score of 18 7/16ths P&Y.
(I feel that the great products I use in the field all help to contribute to the success of the animals I shoot.)
To book your Black bear hunt or fishing trip with KAMKOTA LODGE Contact: Kerry Ukrainetz Box 1340, Hudson Bay SK Canada SOE-OYO Lodge: (306) 884-2177 Home: (306) 865-2795 Fax: (306) 865-3717
© July 2006