Big Manitoba Bear Down

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I had the most crazy and amazing hunt of my life! I have hunted bears for years and finally got a color phase bear, but not without a few hurdles. I traveled from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Thompson, Manitoba an 8 hour drive and stayed at my friend's place Trapper Mikes Outfitting.

Here's what happened. I went hunting Sunday evening at 6:00pm  May 29th, 2011 and was hanging up some beaver and suddenly there was a sow was standing behind me at 15 yards. She was popping and snapping her jaws at me. I circled to my stand and climbed the 15ft ladder and sat in the tree stand all the while she watched and was snapping. She was really mad and then I heard squeeking noises and heard a cub near the swamp to my right. The big sow came to my tree several times snapping and popping and then went to the swamp and then proceeded to circle me. I figured I should leave as she was knocking trees over and was going nuts and I didn't want to shoot her.

The next morning  Monday May 30th, 2011, I went to check the trail camera and was going to hunt a different area that day. I checked the sd card and saw the sow and cub was there all night and then at 9:45am I saw this huge brown bear at the site. It was only 10:10am the same morning so I decided to go and honey burn and sit to see if it would come back. A little over an hour later this bear cub came up the trail and looked at me and then went to the barrel. It knocked it over and made a high pitched squeal.  I heard crashing and popping  to my right near the swamp and big momma came up th trail all agressive it looked around and then up at me and went in to the barrel and checked on the cub at about 11:50am  She then circled the area popping her jaws and  proceeded agressively over to me. She was mad and again popping and snarling and was on it's hind legs pushing my tree looking at me. I saw the cub at the barrel and took the cap off the large container of bear pepper spray and waited. Needless to say my heart was pumping! The sow began a quick climb up the tree popping it's jaws at me. At 6 feet or so I leaned down and gave a good spray which came out in a big mist to the bears face. Unfortunately for me the wind was blowing towards me and I also got a lot of spray blown back in on my right eye and side of my face. I yelled at her and also for the pain I was now in.

The sow went down and I was now burning. The cub ran to a tree 20 yards to my right and was huffing and hissing at the swamp and climbed up high in the tree and was spitting at the swamp. The sow arched her back up against the tree like a big cat and was pawing her face and barking at the swamp. Through my left eye I could see something big knocking small sappling's over and also popping and barking. The sow forgot all about me and I saw a tank of a bear all brown waddling towards the sow and this bear was bigger than her. He was staring up at the cub and popping at her and making throat noises.  I was now in a lot of pain and was having a hard time seeing and breathing and was leaking mucus badly but couldn't leave as this was all happening only 20 yards  away.

The sow stood her ground and the big brown bear came in and swatted her hard with his paw. She rolled and shook and came up mad. She stood up and he stood up bigger and they wrestled for a few seconds which seemed liked a long time while watching it and both were making loud noises. He shoved her down and she rolled over and was snapping at him. He then made throat noises again and like she meant nothing of a threat to him walked by her towards the barrel. I was having a hard time seeing now and was burning bad and tearing up and my nose was leaking badly. He put his nose near the white pail and I tried lining up my slug gun on him but no good shot was available. This was apout 12:02pm.  He stayed for a minute and turned and looked at the sow and cub. He walked straight towards me and seemed unaware I was there and walked right by my tree at 8 yards and I was able to see the bead of my gun through my left eye. I put this as best I could behind his shoulder and shot. I could see it shook him hard and he growled and ran- I racked another round and shot to my left almost behind me at him and at 15 yards he dropped. (I don't kow if I hit him a second time or not as I couldn't find a second hole on the bear. )

The sow went nuts again and the cub was climbing down and the sow was now walking towards me snapping. I shot a round near her and she and the cub ran towards the swamp. By this time I could barely see out of both eyes and was tearing up good and was having a hard time breathing through the mucus running out of me. I saw the brown bear was not moving and I climbed down and stumbled down the trail to my truck. I used a litre bottle of water on my face and then went to the creek and washed for a 1/2 hour to get the pepper off me.  About 1:15pm I went back in with a bunch of slugs and buck shot. I had to fire off a few scare rounds as the sow and cub were near my stand. I went to my bear and made sure it was dead.  I couldn't believe the size of the head on this bear and it's body was all  muscle and massive.  I took a lot of photo's and was skinning out the bear and the sow came back. I had to fire some more rounds to scare it off.  My eyes are all screwed up in the trophy photos as they still burned. It took me almost 3 hours to skin out the bear as I had to use cut poles to roll it over.  I tried fitting the head and hide in my pack basket but it was too big. I am a strong guy but I couldn't lift the whole hide and head to take it out of the bush. I was able to call Blaine Snihor from Trapper Mikes Outfitting to come help me. Both of us had a hard time lugging the bear out and had to stop and rest every 25 yards or so. While packing it out the sow and cub was at the bait again banging around the barrel.  I also took the meat as this was a great bush bear. The hind quarters were super heavy!.

At Trapper Mikes we measured the hide from nose to tail and at 7ft ,5 inch it was impressive. We estimate it was pushing 500lbs

Needless to say I had an amazing hunt of a lifetime and I will always remember it as it is LITERALLY BURNED into my memory

Chris Murphy-  Winnipeg, Manitoba


Retired2hunt's picture

  That is one AWESOME story


That is one AWESOME story Chris!  I don't know what would have messed my pants worse in this story.  I credit you for still being able to pull up a bead on that bear and drop him like that.  What an excellent trophy!  I have not ever had the experience of that pepper spray thankfully but my wife teaches firemen and paramedics on its usage.  I have seen what it can do and can only imagine what you were going through at the time.  All I can say here is WOW!!!  Thanks for sharing the story and the Pics!  A black bear hunt is still on my dream list... and this story will be imbeded in my mind when I do finally make that dream come true.  Thanks!


ManOfTheFall's picture

That is one nice looking,

That is one nice looking, huge bear. I really enjoyed the story and you have some great pictures too. I have never been bear hunting and I can't even imagine the adrenaline rush having a big old sow climb up your tree. That must have been pretty scary. I am sorry about the misfortune you had but I guess that goes along with bear hunting. I'm sorry about the pain you had to experience, but the way you told the story I sure got a good laugh from all your pain. I would like to bow hunt bear some day. Hopefully if I do my hunt won't be so painful, lol.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Holy Moly, that is one FAT

Holy Moly, that is one FAT bear!  He's huge!  That's a great story, and an increadible bear.

I have many, many family members that hunt bear on the canadien border, but to the east.  They live in northern Maine.  I have always had an open invite to go, but i have never taken them up on it.  After reading stories like yours, it makes me think I should one of these years.

Thanks for sharing your Manitoba bear story with us.  Hunt of a lifetime!

groovy mike's picture

That is quite a story and you have an absolutely immense bear !

WOW Chris!  That is quite a story and you have an absolutely immense bear to show for it!  That is without a doubt the hunt of a lifetime.  You will probably never take a better bear or have a more exciting hunt.  Savor those memories!  It is very cool that you have pictures of him prior to putting him on the ground too.  With a story like that it makes me want to check out hunting in far away Manitoba too!  Like Arrow-flipper – I'm curious as to whether you were hunting on your own or using a guide.  It sounds like you had a well established bait site but you had to do the skinning and backing yourself.  It’s neat that you use a pack basket.  I had thought that they were a fairly unique thing to the Adirondack mountain region.  I make them – not professionally but as a hobby.  Not many people even use them any more except as magazine stands etc. almost never in the field for what they were invented for and what they are actually intended to do.  It’s good to know that at least one pack basket is getting use as it should be!   I don’t know if I would have stayed in that area so long with the sow and cub.  I certainly would have been nervous skinning out the boar bear with that aggressive and pepper irritated sow around.  Hopefully your buddy was standing guard with a twelve gauge (or bigger!) shotgun loaded with slugs while you were working! 

You were smart to keep your shotgun handy while snapping the photographs.  They are good photos too.  It is always a good idea to take LOTS of photographs.  Take far more than you think you need and then take a few more.  That’s the beauty of digital photography.  Digital cameras are a wonderful advancement to the hunting industry.  Not only for the trail cameras for scouting, but also for taking trophy pictures.  Thanks to advances in technology we can now delete all of the pictures that we don’t want or don’t like and save the best for sharing without worrying about the cost of developing rolls and rolls of film like we had to in the old days. 

Definitely keep us posted as your taxidermy comes back.  I'd love to see it too. What sort of mount do you plan?  A rug and a preserved skull would be nice, but for a bear this big and gorgeous it might lose some of the immense power of him.  I know it is horribly expensive but with a bear like that it might be worth trying to find a way for a full body mount.  Whether he is mounted standing on hind legs or on for limbs that bear is going to be impressive any time someone gets a look at the size of him!  You really can’t go wrong no matter what taxidermy option you choose, just be sure to pick a good taxidermist.  It is worth the cost!


elkkill06's picture

Amazing !!!!


That was a wonderful and exciting story ! To top it off you took a giant of a bear in a great colorphase. Congratulations !!! ;)


arrowflipper's picture


Wow!  What an exciting story!  I loved it!  And congratulations on taking such a fine bear.  I'd love to see the rug or mount when it's done.  It looks to have a spectacular spring coat.

I don't know how you stayed in that tree with all the excitement of that sow?  I guess you had a rifle in case of the worst.  I was confronted with an angry sow with cubs one time but all I had was a bow.  I would have been a lot happier with a rifle.  Were you at any point tempted to shoot the sow, if for no other reason than self preservation? 

Were you on a guided hunt or was this a do-it-yourself hunt?  I shot a brown phase bear years ago but he wasn't anywhere near as big as yours.  My son shot one in Colorado a while back and his was similar in size to yours.  I would guess you measured the head for Boone and Crocket? 

At any rate, congratulations on a great bear and a very memorable hunt.  I'm sure it was "burned" into your memory.  Thanks for sharing your story.