On Saturday, Sept. 13, Mike Gauthier of Longlac decided to sit in a tree stand he had set up just 10 minutes outside of town. Gauthier had not hunted bear in 10 years but decided to give it another try this fall. His second time in the stand turned out to be memorable.
Gauthier says he had only been in place about an hour, holding his trusty 7mm rifle, when the action started.
“I had a feeling there was something circling me,” he said. “I don’t know if it was him or another bear. I heard him at the last minute. He was coming straight in behind the [bait] bucket I had set up there. He came towards me and he turned and I took him.”
“I knew it was a big bear,” said Gauthier. “But I’d be lying if I said I’m an expert at field-judging a bear. I guessed it was about 550 pounds.” Bernie Baillargeon, an outfitter located in Longlac, weighed the bear as 760 pounds dressed.
Gauthier has the skull and the bear has been butchered and skinned by a local taxidermist in Longlac. The hunter is looking into what to do with a potential mount.
Although the weight of Gauthier’s bear is immense, it’s the skull measurement that will ultimately decide whether it’s a record-book bear. The present Ontario record for modern firearms is a bear shot in 2000, near Minden by Fred Simmons. Its skull measured 223⁄16 inches.
Gauthier says he has contacted a measurer for the Foundation for the Recognition of Wildlife in Thunder Bay and will have the skull officially scored after the required 60-day drying period.