Ice Fishing

tinman

Well-known member
First thing you need to look at, if you haven't, is road maps to see where you can actually drive. I've camped for years in both remote and vehicle accessible bear country (not polar) and had plenty of interaction, and I would assure your wife that the danger from bears in boon-docking is pretty minimal if you take the well-publicized precautions. Mainly keeping your site clean, don't leave food, garbage, and cooking equipment out. I wouldn't bother with an electric fence. When under canvas in remote areas it used to be S.O.P. to stash a rifle away from the tent in case you came home to a disagreement over occupancy, but generally if there was an issue it was over and done before we got there. Bit of cleanup and tent-sewing. Not an issue at all with your steel walls. If you're hiking, try not to surprise a bear, and always travel with someone who can't run as fast as you. You'll be a bit early for ice-fishing but there's still plenty of unique things to see and do in Canada's arctic. If polar bears are on the must see, I second Glasseye's Churchill recommendation. You could also look at the Nunavut tourism web site. There are polar bear web cams in the Churchill area. Yellowknife is OK, but it is pretty much end of the road and you might find the Alaska Highway offers more scope. There are plenty of folks on the forum who have gone before and can answer questions and offer advice.
 

Boxster1971

2012 Sprinter 3500 Ext
Churchill, Manitoba has so many polar bears (in season) they offer bus tours. Cheaper and more certain than a flight to a remote village and a trip out onto the ice.

An interesting train ride up there, too, according to reports.
I've been to Churchill in the summer, and you can still see plenty of Polar Bears from a boat on the water. In summer the Polar Bears hang around on the rocks along the shoreline. The bears are more dangerous in summer because they are starving - waiting for the winter ice so they can feed on seals. In summer occasionally a whale carcass washes ashore and the bears feast on it. Churchill maintains a Polar Bear patrol in the town to keep people safe. They even have a Polar Bear jail for bad actors that they keep locked up until they release them in winter.

Polar Bears of Churchill (lazybearlodge.com)

There are no roads to Churchill. You have to either fly or take the train. I drove to Thompson, Manitoba and then the overnight train to Churchill. Spent a week there at the Lazy Bear Lodge. It was a great trip and I highly recommend it anytime, winter or summer.

How To Get There | Everything Churchill | Travel Manitoba
 

johnplyler

Active member
I know you can get into LOTS of TROUBLE for shooting a bear, BUT do most carry shotguns when they walk in the woods up there?
 

Boxster1971

2012 Sprinter 3500 Ext
I know you can get into LOTS of TROUBLE for shooting a bear, BUT do most carry shotguns when they walk in the woods up there?
As a visitor from USA carrying a gun in Canada can be problematic. On all the tours we had a guide with a shotgun. They had noisemaker shells to scare the bear. If that didn't work, they had slug shells to stop the bear if they attacked.
 
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tinman

Well-known member
I know you can get into LOTS of TROUBLE for shooting a bear, BUT do most carry shotguns when they walk in the woods up there?
No. You can get bear spray, and many hikers carry it. I prospected some (well, 50+) years back in grizzly bear habitat in Yukon, BC, and Alaska. In Alaska we were issued with handguns. Seemed in Alaska everybody in the bush, including helicopter pilots, had one strapped to their hip. Mine pretty quickly ended up in the bottom of the pack. Nuisance when clambering around on the cliffs. We did shoot quite a few bears over the years, mostly in camps that stayed in place for a few weeks or more. Seemed that inevitably they are attracted to the cooking smells, garbage, etc. It would get progressively more difficult to dissuade some of them from hanging around, and at some point they get habituated enough that they become a hazard. It's still a problem in interface areas despite marking, collaring, and transporting problem bears, and occasionally they get bumped off. In our national parks areas they are cut quite a bit of slack, and trails will be closed down rather than harassing the bears. Up to a point. Regardless, if you observe reasonable safety practices, the odds of a damaging encounter are very low. To paraphrase Dave Barry talking about shootings in Miami, many people are unharmed despite living in bear country.
 

fosterama

Member
tinman
"If you're hiking, try not to surprise a bear, and always travel with someone who can't run as fast as you".

Great advice, Tinman!


🧸🏃‍♀️
 

johnplyler

Active member
I take all the bear precautions. My wife has a fit if I even leave the hand soap out at night. We cook away from camp. I see salmon fisher's carrying their pistons in a special holster right on their chest (Simple Living Alaska Youtube). I have a piston grip for my shotgun (Mossberg) so the stock does not get in the way climbing around on steep trails and it also makes the gun more versatile in heavy brush. The gun has gone through Canadian customs in the past, but with the stock on. Any ideas if a pistal grip is legal on an 18 inch barrel? We plan to be so far out there around Yellowknife that hear you can go days and not see anyone.
 

tinman

Well-known member
My wife didn't like that idea!
Tell her to start training. My wife is terrified of bears (and sharks) but that hasn't kept us from enjoying life in the outdoors. When we do come across one in a campground we keep a respectful distance, and they generally move on. By and large (sometimes quite large) they are not aggressive, but if cornered or surprised, especially sows with cubs, they might attack in defense. A couple of years ago, while biking we came on a large grizzly with cub in one of our national parks. (Biking on trails, btw, can be a problem as you can come up on them quickly and quietly when you can't see far ahead.) They were munching on dandelions, and while obviously aware of us they were not that interested, as long as we kept our distance. People do sometimes behave stupidly, and one of the worst things is actually feeding them. That has been a problem over the years, and visitors unaccustomed to the glories of nature sometimes assume that because they are in a park, the wildlife is not really wild. They will happily take proferred food, but sometimes get a bit fractious if you run out, or the next person they encounter is not so forthcoming. The phrase used in trying to counter bad human behaviour is "A fed bear is a dead bear." All too true, as once they get habituated to free food from humans, it's pretty much impossible to untrain them. The authorities will live trap problem bears, and transport them to safer locations, but they almost always return. Three strikes and they're out. I was involved in a study in the '70's where large numbers of black bears that were bothering beekeeper operations were trapped, tranquilized, and transported about 30-40 miles before release. Some of them were given different forms of aversion therapy before transport. Non of it worked. They'd hang around where they were released for a couple of days, perhaps for the effects of the tranquilizer to wear off so they could get their "bearings", then they'd head straight back to where they were captured. One of the more exciting parts of that study was the biologists having to go into the bears' dens in the winter to recover the collars. The solution to the beekeper conflicts was bearproof fencing. Back to one of your original questions, electric fences have been used successfully in some places, eg. by Montana dairy farmers whose feed corn crops were being adopted by local grizzlies. There is a BC provincial campground along the Alaska highway at Liard Hotsprings that is now fenced against the meanderings of the large number of grizzlies in the area. I haven't heard of portable systems being used by itinerant campers. Did hear a tale years ago of someone who hadn't read the instructions on his bear spray, and meticulously sprayed a perimeter around his tent. The bears apparently enjoyed the seasoning.

Fun fact: UK doesn't have bears, but over the years a few hikers (usually with dogs) have been killed by cows. We fear the wrong things.
 

aksotar

2017 4x4 144 Cargo
I’ve spent decades boating and hiking salmon streams guiding Fly Fishermen in Bristol Bay, Ak… every time I carried a long gun it ended up leaning against my day pack on a gravel bar as I was busy with my Clients… I carried not for protection but for peace of mind for my Clients.. I now carry a Glock 20 in a chest holster, minimal weigh compared to a long gun, nice and out of the way but always on me… I wouldn’t want a sawed off shotgun w/a pistol grip, they are awkward, crappy to aim and the terrible kick makes fast second shots difficult.. unless you (and everyone with you) are a calm and competent shot, stick to bear spray… it’s also much more than just having a weapon, the type of bullet and where you place it is whats important… what good is any gun if you don’t know how to use it, can’t aim or are scared shooting it or you’re using the wrong type of bullets ?? hollow points are for People, for a Bear I want a heavy, solid bullet for max penetration and energy.. I use CorBon 200 gr penetrators for my Bear rounds, 15 rounds in my G20…
I couldn’t bring a pistol or rifle to Russia on the expeditions I guided there so they gave us flare guns !!! I didn’t have just Bears to worry about there, they have TIGERS too !!! we had tracks around our river camps twice on 1 float there…..
just where are you planning to stay when you charter a bush flight to a remote Village ?? how do you plan to get around once there ??
 
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Mike DZ

2016 View 24V (2015 3500)
Glutton for punishment -
Took off for Land of Lakes for another attempt at ice fishing. On the drive up and starting in lower Michigan, the temperatures starting dropping 1 degree every 10 miles for 20 degrees. By the time we got to St. Ignace on the north side of the Mackinac Strait it was 0F. Thereafter the temperature dropped rapidly to -10F - the coldest either the van or I have been in. The ice was impressive on the Sand Dunes Beach - the clouds in the back is actually fog from the steam rising up from the unfrozen lake.


The Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse, Manistique:


We got right down to fishing. Ice was 16-18 inches thick.:

But we really don't know what we are doing


The major action in the area was not fishing, but snowmobiling. Groups of snowmobiles travel around 100s of miles of groomed trails, stopping at bars along the way for a few drinks, getting on their snowmobiles to the next bar, repeat.


We also went to a Friday Fish Fry, the local social activity. Then we resorted to our own devices:


One of the crew tested out a hot tent. I stayed inside to take the picture


We barely made plural fish.

On the way home, we drove through 10 hours of snow and winds, often near white out. The van's windshield wipers went out for about 2 hours, then suddenly started working again. The heater fan also would not behave, but after a bump or two would start again.

Beauty, you betcha, eh.

(Stationed for 6 years in the UP - KI Sawyer AFB near Marquette - decommissioned now.)
 

aksotar

2017 4x4 144 Cargo
I don't think a hand gun would be easy to get across and no doubt sealed if allowed, even an air rifle that shoots over 600 fps is considered a "rifle" If you are comfy with your shotgun then thats what counts but again, Canada is tough on any firearm crossing the border, checking for yourself is the best bet.... The train trip and then Churchill would be the way to go for Polar Bears and a great adventure, fairly easy to find a best time and set it up online... IMHO
 

johnplyler

Active member
Yes - visible in the background of the picture above with the snow-biking.
How about your Sprinter, does it have an engine pre-heater and if so, at about what temperature do you need to use it? I hear that if you don't have a pre-heater, you can cover the front grill to block the air flow, does that sound right? I am guessing the pre-heater is for starting as well as for driving in very cold conditions???
Thanks
 

hkpierce

'02 140 Hi BlueBlk Pass
Depends on your definition of pre-heater. I have the OEM Espar D-2 which works as a pre-heater. I have never used it as such. When it got to -2 F for a cold start, I didn't want to try as I was afraid the battery would go below 11.2v - that would mean no hope of starting. I have used cardboard, but also gone without with no discernable difference in performance.
 

Lagom

Panic in Detroit
I take all the bear precautions. My wife has a fit if I even leave the hand soap out at night. We cook away from camp. I see salmon fisher's carrying their pistons in a special holster right on their chest (Simple Living Alaska Youtube). I have a piston grip for my shotgun (Mossberg) so the stock does not get in the way climbing around on steep trails and it also makes the gun more versatile in heavy brush. The gun has gone through Canadian customs in the past, but with the stock on. Any ideas if a pistal grip is legal on an 18 inch barrel? We plan to be so far out there around Yellowknife that hear you can go days and not see anyone.
In our backpacking days we were always careful with food. We had many bear encounters, and yes, one ate our bar of soap. No serious problems, though, despite having dozens of them them come through our camps and one nose to nose accidental encounter. Never wore bells ( a seventies thing) and no weapons or bear spray.
My wife did carry pepper spray during our ghetto years, though. Vliet Street always seemed more threatening than anything we encountered on the McKinley bar or Little Yosemite Valley.
 

fosterama

Member
In our backpacking days we were always careful with food. We had many bear encounters, and yes, one ate our bar of soap. No serious problems, though, despite having dozens of them them come through our camps and one nose to nose accidental encounter. Never wore bells ( a seventies thing) and no weapons or bear spray.
My wife did carry pepper spray during our ghetto years, though. Vliet Street always seemed more threatening than anything we encountered on the McKinley bar or Little Yosemite Valley.
Problematic soap eating bears can be recognized by the bubbles rising from their rear ends...
;)
 

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