Bears were plentiful with lots of opportunities for both bows and cameras.
If you’ve never experienced the taste of chocolate and someone tries to describe the sensation to you, it’s impossible to grasp the undeniable pleasure that you will experience when the sweet substance finally passes over your tongue. Such is the case I experienced with an enchanting land called Buffalo Point.
Wyman Sangster is the outfitter at Buffalo Point and was please I finally made the trip there.
Wyman Sangster and I first met at the Wisconsin Deer and Turkey Expo a few years back; my personal relationship with him has been one of those special affiliations that was rich right from the very start and like fine wine has only gotten better with the passing of time. From the very onset of our association, he pleaded with me to come to Buffalo Point in the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods to see where he lives and the hunting and fishing Nirvana he had just discovered just a few years earlier, himself. What he neglected to mention was what a wonderful getaway it was for those of us who are addicted to digitally immortalizing our trophies with photographic paraphernalia.
I dilly-dallied on Wyman’s invitation and finally this spring took him up on his offer to hunt bear there. By the time the week ended, I had been exposed to enough of the natural wonders of Buffalo Point to be hooked on that outdoorsman’s paradise for the rest of my earthly existence.
The Points 18-hole golf course was a beautiful with wildlife running all over it.
Upon arrival, I quickly tracked Wyman and his wife, Darlene down on the fifth hole of the beautiful Buffalo Point golf course. It was the first time I had met Darlene so I took some time to get to know her as I followed along while they finished their first nine holes. This bear hunt, which will be an HBM Hunt Club Annual event, is the only one that I have ever heard of that offers free golf during the week of the hunt. From dawn to mid-afternoon, it is golfing or fishing and then the evenings are packed with the nail-biting excitement of bear hunting.
At the end of the first nine, Wyman instructed me on how to find my lodging at the Marina. With that information securely locked in my head, I headed for what would be my home for the next week. I stopped at the Marina, which serves as the main desk for the dozen or so lakeside cabins as well as being Buffalo Point’s grocery store, bait shop, camping & boat launching headquarters; and the local coffee shop for the seasonal residents that call Buffalo Point home from early spring to late fall. I picked up my key, got directions and quickly found my luxury cabin. It was beautiful! Screened in porch, full kitchen, 2-bedrooms, whirlpool tub in the bath, a deck right on the lakeshore and satellite TV so I could watch Fox News. It was military clean and exceedingly wonderful.
Curt Thunder and his wife, Cheryl were gracious hosts and excellent company.
Within an hour, I met the gentleman who was to serve as my guide for the week. Buffalo Point has its own Gamekeeper, a local by the name of Curt Thunder. Curt grew up on Buffalo Point and knows its lake, land, swamps and rivers like the back of his hand from 40+ years of traipsing from one end of it to the other. He has a gentle soul, a sharp wit and we quickly formed a bond that deepened during the many hours we spent together over the next seven days. I was the only hunter on this trip so I was able to accompany Curt as he made his rounds replenishing the bait stations each day; I also spent a lot of time with him and his wife Cheryl who went out of her way to provide wonderful meals, great company and a heck of a lot of laughs. The Thunders are a great family and I am pleased to have added them to my special-friends list.
Curt’s job is to oversee the wellbeing of the Buffalo Point wildlife and to serve as host to the bear, deer and duck hunters that come there to fulfill their hunting dreams. His keen intelligence and seemingly endless wood lore provide a stimulating and entertaining atmosphere enriching the experience of all who come to harvest wild game at The Point.
Signs warn hikers about the baits close to the settlement.
As the number of permanent homes increased at Buffalo Point, so did the number of nuisance-bear incidents. Buildings were broken into, there was exterior damage, and garbage cans were destroyed and scattered creating a hazardous problem. Over fifty bear complaints a year was a serious dilemma; but, when you build a burgeoning community in the middle of bear country, you should expect a certain amount of “incidents” with a sleuth of bears living in the neighborhood.
To remedy the problem, Curt has been put in charge of feeding the bears from the time they exit their dens in the early spring until the bountiful berry season begins on the Point. Blueberries, wild strawberries, saskatoons, chokecherries, pin cherries and acorns are all prolific on the Point, easily keeping the bears fed, once the natural food comes into season; but for the first few months after thaw, Curt’s daily trips into the thick forests and swamps of the Point, keep the bears exactly where they belong – in the woods. This system not only nearly eliminates bear complaints, but it also creates an arena of premium bear hunting. My wildlife photo morgue is plump with bear photos thanks to the six nights on the stands at Buffalo Point and two of those nights I sat in the rain and saw no bears at all.
Cheryl Thunder has a natural way of putting the animals of Buffalo Point at ease.
The second night of the hunt I blew a chance at one of the biggest spring bears I have ever seen in the bush. It was in the very last moments of daylight and I had just put away my camera as was sitting there thinking when I should have been picking up my bow. The big bruin suddenly appeared from out of the thick cover, causing my heart to momentarily stop. It was truly an incredible specimen! In the heat of the adrenaline overdose I was experiencing, I reached for my crossbow, which was hanging on the tree. It was just enough movement to alert the bear and give me a good glimpse of its ample behind disappearing into the bright green undergrowth; proving once again that one is never too old to make stupid mistakes. I passed on a lot of bears at the Point, but that humongous creature was the big-daddy of the week and I had blown it.
On that very same stand the last night of the hunt, amid desperate prayers for another opportunity at that burly beast, I took a smaller bear as the day was fading into darkness. This particular bear had been stuffing itself for an hour and had shown no signs of alarm or concern indicating to me that the big bear was not in the immediate area. When the big boys are within spitting range of the bait, the little guys can sense their presence and head for cover so they are not brutally beaten for their lack of respect.
The very last night of the hunt, this bear fell prey to my crossbow as the daylight fled.
It had been several years since I had taken a bear so decided that this one would be a perfect specimen to break the drought; it definitely would make for a good freezer stuffer. A lot of good photos of the bear had been taken, so I definitely had my trophy to hang on the wall. Watching the bear eat had done little to arouse my excitement, even when it started to climb my tree at one point; but once the decision to take it was made, I lost control as the adrenaline surged through my system in anticipation of the kill.
Sitting on the very point one morning I was joined by a pair of curious otters.
Waiting until I had a perfect broadside, I placed the glowing red circle of the scope on its black rib cage and gently squeezed the trigger of the Kodabow. The silence of the darkening forest was crushed by the discharge of the arrow as I watched it blaze a brilliant red streak to the target, compliments of the Lumenock tip. The doomed bear spun on its hind legs, ran to the tree directly behind the middle barrel and climbed high off the ground. The bruin, I believe, thought that it had been sneak-attacked by the bigger bear and was fleeing up the tree to safety. Little did it realize that its fate had already been sealed by the Rage broadhead that had ventilated its goodie box. Eventually the bear came crashing to the ground in a fall that would have killed it were it not already gone.
There are more Canadian Geese that people on Buffalo Point with goslings galore.
I signaled Curt and his nephew who were sitting offshore doing a bit of fishing and they came to assist in the removal of the bear. The process brought to a perfect end, what had been a wonderful week. The next morning after skinning the bear, I packed and headed for home, already looking forward to coming back to play some more in the natural beauty of Buffalo Point.
Buffalo Point 2012
If you are interested in booking a spring bear hunt or a fall bear/whitetail or waterfowl hunt at Buffalo Point give the HBM Main Desk a closer look. The entire Buffalo Point experience is one that will definitely leave you wanting to come back for more. Curt Thunder, the Buffalo Point Gamekeeper, is also willing to work with disabled hunters for both bear and whitetails in the fall. If you are physically challenged and want a truly remarkable adventure in an enchanted land of the wild things, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Eagles were everywhere. This shot was taken near one of two nest on the golf course.