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Outfitter Review - Horseshoe Island Camp

Submit Date: Sep 19, 2006

Outfitter Information

Outfitter Name: Horseshoe Island Camp

Outfitter / Contact: dan

Location: Ontario, Canada

Hunt Information

Animals Hunted: Black Bear

Game Quality: 0

Game Quantity: 0

Accomodations: Rustic

Camp Condition: good

Food Quality: n/a

Guide Experience: poor

Other Personal Experience: poor

Review Information

Hunter: jimmy



Would Recommend: never

Overall Impression: Horrible

Well my computers been down for a couple of weeks so i'm late posting my trip report. I did a ton of research for my first ontario bear hunt. DVD's,Blogs, search engines, you name it, i did it. This was my 4th bear hunt but it seems like the bear fever gets a bit worse every year. So the week before the hunt i was a wreck. I chose Horshoe Island Camp in matachewan, ontario for 2 reasons.One, it was geographically isolated, and Two, I wanted to try my hand at the super walleye fishing in the area. I left south jersey roughly 2 pm and started my 17 hour trip. 2pm you say? what fool starts a 17 hour trip at 2 pm? Well i didn't want to get to the border in the middle of the night alone and be subject to a full teardown of my truck just because a border guard was bored. So i get to the border around 9pm, short line, and thought i was gonna get right on through with no problems. Wrong. The guard opens up one of my coolers and sees my 2 baskets of peaches,2 watermelons, peppers, and one buschel of cleaned, cooked blue claw crabs. I had to leave the peaches, watermelons. and veggies because i couldn't identify what kind of pesticide farmer brown used on his crops. I also had to lie to keep my crabs. He wanted to know if they were commercially caught. After i told him i caught them myself i was allowed to put them back in the cooler.Getting the muzzleloader and bow through was alot easier though. $25 bucks to get them declared and i was on my way, roughly 25-30 minutes delay. I'll explaine the muzzloader in a bit :) For those of you who have never been to canada yet i'll tell you a flaw in travel plans. Never plan on driving through the night in northern canada and expect to find a gas station open when you need one.Ohh, and by the way, when you see a speed limit sign that says 100, that means KM not MPH (damn metric system). Thought i was on the autobaun for a bit. Well about dark thirty in the morning i'm on half a tank, every town i went through the gas station was closed or the town did not have one. By the time i hit an eighth of a tank i was getting pretty darn nervous as the last town i saw was about a half hour back and i wasn't sure what was ahead.I hit the next town about 5 minutes after my gas light came on. The station was closed so i stayed the night in thier parking lot.I got about 2 hours sleep and was back on my way.I finally hit mattachewan about 10 am.Called the camp from the only store in town and got the final directions to camp.Took a mountain dirt road for a few miles and came to the lake. FINALLY, THERE! Months of day dreaming and anticipation finally came to an end and i was there. Saw two boats pulling out of the water and as luck would have it it turned out to be the first weeks hunters. 2 guys and 2 kids. The report was bad, 0 for 4. I was a bit dissapointed but after watching the 2 bored kids break some saplings and wack on a couple of trees with sticks i summed it up as hunter error. About 5 minutes later a pontoon boat came to pick me up. I loaded up my gear and enjoyed the 15 minute boat ride to my cabin on the island. My guide asked me if i wanted to hunt that night and i declined due to lack of sleep. Last thing i wanted to do was to screw up a bait due to being tired. So i unpacked, got some coffee going and took a walk over to see the owners and get stuff sqaured away. Do to alot of cancelations(2 in my party alone) there was only 1 other hunter in camp and about 8 fishermen.So after getting my tags and fishing license i headed back to my cabin.I stopped at the screen door and looked at the boat for a moment and decided that the fish could wait while i got some sleep. I woke a few hours later and just milled around the cabin for a bit, then headed back to see the owners.I handed them a few dozen crabs and got the wierdest look. You know the look...like the first time you saw the roswell alien autopsy?? yeah, that look! The other hunter was out and i decided to wait there to see how he did and kill a few beers with the owners. About 9:30 and the other hunter was returning in his boat with a big smile on his face,He shot a monster! A 50 yard shot with a rifle and scope,BUT the part of his story i didn't like was that the bear was quartering towards him. And he said that he aimed at the shoulder.I had my doubts the next morning when we went looking for this critter. It rained about 3 inches overnight and any blood would be long gone. After a couple of hours looking around we found nothing. We got seperated from the guide but managed to find our way back to the lake and eventually to the boat with the guide allready in it. I did a bit of fishing, then my guide came to show me my stands. Due to only 2 hunters they kept us on the lake with about 40 baits to choose from. They were not setup for a bowhunter at all. We moved a couple of rifle stands and cut a few shooting lanes and rebaited our sites.The bait sites consisted of plasic grocery bags hung about 5 foot on a tree with about 2-3 pounds of meat in each bag.Then 2 coffee cans nailed to a tree held the sweets. Mostly it was popcorn with maple syrup, but some had donuts in them. I've never hunted like this before, but then again i've never been to ontario before and just figured that this is how they did things up here. So as evening came i took the 25 minute boat ride to my first stand. I was told to park the boat a couple of hundred yards away from the bait and sneak in. Well i can tell you this much, NO ONE can SNEAK 2 hundred yards through bear country bush. By the time i got there every animal in a hundred miles must have known i was there. The evening came and went pretty fast and i was dissapointed at how dead my bait was. No red squirrels, birds, martins, etc that i was use to seeing in maine. I did see a cow moose off in the distance that night. I also didn't like the boat traffic on the lake that i could see from my stand. Add this part to a list of questions you should ask and outfitter before you decide."How many other lodges are on the lake?" turns out there was 4 on my lake. So night 1 went to the bears. The second night the wind was blowing about 15-20 mph and my hopes were low on seeing a bear this day. My guide wanted me to go back to the same stand so i did. When i got there the wind was blowing my scent straight up the mountain and bear trail. I stayed about an hour and hoped that the wind would change direction, but it never did.Even with the wind the boats were out fishing and i decided not to screw this bait up anymore with this wind. Day 2 goes to the bears as well. Day 3 looked hopeful. The guide came to get me and said he had a hot stand that was getting the sweets hammered every night.BUT i had to use the muzzloader for this stand. No problem i thought as this is the reason i dragged it 950 miles. I sighted it in real quick and was on my way. Same thing, park the boat a couple hundred yards away and "sneak" to the spot through bear brush. I was set up about 70 yards away on a little peninsula and had to shoot across this little bay to the bait. Again the boats were up and down the lake but only a few hundred yards from me this time.At times i could make out what they were saying. About 7 pm i saw this little fuzzy shape at the bait a thought i had a couple of cubs at the bait. i raised my scope up and saw 4 racoons at my bait tree. I watched them flip the covers off the coffee cans, then flip the cans upside down and eat every bit of sweets in them before leaving. No bear. I got back to camp dissapointed, a bit mad, and told my story to the guide and finally had to say something about the boat traffic while i was hunting. He told me that the bears were use to the boats in the area and it didn't bother them. I said that may be, but the boats are sure bothering me. I just drove 17 hours to find more human taffic in the middle of canada than in my deer hunting grounds in new jersey. But it looked like my words fell on deaf ears. Day 3.....Bears 3 hunters 0 Next day the guide wanted me to hunt a bait from a little island. Again shooting across a channel about 70 yards wide. yeah you guessed it....muzzleloader again.I found a nice comfortable spot on the ground using a deadfall for cover. About 5 pm a boat stopped about a hundred yards away and drifted through the channel i was to shoot across! He stayed about 45 minutes and left. After things quieted back down i heard 3 wolves talk back and forth for about an hour. Never saw them but i considered it a sign that the woods were quite enough for a bear.Well here it is....magic hour the sun is down and there's about 45 minutes of light left. Off to my right i start hearing kids yelling and screaming and just having a good time what ever they were doing. About 5 minutes after that a boat starts heading my way and he's lost. he stops, figures out he's in the wrong place and turns around and leaves. 15 minutes later a logging truck heads down the road behing me somewheres and a 4 wheeler follows him shortly after. One hell of a way to spend happy hour. I get back to camp and the guide asks me what i saw? My reply? Half the population of canada. They keep trying to assure me that the bears are use to it with little luck. Day 4 goess to the bears. Day 5 i'm really in a foul mood with all the human interference i'm dealing with while trying to bear hunt. I choose a stand thats off the lake a bit down this dead end ditch. Not long but further than the other stands. Back to bowhunting.I'm only in this stand for about 30 minutes when a fisherman screams so loud that i nearly jumped out of my stand."FISH ON, FISH ON,Fu** it got off!" So i called it quits and climbed down. I get back and my guide and owners are not around so i went to the cabin and started packing my stuff. I still had a day left to hunt but i just couldn't stand it anymore. Even with just a few people in camp they had strange bussiness hours. 9-12 then 2:30 to 6, said that they needed a life too. So instead of waiting on thier bankers hours for my pontoon boat ride back to the mainland i loaded up the 14' skiff, left what was owed to them on the table and headed to thier floating ramp at 5 am. Seemed like my guide and the owners were too busy trying to stay in retirement to be bothered by a serious hunter. It's also a terrible waste of a large bear hunting area. 2 weeks hunting and the camp went 0 bears for 6 hunters. Beautiful country and i hope to go back next year but it won't be there.

Outfitter Response: Thank you Hunt Info for the opportunity to respond to this negative submission regarding our camp.While I won't bother with the lengthy, boring missive about his trip or border crossing. What I will address are some of the untruthful comments he made.1) There are not 4 resorts on this lake, there are two. One very busy (us) and another that is virtually empty most of the time.2) We have no bait sites that are 200 yards from the lake. As for the 25 minute boat ride, I would throw that into serious question as well. Especially considering we were not busy that week.3) While it is true we give our hunters a wide variety of bait sites (perhaps too many), that is to their advantage to assist in their success.4) Sharing a "few beers", no I don't think so! We had a bear hunter out at the time and we take that responsibility seriously.5) Popcorn, yes - we generally begin our Fall bear hunt a mixture of dog kibble/popcorn laced with various sweet mixtures and move to proteins later in the season.6) As for boat traffic, that would be most unusual to be sufficient to bother a hunter, if at all.7) In bear tracking, the guide would never not know where the people with him were. Safety being the obvious one. As for waiting on a ponton boat while hunters were wandering about in the bush - absolutely false!8) Money was left on the table, but unfortunately it wasn't sufficient to quite pay his account.There is more I could address in his post, but I would be wasting the readers time and energy. Needless to say it is either false or severely blown out of proportion.It is VERY DIFFICULT and quite unfair to have to defend yourself in this way. He said/he said fashion. I found this negative report when questioned by a party coming to visit us this year, so it has been in this public forum since 2006. How much clientele has been dissuaded from visiting Horseshoe Island Camp since that time?Perhaps our only defence is to call (705-565-2222) and request a list of references and listen to what other hunters have to say about us, our camp and our bear hunt methods.HORSESHOE ISLAND CAMP

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