Give Her a High (Twenty) Five


Anyone who knows me soon realizes that my favorite North American animal to bowhunt is the black bear. I’ve pursued them in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario, and now I was going to try Manitoba. In the early years, my husband and I did our own baiting. But now we prefer to use an outfitter because, as anyone who has done it themselves knows, it takes time, effort and lots of muscle to establish and then maintain a site until season opens.

The meeting
I met Darryl and Dylan Kantimer, owners of DOA Outfitters, at the MN Deer Classic in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. I told them I was after my 25th bear with a bow, and would be over the moon if it could be larger than any I’d previously arrowed. Darryl answered me thoughtfully, and I felt honestly, and replied, “Marlene, I can get you that bear.”
Kantimer has access/owns 2,000 square miles of hunting property and has been an outfitter for over 27 years. Their lodge is located less than 50 miles into Manitoba from the Minnesota border, which for me was an easy and direct route. I was energized just chatting with them and eager to start my adventure once border restrictions were relaxed.


The arrival
Fast forward to May, 2022, as my husband and I are motoring northwest to Manitoba, Canada. I’d followed Kantimers’ website and thought I had a good idea of what to expect when I drove into the camp. Was I wrong! The accommodations were nicer than many places that catered to tourists, let alone hunters used to “roughing” it. Meals were provided and prepared from scratch by the most talented chef I’ve met. Bread was homemade, vegetables served were homegrown and the Guinea hens were free-range. The celebratory wine we toasted the end of hunt successes with was made using his personal recipe. I would have loved shadowing Chef Devon for just one day—or frankly just adopting him. The minute we drove in, Darryl and his staff made me feel that I was as special as my quest for bear #25.

I’d be sharing the week with Marshall and his grandchildren Hallie and Landon, all from Kentucky. This would be Hallie’s first bear hunt, and she was excited. Even though Darryl puts two-man ladder stands at each bait site, all of us would be sitting by ourselves. That suits me just fine, because when people sit together, that means twice the movement, twice the human scent and twice the noise when someone needs to stretch.

The operations
There were cameras placed at each site, most of which transmitted images back to Darryl’s phone, giving us all an idea of what to expect regarding size, number of bears and time of each bear’s visit. Seeing these pictures heightened our anticipation for an exciting “sit.” The bear I would try to arrow was visiting the bait sites at all hours, so I old Darryl that as it got closer to the end of my hunt week, I was prepared to be sitting on my stand by 4 a.m. and staying there until dusk. I knew this bear was broadhead-worthy and wanted an opportunity to just see him and hopefully catch him off guard.

Kantimer knew how to bring multiple bears into his bait stations. His approach is simple: Give the bear what they want and where they want it.

• He makes sure the resident bears have food available every time they visit the station. That means putting out lots of bait ranging from sweets to savory items. He uses several 50-gallon drums filled with treats set at various yardages within the opening.

• He also makes certain that there is some source of water nearby. This year brought an incredible amount of moisture to the area, so there was water everywhere. Adequate amounts of food and water will help hold bears in the area and may discouraging them from looking elsewhere of it.

You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

• And finally, he selects a site where there is suitable cover around the bait station so that the bears can remain concealed until they feel comfortable enough to enter the opening and feed.

The hunt
Since this was a special experience for both Hallie and me, we both made sure to take advantage of the practice range set up near the lodge. We knew there was zero margin for error on this hunt, and each of us was confident that when a trigger was pulled, or an arrow loosed—a bear would be harvested.

Darryl and his guides drive each hunter to their assigned stand. When each person has their safety harness attached, the hunt officially begins. Hallie mentioned that she was a bit anxious when she saw the ATV leave, but soon the woods produced a calming effect as she became aware of the orioles and squirrels that began entertaining her.

Neither Hallie nor I like surprises while hunting, so I found out that we both slowly scanned the area, trying to identify trails bear might be using. Then I look for shooting lanes I can use should a bear come from a direction I might not anticipate. For this reason, I do my best to launder all my hunting clothes with Scent Killer and pack enough of their shampoo, conditioner and deodorant to last the week. I always have a range finder with me, so that when I’ve pinpointed a possible minor trail, I know whether I can reach it with an arrow.

The recovery
One by one that afternoon/early evening, each hunter texted Darryl and the main guide, Kenny, that a bear was down. Hallie’s bear was easy to find since she saw it collapse 15 yards from the spot where she pulled the trigger. It had a beautiful white “V” on the chest. Landon harvested a 250-pound-plus bear with the most unusually colored coat. It almost looked bi-colored (black with significant brown tones). Marshall ‘s bolt flew true and brought down another 250-pound-plus bear.

I was the last hunter to text in that my #25 was down. He came in cautiously from the trail behind my stand, but I had been carefully watching that direction, preparing for the unexpected. When I suddenly became aware of his silent approach, he took my breath away. It took every bit of my patience and focus not to move, knowing that sooner or later I would catch sight of him out of the corner of my eye as he walked out from behind me and ambled toward the bait. When he stood at the bait and then turned to give me a slight quartering away shot, my pin was on him. He weighed in at 410 pounds—my largest. I was over the moon.

It was a late night for all of us that involved bringing each bear back to camp, taking more pictures and then skinning, quartering and boning them out. Everyone slept in the next morning. Darryl had given each of us the opportunity to see bears, and by the end of the first day of hunting, our harvest rate was 100 percent. That says so much to the ability of DOA to deliver a quality experience.

Since the hunt ended quickly for all of us, Darryl said we were welcome to stay until the end of the week. Winnipeg was only 90 minutes away, with many attractions to see and definitely worth the drive. The morel mushrooms were out, but so were the ticks. (No problem—we’d packed our ElimiTick clothing.) And there were lots of trails to walk along around camp.

My husband and I opted for heading back to Minnesota so we could process the meat. Next year when I return, hunting for morels and visiting Winnipeg will be the #2 and #3 items on my to-do list. Arrowing bear #26 is the first thing on my list.

For more information…
DOA Outfitters: 204-746-5652,, or follow them on Facebook.