Shaun Stratford estimates his Ontario black bear would have weighed over 800 pounds. Courtesy of Shaun Stratford

It was early evening on September 16 and Shaun Stratford was sitting alone in a climbing stand above one of his main bear bait sites in Ontario. It was there that the biggest bruise he had ever seen appeared on his surveillance cameras. He had hunted the Ontario black bear for two years, nicknamed the boar “Chevy” because of its massive size and the distinctive white chevron on its chest. Until then, the bear moved mainly at night.

“I heard a rustle in the bush and knew it was a bear, but I didn’t think about it,” said the 40-year-old roofing company owner from Hamilton, Ont. “To my surprise, it was Chevrolet in broad daylight. I immediately started to shake uncontrollably. I was shaking so much that when I grabbed my bow I knocked it off my stand where it fell 20 feet to the ground.

Chevy watched the sound of the Stratford compound hitting the ground, but he wasn’t afraid. The bear was too busy eating.

“I was incredulous. Complete amazement, ”Stratford said, noting that it is legal to carry a rifle and bow in the unit he was hunting. “So I grabbed my Winchester Magnum .300 rifle, which I’m carrying for protection. Line up the 60-yard shot and shoot.

The massive bear took off “like a Mack truck trying to find first gear on a hill.”

Stratford and his friends had lots of pictures of the bear over a two-year period, and they had located the area Chevy frequented in a public hunting area north of Temagami in Wildlife Management Unit 40. The area is 50 miles from the nearest town, with bait sites several hundred yards from a road.

Baiting and hunting bears is Stratford’s passion, and this year he and a few hunting friends have trucked in over four tonnes of bear bait, dragging them through the woods to five different bait sites. Hunters alternated where to hunt depending on bear activity and wind direction.

Stratford carries a rifle even when hunting with a bow, after an incident several years ago when a 600-pound bear nearly knocked it off a ladder rack. After shooting the bear with an arrow, it loaded its ladder and destroyed it. Stratford put a second and final arrow in this heavyweight bruin.

That’s why he brought his rifle to his booth the day he shot Chevy. This giant bear only traveled 30 meters before collapsing. The bear was so massive that Stratford couldn’t even turn it over. He asked for help to load the bear up and get it out of the woods. His friends Dave Smetana and Matt VanVliet arrived with a tractor, winches and a trailer. Three hours later, they loaded the boar and returned home.

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After dressing on the ground, the bear weighed 803.9 pounds. Some of the meat and fat has been given to the locals, and the rest of the meat goes to the processor. The skin and skull are at a taxidermist near Toronto, where a complete bear mount will be made. The 60 day drying period must pass before an official bear skull score can be determined, this is how trophy black bears are scored and ranked.