IT would be much easier just to buy meat in the supermarket than drive 1,500 kilometres to spend time in the woods hunting in Manitoba.
But that's what a Michigan couple does every year to hunt for bear.
Ivan Loveless, 87, and wife Barbara, 78, have been driving up to Manitoba for 12 consecutive years. He bagged one this year but she didn't. That makes 19 bears they've taken in Manitoba since 2001.
The couple were interviewed by telephone from their home in Merritt, about 300 kilometres northwest of Detroit. Barbara sat on Ivan's knee so they both could hear the questions.
"We just like getting out in the woods and away from all the hustle and bustle," she said. "It's pretty country and the people are all very friendly."
The Michigan couple hunt in southeastern Manitoba on the margins of the Canadian Shield. A guide skins and quarters the bear meat for them, and they store it in a portable freezer in back of their pickup truck until they get home. Most Manitobans don't consider bear meat good for eating but Barbara says it's delicious as a roast, or steaks, or just chopped up as a stew and fried with onions.
Age hasn't stopped them yet, she said. She only started hunting when she was almost 60. They also hunt deer in Michigan. They've been married 62 years. They were profiled in a front-page story in the Detroit Free Press in 2009.
A friend introduced them to hunting in Manitoba. It helps that bear-hunting licences are more attainable here than in Michigan, where they are dispersed on a lottery basis.
Black bear hunting season runs from Aug. 27 to Oct. 7. Manitoba Conservation issues about 3,225 bear-hunting licences per year (Michigan issues 11,000), about half of them to out-of-province hunters. About 1,700 bears are harvested annually out of about 30,000 bears in Manitoba, and the population is considered stable and healthy.
Despite fears last spring of a drought reducing food for bears, that didn't happened. This year's berry crop was pretty good and the acorn crop has been phenomenal, Manitoba Conservation said. Consequently, bear complaints to the end of August were down about 25 per cent over last year.
For nickel they will
THE City of Thompson's nickel smelter and refinery could stay open another year or two past its planned closure in 2015, the owner, Vale Canada, said recently in a statement to employees.
The reason is delays with construction of Vale's new Long Harbour processing facility in Newfoundland and Labrador, which was scheduled to fire up in 2013.
"However, there are still issues that need to be addressed around feed, regulatory compliance and the condition of the assets before we can commit to a new schedule" in Manitoba, the company statement says. Expect the province to be pretty compliant.
On the other side of the ledger, with the plunge in nickel prices, the company is exploring layoffs, it told employees.
Vale rocked the province with its Nov. 17, 2010, announcement of its planned closure of the smelter and refinery in 2015.
Heart out of the country
CINDY McKay, who put her heart and soul into trying to put out a rural women's magazine called Hearts of the Country, has packed it in after four years.
"One morning, I woke up and thought, 'I won't have any money left if I keep doing this,' " she said in an interview. "We couldn't make our ad targets."
The magazine was aimed at rural women and had 1,500 subscribers, which she described as "not bad," but down from 2,100. Advertisers just wouldn't bite.
McKay, who ran the magazine out of a farmhouse near Fisher Branch, penned a farewell letter in the final August-September issue.
McKay said running a magazine for rural women was her dream and she gave it her best shot.
"For as much as this hurts, it is time. I have no regrets," she said.