By Dave Mathieson
SPRINGHILL - It was love at first shot for Springhill's Lois Poitras.
The 60-year old newly licensed hunter recently claimed her first animal and now she's hooked.
Poitras took the black bear with her first shot while hunting on private land with her husband, Dan Poitras, on the morning of Oct. 3, near Brookville, which is mid-way between Parrsboro and Advocate.
"I shot it behind the shoulder and it ran about 25 yards and then it dropped," said Lois.
"After she shot the bear she asked if we could have a smoke. I said, 'sure we can have a smoke," said Dan.
The Poitras' married in 1981 and Dan has been an avid hunter since the day they first met.
"He's asked me for 30 years to go hunting with him and this year I said, 'You know what I'm going to do it, I'm going hunting with you."
Lois grew up in Leamington but spent most of her life working at the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario before returning to Springhill with Dan three years ago.
"I was a marksman with Corrections Canada and my father taught me to shoot when I was eight years old," said Lois. "So it's not like I never handled guns before."
She hadn't fired a gun in 15 years, so Dan took her to the shooting range in Oxford to get her acquainted with a rifle.
"It all came back to me quite quickly," said Lois.
They were up in a hunting stand just before 7 a.m. and at 7:20 a.m. Lois told Dan that she heard a sound.
"I turned around and looked and I didn't hear or see anything," said Dan. "So a couple of minutes go by and I said, 'Do you still hear it,' and she said 'yes.' I looked again and still nothing. Another minute and a half goes by and she said, 'There he is,' and I turned around and saw it."
That's when Lois picked up her rifle.
"The bear went to the apples and sat down and looked up at us," she said. "It was facing us.
"I had him in my cross hairs and I had the scope between his eyes and I lowered it down and I knew I could shoot him and take him then but the one thing I had in my mind is I'm not wounding a bear or anything.
"I want to make my shot count. I'm not an experienced hunter and I thought, 'What if I hit the wrong place and he was wounded?' I would never want to go hunting again."
Before they went hunting Dan told her the best place to shoot an animal is broadside, behind the front shoulder.
"Which is what she did," said Dan. "It's not so much the shot - I know she's a good shot - it's the patience. She had the scope on the bear for a good five minutes. I was impressed with her patience and waiting for the right time to shoot the bear.
"She wasn't nervous. I was blown away by how calm she was."
At 7:35 a.m. the bear got up and gave a broadside shot to Lois. After she shot the bear they lit up their cigarettes.
Lois gives credit to keeping her cool to years of working in corrections in Kingston.
"When I started in Kingston there was a lot of stuff going on," she said. "So I've been in all kinds of situations where I've had to stay calm."
Does she think most 60-year old women would enjoy hunting a bear?
"Definitely," said Lois. "It adds a whole new dimension to our relationship."
She has one warning though.
"Two nights before we left Dan told me that when we went hunting I couldn't use hair spray and makeup and that I had to shampoo with a de-scenter. I had a tense moment when he told me that.
"On the way home after killing the bear Lois said to Dan, "You will never get out hunting without me again."
And soon, they will be out on the hunt again.
"She wasn't sure if she could shoot a deer but now there is no doubt in her mind," said Dan. "We're going deer hunting at the end of the month."
By Dave Mathieson