Sep 15 2014
By BHM Publisher, Clay Newcomb
We’ve got nine bear baits set out in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Most of them were started on September 7th. I personally have not been able to get back to the baits, however, my bear baiting partner has checked several of them and they’ve all been hit. I’m hunting about two-to-three hours from the Bear Hunting Magazine GLOBAL office in West Fork, Arkansas so it’s difficult to get down there. However, this is about to change. I’m about to switch into high gear and start making the run every three to four days.
The reason I haven’t made the trip is that I’ve been busy in the last week producing the Arkansas Bear and Buck Journal. As well as being the publisher/managing editor of Bear Hunting Magazine, I’m also the founder of the Arkansas Black Bear Association. Our association produces the only all Arkansas hunting magazine in our state. The publication is about 70% Whitetail hunting, 20% bear hunting and 10% various other ornery varmints – all in Arkansas. The publication is certainly one of highest quality regional hunting publications in the country. Yes, you can subscribe to the Journal (click the magazine cover below)
Arkansas was once known as the Bear State and at one time, biologist estimate, we had 50,000 bears in the state. Deforestation and the unregulated market hunting of the 1800s pretty much wiped out our bruins. In 1940 Arkansas had less than 50 bears (I guess they did an actual head count?). The Bear State was basically void of bears. In 1954 that changed when the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission started reintroducing bears into the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. Over the course of ten years, they traded bass and wild turkey for 254 bears from Minnesota and Canada. These bears are the primary ancestors of the bears that we now have in Arkansas today. Now we’ve got over 5,000 bears in Arkansas (some data would suggest more). Biologist consider this the most successful reintroduction of large carnivores in the world.
We’ve had a bear hunting season since 1980, but only since 2001 have we been able to hunt bears over bait. Before that most bears harvested were the result of a lucky deer hunter bumping into a bear while carrying a rifle. Baiting has been an effective management tool for us and has opened up the floodgates for bear hunters in our state.
I will leave you with a spectacular photo sent to me by Bear Hunting Magazine contributor, Heath Martin. He’s been getting pictures of this giant bear in western Arkansas. The bear is the fattest that I’ve seen, probably ever. The bear isn’t exceptionally tall, but he is round. Some thought the bear might be a GIANT sow, but we are 99% confident it’s a boar. Personally, I don’t see how this bear wouldn’t be pushing 600 pounds or even more. You always get in trouble when guessing bear weights, but hey, it’s two weeks before the season opener – have some fun. I’ve learned that no matter how realistic your guess is you’ll get opposition from both sides - “He’s not that big!” or “He’s bigger than that!” Or the classic…the guy that emails you his bear that is “bigger”. I love it. Keep the emails and comments coming.
I’m headed to check baits tomorrow, so I’ll have some pictures to show you next Monday.