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Current Issue

September/October 2008 Issue

Feature Sections

  • Q & A - Tips
  • Book Review
  • Video Review
  • Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
  • News & Notes
  • Outfitters & Guides
  • Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
  • Hunter Photo Gallery
  • Spotlight On: Ontario
  • Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy & The Bear Mountain Gang

Columns

  • Scent Free Tactics with Bob Robb


    How To Not Get Busted On A Bait Stand
  • Guns & Optics with George Dvorchak


    Pistol-Paking Bear Control
  • In Hot Pursuit with James Keldsen


    Food For Thought
  • Bear Calling with Judd Cooney


    Bear Confrontation Back-Up
  • Muzzleloading with Al Raychard


    The Long Range Muzzleloader
  • The Bear Whisperer with Dick Scorzafava


    When Hunting Bruins Over Bait, Timing Is Everything!
  • Hunting Vehicles with William Clunie


    ATVs In The Bear Woods
  • Bear Biology 101 with Wade Nolan


    Play Dead Or Fight
  • Archery Talk with Jeff Murray


    The Best Broadhead

Articles


 

Late Season Hunting

By Richard P Smith

When it comes to bear hunting over bait during fall seasons, most hunters want to have the chance to hunt as close to opening day as possible, but hunting late in the season is not necessarily a disadvantage. In fact, there can be distinct advantages to bear hunting over bait late in the season, if it is done right. One of the biggest advantages in states such as Michigan, is it increases the chances of being able to hunt.
     Most of Michigan’s bears live in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) and bear licenses are issued through a drawing. Hunters have the option of applying for one of three hunts in the Bear Management Unit (BMU) of their choice in that region. The lowest number of permits are issued for the first hunt starting September 10 and the highest number of permits are available for the third season starting September 25.

 

The Chow Line

By Mike Bleech

Glutinous would be an appropriate description of black bears, and it may well be their most distinguishing characteristic. Maybe most wild animals eat whenever possible and as much as possible. After all, the struggle to find nourishment is one of the primary factors in survival. But black bears seem to take this to extremes. A black bear can put on well more than 100 pounds of fat in preparation for winter.
      Several years ago while hunting in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont I met one of the good brothers from a nearby Catholic facility who directed me to an old apple orchard suggesting that it might be a good place to intercept deer. He was interested in my hunt and very helpful.
      As I approached the apple orchard I was greeted by a somewhat unusual sight; streams of steam rising from several piles of what appeared to be apple sauce. These piles of steaming apple sauce were actually very recently regurgitated apple, bear puke to put it more bluntly. The bears had ravenously been eating apples until they puked, then went on eating more. Judging by the fact that the piles were still steaming I figured that I had probably startled at least one bear, and probably more, out of the apple orchard during my approach.

 

Food Plot Bears

By Craig Dougherty

The tour of our wildlife habitat and food plot Demo Center had just ended and our visitors were “ooing” and “aahing” over a nice collection of trophy whitetails we had taken on our 500 acre western New York property when one of our guests blurted, “What’s that?”
      “What’s what?” I recoiled.
    “That.” he said, pointing at a bear hide hanging from the railing of the cabin’s loft.
    “Oh that’s a three year-old black bear we took two years ago. Last year’s bear is still at the taxidermist,” I remarked off handedly. I pointed out a couple more hides and skulls decorating the cabin to make my point.
        “You have bears?” he asked credulously.
        The conversation quickly turned from whitetails to bears as the questions came fast and furious. Clearly, our group of deer hunting enthusiasts was interested in more than improving the quality of their deer hunting. They wanted to talk bears!

 

Baiting for the Right Size Bears

By Paul E. Moore

The hurt and disappointment was painfully etched into the hunter’s face as he stood staring down at the black bear he had just taken. The look of anguish he was feeling is a memory burned into my mind which has remained vivid even after more than a dozen years. His embarrassment and dejection over the very small bear was about to get worse. I was but one of ten hunters who were in camp trying to take a fall bruin in Ontario. The fellow mentioned above had come up from Wisconsin along with his brother and a couple of friends. The foursome had been in high spirits and full of good-natured ribbing, but each hoping to go home with a nice bear.
     Our outfitter had exclusive rights to hunt a very large tract of land in northern Ontario. His method was to travel old logging roads through the area and deposit hunters at their stand sites approximately two to three miles apart. At the conclusion of the day’s hunt, he would pick the hunters back up in reverse order. With ten hunters out, he was making use of more than one truck to transport the hunters.

Bears and Scent

By Lawernce Taylor

The first time a big black bear stuck its head out of the brush to look at the bait barrel I raised the muzzleloader to get ready for the shot. Well, my brain signaled this to happen. My arms, however, never got the message. The massive adrenaline surge coursing through my body jammed the order.
    That bear never presented a shot anyway, choosing instead to stare at the bait for a few seconds with only its head clear of the screen of brush before melting back into the thick Minnesota woods. That is bear hunting over bait. One second you are cussing the ground squirrels and then next there is a big, beautiful bear at 20 yards. Quite often bear baits are a reflection of the outfitter or hunter placing it. Several years ago I hunted with Big Paws Outfitters near International Falls, Minnesota, and their baits were giant. At the base of each bait pile was a 50 pound bag of dog food, and all types of additional food were piled on top, from old bread to giant gobs of marshmallow and caramel candy bars. The baits were freshened every day.

 

The Hunter’s Moon

By Charles A. McDonald

Towards the end of the 2007 Pennsylvania archery season, I was watching a lone doe while bowhunting. The large deer was standing still for a long time, staring in my direction. Since I had not moved and had the tree to my back, I was sure she could not see me. But she quickly turned and trotted away. “There goes my live decoy,” I said to myself. It was getting dark as I watched her disappear. I turned my head in the direction she had been staring. Bear! It was moving straight toward my stand. It came in below me and started sniffing around. Young bears have large ears. This large bear had small, short, rounded ears. Then it came over to my climbing stick, smelled it and stood on its hind legs to investigate. I resisted the urge to lean over and spit on the top of its head to “shoo” it away. Remembering that they could climb a tree as fast as I could fall out of one, I refrained. Still, I was tempted.
    The animal continued to search the area around my stand with its head to the ground. The large bear stopped at a nearby tree and stood scratching its back. Then it started toward the creek below. Before disappearing it stopped about 40 yards away, listened and watched below. The bears hunt the low and damp areas along the creek at night for beaver cutting their winter supply of feed before freeze-up. It then climbed over and into a group of downed trees to lie down and wait.

My Last Chase?

By Dave Henderson

I thanked God for alders. The ubiquitous, thick and tenacious low-growth that can be so bothersome to progress on flat ground is, in this instance, providing desperately needed hand-holds to haul my aging and arthritic frame up the 70-degree incline.
     The destination, now in sight, is defined by a braying pack of Walker hounds circled around the base of big Ponderosa pine.
     “It’s a big chocolate boar!” shouts guide/outfitter/longtime friend Scott Denny as he tethers the frenzied dogs to nearby saplings.
     “He wasn’t very high when I first got here, but he climbed higher, so we’ve got a little time. Catch your breath and we’ll look for a shot.”
       Ten minutes previously I had been alone, rummaging through the truck cab for my gear when Scott, who had preceded me to the treeing site to evaluate the situation, came over the radio with “Dave, get over here quick. I’m only half-way up but I can see it’s a big one!”
       The message, delivered over the frenzied voices of the four baying Walkers, was no less cryptic than Custer’s “Big village. Come Quick. Bring packs!” message to Reno.

Dogging The Last Ice Bear

By Dave Duncan

An unsuccessful brown bear hunt in 2006 only fueled my aspirations and motivated me to work harder at selecting the finest outfitters, in the best areas where I could realistically expect an opportunity to succeed. I met several polar bear outfitters at the SCI Convention in Reno, Nevada, and was “enlightened” as to the lack of opportunity to hunt polar bears. Only limited permits were available for sport hunters, I could expect a long wait for one of those precious permits, and a very high price tag was associated with the hunt. Undeterred, I contacted several well-known bowhunters with polar bear experience to help with my selection of an outfitter.
     Upon contacting my outfitter, I began asking the basic questions of how long a wait, last year’s success rates and guide qualifications. I was told that their “waiting list” was three years deep. Last season was a difficult year with less than half the hunters scoring due to extreme weather conditions. And yes, they had some limited experience guiding bowhunters, but the Eskimo guides were not bowhunters. I was getting the idea that this hunt was going to be challenging beyond the obvious dangers.
      I was also learning my chance to hunt polar bear was going to take some time unless I was persistent and ever-ready for that opportunity. I emphasized to the outfitter that I was prepared to hunt as soon as possible. I also made it perfectly clear that I would be available on short notice for any cancellation hunts. As fate would have it, 16 months later I would be on the Arctic ice hunting. As luck would have it, I had acquired one of the last permits available for an importable polar bear. This increasingly elusive permit, the last hurdle toward my goal of hunting polar bear, was finally in hand and my opportunity to pursue polar bear was now a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Bow Sight Round-up

By Dick Scorzafava

Talk to ten bowhunters and you will get ten different opinions when it comes to choosing a bow sight with either fiber-optic or lighted pins. As a matter of fact, there are just over 13-million bowhunters across our great nation, and I would bet you would be hard pressed to find two bows that are set-up exactly the same.
     It is hard to believe it is creeping up to almost two decades since the first bow sight with fiber-optic pins was introduced at the ATA Show. That sight used a single pin that came in green, yellow and red utilizing fiber-optic filaments to produce natural illumination. Boy, have things improved in that short period of time. At this year’s ATA Show in Indianapolis, every sight manufacturer offered some type of fiber-optic pin and/or lighted pin sight. The pins usually come in three colors; green, yellow and red from top to bottom on the sight with the green being the brightest colored pin. Today fiber-optic sight pins have become the norm in the industry.
     The sights included in this round-up are some of the best the industry has to offer and are the type most bowhunters prefer to use in the field. They all offer bright, multiple fiber-optic pins and a circular pin guard designed for a quick target achievement. Best of all, they stand up to the tough demands put on them.

Ontario’s Growing Bear Problem

By Richard P. Smith

Black bear hunters and managers across North America were shocked in 1999 when the province of Ontario made a political decision to end its spring hunt. The change was allegedly done to protect females with cubs, but, in reality, the opposite has happened, but more on that later.
      Low bear numbers is certainly not why the spring hunt was cancelled in Ontario either. The province has one of the largest black bear populations in North America, estimated to number over 100,000, and those numbers are conservative. The annual bear harvest between 1995 and 1999 averaged 6,800 animals, which is below the maximum sustainable harvest. That means the population was continuing to increase with that rate of harvest. A minimum of 10,000 bruins could be removed through hunting per year without any negative effects.
      In 1995, a year when natural foods were scarce, the province’s bear harvest was an estimated 8,145. Prior to 1999, more bears were being taken during the spring than fall. With elimination of the spring harvest, the population has increased significantly. Without the spring bear season in 1999, the harvest of bruins in Ontario dropped to 4,134. In one year’s time, the province’s bear population increased by about 3,000 and numbers have continued to increase since then without spring hunting due to less hunting pressure at a time when males are most vulnerable to hunters.