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Bear Hunting

Bear Hunt – Day I

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The weekend bear hunt had finally arrived. One of the guys from Wilderness Athlete met up with me on Friday night and we loaded our gear into the truck in preparation for the 2 hour drive and then 2+ hour hike we would have the next day. At 3am we were in the truck driving on our quest for black bear. The county we would be hunting in is home of the NYS record black bear. We had seen the animal mounted at the local Gander Mountain and it is a bear I would not want to run into without a gun in hand. This thing looked more like a grizzly than a black bear!

After passing countless deer on the ride over, including a nice 8 pointer, we arrived at the parking area on the 5,000 acre parcel of state land. To our pleasant surprise there were no other hunters joining us on this day. With our treestands on our backs and our day packs attached to the stands, we began our strenuous hike into the bush. It had rained hard earlier in the morning so everything was wet, including the two of us, and the unseasonably warm weather made this a not so pleasant hike. All the creeks were gushing with water emptying into the now treacherous river below. The hike was like a cruel rollercoaster with never ending ups and deathly downs. Rarely was there a section of the trail that was level and mostly dirt instead of the uneven rocky ground. After an hour on the trail, the trail became a one lane foot path looking more like a sparsely used game trail rather than a “hiking trail”. It was at this point that we saw two eyes light up ahead of us. Not knowing what exactly we were staring at we shined the lights at the animal and soon realized it was a deer. We continued on up the mountain taking breaks to give our screaming shoulders a break. Soon we reached the peak of the mountain and were ready for our descent down to our hunting area. Day began to break and at first light we found ourselves still in search of trees to climb.

My hunting buddy chose a stand overlooking the trail after coming across some bear scat. I told him I’d go about 200+ yards further down the trail and set up there. Little did I remember that over the next 200 yards the trail disappeared and was engulfed with mountain laurel and the thickest of shrubbery. I tried to descend down the steep, slippery hillside to the flat shoreline below where the now overflowing river was flowing. Pushing through the brush I was now completely drenched and had to climb back up the hillside to find the ridge line once again. I came upon a more faint trail than what I knew was another 100 yards or so ahead, but with the time approaching 8am and my legs and shoulders hating me for pushing them since 5:30am I figured here would be as good as any a spot to wait for a bear. I climbed the best tree I could find in the surrounding area which would give me a 20 yard shot to the game trail. I climbed up and waited anxiously for bear to arrive.

A few hours later I was climbing down the tree without seeing so much as a squirrel. I made my way back towards my hunting buddy and found out he too, had seen nothing. We sat down for a few to have some lunch and then continued hiking to see if we could find a better location for an afternoon hunt. With no such luck, we decided to hunt a spot half way between where we were and where the truck was – this was the best idea we had all day. We hunted a ridge line with three streams trickling down the side of it, hoping to find a deer or bear coming down to feed on the lush greens below. After about 20 minutes in the stand the skies began to darken and cold drops of rain fell from the sky. I began shivering a bit as the rain soaked through my clothing (this was not in the forecast and the reason why I did not bring my rain gear). The rain finally subsided and for the next two and a half hours I sat on my perch over looking the leaves fall from the trees. Darkness soon followed and I climbed down from my stand and headed back towards the trail to meet my hunting buddy for the one hour hike we had back out to the truck in the dark.

This was the start of a very strenuous adventure…

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Bear Hunting

New York’s First Early Black Bear Season a Success

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A flourishing black bear population and a newly established early-season give hunters additional opportunities to hunt black bears in New York.

The NYS DEC took a proactive approach to manage the State’s black bear population with the addition of an early black bear season in select WMUs for 2014. The early bear hunting season started on September 6th in portions of Southeastern New York and September 13th in Northern New York

Some of the highlights of the new plan include:

  • New early firearms bear season from September 6-21 in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. Any hunting implement, including crossbows, are legal for use during the early black bear season.
  • Expanded bear hunting in northern New York which now includes WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N. In these newly opened units, bear hunting begins with bowhunting equipment only from September 13 through October 17.

The downside with the early season bear hunting is the heat – the opening day had temperatures in the mid to high 80s with high humidity. Bear hunters will have to skin their harvest as quickly as possible to cool the meat and prevent spoilage. Hunters might also want to skin and quarter the bear in the field and picking out the meat in game bags.

Here’s a video from one successful hunter during this year’s early black bear season:

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Bear Hunting

Black Bears Around Campsites and Hiking Trails

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Recently, the NYS DEC issued some warnings about camping in areas with black bears. I frequently visit areas like this and it’s good to refresh yourself no matter how seasoned of a backpacker, hiker, or camper you are. Here are some tips from the DEC to remember while camping and hiking in bear country:

  • Store food, toiletries and garbage in bear resistant containers or “food hangs.” If you have no choice but to hang your food, be sure to use a dark colored cord. The cord should be 75 feet long and the bag should be hung 15 feet above the ground and at least 10 feet away from trees.
  • Keep food in hangs or in bear resistant container at all times, take down only what is needed for cooking. Bear resistant canisters are a highly effective means for preventing bears from getting food, toiletries and garbage from back country campers. For more information about bear resistant containers, see the DEC webpage at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7225.html.
  • Bear resistant containers are required to be used by all overnight campers within the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Zone of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
  • Never leave food unattended unless it is in a bear resistant container or in a food hang.
  • Never cook or eat in your sleeping area.
  • Cook early, no later than 5 p.m.
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Bear Hunting

Maine Black Bear Raffle

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This was something I came across that you don’t quite hear about everyday, but I thought it was worth mentioning and spreading the word about.In the little town of North Berwick, Maine, 200 Noble High School students are trying to raise $100,000 for a school music trip down to New York City. However, selling cup cakes just wasn’t cutting it so one of the student’s grandfather decided to offer up a raffle for a 6-day black bear hunt.

Grandfather of a choral student in the school music department and a Master Maine Guide, Varney figured the sale of $10 tickets for a chance to hunt at one of his son’s 50 “bear sites” might help raise the funds needed for the children to make the trip.

The winner gets lodging and meals for two at one of the family’s bear camps in northwestern Maine for the first week of the 2008 bear-hunting season. Hot and cold running water, “a flush toilet,” bedding and meals — including a lobster bake and “trash can turkey” dinner — are included. A Ragged Lake Guide Service guide is part of the prize and winners are warned their cell phones won’t work at the remote camp.

Winners who don’t want to hunt can photograph bears and other wildlife in the remote area between Mt. Katahdin and the Canadian border, said Varney, or take $1,000 cash.

Tickets will be sold until April 30 and the winner drawn May 1. Rod and gun clubs are getting out the word and Noble music boosters will be selling tickets at the Kittery Trading Post on Feb. 2.

To purchase tickets for the Black bear hunt raffle, or more information send inquires to Varney at noblesro@sad60.k12.me.us.

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