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Bear Hunting

Black Bear Scouting – Part II

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This year I decided to expand my big game hunting list to include black bear. Even though a black bear tag is part of a big game license in New York, I had never had a place to go hunting for bears. Last year after the season closed I started researching my states black bear harvest report to find a location that was both close to my home and also held a decent population of bears. I was successful at both! I had previously hiked the area before and found one bear dropping, but outside of that had no such luck in finding any bear sign. I mentioned that I was going bear hunting to some of the guys at Wilderness Athlete and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that another Field Staff member lived near by and would be interested in accompanying me on a bear hunt. He has hunted black bear in other states and was very helpful to have along on the scouting trip, which was extremely successful to say the least!

Our day began at about a quarter to noon when we arrived at the 5,000 acre parcel of hardwoods, swamp, and more hills than you’d like to climb. We made our way down the old dirt road until the road became a path and the path became a small trail, winding through the woods. After an hour and a half hike through the woods we came across our first sign of bear – droppings that were probably one day old. A little further down the trail we decided to get off the trail and head deeper into the thick brush. What we stumbled upon was incredible. We had found a trail running along a ridge that was very well used and ran parallel to a river with a healthy trout population. It didn’t take long for us to find more bear droppings – we found well over a dozen – along the half mile long trail. At one point we dipped down to the shore of the river and I found an old tree that had been clawed by a bear. The bears claw marks were clearly visible in three different sections of the tree. You could imagine how excited we were to stumble upon all of this sign!

After a short break to refuel, we noticed it was getting late and started to head back to the truck, which was an adventure within itself. We had come across a group of fly fisherman earlier in the day who told us they had spotted a black bear along the river earlier in the morning. Another person on our way out also had seen a bear that day. It was very encouraging to not only see bear sign, but to also have others tell us of bear sightings that day. Although I’ve never hunted black bear with a bow before, I am already starting to dream about it! Unfortunately, this weekend – which is opening day – I have a wedding to attend, but you know where I’ll be in two weeks!

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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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