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Bear Hunting

Black Bear Scouting

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Growing up around hunting I’ve always been passionate about the sport…well, maybe passionate isn’t the right word, it’s actually a lot more than that. About six years ago I decided to pick up bowhunting so I could have more time to deer hunt. That has led me to become an obsessed bowhunter. I love the sport and am becoming increasingly interested in hunting new game. My North American wish list includes Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Moose, Elk, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Caribou, and Pronghorn Antelope. So far I’ve completed the Whitetail Deer part and being on a tight budget since graduating from college, I can’t exactly afford a $4,000 hunting trip. Living in New York, naturally the next Big Game animal to hunt on my list is Black Bear.

After last season I decided that this season I would try to bear hunt, even if it meant giving up a day of bowhunting whitetails in Connecticut. I bought a few books on bear hunting and read up on them, I also did research on the Internet and corresponded via email with my regional New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officer. With the bear harvest statistics at my disposal, I looked for the closest area with the highest bear take over the last two years. My results indicated there were two counties close by that I needed to hunt. The area I would scout was just under 5,000 acres of state land nestled between the two counties with the highest overall bear take in the state! This was very exciting.

Finally I made the drive out to the state land to do a little pre-season scouting. Being a novice bear hunter, to say the least, and knowing no one that bear hunts, I tried my best to convince myself of bear sign. As I entered the land I found a tree that had its bark peeled off the bottom, sign that a black bear could have peeled this bark off for bedding or whatever reason. A few hours of hiking later, I found the first of what appeared to be bear scat, unless there is some other monster animal wandering the land. Further still into the forest I finally stumbled across a berry patch high up in the mountains, most likely a huckleberry patch. This, I’m hoping, is where the bears will be feeding when the bow season opens in October.

Although my trip ended with out any bear tracks being found or bears being seen, I did see one deer and almost got attacked by a porcupine who refused to give me the right of way on a foot path. I will return however, this time more prepared for a longer hike and this time getting a little further off the beaten path.

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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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