Bear Hunting 2017
Soooo…here we go. Don’t leave! I’ll handle this topic as honestly and sensitively as possible. Bear hunting. This is an old-time skill that was on the decline for many years. The number of women who hunt is increasing and we’re teaching this skill to children. For many of us, we know too much about factory farming, wildlife conservation (population management, for example) and eating a natural diet. We are, after all, animals. We’re animals. We’re part of the food chain and if you take our weapons away, we’re not at the top. I’ve written more about Why I Hunt so I won’t continue with that right now.
A common question when I talk about bear hunting is “do you eat it?” We do. It’s similar to pastured beef. Bear Stew is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve written tips for cooking bear meat. Steve broke last year’s bear into quarters for me and I did the butchering myself. I was more careful than I needed to be since all of the meat was going to be ground but it was worth the time to learn about muscle mass, how muscles run through the body, and how I’d be making cuts if I were cutting it into chops, roasts and steaks. This bear hunting thing – it’s a lot of work but it’s time well spent.
We have three bait sites. I don’t expect any bears at the site I harvested my bear last year. The area has been logged and there are a lot of other sites around. My bear was the last bear in; not a single other bear came to the site after we left with mine.
A bait barrel is the equivalent to a feed trough in a factory farm. These animals have a choice. They don’t have to eat. They can walk away without as much as a sniff, and that’s what happened the first week of the season at Steve’s site. A mature bear walked by, was there two seconds according to the game camera, and hasn’t been back. These bears have complete freedom. They bait is there to give us time to bring the bear into a clearing (they’re almost impossible to see otherwise) and give us time to assess the animal. Sow with cubs? Pass, we don’t shoot them. I passed on my 2014 bear but when he came back to the site and I saw that he was mortally injured, I took him.
Today we’re talking about the new site, behind our house. We set it up last year with a five gallon bucket. No bears. This year, one week after it was set up, this boar showed up. He’s new to this site, the first bear at this site, but he’s definitely not new to bait barrels. He handled it like a pro. This bear is the right age to be one of the triplets I watched from an old site nearby. It’s also old enough to be the yearling Ava made “friends” with last year. There’s nothing timid about this boar.
Thanks to game cameras, here’s what happens when an experienced bear visits a bait barrel for the first time. This barrel has crushed cookies, granola, mixed nuts, and a half-gallon of donuts.
He’s about the size of the injured bear I harvested in 2014. He was 148.5 pounds.
I’ve been harshly bashed and my life threatened because I hunt, mostly when I wrote a blog for Bangor Daily News. People have been 99.99% polite and willing to learn here in the blog. I’m willing to explain what I do and answer all questions honestly. I appreciate that here in the blog we’re respectful and polite even when we don’t agree. That means a lot to me.