Outdoor Notebook: Making short work of a long-anticipated bear tag
BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
As anyone who spends time outdoors will tell you the seasons are in the process of change. It appears that the maple ridges are rapidly beginning to show their colors. Each fall the trees seem to be trying to outdo the colors from previous years.
As hunters, we not only need to get our own bodies ready to hunt, but also concentrate on conditioning our hunting dogs who may have enjoyed laying on your feet in the evening. We should gradually condition ourselves and working our dogs. Hopefully, since some of the seasons have already opened, hunters and their dogs have been working on being ready.
I am not seriously hunting birds again this year. For many years we had dogs that were family pets as well as hunting dogs. Having a dog now does not fit well into our lifestyle and bird hunting without a dog is just not the same.
Fall is the time when serious anglers spend a lot of time in the boat. I can personally attest that fall is a great time to land a big musky. Fall weather conditions have a lot to do with the choice of a lake to fish and the method of fishing that is used. We often find that big fish follow the baitfish toward the shallower water in a lake. We have experienced days when it seems that many of the muskies on a particular lake are active and on other days they have lockjaw.
In Wisconsin bear hunting is becoming more and more popular. It took me ten years, applying every year, to get a tag for a bear. Ten years ago I had a tag and was anxious to get another bear.
This year the bait hunters had the first opportunity to hunt. That is the method that I prefer for hunting bear and I was very pleased when a bear tag arrived in the mail. The arrival of that tag signaled there would be a lot of work taking place in the woods prior to the beginning of the hunt. It is difficult to develop expertise in this method of hunting when you only get a tag every ten years.
Our first challenge was to obtain a source for bear bait. After an extensive search that was located in Tomahawk.
I began by scouting several areas. Another challenge was to place the bait in a manner that deer would not have access to the bait. In order to accomplish that we dug a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate a hollow log provided by a friend. Bait that would appeal to a bear was placed in the hollow log. A small piece of plywood was placed over the top of the log and a large rock was put on top.
We then built a log crib around and over the hollow log that made it more challenging for the bear to get to the bait. This process was repeated on a daily basis as soon as we had bears that were frequenting the bait source.
We had constructed a ground blind several weeks prior to the season. We sat in that blind, beginning on the first day of bear season during different times of the day and evening for several days.
Early one evening we watched as a bear approached the bait area. The bear began dismantling the logs that surrounded the hollow log. It stood over the crib surveying the area. With one shot my tag was filled and then the work began.
It is a thrill to harvest any wild game but after waiting for ten years for a permit for a bear this was a real feeling of accomplishment! I sincerely thank Tom Twesme (The Osseo Jinx) and Bob Pederson for their help.
I highly doubt at my age that I will go through this process again.
I wish all the bear hunters that are still hunting a successful hunt. We have a lot of bears in this area.
Longtime outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.