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An Outdoorsman’s Journal

An Outdoorsman’s  Journal An Outdoorsman’s  Journal

Hello friends, This summer and fall I have run bear baits for the 10th year in a row in what I honestly believe is about as far south as you can hope to get a black bear in Wisconsin. In all honesty, what I do in many cases is attempt to help someone harvest their first bear. Over the next two weeks I will share the adventure and try to teach you a bit about hunting this incredible animal.

Thursday, Sept. 10 High 68, Low 51

Michelle Chiaro is on the very first hunt of her life today. She has been paying her dues since we set out our first baits of the year on June 9 in The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area and surrounding public lands in northern Juneau County.

The season actually started yesterday as did what would be a two week “bear camp” in this beautiful area where there are literally hundreds of square miles without a fence or No Trespass sign. A solid rain would put a one-day delay to this adventure.

For 92 days Michelle or myself, or the two of us together, have been doing the 52-mile round trip drive and, as of now, five hikes into the forest to tend our baits. We have observed almost constant sightings of hen turkeys with their broods. There are always two hens and broods for extra eyes. We have observed the largest deer population that I have seen in this area in years.

Until about a week ago, I cannot remember a year that I had so many big bears on the cameras. We have five out, I am talking big with at least three over 500 pounds and two over 600 that have come with great regularity and, best of all, giving us daylight pictures.

Michelle is an ICU nurse who works weekends. She took off this week, which would give us eight days to hunt and then four more the next week. A year ago, she purchased her first gun which is a Remington 740 “Woodmaster” 30-06 and she loves it.

We built our camp on the exact site where my dad brought me 49 years ago for my first deer hunt. I have never missed an opening day here.

I used my 13-foot by 8-foot Eskimo ice shack which we tarped, and it was simple, dry and flawless.

Something that most hunters do not understand about hunting bears over bait is this hunt begins in May or June and it is physical, expensive, incredibly psychological, and I am 100% addicted to it.

Zone C, which is the unit that I create my adventure in, has a harvest rate of 14%. On the southern end where we are located, I bet it is not 5%.

I honestly believe the reason for that has everything to do with people and I am not complaining. It’s just a fact.

Number one reason, acorns falling from the oak trees generally starts about a week before the season opens which is always the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Number two and this could be as big as number one. Where I hunt is as close to bear country as anyone south of northern Juneau County can get. In other words, if you are driving from Kenosha or Portage or Janesville to run baits it is a lot closer than driving let’s say to Cornell which is in the same unit.

Due to this fact, there are so many baiters the bears in this area can go nocturnal. Thirty days before the season started we had a couple of hunters, and they are good guys, put a bait 600 yards away from our main bait, and within two days that bait became a nocturnal-only bait and was never hit again in daylight hours.

Michelle and I have had an absolute blast. She is into anything outdoors and going for it. As I write this column, we are down to our last night of hunting as we have a “hot bait” and she got one of her coworkers to cover for her until midnight.

In other words, we get out of the woods at dark bear or no bear, do the 30-minute drive home, and then she has to do the two-hour drive to work.

Like I said, from day one we have been giving it everything that we have!