An Outdoorsman‛s Journal
One Hundred and Seven Days in the Forest
Hello friends: For 107 days, first-time hunter Michelle Chiaro and myself put in every bit of energy that we could muster into baiting black bear and hunting black bear for two weeks of a very cool adventure in nature. Bugs, humidity, drought, sweat, scheduling, physical exhaustion, and about $1,500 later, I am writing the second and final column on our summer and early fall in the forest.
As you may be learning, hunting bear over bait in some parts of Wisconsin where you do your own baiting and there are not very many bear is not as easy as putting out a pile of donuts and harvesting an animal.
Thursday, Sept. 24 High 67, low 51 Today would be our last day of this adventure and it was supposed to end yesterday as Michelle is supposed to be to work at her job as an ICU nurse, but got a coworker to cover for her until midnight. Two days ago, we had our first daytime hit in 33 days at one of our five baits.
In simple terms, we do five hikes into the woods carrying a 5-gallon bucket of granola to a place where we have a hollow stump with a cover on it, and in most cases a bear has consumed the bait. We have trail cameras at each bait and until Tuesday every hit had been after dark.
We are camped in the Meadow Valley Wildlife Area and camp is a blast. Every night we have a fire, listen to music, cook food, and have a skunk that wanders among us. There are dozens of mice and I put out a trap, which is a bucket with water in part of it. I put peanut butter in it just far enough below the top so when the mouse tries to eat it he or she falls into the water. A stick leading up the bucket is their ladder. Two nights ago, I caught seven.
I do not have a tag, but sit in a portable tree stand next to Michelle. We are 15 feet off the ground, and, let me tell you, I am impressed that come dark she has it in her to take her safety harness off and climb down the tree. It is not as simple as it may sound.
Every night we watch raccoon, skunk, and porcupine do everything that they can to take the cover and logs off the stump to get the granola. The raccoons pull with their powerful arms, the porcupines attempt to chew through the stump, and the skunks hope the coon or porkie opens it up.
The worst daytime pests are pine squirrels. They never give up and there are a million of them. There is always a dominant pine squirrel and it is very mean to its underlings.
Michelle and I are mentally and physically toast, but in reality, just a few days rest away from being much stronger for our efforts.
Last week I mentioned how we had been watching deer and turkey by the gazillion this summer and they did not seem scared of us. Like a light switch, that has changed since several hunting seasons have opened and the “summer of love” has ended.
Every night at sunset when we are done hunting, and this has always been the case for me in all forms of hunting, we have the walk back to the truck or camp and in some cases canoe or boat ride.
I honestly believe that in my 48 seasons of hunting, this may be my guaranteed-to-happen favorite part of the hunt. There is generally enough light to kind of see and it is very cool to reflect on the hunt and look forward to camp.
Our hunt has been over for a week, the following day I went on a canoe trip/duck hunt, and Michelle went back to tending to patients at her hospital. Since returning home I have had friends and family say that they just do not think it is worth 107 days of kicking your own butt to do this.
Here is what I have to say. I hope I get a tag next year. Michelle also wants to hunt next year. We came up with a better plan to possibly win the game with nocturnal bears. Some people golf, some people are really into sports. Some folks are bass whackers.
I hunt bear.
Already excited. Sunset