Things are heating up at bear camp up on Tucker Ridge! But that is only because my buddy Big Bob Chandler gets cold easy, and cranks the heat every night in the cabin!
Our guide, John Floyd, who also has a blog with Bangor Daily News, and writes a monthly column in The Northwoods Sporting Journal, has been tending the bait on our site, and checks the game cameras daily.
The good news, is bears ARE coming to our site, but the cabin isn’t the only place that is toasty warm…The temps are in the mid, to upper 70’s here on Tucker Ridge…And since they wear bear skin coats, the bears are mostly active at night when the temps are down into the 40’s
Last year if you asked me if I would ever hunt bears, I would have told you ”No way!”, and I would have meant it. So how is it I am in bear camp for the first time in my life?
Well my buddy Bob asked me if I would join him on a hunt over bait. Bob and I have been hunting together since the mid 90’s, so obviously I was happy to join him.
I figured I could make sure I got him a great video of his hunt, and I would have good material for my blog.
After I agreed, Bob informed me I would be the one doing the shooting…
That was when I got a few butterflies in my stomach… an episode of “Ted Nugent’s Spirit Of The Wild” had given me a wake up call about bear hunting.
Ted shot a nice sized black bear with a well placed arrow. He aims for the heart, and lungs, and never misses. The problem is, many big game animals are dead long before they realize it and they will run off, and that is exactly what happened in this episode.
Ted talked about the shot, and how thankful he had been for the opportunity. He gave mention of the guide service, and what a great job they had done, and then in mid sentence he stopped and listened.
What I heard next changed everything I thought I knew about hunting, and clean kills. A terrifying, and heart breaking sound came from somewhere in the woods.
It was called a “death moan”, and apparently a huge majority of bears that are killed will emit one. Hearing that pretty much sealed the deal for me on bear hunting. That was not something I needed to be a part of. NOPE! NO WAY!
But then it dawned on me. I have been teaching my son about hunting and fishing since he was old enough to follow me into the woods.
He knows that the meat in the supermarket was once a living breathing animal. He knows that to eat meat, somebody has to kill it. I made sure he knows that killing is a dirty business.
He has watched me field dress and butcher fish, small game, and game birds. He assisted me at butchering a road killed deer. And last fall he hunted for the first time, and bagged a nice fat squirrel. He watched me field dress it, and prep it for cooking, and he had it for dinner that night.
He knows killing is a dirty business.
That got me thinking that my attitude toward harvesting a bear for meat might just be a bit hypocritical. Why should I shun something that reinforces the lesson I am trying to instill in my son, just because it makes me uncomfortable?
A bear that weighs 100lbs will put a decent amount of meat in our freezer, and a bear that weighs 100lbs is on the small size. Wild game is far better than store bought.
So I graciously accepted my long time friend’s offer, and as I am typing this, I am at bear camp after our second day of hunting. Tomorrow we will go out again.
With a lot of hard work from our guide, a little bit of cooperation from the weather, and perhaps a little luck I will harvest my first bear. And if in the end, I hear the death moan, I will be reminded that killing is a dirty business, and I will be that much more thankful for the food in my freezer.
Keep a watch out in the coming days, and as Internet service becomes available, I will post some tales of life up on Tucker Ridge, and my first time in bear camp!