Nineteen nights on a bear stand

When my daughter Selina Walters and I received our permits last February to hunt black bears in Zone C, I made the decision that with this being our last bear hunt together before Selina is in college or maybe even after, I was really going to try to do this hunt right.

The following is a recap of what turned out to be exactly 90 days of baiting and hunting.

The southern section of Zone C that holds a respectable number of black bears is northern Juneau County and Jackson and Wood counties.

There are not a lot of black bears harvested in this part of Wisconsin but there are a lot of big bears as is proven by baiters’ trail cameras.

I believe that this part of Wisconsin has a lot of black bears – over 400 pounds in part because dogs are not allowed to aid in harvesting bears in Zone C. To my pals that are dog hunters don’t get mad at me, I support you guys as well.

Here is what I feel/know for a fact that is happening in our southern bear hunting section. Black bears have learned that to move before it gets dark out after Labor Day might cost you your life. In other words, they have become nocturnal.

Selina and I ran nine baits with five of them having trail cameras. Two of our baits have a true 550-600-pound bear hitting them that I have been chasing for years.

Several of our baits had 2-4 bears over 350 pounds hitting them at least twice a week until we were having about five daytime hits a week which is good but not great. The big bear was hitting our baits during the daytime at least twice a week and let me tell you, I really wanted to put him in the crosshairs of my BAR 300!

I have mentioned in the past the long-term fatigue that kicks a baiter’s/hunter’s behind. It is the kind of fatigue that keeps chores from getting done, social engagements from happening, beats the heck out of your truck and more than empties your pocketbook.

I hunted on opening day with Selina in her stand a mile away and then the next two nights by myself as she had cross country practice.

On Saturday, Sept. 9 it had been 40 days since we had a daytime hit on our cameras and Selina and I were sitting in our trees. By gosh a 220-pound sow gave Selina a shot and she drilled it and like her dad taught her, she put a second shot in it when it was running away – both in the chest.

So, now I have four hunts under my belt. I am very happy but I want to hunt for a big bear. Fifteen nights out of the next 31 would find me sitting in Selina’s stand.

My stand, which was just as good as Selina’s, lost all of its bear action when a pack of wolves moved in and literally lived on it 24/7.

I talked to one hunter that had 14 wolves in one trail camera picture. About all I can say to all of the folks that are 100-percent against some form of sensible wolf management is this:

Can you imagine if you were a whitetail deer that is about to give birth to a fawn, or a deer that is run down from the rut or living in deep snow and the forest is loaded with unregulated meat-eating animals that weigh from 60-120 pounds.

So anyways, my life is consumed with family, KAMO (Kids and Mentors Outdoors) hobby farming, traveling for my job and never missing a night in the stand if I am home. The last week of the season I have several big bears hitting my one and only bait. In some cases these bear are hitting the bait 25 minutes after I leave the stand.

Since July 10 when this journey began, the bear were only eating about 2-3 pounds of granola due to an incredible amount of food in the forest but now they are eating about 15 pounds.

I constantly dream of seeing a big bear and sometimes visualize a full body mount in my living room. There is not one second of this time- and money sucking adventure that I regret.

On the last night of a great journey I sat and re-visualized the incredible night that Selina killed her first black bear from the tree that I was sitting in and did not care that I did not see a bear the entire season.

Run down but not dead!


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