Big, Adventurous News

Matt got some big news last night. It looks like the earliest part of our bow season is going to be interrupted.



Since the wait for his home area up in zone B is 9 years, and he ended up skipping a couple of preference point deadlines (deployments, they suck), he opted to take what preference points he did have and apply for a tag for zone C.



The northernmost boundary of C there at Rt. 64 is maybe 15 miles north of Wausau ( we take 64 part of the way to get east to Matt’s hometown), putting it about 2 hours and 15 minutes away. Since he got a tag for a zone where we don’t know anyone with land to hunt, he’s going to hire a guide. That could put us closer to three hours away if that guide happens to be out in the western counties like St Croix or Polk. It also means we won’t have to be driving to and from every week to replenish bait piles. Not only is that a lot of gas, but bear bait can get very expensive.

I’ll be picking up a Class B license, which allows me to accompany him and assist him in hunting activities like baiting and tracking. I’d also have it in order to sit with him if I could to film. Since we haven’t figured out exactly how it will work with a guide yet, it’s still up in the air.

The season for C runs from September 3- October 7. Zone C you can’t run bear dogs (not that we could- we don’t own any, and I don’t even know if you can hire a guy with hounds). What’s the bear population like there?  I had to do some reading on that one. The area we spend the most time in has plenty of em- remember the poo piles? But it’s a different zone. Anyhow, according to this article from the WIDNR, there’s even an occasional incidence of bear sightings in the northwest of Dane county where Madison is located. As the bear population has expanded south, it looks like they’ve become abundant or common in most of Zone C.  According to another DNR article:

“More than 104,000 hunters applied for 9,015 permits in 2012, making the wait to receive a harvest permit approximately 5 to 9 years, depending on the bear management zone. However, when one finally receives that permit, the opportunity to harvest a bear is better than 50 percent and some of the biggest bears in the country are taken in Wisconsin. Several bears registered by hunters each year top 600 or 700 pounds!”

Granted, that’s for all of the bear hunting zones put together. It’s looking like Zone C usually has the fewest bears killed. I’m going to guess that this is a combination of a slightly lower bear population, a higher human population with a shorter wait for permits, and mostly, a much, much larger spread of land area. Zone C covers the southern and central 2/3 of the state. At the bottom of this .pdf  there’s information from the 2012 season. 810 for 2/3 of the state doesn’t seem too unfavorable, especially considering 2012 was that awful drought year for the southern portion of the state.

In addition to normal tagged registration like any large animal taken (deer, sturgeon, etc), we’ll have to provide a tooth (a premolar) for aging, and part of a rib for population counts if we’re successful. Apparently the DNR has volunteers place baits laced with dyes that show up in the bones of bears, enabling them to track population growth. It looks like we have a busy year ahead of us. We’re gonna need a bigger freezer.




6 thoughts on “Big, Adventurous News

    • I was in another room when Matt opened the envelope. He started squealing, and I came running to see what was wrong. He didn’t even use his words, he just showed me the paper. High fives were had. Now the planning begins!

    • We’re pretty sure Matt can get by with his 30.06. But I know he was wanting to buy a .300 if we would have made it out west this year, so this might goose him into getting one. It’s going to interesting to say the least.

  1. Woohoo! Congratulations! Best of luck to you!

    Love hearing how different the bear hunting is down there. Some people do bear bait up here, but most hunt in the spring (our unit is open to bear hunting year-round) right when they are coming out of hibernation. We imagine a fall bear would have a lovely coat and nice fatty meat…mmm…

    Do you have specific regulations on what kind of bear bait you can use? We hear marshmallows and dead fish work great!

    • I think the main one is no chocolate, since it can be toxic to bears and many other critters. From the pamphlet: Not in excess of 10 gallons at a time in one site, has to be totally enclosed in such a way as to prevent deer from accessing it (deer baiting is subject to different volume limits), and no animal parts or byproducts- no fish, meat, bones, or honey. It even specifically says no bacon grease. Cheese is ok though. Most people put the stuff in a hollow log and cover it with rocks that the bear has to then move.

      Basically everything I’ve seen online (and seen other people use- his aunt & uncle got one two years ago) is all terribly sugary junk food, which cracks me up for some reason. Licorice, all sorts of pie filling, butter cream frosting, peanut butter, gummy bears (the irony!), cookies, cookie dough, trail mixes, and Bavarian creme all show up as popular bear baits. The liquid items are sold by 55 gallon barrel sometimes. Regs say you can begin baiting April 15th this year. People typically replenish the bait once a week. Given the the bears are eating allllll that sugary goodness plus corn, plus soybeans, plus berries and whatever else they find? Gonna be some fat bears.

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