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.