Updates.

I was excited enough about two things to post an update.

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Bear Down

I can’t read the phrase I used for the title without thinking of the Chicago football fight song, but blame that on my roots. I told Matt that he was going to be writing the post about the hunt, since I wasn’t there. But I wanted to at least get the pictures up: he got his bear. Continue reading

Hunting Season Draws Inevitably Nearer

I wanted to put together a bit of news while we’re in a lull just before hunting season. Early goose and teal both open on the 1st of September, and this year is Wisconsin’s first teal season. You used to just have to wait until regular duck season. We’re planning on canoeing and kayaking up to the very northern end of Cherokee marsh for the first time in almost two years, as that’s the only place we’ve seen them. I’ve asked a coworker if we can goose hunt in her family’s corn fields, since they already have people bowhunting. She’s getting back to me on that.

Matt went and bought all his permits at once this weekend. The roll of tags was about 3 1/2 feet long.

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Wisconsin really changed around deer tags this year. They cut the number of tags dramatically. We knew the zone up north by his grandfather’s land was going to be buck only this year and probably next, but they are also only handing out two tags, and they’re now these “Farmland Zones”. This year is also the first for crossbow hunting. He has a tag for that, and plans to get a crossbow in the next few weeks.

I haven’t bought my tags yet, but I plan on getting my waterfowl stamps and archery deer. I was invited back down to Illinois to hunt, so I hope to make a 3 day weekend some time in October once their season starts, and Matt hopes to come with this time.

He also has his bear tag. His hunt is coming up fast- it’s the second week of September, the 10th to the 17th. I hadn’t originally planned on going, since my classes will be on by then. But I also need to work that week, and all the rest of September as much as possible.

The reason for my needing to work is an exciting one. Come mid-January, I’m going to Germany for ten weeks. Back in May, I applied for an internship with the State Department. I found out late Sunday night (Monday morning in Germany) that I got one of the open positions, after interviewing with Leipzig, Düsseldorf, and twice with the Embassy in Berlin (Public Affairs Section and the Economic Section). The pool of German speakers was fairly small. I’m going to be assigned to the US Consulate Leipzig, pending receiving my security clearance.

This means I’ll miss almost all of ice fishing season, and the first week or two of Spring turkey. In fact, I may be heading out to turkey hunting within days of getting back stateside. The internship is done April 15th, and as of now, I’m planning on sticking around at least 2 or 3 days to get my stuff packed. Last time I went to Germany, everything was too rushed, and I left stuff behind, never to be seen again. There’s a lot of planning to be done. I’m waiting to buy my airline ticket until my clearance comes through, just in case. I need to find a place to stay, and I won’t be able to do that until about month before I go. And then I have to pack.

I’ve been looking in to fishing and hunting both in Germany, and both look tricky. I plan to do my homework  little more closely now that I know for sure where I’m going. I think it would be an amazing experience to see how the outdoors gets done in a foreign country, and to do it not as a tourist so much as a visitor with a decent knowledge of the culture and language. To do that, though, it seems I will need to both make some connections and very likely travel to either Austria or Switzerland (I do not speak Schwyzerdütsch). It’s a good thing Europe has a good train system. At the very least, I hope to travel at least a little while I’m there, and do some hiking, hopefully in the Alps. We will see how it pans out, I suppose.

Wild Food: Hank Shaw’s Venison Barbacoa

I finally got around to making this recipe back on Monday. I intended to post it on Tuesday morning, but with class, homework, and my dad visiting I didn’t get much of a chance until today.

I had made that chili that was inspired by the recipe, but Monday I finally remembered to set out a venison shoulder to thaw. I forgot to take pictures of my process, but it was the larger shoulder of the doe Matt shot. Judging by the 4 1/2 (!) hours it took to cook the shoulder to shreddable consistency, I would say that doe was probably 3 or 4. But the end result was every bit as good as promised- it tastes like Chipotle’s Barbacoa. I typically go for their Carnitas myself (I will never not love pork), but for at home? This was the stuff to make.

GE GE

 

In other news that’s not enough to make it’s own post, Matt’s bear hunt is already set up. I went through 4 guide services that were already booked solid. Apparently, the notifications showed up on the DNR website about a week or two before the mail went out. Something to keep in mind when I get my tag.

We’re going with Oak Ridge Guides up in Weyerhaeuser in Rusk County. That guide has an all-inclusive camp- lodging in cabins, hunts over baits, and food through the entire stay. That particular area is kind of keyholed into zones A & D, which I think should give him a better chance of getting a bear. Sadly, I don’t think I will be able to make it up with him- their price for spectators is only an additional $250 which is pretty reasonable. His hunt runs Wednesday-Wednesday, September 10th-17th. Even if he’s only up there for 2 or 3 days, that’s the second week of the Fall semester, and it will be that part of the busy season at work where it’s still hot out & business is booming, but a ton of employees have left for college. That time last year we were horribly short staffed, and they were trying to keep us on a 30 hour a week cap. We can still let the guide service know if I change my mind in a week or two. After tonight at work, I’ll know whether or not there are any big events that weekend at work.

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.

GE

 

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.

black-bear-management-zone

 

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.