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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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Bear Down: Tracking and Tracking the One That Might Getaway

 Black bear are very hard to kill, and they are hard to track when wounded. Even a good heavy-caliber lung or heart shot may not keep the animal from getting off into the woods, and that same shot may not leave very much of a blood trail. Wounded bear bleed into the porous fat layers between hide and muscle, and their thick fur absorbs external bleeding like a sponge. As the bear runs and the fat moves, it appears to seal over most wounds and even a heavily bleeding animal may travel a great distance before its wound begins to leave a visible trail again.

SAM_0022 (640x480)

There aren’t many more upsetting situations a hunter can face in this country than to put a carefully aimed shot into a carefully selected bear at virtual point-blank range, see it stagger, then vanish into the brush in two steps before you can even recover from recoil. You sit there, with dark closing in by the minute, not able to see more than 20 feet, and a wounded bear extending the distance. You have to get down onto the ground and do something about it. No wonder now why your guide and other experienced bear hunters kept telling you how important it is to hit a bear hard and solid and put him down and keep on hitting him until there is no chance he will get up and get out of your sight.

First rule is to wait.  Be patient and slowly gather your wits and be prepared for the next steps.

Second: Look.  Observe the direction your bear exited.

Third: Listen.  Bears are commonly known to turn into the direction of their wound (more likely if mortally wounded) and can actually end up circling the bait.  Those that don’t will run with such ferocity that the normally silent creature can cause major disturbances to surrounding areas and make enough ruckus for you to gage the direction to begin tracking.

If you are lucky, a short time after your shot is made, you may hear a drawn out, breathy cry often referred to as the death moan.  This likely means your bear is down and is not getting back up.  Don’t worry if you don’t hear one, not all bears will give you this satisfaction.

After waiting at least 30 minutes in your stand, cautiously come down and look at the area where your shot

connected.  Look for any sign of your shot: blood, tissue or even an arrow that carried through.

Start in the direction where you shot and look for any sign of blood in the direction you saw your prey evacuate from.  Take the time to bring and use marking tape to highlight your trail as you go, not only will it give you a general direction, but it will also make finding your way out much easier and stress free.

A good, clean shot should drop a bear within 40 yards but we have tracked bear that have gone up to a couple of miles away.

peroxide

On top of marking tape, I also suggest having a spray bottle with peroxide in your kit.  In the forest, leaves can often have brown marks that look an awful lot like blood and using the peroxide will help differentiate as it will bubble on contact with blood.  I often add the brightest yellow food coloring I can find to highlight the blood even further.  I also like to pack a small black light to use in conjunction with this mixture as it will illuminate if the natural lighting begins to fade.

It is not uncommon to spend a few hours searching if your bear has gone beyond the 40 yard mark but don’t lose hope.  Keep your eyes peeled for signs of foot prints, snapped twigs or torn leaves as this could be nature’s own way of marking your bear’s trail.

If the day ends and no bear can be found, ensure that you go back early the next day.  Look for any signs of scavengers in the area.  Turkey vultures are often a DEAD giveaway.  They feed in the daytime so be prepared to wait a bit for them to arrive.  We sometimes will suggest to our hunters to climb back in the stand and look over the area again from the original vantage point.

If on the second day there is no harvest found and no sign of scavengers, it is very unlikely you will find your bear and you will come away with one of the hardest experiences in hunting.  Disappointing for both sides.

So in closing, take time placing that shot and take time looking for any wounded animals you may have created.

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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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Bear Down: Tracking and Tracking the One That Might Getaway

 Black bear are very hard to kill, and they are hard to track when wounded. Even a good heavy-caliber lung or heart shot may not keep the animal from getting off into the woods, and that same shot may not leave very much of a blood trail. Wounded bear bleed into the porous fat layers between hide and muscle, and their thick fur absorbs external bleeding like a sponge. As the bear runs and the fat moves, it appears to seal over most wounds and even a heavily bleeding animal may travel a great distance before its wound begins to leave a visible trail again.

SAM_0022 (640x480)

There aren’t many more upsetting situations a hunter can face in this country than to put a carefully aimed shot into a carefully selected bear at virtual point-blank range, see it stagger, then vanish into the brush in two steps before you can even recover from recoil. You sit there, with dark closing in by the minute, not able to see more than 20 feet, and a wounded bear extending the distance. You have to get down onto the ground and do something about it. No wonder now why your guide and other experienced bear hunters kept telling you how important it is to hit a bear hard and solid and put him down and keep on hitting him until there is no chance he will get up and get out of your sight.

First rule is to wait.  Be patient and slowly gather your wits and be prepared for the next steps.

Second: Look.  Observe the direction your bear exited.

Third: Listen.  Bears are commonly known to turn into the direction of their wound (more likely if mortally wounded) and can actually end up circling the bait.  Those that don’t will run with such ferocity that the normally silent creature can cause major disturbances to surrounding areas and make enough ruckus for you to gage the direction to begin tracking.

If you are lucky, a short time after your shot is made, you may hear a drawn out, breathy cry often referred to as the death moan.  This likely means your bear is down and is not getting back up.  Don’t worry if you don’t hear one, not all bears will give you this satisfaction.

After waiting at least 30 minutes in your stand, cautiously come down and look at the area where your shot connected.  Look for any sign of your shot: blood, tissue or even an arrow that carried through.

Start in the direction where you shot and look for any sign of blood in the direction you saw your prey evacuate from.  Take the time to bring and use marking tape to highlight your trail as you go, not only will it give you a general direction, but it will also make finding your way out much easier and stress free.

A good, clean shot should drop a bear within 40 yards but we have tracked bear that have gone up to a couple of miles away.

peroxide

On top of marking tape, I also suggest having a spray bottle with peroxide in your kit.  In the forest, leaves can often have brown marks that look an awful lot like blood and using the peroxide will help differentiate as it will bubble on contact with blood.  I often add the brightest yellow food coloring I can find to highlight the blood even further.  I also like to pack a small black light to use in conjunction with this mixture as it will illuminate if the natural lighting begins to fade.

It is not uncommon to spend a few hours searching if your bear has gone beyond the 40 yard mark but don’t lose hope.  Keep your eyes peeled for signs of foot prints, snapped twigs or torn leaves as this could be nature’s own way of marking your bear’s trail.

If the day ends and no bear can be found, ensure that you go back early the next day.  Look for any signs of scavengers in the area.  Turkey vultures are often a DEAD giveaway.  They feed in the daytime so be prepared to wait a bit for them to arrive.  We sometimes will suggest to our hunters to climb back in the stand and look over the area again from the original vantage point.

If on the second day there is no harvest found and no sign of scavengers, it is very unlikely you will find your bear and you will come away with one of the hardest experiences in hunting.  Disappointing for both sides.

So in closing, take time placing that shot and take time looking for any wounded animals you may have created.

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Quick tips for hunter safety

climbing treestandWhile reading some great hunting articles last night, I came across a very overlooked topic.  This is an article written by Tyrrell Hearn and is a great quick snippet on basic hunter safety tricks!

 

Over the years we have all heard of hunting accidents and how bad they can be. Hunting safety should be paramount in the mind on any hunter, especially those using high-powered rifles. It goes without saying that guns are designed to take life quickly and effectively, making it imperative that you treat them as such. If you are a hunter, here are a couple tips to keep you safe this season.

 

Blind placement– Keep in mind that there are people around you who may also be hunting in the mornings and evenings. Be mindful of other known hunting groups in your area. Having a chat with them about the direction of their firing lanes so everyone is up to date on their neighbor’s new hunting spots is a great way to stay safe.IMG_5703 (640x495)

Less powerful bullets– It is always a draw to buy the highest grain bullet for your guns, however, higher grain equals a faster and longer bullet trajectory. Pick something a little smaller but effective for the game you are targeting.

Aviary Photo_130254763368957516

Hollow points– Buy hollow point bullets. Full Metal Jacketed bullets are not legal to hunt with in most areas anyway. Hollow or soft tipped bullets will break up even if they are only hitting brush and small trees. Lessening your chance of a bullet traveling way past your target.

P1040004

Safety orange– Wear your safety gear so that even at a distance, the most novice of hunter will not mistake you for an animal.

Stay safe, think ahead, and have a great hunting season!

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Field dressing a black bear

With the bear hunt just around the corner, we will cover the basics 🙂  Pictures have been withheld due to graphic nature.

Instructions

imagesFG3W4IGS 1. Clear an area surrounding the black bear. Make the area large enough to allow room to move around and roll the animal away from the entrails. The lowest part of the ground should be reserved for the entrails. Move the bear onto its back. Spread the rear legs and either have your partners hold them apart or secure them with ropes. Repeat with the front legs.

  1.  2. Insert one of your knives in the cavity at the base of the bear’s throat. Cut the blood vessels with a deep, crosswise motion to open the jugular vein and bleed the animal. Move the bear so the blood will flow away from it and clear the ground as needed.
  2. Cut the skin in a straight line from the breastbone — located just below the rib cage — to the base of the bear’s jaw. Cut the muscles along this area to the bone to expose the throat and windpipe. From the same starting point, cut the skin in a straight line down to the anus. Some areas require hunters to leave the genitals for sex identification; cut around the genitals slightly to preserve them.
  3. Split the breastbone.  This can be done with a bone saw, hack saw or a couple of axes.  If you choose to use axes, hold one axe against the breastbone and hammer it with the other axe; this will break the bone from the base of the rib cage up to and through the top ribs. Open the chest by pulling the front legs apart. Cut the windpipe and gullet close to the head. Lay them in the chest cavity for later.
  4. Cut through the abdominal muscles; start at the base of the rib cage. Take care not to puncture the intestines, the stomach or the bladder; doing so could taint the meat. Sever the muscles down to the pelvic bone. Enlist your partners to hold open the bear so you can work more smoothly.
  5. Break the pelvic bone by using the same technique implemented the breastbone. Do not cut the urinary tract as it may contaminate the meat. Start on one side of the chest cavity and use your knife to cut the diaphragm from the chest wall. Start at the base of the ribs and slice as far back into the cavity as possible. Have your partners pull the organs to the side so you can see and cut more easily. Repeat the process on the other side of the black bear.
  6. Cut the intestines and rectum from the split pelvic bone to where the rectum meets the muscle tissue at the anus. Cut a circle in the skin at the base of the tail; cut 1 to 2 inches from the anus. Cut the muscles to the top of the pelvic bone to free the anus and rectum. Pull the lower intestine, rectum and anus away from the cavity and hold clear. You must not puncture or cut the urinary tract or intestines.
  7. Hold the parts, roll the black bear away and allow the intestines and stomach to spill onto the ground. Grab the windpipe to pull the lungs and heart out onto the ground. Cut any remaining diaphragm tissue to free the organs. Complete the field dressing by draining as much blood from the bear as possible and wiping the body cavity with cloth rags to clean. Do not use water. At this point your main concern becomes to cool the cavity and prepare for transport which can be done by propping the cavity open with a tree branch.

    IMG_6110 - Copy

    Proper field care will ensure less weight and trouble with removal and transportation from the hunt site.

     For more information on black bear hunting, visit us at http://www.wawangresort.com

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Stop Adding Fat to Your Game Meat

While my Wyoming elk tag has so far gone unfilled, my friend Tess was luckier, tagging her first elk in a Nebraska cornfield not long ago. A heat wave prompted us to spend all day Sunday butchering and last night we put about 20 lbs. of trimmings through the grinder.

I’ve been processing my own (and others) deer and elk for about a dozen years and view adding some type of fat to ground venison as a necessary evil. I prefer ground pork, adding anywhere from 10 to 20 percent. Due to a calculating error on my part (I was told there would be no math!), Tess’ grind ended up at about 25 percent pork, a bit more than she preferred.

Ground_Elk_0910_004
This math problem set me to wondering why hunters take a healthy source of protein and fatten it up? That’s like someone on a diet taking a carrot stick and dipping it in ranch dressing. Quick research shows no clear consensus on what or how much fat to add. Some hunters swear by 50/50, others just 10 percent. Some like pork, others beef tallow. Some add bacon ends and pieces.

Certainly, there’s a rationale to adding fat, including enhancing flavor because, hey, we all know fat tastes good. Fat also keeps meat from drying out when you fry it and helps patties from falling apart. But is there a better, healthier alternative? Yes, depending on how you’re planning to cook it.

Burgers on the grill are probably how much of the ground venison in America makes it to the table. I’ll be the first to admit, making a good burger without fat sounds impossible. The fat not only makes a burger juicy, it also helps it stay in patty form. Next time you have some 100 percent ground venison you want to throw on the grill, trying adding an egg and some breadcrumbs to serve as a binder. I’ve also heard of using steel-cut oats, diced onion, shredded potato and even powdered milk.

When frying ground venison for tacos, chili or spaghetti, cook it without fat. The spices should cover any gamy flavor you or your family might object to. (If not, find a new butcher to process your deer or learn to do it yourself. Since I started DIY processing 12 years ago, I’ve never had gamy game meat.) If the dry texture turns you off, try frying it in a little bit of olive oil, or add moisture as the venison browns in the form of stock, tomato juice or other flavored liquid.

As you can see, there are lots of alternatives to adding fat to your ground venison. What about you? How do you keep your low-fat game meat low fat? – David Draper, Wild Chef Blogger

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