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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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Black Bear…the Basics

Here is a fantastic and very basic overview of black bear, what they are and why we hunt them.  In the case if Wawang Lake Resort, our outfitting is done in the fall, over bait and the average weight of our boars was 278 lbs. last year with 2 over 400 lbs.   Our sows, 180lbs with three over 300 lb.

Black Bear Hunting Basics

paw2
If you’re considering taking up black bear hunting or trying to decide if it’s right for you, it’s a good idea to get an overview of what it’s all about. There are a lot of misconceptions about black bear hunting floating around out there, so it pays to know exactly what you’re in for when you set out to hunt “America’s bear”.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of black bear hunting, including population, seasons, weapons, meat, trophy items, and biology relevant to hunting.

Population, Seasons, and Weapons

Although the population of the black bear (Ursus americanus) is in decline in some areas of the U.S. (due to habitat loss), in other areas it is growing rapidly, and in still others it is at an all-time high. The total population of black bears in the lower 48 is estimated to be between 300,000 to 500,000, and the Alaska population is estimated to be 100,000 or more.

Black bear hunting is permitted in a little over half of the 50 states. Many Western states have black bear hunting seasons. In some of these states, hunters are allowed to take two black bears per year. Other popular areas include portions of the upper Midwest, the East coast, and the South. Even a handful of states in the East where black bear hunting has been prohibited for years have recently opened up limited seasons.

Black bears are hunted both in the spring and the fall. However, spring seasons are only allowed in about eight states, and spring hunting often requires applying for a lottery. Fall seasons are typically general seasons, and this is the time when most bears are hunted.

Black bears can be effectively taken with any of the typical weapons used for other big game, including rifle, bow, shotgun, muzzleloader, pistol, and crossbow. (As always, be sure to check your particular state’s game regulations.)

Meat and Other Items

bearroastBlack bear meat is considered by many to be a delicacy. In fact, even as recently as the late 19th century, bear dishes were some of the most expensive items on the menus at the finest, exclusive restaurants. “Bear bacon”, the whole, smoked hind quarter of a bear, was a prized staple in the diet of settlers on the American frontier. The meat is often compared to pork or lamb, but with a distinctive flavor all its own.

Interestingly, that flavor can vary quite widely depending on what the bear has recently been eating. The most highly prized meat comes from spring bears who have been consuming large quantities of grass and other vegetation as well as fall bears who have been feasting on berries, fruit, or nuts such as acorns.

Luckily, although they are omnivores, about 80-90% of a black bear’s diet consists of plant material, so your odds of having tasty meat are extremely good. Younger bears are also widely reported to have better meat than older bears. Assuming you take a younger bear that hasn’t been eating salmon or carrion, you’re in for quite a treat.

An important word of caution here: black bear meat often contains the parasite that causes trichinosis, an infection that usually results in either no symptoms or minor digestive discomfort but in rare cases can cause more serious complications and even death (although only in less than 0.3% of cases).

Fortunately, there is a simple remedy for this. All bear meat must be cooked completely through until there is no visible pink in the meat. Cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 137 degrees is hot enough to make it safe, although the USDA recommends an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Freezing the meat has not been shown to be adequate protection against trichinosis.

Another highly edible part of a black bear is the fat. Bear fat (which is quite plentiful in fall bears) can be rendered to produce a useful and particularly flavorful cooking oil. Even from a modestly sized bear, you can easily get a couple gallons of this precious liquid.

In addition to the meat and fat, there are also a few prized items to be had from a black bear. First, the fir is soft and luxurious, and many hunters keep the hide and turn it into a rug or even clothing such as a vest. Black bear skulls are fascinating thing to look at, and they’re a great conversation starter when displayed up on the mantle or other prominent location.

Biology Relevant to Hunting

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Black bears can vary greatly in size, depending on genetics, the quality of the habitat in which they live, and their gender and age. Mature boars (male bears) can weigh in at over 800 pounds in rare cases. The average adult male, however, weighs between 180 and 300 pounds, while the average adult female weighs slightly less, between 140-250 pounds. You can expect to net about 30% of the live weight in meat. For example, a 200 pound bear may produce up to 60 pounds of meat.

Black bears possess impressive athletic abilities. They can sprint at speeds over 30 mph, can climb trees with ease, and are accomplished swimmers. They also have short, curved, sharp claws and canine teeth capable of ripping and tearing flesh. With these traits, it’s easy to see why they fit squarely into the classification of dangerous game.

While black bear attacks are exceedingly rare, even for bear hunters, they do happen. And tracking wounded bears means the danger increases exponentially. The tracking is bound to take you through dense cover, and the bear’s thick fir soaks up blood fast, making for sparse blood trails to follow. Bears have even been known to loop around and double back on their trail, lying in wait for pursuing hunters. However, with proper preparation and planning, as well as solid shot placement, most bears can be recovered safely and without incident.

Note: In regions where black bears share their range with grizzly bears, it’s important to know how to identify the two bears and tell them apart so you don’t accidentally shoot a grizzly bear, which is a violation of federal law. Here’s a handy bear identification training you can take online for free so you can know for sure before you pull the trigger.

The size of a black bear’s home range can vary greatly depending on the location of food sources in the area. It can be as small as a couple square miles or it can be much larger — a male’s home range may go all the way up to 75 square miles in extreme cases. Bears are opportunistic omnivores, which means their movements are often unpredictable. This wandering lifestyle requires specialized tactics, the most common being spot-and-stalk, baiting, hunting with hounds, and calling.

Regardless of which tactics you employ, you’ll need to defeat a bear’s considerable arsenal of finely tuned senses if you want to have any hope of getting close enough for a shot.

Jon Hanson - Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Jon Hanson – Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Sense of Smell

First and foremost is their sense of smell, which is thousands of times better than a human’s. In fact, it’s been shown that if you take a bloodhound’s nose and multiply it by about seven, you’ll get a sense of the black bear’s olfactory powers.

There are both defensive and offensive strategies you can use in order to overcome these powers and get within range of a bear without it smelling you. On the defensive side, it’s wise to use as many scent control measures as logistically possible. More importantly, always keep tabs on the wind and make sure you’re hunting into it. A wind checker device, such as a small spray bottle filled with unscented talcum powder comes in real handy for this, as does a fine, frayed string tied to the end of your gun or bow.

You can also go on the offensive and use the wind to your advantage. With good scouting and planning, it’s possible to hunt with the wind at your back, allowing your scent to move out ahead of you and drive bears toward another hunter in a tree stand or other fixed position.

Sense of Hearing

bear headNext up is their sense of hearing, which is thought to be significantly better than a human’s, although it’s not known exactly how much better. They can detect a human voice at 300 yards and the cocking of a gun at 50 yards.

Your best defense against a bear’s ears is to simply be quiet. Move slowly and carefully, wear quiet clothing, and speak in whispers to your hunting companions. On the offensive side, always keep your ears tuned for bear sounds. Bears make noise when feeding, such as turning over rotten logs looking for grubs, and they communicate with each other through woofs, sniffs, grunts, and growls.

Sense of Sight

Contrary to popular belief, bears do, in fact, see in color. Their vision is roughly equivalent to a human’s — better, if you include the fact that they have excellent night vision. Although they’re somewhat near-sighted, they are adept at detecting movement, even at long distances.

To win the battle of the eyes, you’ll need to have a solid defensive plan. It’s very important to wear full camouflage and choose a pattern that breaks up your outline and matches the local vegetation well. More importantly, always move slowly and cautiously, and never move when a bear is looking in your direction.

As for offense, always carry a pair of high quality binoculars. The black color of a bear’s fur can make them a little easier to spot than other big game like deer. Carry your binoculars on your chest with a harness or “bino bra”, and use them often. When hunting open country using spot-and-stalk tactics, you can also employ a high-power spotting scope to give your eyes even more reach.

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FIELD JUDGING – Black Bear

bear3Though some may disagree, black bears are one of the most sought after of all the big game species. Who hasn’t desired a black bear rug? Next to whitetail deer, there is an argument to be made that black bears are the second most popular big game animal to hunt.

Popular to hunt they may be, but easy to field judge, they are not, and yet, in spite of the high degree of difficulty, everyone who hunts black bears wants a big one. A “meat bear” won’t do. To whit, in all the many years I’ve outfitted for black bears, not one of my client-hunters has told me that his dream was to shoot a small bear for the freezer. It hasn’t happened and it never will. The fascination we hunters have with big bears is ancient and primal; a combination of “fear” and “facing fear,” another black bear dichotomy. It’s akin to climbing up onto the roof of a building and looking over the edge, the higher the building (the bigger the bear), and the deeper the fascination.

Taking all this into consideration, why is it then that so many hunters have small or medium-sized black bear skin rugs on their wall? And more to the point of this article, why do they have small bear skulls in their dens? Why indeed. Ask them and virtually every one of them will say something to the effect of, “he (or she) looked huge to me.” It is a standard and a fair evaluation of black bear hunting. Without doubt, the toughest part of taking a big black bear is knowing what “big” looks like. What follows in this article will hopefully help you correctly make what will be your toughest judging call of all.

First Things First
When hunters ask, and they all do, how to judge black bears, they invariably throw in what they know about judging black bears, the one or two tips they’ve read in some bear article, things like “look for small ears” and “big bears have small-looking heads.” Our response is that they are way ahead of themselves, looking at the size of a bear’s ears or head isn’t necessarily wrong, it just isn’t the right thing to be doing first. The first thing they should be looking at when they see the bear they want to judge is the location of that bear.

Location
Big bears live, eat, and hang out in the best living, eating, and hanging out areas. Find the best looking bear habitat in whatever hunting area you are in and odds are, the bear you see there will be big, especially during prime evening hours. Small bears usually live in marginal habitat for their own safety, as well they should, since big black bears eat small bears. Often hunters say that they spotted an especially large bear right up near the edge of the timber, near the big trees. And they may well have, but odds are, the reason that bear is up there near all those good escape trees, is that the bear itself is small and the very tops of those nearby trees are the best insurance against ending up as a bear breakfast.

Of course, location is a relative thing,  a grassy meadow along a creek in the bottom country or a reclaimed road seeded to clover in the high country. In other areas, a good location may be a bait pile or oat field. Because of the huge diversity of black bear habitat across North America, good location is relative and impossible to qualify. Know your hunting area and you’ll know what to look for, but remember, if there’s a bear feeding on a prime spot at prime time, odds are it’s a bear worth judging.

bear9Attitude
Big bears are the toughest, meanest sons-of-a-guns in the area and they act it. Watch a human bully walk down the street, he walks with a swagger and an attitude. A big bear walks the same way. He doesn’t fit and start at every sound like a small bear will. A big bear doesn’t have to; he believes he’s got nothing to fear. Once you’ve spotted your bear on the prime feeding spot during prime time, it’s time to get serious about how that bear is behaving.

It is important to note that long before you judge the size of the bear, you must judge the sex of that bear. A big, old sow will have all, or more correctly, almost all of the physical characteristics of a big, old boar. She’ll have the nasty looking face that’s seen one too many years in the ring, the potbelly and the sway back. The one thing (besides the obvious) that she won’t have, except in exceptional cases, is the “I’m the biggest and baddest son of a gun in the valley” behavior that determines sex more effectively than if that bear was wearing a bikini.

  1. Watch to see if the bear stands on his hind legs and rubs his back on a tree, that’s a boar.
  2. If it walks along and straddles small trees, wiping its scent on that tree, it’s a boar.
  3. If it stands up and breaks saplings over its shoulder, it’s a boar.
  4. If it encounters another bear and gives chase, it’s a boar and if it is following a smaller bear, it’s a boar.

Scale
There is one last general appearance tip to judging black bears that makes the top three in importance, and that is scale. A big bear looks big . . . but so does a closer, smaller bear. Here’s a quantitative example of this. If the bear is 150 yards away but the hunter thinks the bear is 200 yards away, the hunter will overestimate the bear’s relative size by somewhere near 25 percent. In other words, the hunter is in for a serious case of ground shrink when he walks up to his bear. Get as close to the bear as you can. The closer the bear, the less chance there is of misjudging the distance to the bear, and thereby misjudging the bear’s relative size.

Specific Tips for Judging Black Bears
If the bear fails any one of the above general conditions, then let the bear walk. It’s tough but at least there isn’t a dead small bear lying on the ground.

1) Body Shape: Do you wear the same size pants as you did when you were in high school? Be honest, does your spouse poke you in the belly once in a while and tell you to cut back on the Twinkies? Bigger bears are older bears, and like most of us, they don’t have the svelte bodies they once did. They tend to look “heavy” and out of shape. Remember, they monopolize the best feed and habitat, and therefore exert less energy to live.

2) Head Shape: A big bear (boar) will have a deeper, wider and longer snout than a smaller bear or a female. His ears will appear to be wide apart and small. If he is aware of you and looking your way, his ears won’t stand up on top of his head like a dog’s ears, they’ll seem to be aimed out to the side of his head. A big bear will have well developed “bulging like Arnold,” biting muscles on the top of his head.

3) Legs: A big bear will have massively developed front shoulders. His shoulders will look big and burly. A sow’s wrist will pinch in directly above the foot. Not so with a boar. The lower forearm, wrist and the foot on a big boar are all the same width. A big bear often appears to have shorter legs because the body is so much thicker, but keep in mind that the best-scoring bears for the records book are often the lankier looking, longer-bodied bears.

 

Let Boone and Crockett Sort Them Out
There isn’t a guide or hunter in the world who can accurately call the skull measurement of a black bear. It’s impossible. There are simply too many variables that affect the final dried measurement.  bear6

There are bears that have meatier heads; bears that look great and are great trophies, but that don’t score well. There are others that have short skulls, block-headed beasts that look impressive, but that don’t score well at all and there are lanky, skinny bears with donkey faces that score like the devil, but that a hunter seriously looking for a records book bear wouldn’t walk across the street for. Black bear morphology is just too darn diversified to make a science out of judging.

The best way to hunt for a records book boar is to simply shoot the bear that looks good to you and that hopefully you’ll appreciate. If it’s got a nice hide, be happy with your animal. If it has long claws and weighs a ton, good for you and congratulations. If it isn’t as big as you’d like, don’t fret, you’re not alone and the rug on your wall will still look great. If it happens to be one of those rare few bears that has grown a skull that qualifies for the records book, thank your guide and your lucky stars and don’t expect to repeat the feat in the near future. It won’t be that bigger bears aren’t around—they are—you just won’t be able to tell them apart from the other bears in the area!

BREAKDOWN OF SCORING COMPONENTS – BEAR
bear dia

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Big Mistakes NOT to Make in Your Bear Stand

Part of the thrill of the hunt, is the anticipation knowing that with every second that ticks by, you are one second closer to harvesting your trophy black bear. What happens when those seconds turn into hours and then into days?   Being under prepared to be in your stand for extended periods of time can be frustrating, and worse yet, can prevent you from achieving a successful hunt.

bearstand

It would be awesome if we knew when and where the harvest was going to take place, but that wouldn’t be hunting then, would it?

Having a plan in your bear stand can make your hunt much more enjoyable. Things to consider: weather, bugs, boredom and nature calls.

Weather – Avid hunters know that fall weather can change in a heart beat. It can go from warm, to cold, windy and raining in the blink of an eye. Having the right clothes in your back pack can make the best of a somewhat undesirable situation.

Bugs – can be a huge annoyance in the great outdoors. Especially when you are forced to sit still for extended periods of time. Avoid bug sprays when bear hunting… PERIOD! A new, unfamiliar scent, along with an intuitive feeling that something isn’t right, will keep trophy bears from over coming fear and committing to your bait. Bug jackets and bug nets are a must. (Oh, on side note, make sure you practice shooting with your bug net on). Regarding the portable propane bug eliminators, we highly advise against them as it is a new scent that can be detected by a bear easily and may quickly deter them.

Boredom – Nothing will end your hunt faster than impatience and constant movement in your stand. If you are like most guys who can’t sit still for more than 30minutes at a time, you must bring something with to occupy your mind. I personally use a book. I have also seen guys use those portable, pocket video games. Regardless of what you use, make sure you sit sill and only utilize things that will be quiet and non light reflective.

Nature Calls – Ever been in the stand when all of the sudden you have to take a pee? Sucks, doesn’t it? I don’t know how many times I have had this happen to me, yet somehow I always forget to bring a container along. Put a portable urinal on your packing list. Doing so will make the difference between shooting that monster and taking it’s offspring or nothing at all.  NEVER eliminate off of or near your stand!  There is nothing more offensive and frightening to a bear than knowing a human is directly near by.

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Remember, being prepared to sit that stand can mean the difference between a very successful harvest or having to return and start all over again!

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2017 in black bear, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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FIELD JUDGING – Black Bear

bear3Though some may disagree, black bears are one of the most sought after of all the big game species. Who hasn’t desired a black bear rug? Next to whitetail deer, there is an argument to be made that black bears are the second most popular big game animal to hunt.

Popular to hunt they may be, but easy to field judge, they are not, and yet, in spite of the high degree of difficulty, everyone who hunts black bears wants a big one. A “meat bear” won’t do. To whit, in all the many years I’ve outfitted for black bears, not one of my client-hunters has told me that his dream was to shoot a small bear for the freezer. It hasn’t happened and it never will. The fascination we hunters have with big bears is ancient and primal; a combination of “fear” and “facing fear,” another black bear dichotomy. It’s akin to climbing up onto the roof of a building and looking over the edge, the higher the building (the bigger the bear), and the deeper the fascination.

Taking all this into consideration, why is it then that so many hunters have small or medium-sized black bear skin rugs on their wall? And more to the point of this article, why do they have small bear skulls in their dens? Why indeed. Ask them and virtually every one of them will say something to the effect of, “he (or she) looked huge to me.” It is a standard and a fair evaluation of black bear hunting. Without doubt, the toughest part of taking a big black bear is knowing what “big” looks like. What follows in this article will hopefully help you correctly make what will be your toughest judging call of all.

First Things First
When hunters ask, and they all do, how to judge black bears, they invariably throw in what they know about judging black bears, the one or two tips they’ve read in some bear article, things like “look for small ears” and “big bears have small-looking heads.” Our response is that they are way ahead of themselves, looking at the size of a bear’s ears or head isn’t necessarily wrong, it just isn’t the right thing to be doing first. The first thing they should be looking at when they see the bear they want to judge is the location of that bear.

Location
Big bears live, eat, and hang out in the best living, eating, and hanging out areas. Find the best looking bear habitat in whatever hunting area you are in and odds are, the bear you see there will be big, especially during prime evening hours. Small bears usually live in marginal habitat for their own safety, as well they should, since big black bears eat small bears. Often hunters say that they spotted an especially large bear right up near the edge of the timber, near the big trees. And they may well have, but odds are, the reason that bear is up there near all those good escape trees, is that the bear itself is small and the very tops of those nearby trees are the best insurance against ending up as a bear breakfast.

Of course, location is a relative thing,  a grassy meadow along a creek in the bottom country or a reclaimed road seeded to clover in the high country. In other areas, a good location may be a bait pile or oat field. Because of the huge diversity of black bear habitat across North America, good location is relative and impossible to qualify. Know your hunting area and you’ll know what to look for, but remember, if there’s a bear feeding on a prime spot at prime time, odds are it’s a bear worth judging.

bear9Attitude
Big bears are the toughest, meanest sons-of-a-guns in the area and they act it. Watch a human bully walk down the street, he walks with a swagger and an attitude. A big bear walks the same way. He doesn’t fit and start at every sound like a small bear will. A big bear doesn’t have to; he believes he’s got nothing to fear. Once you’ve spotted your bear on the prime feeding spot during prime time, it’s time to get serious about how that bear is behaving.

It is important to note that long before you judge the size of the bear, you must judge the sex of that bear. A big, old sow will have all, or more correctly, almost all of the physical characteristics of a big, old boar. She’ll have the nasty looking face that’s seen one too many years in the ring, the potbelly and the sway back. The one thing (besides the obvious) that she won’t have, except in exceptional cases, is the “I’m the biggest and baddest son of a gun in the valley” behavior that determines sex more effectively than if that bear was wearing a bikini.

  1. Watch to see if the bear stands on his hind legs and rubs his back on a tree, that’s a boar.
  2. If it walks along and straddles small trees, wiping its scent on that tree, it’s a boar.
  3. If it stands up and breaks saplings over its shoulder, it’s a boar.
  4. If it encounters another bear and gives chase, it’s a boar and if it is following a smaller bear, it’s a boar.

Scale
There is one last general appearance tip to judging black bears that makes the top three in importance, and that is scale. A big bear looks big . . . but so does a closer, smaller bear. Here’s a quantitative example of this. If the bear is 150 yards away but the hunter thinks the bear is 200 yards away, the hunter will overestimate the bear’s relative size by somewhere near 25 percent. In other words, the hunter is in for a serious case of ground shrink when he walks up to his bear. Get as close to the bear as you can. The closer the bear, the less chance there is of misjudging the distance to the bear, and thereby misjudging the bear’s relative size.

Specific Tips for Judging Black Bears
If the bear fails any one of the above general conditions, then let the bear walk. It’s tough but at least there isn’t a dead small bear lying on the ground.

1) Body Shape: Do you wear the same size pants as you did when you were in high school? Be honest, does your spouse poke you in the belly once in a while and tell you to cut back on the Twinkies? Bigger bears are older bears, and like most of us, they don’t have the svelte bodies they once did. They tend to look “heavy” and out of shape. Remember, they monopolize the best feed and habitat, and therefore exert less energy to live.

2) Head Shape: A big bear (boar) will have a deeper, wider and longer snout than a smaller bear or a female. His ears will appear to be wide apart and small. If he is aware of you and looking your way, his ears won’t stand up on top of his head like a dog’s ears, they’ll seem to be aimed out to the side of his head. A big bear will have well developed “bulging like Arnold,” biting muscles on the top of his head.

3) Legs: A big bear will have massively developed front shoulders. His shoulders will look big and burly. A sow’s wrist will pinch in directly above the foot. Not so with a boar. The lower forearm, wrist and the foot on a big boar are all the same width. A big bear often appears to have shorter legs because the body is so much thicker, but keep in mind that the best-scoring bears for the records book are often the lankier looking, longer-bodied bears.

 

Let Boone and Crockett Sort Them Out
There isn’t a guide or hunter in the world who can accurately call the skull measurement of a black bear. It’s impossible. There are simply too many variables that affect the final dried measurement.  bear6

There are bears that have meatier heads; bears that look great and are great trophies, but that don’t score well. There are others that have short skulls, block-headed beasts that look impressive, but that don’t score well at all and there are lanky, skinny bears with donkey faces that score like the devil, but that a hunter seriously looking for a records book bear wouldn’t walk across the street for. Black bear morphology is just too darn diversified to make a science out of judging.

The best way to hunt for a records book boar is to simply shoot the bear that looks good to you and that hopefully you’ll appreciate. If it’s got a nice hide, be happy with your animal. If it has long claws and weighs a ton, good for you and congratulations. If it isn’t as big as you’d like, don’t fret, you’re not alone and the rug on your wall will still look great. If it happens to be one of those rare few bears that has grown a skull that qualifies for the records book, thank your guide and your lucky stars and don’t expect to repeat the feat in the near future. It won’t be that bigger bears aren’t around—they are—you just won’t be able to tell them apart from the other bears in the area!

BREAKDOWN OF SCORING COMPONENTS – BEAR
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Stalking Black Bear

imagesPQEZ37S9If you’re determined to fill your tag and you’re up for a truly heart-pounding hunt, try one of these two killer ground setups. There are times when you have to get on the ground to arrow a big bear. Either the best ambush point offers no suitable place to hang a tree stand or the biggest bear is wise to the stand you’ve already hung. In both cases, the solution is to get on the bear’s level (at your own risk, of course). If you’re determined to fill your tag and you’re up for a truly heart-pounding hunt, try one of these two killer ground setups.

1) Smoke Him Out As the days begin to shorten in autumn, bears enter a stage called hyper­phagia in which they gorge themselves in advance of hibernation, often feeding all day long, putting on 2 or 3 pounds a day. Any major feeding area, therefore, is a great place to find bears now. Trouble is, many of their favorite spots, including clear-cuts, apple orchards, blueberry bogs, and raspberry and blackberry thickets, lack suitable stand trees. To take a bear in a place like this, the first thing you need to do is scout the area for scat, tracks, and traces of fur to tell you where the bruin is doing most of its feeding. Once you figure that out, pick an open area where you can get a shot, move crosswind about 20 paces, and make a natural blind. Try to choose a spot that already has good cover, such as a blow down, stump, or thicket, as bears are acutely aware of changes in their feeding areas. imagesAI2YGGR2Walk back out to the opening you chose earlier and fire up a couple of scent sticks, which are legal in many areas that don’t allow bait (be sure to check local regulations). Now just sneak back into your hideout and wait for a hungry bear to show up. Theoretically, the approaching bruin’s attention will be locked on the sweet-smelling smoke—not on you quivering in the shadows—and you’ll be able to keep it together long enough to take the shot.

2) Back Off the Bait The majority of black bear bait sites feature a permanent (or at least long-term) tree stand that is situated downwind and overlooking the goodies. The biggest bears, however, often know not only where that tree stand is, but whether or not a hunter is in it. Circling downwind of the stand to check with his nose and often his eyes, a big boar will not hit the bait until he’s absolutely certain the perch is unoccupied. And that means, if you’re willing to go to the ground, you can use the stand as a decoy.

First look for the faint trail that curves through the undergrowth downwind of the treestand; this usually lies just within sight of the bait barrel. Broken plant stems, paw impressions in the moss, and freshly snapped branches should be all the evidence you need, but you may also see obvious tracks or scat. Once you’ve determined the bear’s route, look for a natural hideaway downwind of it and get comfortable. I should probably warn you: You may be afraid as that big boar pads in to investigate, but wait for him to walk past you, and then take the quartering-away shot.

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Develop Proper Archery Form

 

SONY DSCPictured here is perhaps the most popular position of the feet when it comes to shooting; the “Open Stance”. It is easy to perform and opens up the shooter to the target resulting in less interference with clothing from the bowstring.

Despite the fact that you may be shooting the most highly tuned bow, adorned with top of the line accessories, if your shooting form is bad your accuracy will likely be worse. Shooting with good form requires mastering a number of processes. However, once these processes are understood and learned, shooting with proper form will be as easy as walking across the floor; it will become second nature.

Before incorporating the following steps into your shot routine, be sure that you are shooting a well tuned bow set at the appropriate draw length.SONY DSC

Proper Shooting Stance
Where you place your feet during the shot process can have a great bearing on where your arrow strikes. By nature, your body has a natural centering point. If your feet are not positioned properly you might find yourself being pulled away from this centering point. As a result, the body will fight to return to this location. Unfortunately, this can occur during the shot which will impede accuracy.

Resist the urge to grip your bow. Instead, let your fingers naturally drop around the handle and riser. This will eliminate unwanted tension and bow torque making your shots more accurate.

There are 3 basic stance positions to consider. They are as follows.
  • Squared Stance:  Feet are in-line with one another, drawing a line perpendicular to the target.
  • Closed Stance:  Front foot is forward from the front of the body
  • Open Stance:  Front foot is slightly pointing toward the target.The best stance, regardless of which you choose, should be comfortable and solid. This starts by placing your feet about shoulders-width apart with your body weight distributed between the midsection and rear of your feet.

Most bow hunting experts will suggest an open stance which starts by positioning your toes 90 degrees to the target, and then taking a half-step backward with the foot that is closest to the target. This stance will essentially place the chest more toward the target and allow for greater bowstring clearance along the bow arm and chest.

However, this stance may not be for everyone. In order to find your perfect stance, enlist the help of a friend and simply close your eyes and draw your bow while facing a archery target with a wide back 1wall, anchoring as you normally would. With your eyes still closed, move your body and feet around until you find the most comfortable position. Then, open your eyes and note the direction of your aim.

When it comes to hauling back the bowstring, don’t rely on the small bicep muscles of the arm. Instead, use the larger, more stable muscles of the upper back and shoulder. Not only can these muscles pull more weight, they are also steadier and fatigue less quickly.

Let down the bow and reference the position of your feet by pointing an arrow straight at the aiming spot. You have just found your stance.

SONY DSCCorrect Bow Grip
When it comes to gripping the bow you want to do so in such a way that hand torque is not promoted. In other words, you want your grip to be as torque-free as possible. To do this, you first need to find the best location for the grip to contact your hand. This can easily be accomplished with a simple test.

First, take your bow hand and hold it out as if you were going to grip the bow; keeping it slightly open and rigid to imitate pressure being applied to it. Next, take your thumb from your other hand and push it into your bow hand at different locations. You will notice that every location you push with your thumb causes your bow hand to move or collapse—-except one. That one spot is where you want to place the pressure of the bows grip while at full draw.

Your bow arm shoulder should be down and in a “locked” position while at full draw. This makes it more difficult to flex the bow arm causing shot-ruining muscle tension.

This location is typically where the bones in the forearm butt up against the base of the palm. It is a bone-to-bone contact point and is the most reliable, torque-resistant location in which to place the bow grip.

When grabbing the bow, place a small amount of tension on the string, just enough to feel it in your bow hand. Then position the grip into the area you discovered by pressing your thumb into your palm. Now you are ready to draw the bow. Just remember, upon reaching full draw, your bow hand should remain relaxed with your fingers falling down or dangling around the front of the riser.

Drawing the Bow
This may seem like a trivial facet to good shooting, but drawing the bow properly incorporates all of the essential muscles needed in order to shoot with good form; mainly, the back muscles. One of the easiest ways to do this is to think of your drawing arm elbow as having a hook in it. When drawing the bow, start with your elbow about as high as your jaw line. Then, imagine someone has a string attached to the hook that is in your elbow. Now, think about them pulling your elbow straight back as you draw your bow. Instead of puling with your biceps, you will notice that you are actually drawing the bow by using the larger muscles of the upper back; specifically, the rhomboid muscles. This will allow you to relax the rest of your body and pull through the shot using only your back.

SONY DSCBow-Arm Position
A steady aim equals comfortable shooting and tighter arrow groups. A relaxed bow hand is the key to this. To acquire this it is imperative that your drawing side shoulder be down and in a locked position during the shot. Positioning the shoulder in such a manner will greatly reduce muscle tension which is the root of poor aiming. Before drawing the bow, lean slightly toward the target, then start the drawing process. This will place the shoulder in a low, locked, “bone to bone” position.

When it comes to where you place your release-hand, choose and area along the face/jaw-line that is easily repeatable and consistent; your shooting will likewise follow. Hunter shown wearing Lost Camo.

Anchor Position
Consistency is the cornerstone to good shooting. The best location to anchor your bowhand is somewhere along the jawbone that provides the most stable platform. In other words, choose a spot that allows your hand, knuckles, etc. to rest solidly as you release the trigger of your release or let go of the bowstring.

A good tip is to locate this spot with your eyes closed, without looking through the peep sight. Then, once your anchor point has been established, with your head in a natural, upright position, you can open your eyes and adjust the peep sight to your eye, instead of adjusting your eye to the peep sight.

The bottom line is to find an easy-to-repeat anchor point; one that will be consistent and second nature when shooting under pressure or any other time.

TIf good shooting form and posture are present, your body should resemble the letter “T” when viewed from behind. Hunter shown wearing Lost Camo.

Establishing T-Form
The easiest way to confirm that proper draw length and comfortable shooting posture are being used is to look for the “T-Form” as the archer is at full draw. This is easily recognized while looking at the shooter from behind. When doing so, his/her body will represent the shape of a “T”.

The torso should be vertically straight, with a direct line running up and down through the spinal column. The horizontal line in the “T” should run from the bow-side elbow, through the shoulders, and across to the drawing elbow. The trick to establishing this “T” form is to make sure that your drawing elbow isn’t too high or too low. Ideally, it should be about the same height as your ears while at full draw. This will promote the use of back muscles to draw and execute the shot.

Include these simple steps into your shouting routine and watch as your accuracy improves and your confidence soars not only on the 3D archery range, but in the field as well.

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