10-14-2017 Outdoors - Swanson

A black bear checking out one of the bait stations.

August

7: Drive up north to place three bait stations. At bait stations 1 and 3, holes are dug around a myriad of roots and rocks. Bait station 2 is in a swamp, so we must carry a large stump in the woods. It is set on a small mound that will hopefully remain above the water line in the swamp. The hollow stump is tied to a tree so the bears don’t take it and a very big rock is dug up to secure the lid to keep smaller critters out.

9: A bear eats or “hits” all the bait at station 3. Stations 1 and 2 are untouched.

11: All three stations are being hit. Life is good. We place trail cams at all three stations to see what the bears look like.

15: We begin looking at the pictures from the trail cameras. Bait station 1 has a small bear coming in. Bait station 2 has a couple of different bears coming in. Bait station 3 has a sow and two cubs hitting the bait.

18: Looking at trail cameras again, we see the same bears as before. We decided to stop baiting station 3 because we do not want to hunt a bear with cubs. The sow and her cubs need to survive to keep the bear populations strong.

24: Time to put tree stands up at the bait stations 1 and 2. At station 1, we place the stand six feet off the ground and about 20 yards to the east of the bait. It’s just high enough to see over the brush. The bait and stand are set up in such a way that a bear should be broadside to the hunt when it is in the bait. We put up a ladder stand at bait station 2. But first, we must find the stand which is hidden in a swamp. We find the stand about a half mile from the new location. Mosquitoes are thick in the swamp. Station 3 is similar to station 1.

September

1: The sow and two cubs have stopped coming to bait 3. We start baiting it again. I haul several buckets of used cooking oil up north to use a bait. The lid pops off one of the buckets and oil slops out. Every time the sun is shining, the Forester smells like French Fries.

5: A variety of bears are coming to all three stations. Several are very big at station 3. The excitement is building.

6-10: The acorns begin to drop, especially from the white oaks. Hunting bear with dogs begins on Sept. 6. Bears vanish from bait stations 2 and 3. Bear at station 1 only comes in at 3 a.m., according to the time stamp on the trail camera.

13: I can finally attempt to shoot a bear. I am in stand 1 as soon as it is light enough to see the sights on the flint lock rifle. The plan is to sit all day or until the bear comes in. The day is uneventful. Lots of small birds and a few squirrels are the only action. Late in the day, it starts to sprinkle and then it turns to pouring rain. I hightail it out of the woods before getting too wet.

14: More rain, can’t hunt.

15: The rain ends and I try sitting in stand 2. At about noon, a gray squirrel begins burying nuts under the stand. It was really fascinating to watch how the process worked. Mosquitoes are thick.

16: I walk into stand 2 about 8 a.m. Bait has been hit. I re-bait the station and settle in. At about 1 p.m. I see black moving in the woods. IT’S A BEAR! My heart rate goes from 60 beats to about 300 beats in half a second. The bear walks to within 10 feet of bait and stops, sticks its nose out and sniffs a bit. It then lumbers around and slinks back into the swamp. It is hidden by trees and brush the entire time. My heart rate returns to normal in about 10 minutes.

18: Roofers finish the main part of work on my house. Time to put down the flint lock rifle and pick up the paint brush.

25: Painting done. Heavy rains up north, so I stay home and make apple butter.

27: No rain, so I run up north and hunt for the day. At least the mosquitoes are as scarce as the bears.

October

4: Pack up the tent and hunting gear and head up north for final bear camp. Sit on stand 3 for the afternoon. Beautiful afternoon. No bears.

5: Check bait 2 and see that it had been hit. Decide to sit on that bait. After three hours of sitting, I hear a slight rustling of leaves to my right. I look and see a bear. It approaches the bait. Stops short of the clearing and the turns round to walk out. The bear pauses and looks back at bait. I think I have a clear shot at the bear’s head. I line up the shot and pull the trigger. As the bear runs off, I see a branch falling to the ground.

6: I try sitting on bait station 3. After an hour of sitting there is a major commotion in a nearby tree. A blue jay bolts out of the tree with a hawk in hot pursuit. The jay manages to elude the hawk with the help of a jack pine.

7: Last day to hunt. Nice day no bears.

Jim Swanson is a Menomonie resident. He can be reached at james4j@wwt.net.

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Dunn County News reporter

Laura covers local/prep sports as well as school-related and general news in Dunn County. She joined The Dunn County News in October 2016. She can be contacted directly at laura.giammattei@lee.net or (715) 279-6721.

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