BY ROGER SABOTA
Special to the Star Journal
To some hunters, big game hunting means hunting black bear and whitetail deer in Wisconsin or neighboring states. To others, it means heading to western states to hunt elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope, bear or moose. Moose hunting in Canada is also popular with some big game hunters.
When the air turns cool and hunters gather, the hunting stories from the past and present are abundant.
In this area many residents believe that the bear population is larger than the deer population and the number of bears seems to increase every year. One area resident told about watching four bear cubs in the neighbor’s yard plus the mother bear.
Judging from my experience, hunters intending to hunt for bear in the Rhinelander area would have to go through the application process for approximately ten years in order to get a bear permit. As previously mentioned in this column, I finally received a permit this fall after applying for ten years.
Once a hunter receives a bear permit the real work begins. My experience has only been with using bait to locate a bear. That process is time consuming once a bait site is established since a new supply must be provided on a regular basis in order to keep the bears returning to the site.
Those hunters hunting with the assistance of dogs spend many hours in the woods before the season opens training their dogs.
I had the opportunity to watch several different bears as I sat in the evenings near the bait site. It was interesting to watch-and noisy, as they dismantled the logs that were used to cover the hidden food.
For years our family has enjoyed watching deer passing through our yard. It is interesting to try to pattern their movements. Some years we would see them on or near our property on a regular basis. Now that has changed and we see them much less frequently. The fawns that we have seen most frequently have now lost their spots and are almost as large as the doe.
Because of fewer deer sightings in many areas some hunters are losing interest. One wonders how many deer hunters we will see during deer season.
As previously mentioned, some big game hunters head west or north to pursue the animal of their choice. Every year there are a number of groups that head to various parts of Colorado to hunt.
One group that I am familiar with bow hunted in Colorado for elk and mule deer. They parked their trucks at a trailhead and hiked in two to three miles where they began their hunt. Hiking into the hunting area is a lot of work but hiking back with the animals that were shot is an unbelievable amount of work! This group of four hunters shot three elk in a week of hunting.
It has been a number of years since I hunted the western states for elk. When the hunters start planning their trips I get the urge to hunt out there again and then I think about how much work it is and the effect the high altitude has on my body.
Some area residents have headed west to goat and sheep country to hunt. I must admit that type of hunting is beyond my interest and ability.
Whatever activity you choose to participate in this fall always be sure to keep safety in mind. The DNR reports that “deer stands are more dangerous than guns”. One accident will ruin a good hunting trip.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.