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D3-5 Bear Down!


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#1 sierrahunter1

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:26 AM

I’ve never really liked still-hunting the forest, because it’s nearly impossible to walk the timber without making a racket.  But this season, I grew tired of sitting in one of my many ground or tree stands without finding this year’s bear.  It was my 8th day of hunting, and my previous week’s worth of effort was marked by variable winds that constantly gave away my position.  I knew bears were around me because of the stellar’s jays and the mountain quail.  Jays love to mob predators, including bears, and I could tell exactly where the bears were travelling by the mobbing that took place around me (but never in front of me).  The flushing quail also gave away their location a couple of times.  Man, it’s frustrating to be in a great bear location, but have winds that are completely unpredictable.  So yesterday, I changed things up.

 

When grouse hunting earlier in the season, I came across an interesting drainage that had meadows with deer and bear activity.  I decided I was going to sleep in until 5:30, and walk those meadows.  I needed to stretch my friggin’ legs, if nothing else.  The morning was cold, and there was frost on the ground, but the moisture kept things pretty quiet.  I walked all of about 300 yards from the truck, and saw a glimpse of fur out in front of me, maybe 25 yards, and moving away.  I couldn’t believe it.  I needed to get closer, but there’s no way I could do it quietly.  I inched forward a few more yards, and it appeared in full view, at about 35 yards.  A nice black bear, color phase (which is typical in my area).  He wasn’t a huge bear, but my adrenaline was pumping, and I couldn’t hold my rifle steady, even at that range.  I usually don't get bear fever, but it was bad this time.  I had the scope at 4x, and he filled all of it.  I always carry a shooting stick I cut from an alder, and used that to steady myself.  Even then, it was a miracle I hit him.  He did a backwards somersault several times until he finally landed in the drainage.  I walked up to him as he was breathing his last breath.  I was amazed and grateful.

 

I included a picture of the scenery as I was carting out the bear, because it didn’t occur to me until after I saw the picture just how beautiful the surroundings are.  Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.

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#2 JNDEER

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:40 AM

Excellent work. Looks like you were able to steady just fine on that shoulder.



#3 Arrowslinger

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:49 AM

That’s a dandy bear, congrats! Went out last weekend look’ing for-’em, still searching.

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#4 Ambush

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:59 AM

Alright, no tracking needed!

#5 Spanky

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 09:47 AM

Nice job! I deer hunt D5 every year but this year as I drew and failed at X9-A. I've often thought about getting a bear tag but every time I mention it to people I hear, "You don't want a bear". These are hunters telling me this. My guess is they aren't fond of the meat. Perhaps you can enlighten me on recommendations for meat prep in that regards. I've glassed a big dude several times in the area I hunt over the years and actually have had him in my scope while hunting. I think it's time! My area has more bears and less deer in recent years. Thought?



#6 Skeet

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 10:02 AM

Congrats got to love how close to the truck he was


I came in this world with nothing and thankfully still have most of it left

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#7 chessie

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 11:17 AM

you had me at 300 yards from the truck. Great job.



#8 sierrahunter1

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 11:37 AM

Nice job! I deer hunt D5 every year but this year as I drew and failed at X9-A. I've often thought about getting a bear tag but every time I mention it to people I hear, "You don't want a bear". These are hunters telling me this. My guess is they aren't fond of the meat. Perhaps you can enlighten me on recommendations for meat prep in that regards. I've glassed a big dude several times in the area I hunt over the years and actually have had him in my scope while hunting. I think it's time! My area has more bears and less deer in recent years. Thought?

People's opinions vary widely on bear meat.  My wife and I love it. In fact, my wife, who doesn't hunt, was recently asking me when I was going to bring home some more bear meat this year.  She likes it better than venison.  Bears taste like what they eat.  If they're eating kokanee salmon, forget it.  Vegetation and berries make for delicious meat, in my book.  Meat care is critical.  It needs to be cooled quickly, and the fat needs to be trimmed away (although the fat tastes pretty good).  The fat doesn't freeze well, so it can become rancid in the freezer over time.  If you can get the meat in a cooler or refrigerator within hours of the kill, I think you'll like it (tastes like beef).  If you can't pack it out until the next morning, it could be a bit gamey, because the bear's insulation can keep the meat from cooling overnight.

 

I target bears every year, and would rather get a bear than a deer.  Bears are driven by their stomachs, which makes them more predictable than deer, in my experience.  I think it's easier to harvest a bear than a deer in CA. The downside:  they are a bit of a pain to pack out (understatement), and according to the regs, you can't leave the hide or skull (which can be HEAVY).  And you can't really eat a bear steak cooked on the grill.  It's gotta be cooked to kill trichinosis, so the internal temp according to the CDC needs to be at least 160 degrees.  Steve Rinella says 137 degrees.  I don't gamble, and use bear for roasts, stews, chili, meat loaf, sausage, etc.  It makes the best roast on earth, IMHO. 



#9 Spanky

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:35 PM

Thanks for the info Sierrahunter1. Does bear season coincide with deer? Or is it a longer season? The bears in my area in D5 have a lot of berries to feast on, oh and the occasional downed pilot, but that's another story altogether!



#10 sierrahunter1

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 05:24 PM

Spanky,

General bear season opens concurrently with general deer season in the A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 deer hunting zones. In the remaining deer hunting X zones, bear season begins October 14, 2017.  General bear season closes on December 31, 2017, or earlier, if CDFW determines that 1,700 bears have been reported taken.  Since hound hunting has been banned, harvest numbers have never hit 1,700, so the season will essentially be open until the end of the year.  Don't wait for the food sources to dry up before getting out there.  Bears change their behaviors as food availability changes, and you may not find the bears you've been seeing. Good luck, and report back!



#11 Zach

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:26 AM

Good stuff man, even better at 300 yds from the truck!!



#12 JNDEER

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 06:44 AM

sierra - I am not sure what regulation you refer to for not being able to leave the hide? I have never heard of it being illegal to leave a bear hide in CA.



#13 meatgetter

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 07:13 AM

Sierrahunter - I always enjoy your posts and this is no exception.   Good work!


"We interrupt this marriage to bring you the hunting season."
 


#14 sierrahunter1

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 09:12 AM

sierra - I am not sure what regulation you refer to for not being able to leave the hide? I have never heard of it being illegal to leave a bear hide in CA.

Hey JNDEER,

 

The regulation is at FGC 4757, which states, "Any person taking any bear must retain in his possession during the open season thereon, and for 15 days thereafter, the skin and portion of the head bearing the ears, and must produce the skin and portion of the head upon the demand of any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of this code."

 

The truth is, I didn't know about this regulation until yesterday.  I originally planned to keep the hide, so I hauled it out over those grueling 300 yards.  But at home, I decided to toss it (you can only have so many bear skins).  So I removed the skull and put the hide in the trash can.  I attached the tag to the skull, and planned to have it countersigned today.  Not wanting to screw up, I read the bear tag to ensure I filled it out properly, and noticed that the tag must be attached to the ear of the bear, not the skull.  Dang it.  Not only that, but the tag says I gotta keep it attached for the whole dang season plus two weeks.  So I wanted to see if I could cut the head off the hide and just present that, and looked up the regulation.  Nope.  I'm screwed.  I gotta keep the whole hide plus head with tag attached until January 15, 2018, essentially.  I pulled the hide out of the trash and put the tag on it.  That's going to be in my freezer for the next 3 1/2 months, unless I want to stink up the neighborhood.

 

As a side-note, this question was posed to Carrie Wilson, who does a column for CDFW.  Here is the link that explains the regulation a bit more.  https://californiaou...g/bear-hunting/



#15 Arrowslinger

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 09:17 AM

I interpret that as only needing to take out the head and skin/hide surrounding it, not the entire hide. Truth be told, ive presented bear skulls to DFG many times as only a skull and have never had a question. I’ve never packed out the entire hide. Never want to.

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