After hot opener, cooler temperatures get the bear hunt on track
Minnesota's bear season opened Monday to some of the worst conditions a bear hunter could have imagined. Temperatures pushing 90 degrees. Big wind. The second day of the season was marked by thunderstorms and heavy rains in many areas. But by mid...
Minnesota's bear season opened Monday to some of the worst conditions a bear hunter could have imagined. Temperatures pushing 90 degrees. Big wind.
The second day of the season was marked by thunderstorms and heavy rains in many areas.
But by midweek, bear guides and hunters across Northeastern Minnesota had the kind of weather they wanted.
"She's coolin' down," Dennis Udovich of Udovich Guide Service near Gheen said Wednesday.
The forecast was for cool temperatures throughout the week.
"We're seeing a lot of smaller bears," Udovich said. "A lot of our guys are looking for bigger bears."
One of his clients, an 80-year-old man, shot a bear that field-dressed at 260 pounds on Tuesday evening, Udovich said. Another customer had a sow and two cubs come to visit.
"He said, 'I watched them for 20 minutes. That was my hunt.' "
The hunter didn't pull the trigger. Rules are strict at Udovich Guide Service. Hunters sign an agreement saying they won't shoot a sow with cubs, nor a bear that isn't 4 feet long. Udovich places 4-foot-long logs near his baits so hunters can properly size up their bears.
Other guides filed similar reports from around the region.
"I welcome this cool weather," guide Mike Bissonette of Babbitt said Wednesday. "The baits are getting hit good. We've managed to get a few. One we got field-dressed at 235 pounds last night [Sept. 2]. That's a nice bear."
Most berries in the woods have dropped or withered, he said, so bears are more willing to visit hunters' baits.
Bissonette had eight hunters in camp at midweek.
"Overall, I'm expecting a good season," he said.
Bear guide Kelly Shepard of Grand Marais is already having a good season. Nine of 15 clients have shot bears so far, he said Wednesday.
"We're doing well. We haven't gotten any real big bears yet. But it's looking good. Nice and steady," Shepard said.
Wilderness Outfitters in Ely had eight hunters in the woods, said co-owner Marcy Gotchnik. "We've had one kill. One hunter missed two bears. They've been hitting the baits good. They're eating Gummi Bears."
Hunters and guides place all kinds of goodies to attract bears. The menu is limited only by what a hunter can afford, beg or scrounge. Gummi Bears, popcorn, chocolate-covered cherries, fruit syrups, day-old pastries, spray scent concoctions and other "secret" ingredients are popular.
Udovich said most of the berries are gone in his area, but plenty of hazelnuts remain. Bears like to eat hazelnuts.
"That will make things a little harder. We'll have to make our baits taste better," Udovich said.
Wisconsin's bear hunting season opened Wednesday for hunters using bait. The season for hunters using dogs opens Wednesday.