Category Archives: Pieces of Mind

Bear Hunting

None of us on the DEER:30 team are really bear hunters. We do not condemn bear hunting, but filling a trash barrel in the middle of the woods with doughnuts and table scraps and waiting for a bear to come to you, just doesn’t seem very fulfilling. Some folks prefer to hunt with dogs. They swear by the excitement of allowing a pack of hounds to run a bear until it is so exhausted or frightened that it finally seeks the refuge of a tree. Then the clever hunter finally catches up and shoots the animal when he has no way of escape.

Like I said, I have never been on a bear hunt, but I have sat in a deer stand and watched an exhausted bear fleeing for his life with the dogs only minutes behind.  The dogs are followed by the same hunters who have lobbied the Virginia legislature to separate the big game tags for bear, deer, and turkey from the standard hunting license, claiming the “deer hunters are killing all the bears.” Never mind the fact that their dogs do not have the wherewithal to chase a bear to the public land boundary and stop, but are allowed to run free across private land or public as needed to corner their prey, regardless of permission by the land owners. Or that deer hunters typically occupy a relatively small area while hunting compared to the miles upon miles that the dogs may run before treeing a bear.

Whoa, pump the brakes and come down off your soap box! I know it is dangerous to speak of the group, as experience and emotions can be tainted by a few bad apples or perhaps my own ignorance. If these methods bring you pleasure and the same kind of passion that I feel while deer hunting, more power to you. We will just have to agree to disagree.

There are elements of bear hunting that are appealing and have earned it a spot on my bucket list. First, it would have to be a spot and stalk scenario. The idea of putting all your skills as a hunter, tracker, and marksman into one focused endeavor to harvest an animal, quite capable of harvesting you, gets my adrenaline pumping. Ideally, I can see myself, stick and string in hand, on the beaches of British Colombia sneaking up on giant black bear or on the shores of Alaska after the regal browns, or maybe in my old backyard of southwest Virginia competing with the dogs.