Outdoors: Thinking back on my first Wisconsin bear hunt

Many years ago, I bear hunted in northern Wisconsin. Being from Illinois, I needed some expert guiding on how to hunt the bruins. One fellow I knew and worked at Caterpillar with offered some help on my first bear hunt.

He and I worked together during the 1990s, and he lived in Wind Lake, a suburb of Milwaukee. He had bear hunted in the state and was helpful showing me the ropes. He showed me how to place a barrel with sweet bait in it. The idea was to put the bait out a week or two before season. That way, the bear got used to feeding there, and being a creature of habit, it made the hunt easier.

The first week, I had a bear working the bait and was very excited. Maybe I would be able to take my first bear that year. A week later, the season came in and I was in my stand waiting for my first bear to show up.

Show up he did, as the very large bruin came in. He was accompanied by two others. The big bear tried to drive off the others, but they were not having that at all. It was quite an experience for me, as I got to watch nature at its best.

I finally shot the large bear, and then the work started. Of course, I wanted to save the hide and the head. I had to go to a warden’s house to find out how to transport the bear legally. He showed me how to get the bear ready for transport and how to avoid spoiling the meat, as it was still too warm during the day, and the meat had to be frozen.

Wisconsin had plenty of facilities for processing wild game, and bear was no exception. I had to purchase two gigantic coolers to take the bear meat back to Illinois. After arriving home, I tried some of the meat and was very disappointed. It was very strong meat and not very good on the flavor. Maybe some other folks would like it, but I didn’t, and I am not at all fussy.

That ended my bear hunting. If I can’t eat the animals I take, I will not hunt for them.

Hunting report

I didn’t hear a lot of shooting during opening weekend of the 2021 deer season. I wasn’t successful myself, even though I saw many deer on evening hunts. I hunted next to a cornfield by a wooded area, and every night several deer came out just about 4:30 each night. Unfortunately, all were too far away for me to shoot. I’m not complaining, as there were all kinds of other animals to watch including squirrels, raccoons and even a flock of sandhill cranes.

Squirrel hunting should be good after the deer season. I did hear many shots on the Illinois River. It was probably Canada goose hunters. They still are doing well, as there is a bumper crop of geese in our area.

Fishing report

The fishermen were returning to the mouth of the Fox River again last week. The high winds and water kept many off the water the previous week. I did see some guys catch some small saugers during mid-morning. Some were trolling with floating jigs and others using lead-heads.

• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Fred Krause

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.