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Sunday, December 1, 2013

In nature, nothing goes to waste

My last entry described setting out cameras for my Black Bear Management Class and hoping to capture images of bears. As I reported, it was my third year conducting that activity but the first one that didn't produce bear captures. That activity ended about two weeks before the start of the regular firearm season for deer and bear, so I repositioned a few of the cameras in hopes of getting some last minute scouting in on the bucks in the area.
My Father is still recovering from his back surgery so hunting from a tree stand was not possible this
year. Instead, we set out a ground blind in a likely location, but one in which neither of us had hunted before. I set out a camera there of course.You can see the blind in the background. Notice the trail to the blind has been nicely raked so Dad would have an easy time getting to it. Although I changed cameras, this is the same set where I had placed "Bear Lure" on a dead log (foreground). We got some nice results!



The only deer photo:




A curious coyote:

And those bears we were hoping for two weeks earlier!!!
Bears rolling in "Bear Lure"
Well, opening day arrived and Dad saw no deer but he DID see these two cubs and their mother. He has no interest in shooting a bear. In addition, shooting a bear from a group of bears is not legal in our
part of New York. I was jealous of his sighting. I spent the day in my tree stand and saw no deer OR bears. The next day wasn't much better. We made plans to hunt on Tuesday. Turns out Tuesday was a far different day. Tuesday's hunt lasted a whole ten minutes. Dad had just gotten himself zipped into the blind and I had only taken a few steps away when I heard a soft whistle and turned to see his arm pointing out the side window at a buck that was walking through the woods. With a single shot, the buck was down and just like that I had my work cut out for me :). Not that I minded field dressing the deer. I made quick work of it and dragged the nice 8 point buck to level ground.
Now, I am not one to waste an opportunity. With that fresh gut pile just sitting there, I repositioned the camera in hopes of capturing whatever would come for the Thanksgiving-time feast. As you can see from the photo above, there was no snow on the ground on the day I made this set but a week later it was a different story when I went to retrieve it. It was cold. It had snowed, then rained, then froze, then snowed again. It made for some beautiful scenery:
When I got to the tree where I had left the camera, I found only a strap and attachment. This is a Cuddeback Attack so there is a plastic mounting bracket that goes on the strap. The camera can be taken off and checked and the strap remains in place. I could see some damage to the bracket and hoped it was either weather or wildlife and not a trespassing hunter. I felt around in the deep snow a bit and found the camera with no trouble. We had to take it back to camp to thaw it before I could extract the SD card and see what we had captured. First to find the gut pile were crows:

But the remaining photos (and video) were three bears: a mother and two large cubs.

I am always pleased to get bear photos but these were especially nice. First, these were certainly the same bears my Father had seen only a few weeks earlier. Second, it was interesting to see them scavenging. I wondered what their meat scats looked like. And finally, I had the camera set to take 30 second videos as well so I was treated to some excellent views of the big fat sow and her two healthy looking cubs. With so much food available this year, I was not surprised at their apparent healthy condition. I made a simple video and uploaded it to YouTube. You can view it here. Its only a few minutes long.

One final note: On our way out of the woods for lunch that day, I noticed something as we passed an apple tree near the ATV trail. Looks like our bears stopped and gave the tree a good clawing. I now have more bear sign to share with nest year's Black Bear Management students....