Saturday, November 2, 2013

Game Warden Files--More Bears Everywhere

About the same time all the previous story was ongoing and we had four officers tied up, neighboring officer Larry Johnson got a call about another bunch hunting over bait not far from the first two incidents, though no bears had been killed.  He found the site and found an incredible baited area...but no hunters.

At this point, he took his best shot at making a case and followed the tracks to a nearby camp. He found a bunch of hunters in the camp and with only a little persuasion admitted to having set out the bait so that they could kill the bears that were eating all their deer feed.  At that point in time, feeding deer was not illegal but hunting them over bait was so it was apparent what they were really doing.  Larry took them and settled them up with a nearby judge also.

The final call of that very long day was of still another guy shooting a bear over bait in the same area. No one was available to take the call that night, but early the next morning, ECO Ben Bramlage came out.  He found a bit of blood on a pile of apples, that's about all.  By doing some very good police work--with a couple lucky breaks thrown in--he got the name of a likely suspect and went for a friendly chat.  That chat ended up with an admission and yet another case involving bear and bait.  In the first 24 hours of the season there had been 4 bears illegally killed and one shot illegally in an area less than 5 miles long and two miles wide.

My funniest bear story involved not hunting but a nuisance bear--a very big and hungry bear that was wrecking a farmer's cornfields.  Every night this old guy would set up camp and chomp his way through about a 50 foot circle of corn.  What he didn't eat, he'd flatten.

Lt. Florence and I checked the spot out one afternoon and decided we'd do what we could to discourage him.  I had my shotgun loaded with rubber slugs and buckshot and one slug--just in case.  We waited until dark and made our way back to the field.  From a couple hundred feet away we could hear him chomping. We walked a few feet into the corn and he'd stop.  We'd stop and wait until we could hear him eating again then start working our way toward him.  As we got closer, the sound got louder and louder.  When we were only a few rows of corn away from where we thought he was, we stopped and listened again....he was very close.  When he started chomping again, I leveled the shotgun in his direction and fired all the rubber ammo. We heard him crashing away through the corn.  As he ran away I fired a "cracker" round--like an airborne M-80--into the air.  It exploded and echoed off the nearby hills.  We congratulated ourselves on a job well done and went to report to the farmer.  He'd heard the cracker round go off and figured that we'd had contact.

I'm glad we'd had a good time, because the farmer called back the next day...the bear was back, hungry as ever.  Since this farm was outside the area where bear hunting was allowed, the department issued a nuisance permit to destroy the bear.  A couple guys came in with dogs, ran a bear out of the corn and killed it.  It was a sow about 230 pounds or so.  That was NOT our bear. Two other guys set out to get get it a couple days later and killed a massive 400+ male.  That was our guy.  When I saw him hanging, I couldn't believe Scott and I had been within a few feet of him in the dark.  

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