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Some success in bear season



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October 09, 2013 - A unique bear bait was just the meal ticket for a local hunter's success.

Groveland Township Jason Bradley shot a 150-pound black bear in Alger County on Oct. 2 near Munising and the Lake Superior shore.

"Much of the season was in 70-degree weather so it was pretty slow the first few days," said Bradley, now with four bears in six years of hunting. "There were bear hunters with dogs in the area at the time, but they don't seem to have much impact on us hunting over bait. I figure the dogs with radio collars gets the bear moving. Also, the dog hunters line the road and pretty much stay out of our way until a bear trees."

This year Bradley used popcorn as bear bait.

"I fired up the turkey fryer at camp and popped about 50 pounds of corn—seasoned it with sugar for the bears," said Bradley. "They loved it and it was lighter and much more economical than bread that we used in past hunts. Plus it was a really nice snack while hunting."

Jason was hunting with his son Hunter, 12, and uncle, Raymond Dobis of Lapeer County.

"We did not see or hear any wolves near our camp—there were a few coyotes, but they seem to be everywhere," he said. "They (wolves) did not show up on our trail cameras either. The town folks did not have any horror stories or conflicts—all contrary to some of the news stories regarding the UP wolves."

The bear was harvested at 75 yards in thick cover at about 6:30 p.m.

Kevin Swanson, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist and Upper Peninsula Bear specialist, said while some success has been reported during the 2013 season, the number of animals harvested is expected to be lower.

"The final numbers of bears taken will not be available until November," said Swanson. "However, our preliminary numbers indicate fewer numbers than in 2012."

According to the DNR, in 2011 a total of 1,715 bears were harvested in the UP compared to 1,342 taken in 2012.

"One major reason the numbers are down is the quota of licenses was reduced by 30 percent," said Swanson. "Many of the groups in the UP were reporting seeing fewer bears over the last few years so the number of permits was reduced. The effort is to not over harvest, rather, balance the number of animals taken based on the land and food to support the bears."

The Upper Peninsula is ideal black bear habitat including wetlands and provides ample food, added Swanson.

"The acorn and beechnut growth has been excellent this year," he said. "It could be that with more food the bears are not hitting hunters' bait, but the DNR will keep a close eye on the population and the 2013 hunt."

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