Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BLACK BEARS,THE BITE AND OUTDOOR FOLKS

So far this spring,everything seems to be at least a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.The fiddleheads are popped out already and are close to peaking in some areas.The temperatures have been fluctuating between cool dark days and bright warm days,so you never know what to wear until you look out the window.I had one old gent from Carrolls Crossing tell me that the last time he saw a spring like the one we are having this year was back in 1953.That could be so because I was born in that year and I know one thing for sure,I have never seen a spring bear season like this one in all my days!  Each spring after the snow is pretty much gone,Ken and I,as well as Jamie and Dallas,head out to check the roads and clover fields for any fresh sign that we might be able to set up on.We don't just go out blindly setting out baits and hoping a hungry bear will find it.From knowing our hunting areas so well,we pretty much already know were we will see some bear sign and if we find a good set of tracks,we will set up a bait site.On a normal year,all this would be taking place around the first week of May.It is also not uncommon for us to see bears on these spotting excursions.This year,Ken and Jamie were out spotting on the 15th of April and saw nine bears in the week before the season opened!This is unheard of in my time! I said in a previous post last year that Ken had killed a very early bear in the first week of May.At that time,that was the only track we had come across up to that point.This year,we are pre-dating that action by around three weeks!Talk about a difference! Yesterday Jamie decided it was time to put one down.The bear that Jamie took was the fifteenth bear Jamie had seen this season while out spotting.Jamie prefers to hunt bear in this fashion and it works for him because he knows all the best spots to see a grazing bruin and you are usually covering lots of ground and glassing the clover fields and cuttings.
Jamie says this style of hunting black bears beats sitting in a tree stand and getting chewed alive by black-flies anytime! The bear that Jamie took is about average for this area.Certainly not a heavy-weight by any means,it was still a very nice bear.Its coat was in perfect condition and there was zero hair loss.Jamie also made a terrific shot on this bear.His girl-friend and good buddy BJ were both there when Jamie made the shot at two hundred yards, running across the top of a mud-dump.Right through the chest.Sweet!Now many will say"Why didn't he hold out for something bigger?".Well,the reason is,Jamie is first and foremost a meat hunter.He wants to make the kill and get the meat in the freezer.That's just the way it is.Ol' Wes had a lot to do with that attitude,as he raised Kenny up in much the same fashion.Ol' Wes was raised during the Depression years in a family of twelve and he prided himself on being able to go to the duck marsh with three shells and come back with a limit of ducks.It was purely a matter of economics and supper.These two things proved to be great motivators back in Wesley's day and I guess some of it rubbed off on the generations that followed.This bear will be very good eating and it has a beautiful pelt to boot! Congrats Jamie.We also have some very good sized boars coming to our bait sites.Most of the baits we have out are getting hit by multiple bears and some of them are huge!
This nice boar is one of several bears hitting one of our baits.There is a nice cinnamon bear at this site that I had a photo of but I accidentally deleted it. The time and date on this photo is wrong,as you can see.The date was actually May 5@10:12:43.We have several large boars coming in during the day-light hours to this bait and a few others.This photo is one of a yearling posing for the trail cam while his momma and sibling forage about in the bushes.This little family of bears is providing lots of entertainment while on the bait,but they are also eating a lot of the groceries we are lugging to this site.This bear seems to be looking over his shoulder ,as if something is coming in to the bait.Many times a big old boar will wait patiently near the bait,but if he thinks another bear is going to steal his grub,he will barge right in and take control of the situation.This large boar is probably the thing that caused the earlier diner to move along.He doesn't look like the type of bear that would tolerate any company.I love seeing these trophy bear coming in with lots of day-light left.Please note our bait sites do NOT have steel drums or plastic pails laying around.We do not like the look of this type of bait site and we hate the mess it makes in the woods and we refuse to set any of our baits up with steel barrels and plastic pails.We keep our sites clean and free of garbage and debris.We have found that if you tend your baits faithfully,the bears will keep coming and we do make them work a little for their supper by using logs to hide the bait.What you use for bait also is a factor in getting bears to the bait and keeping them coming.Ken and I have experimented with several different concoctions and we think we have come up with a winning combo of smells and food that keeps the big boys coming back for more!The trout are running  now on the Miramichi and Cains River and fishermen are getting some trophy sized sea-trout in the 3-7lb. range.I must say right now that the two fish limit for trout over 12in.is the best rule that has been implemented in a long time.It just makes good sense and it has started to pay big dividends in both the Miramichi and the Cains River.Fishermen pay huge fees to fly in to places in Labrador and Quebec for the chance to catch a trophy brook trout and here you can drive to either river with no difficulty and the cost is probably half of what it would cost to fly in to one of the remote spots.My son Curt,his girl-friend Erica and her father hiked in to a beaver dam on a small brook and got a nice feed of small brookies to go with some fiddleheads and had a nice supper later that day.We have dozens of spots where we can catch a nice feed of trout at any given time,but many times we just hook and release.The five trout limit has increased the trout population substantially and we don't feel one bit guilty keeping a feed of trout once in a while.Many times the population is too high in some of our spots and the trout are stunted in size,so it doesn't hurt to thin them out a bit. I was very encouraged to hear of a strong run of trout on the Newcastle Stream which flows into Grand Lake.I have a lot of history with this beautiful trout stream and it is nice to hear of a wild run of early trout coming up from the lake heading upstream to the headwaters.Normally,the early run of bigger trout would start around the tenth of May,but this year they started around the third week of April! From the reports I got,there were kids and adults alike lining the shores trying to catch some of these nice trout.Many die-hard fishermen followed the run as it made its way upstream,fishing the many deep dark pools that the Newcastle is known for. I became a fly fisherman on the Newcastle Stream many years ago as a young boy of twelve or thirteen.One fine summer day I was fishing a pool with worm and spinner and caught several trout,when I hooked a nice one and lost it before I could get it up on the rocks.No way could I get that fish to take again but I was determined to get him.Someone,I'm assuming it was one of my uncles,suggested trying a fly.So the next morning I crept in to the pool and this time I had an old fly rod and on the leader I had tied in a Grizzly King that I had just bought at Fred Dufours store on the Ridge Road. It was with great anticipation that I cast that small fly into the current just where it started to slow down as the pool got deeper.Wait,wait-There!He took that fly hard and the battle was on! For what seemed like an eternity,I fought that trout and finally brought him to hand.In that moment I became a fly fisherman and that moment will be etched in my memory for as long as I live.I was the proudest boy in the village as I walked home that day many years ago,even if the trout was only fifteen and a half inches long,it was and still is a trophy to me.This photo is one of a false morel mushroom nestled between two sticks that I found growing on the beach in front of my house.My dear Grandmother Boyd first told me about these mushrooms when I was a very young boy. She told me they were good to eat but many people said they were poisonous.That didn't deter my brother Tim and I from enjoying many meals of these delicious mushrooms throughout the years.My grandmother Boyd was an extraordinary woman who taught me many things about life and the natural world,things that I carry with me to this day.I will talk more about her in future posts but for now I would caution my readers about these mushrooms and any other wild mushrooms.KNOW WHAT YOU ARE EATING! The false morel should be fried up crisp because this eliminates the chance of toxins being present in this species. Again,caution should be used because some people are sensitive to wild mushrooms and may experience discomfort or downright illness from ingesting them.
This photo shows my son Curt with a nice bear rug done by Tom Barton.We were up to see Tom on the week-end because I wanted him to do a deer mount for me.I hadn't met Tom before but I was familiar with him from one of the hunting forums on the internet.I must say,I was impressed with Toms open and honest demeanor and we hit it off immediately.Tom does nice work and I told him I would be seeing a lot more of him in the future. After visiting Tom,Curt Ken and I had a nice lunch,then I told the boys I needed a new reel,so off to CT we went. I ended up buying a spin-cast Zebco that was spooled with Cajun line and I can't wait to try it out on the white perch.We have been waiting patiently for the run to start and every evening I have been going down to the shore and trying a few casts.Nothing so far but the usual cast of pickerel,yellow perch,sunfish and chub.The Salmon River is full of gaspereau right now and this has put the bite off a bit,especially for big pickerel.This happens every year when the gaspereau run is on.They just provide too much food for the other species.The trout and white perch follow the gaspereau and gorge on their eggs as they are spawning,so we are hoping to see those tasty white perch show up any day.Until next time,make sure you get out and about and Straight Shootin' and Tight Lines to all!

GOODBYE SUMMER......HELLO FALL!

  Temperatures have finally started to moderate here at home on Salmon River and for most folks that's a good thing. This summer was...