Outdoor articles about black bears, hunting reports and other Minnesota and US field sports.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced late last week that the Louisiana black bear, which gave Teddy Roosevelt his famous nickname, has officially recovered enough to be removed from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
“President Theodore Roosevelt would have really enjoyed why we are gathered here today,” said Secretary Sally Jewell, who spoke about the recovery at the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. “Working together across private and public lands with so many partners embodies the conservation ethic he stood for when he established the National Wildlife Refuge System as part of the solution to address troubling trends for the nation’s wildlife. As I said last spring when the delisting proposal was announced, the Louisiana black bear is another success story for the Endangered Species Act.”
Theodore Roosevelt earned his nickname—which he reportedly disliked—after hunting for the Louisiana subspecies of black bear in Mississippi. Members of his hunting party had trapped a young black bear and offered it for Roosevelt to shoot, but the president famously refused, finding it distasteful. The event was chronicled by cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman in The Washington Post, and later a toymaker sought to take advantage of it by producing a line of stuffed toy bears. From there, it quickly entered American culture and for better or for worse, Roosevelt found himself saddled with the nickname for the rest of his stay in office and beyond.
While Roosevelt’s legacy and the programs he set in motion have flourished, sadly the Louisiana black bear did not. By 1992, experts estimated that the subspecies had dwindled to as little as 150 individuals. Federal and state wildlife agencies worked with Louisiana farmers and landowners to restore more than 485,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forests, building much needed habitat for the bears. Today, officials believe that as many as 720 Louisiana black bears now exist in the wild.
“Growing up in the Sportsman’s Paradise, I’m proud to join in the announcement of the recovery of the Louisiana black bear,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “The resurrection of this iconic symbol of our nation and Louisiana shows the value of science and collaborative research. It also represents a commitment to conservation with so many willing partners from private landowners to state and federal agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations coming together to make sure the Louisiana black bear will be around for many generations to come.”
Daniel Xu +
Brooke Bateman got her first buck in November, which just so happened to be one of the rarest deer in the country.
An all-black whitetail deer is the harvest of a lifetime, but for 14-year-old Brooke Bateman of Dallas, it was just her first buck.
The young hunter bagged the extremely rare animal while hunting with her father Mike Bateman on a Stephens County lease in Texas late last month. According to The Dallas Morning News, at first the pair mistook the deer for an Angus calf. Upon closer inspection, the Batemans realized they were looking at a deer so rare that many hunters never even heard of it, much less seen one.
They were conflicted over whether they should shoot it. There is no law in Texas against the harvest of melanistic black deer, and wildlife officials do not especially encourage hunters to leave the deer alone. Still, Mike Bateman had to call a friend to help him decide. As the deer neared within 120 yards, he decided to have his daughter take the shot.
“It was nerve-racking, but I knew I could do it,” Brooke told The Dallas Morning News. “At first I was so excited that I couldn’t pull the trigger. Dad helped me calm down with deep breaths. I found the deer in the scope again, took a deep breath and shot. The deer fell over backwards. It was awesome. I love hunting with my dad.”
With that, the black buck was hers. It was not entirely luck that led the father and daughter to the black deer, though. Had the Batemans been hunting anywhere else in North America, their odds of running into a black whitetail buck would have been astronomically low. However, central Texas has the highest population of black deer in the world.
The condition that makes the deer black in color is called melanism, which can be thought of as the opposite of albinism. Whereas albinism is the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, melanism is characterized by the excessive production of the dark-colored pigment melanin. Scientists believe that certain animals have adapted for the condition to blend in better with dark environments, such as black panthers, squirrels, and coral snakes. It may be the same for whitetail deer. Researchers in Texas believe that the state has an unusually high number of black deer because the animals all come from a drainage with a lower amount of light due to tree cover and, over time, adapted to their environment.
“Even though we have more melanistic deer here than in the whole world,” researcher John Baccus told the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine in 2005, “they’re still extremely rare. It’s the rarest of the white-tailed deer, even rarer than the big-antlered deer. I get the harvest records every year from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and generally, there are fewer than five of these melanistic deer that are harvested in any given year.”
Generally, just one black deer is harvested every year in Texas. It is not known how many are bagged in other parts of the country, but researchers say it is possibly the least seen deer in North America.
Albino deer occur roughly one in 30,000. Melanistic deer are even rarer.
It’s not bad for a first buck. Brooke Bateman said her deer drew quite a crowd when she brought it to the locker plant in Breckinridge. Even game wardens dropped by to get a glimpse of the strange deer.
Have you seen any of these unique black deer? Let us know in the comments below.
By dennis anderson
December 14, 2015 — 11:50am
The 2016 Minnesota turkey stamp by Nicholas Markell
The DNR on Monday morning announced changes to next spring's Minnesota turkey hunting season. Upshot of the changes is that most state hunters will have more time to chase toms in the spring.
According to a DNR press release:
• Turkey hunting time periods will be longer, all will include weekends and more time periods will be available to each hunter. Five one-week time periods will be followed by one longer time period ending on Tuesday, May 31. Previously, there were eight time periods, and not all included weekends. The bag limit will remain one bearded turkey.
“A significant change will be that hunters who don’t bag a turkey during their first time period will also be able to hunt the last time period using their original license,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager. “This will make the experience more relaxing, as snow or rain storms that could ruin an entire hunt will not be as much of a problem.”
• Hunters who hunt a second time during the last time period will need to hunt in the same zone that they hunted in during their first hunt period, Merchant said.
• Firearms hunters who want to hunt either of the first two time periods will need to enter into a lottery to participate. In past years there were lottery drawings for the first three time periods. People can apply to the lottery starting Monday, Dec. 14, and the deadline to apply is Friday, Jan. 22.
• Also, archers will be able to hunt the entire season and in any zone from when the first time period begins on Wednesday, April 13, through May 31. Hunters must choose between a firearms or archery turkey hunting license.
“The changes that begin this spring will provide more opportunity for hunters, but we are aware that some hunters are concerned that these changes will lead to crowding, negatively impacting hunt quality,” Merchant said. “For that reason, we remain committed to measuring hunter satisfaction and hunt quality so adjustments can be made in the future if necessary.”
Each year, the season will begin on the Wednesday closest to April 15, and each time period will start on a Wednesday. This year, the first time period begins April 13. Each year, the final time period will end on May 31. More information on turkey hunting is available at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.
Sam Sherman (right) next to his brother Ty as they pose with his bear.
Officials from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed that a 10-year-old boy from Eagle bagged the largest black bear taken in the state this year. Sam Sherman was hunting with his older brother Ty, family friend Brian Shanahan, and his father Tad on September 18 when he shot the bear on a ranch in Goodrich. The young hunter was using a bow and arrow.
“That bear filled the bed of the pickup,” said Arnie and Sharon Pederson, the landowners.
Black bears in Goodrich have been causing so small amount of trouble for residents, including damaging fruit trees and breaking into homes. The Pederson family recently met with Idaho Fish and Game, which put them in contact with hunters interested in hunting on their land. Among them was Tad Sherman and his sons.
“I talked to another hunter who told me he’d treed three bears in one morning,” Sherman remarked, noting that others hunters seemed to have similar success in the area.
His son’s bear was the largest by far. According to Fish and Game officials, the bear measured six feet, six inches from nose to tail and weighed about 400 pounds. It is not yet known if the bear could gain record status, although the Shermans are submitting it to the Pope and Young Club for recognition.
“We won’t know for awhile yet,” said Tad Sherman. “The skull has to dry for at least sixty days before taking the official measurement. But the green score was 19-13/16 inches.”
Pope and Young requires bear skulls to measure at least 18 inches before they are eligible for inclusion in the record books. Sam Sherman could also receive the Best of Species award from Idaho State Bowhunters, which recognizes the largest animal of each game species harvested by a hunter every year. His father won the same award in 2014.
“My dad doesn’t think I’m going to get one that big, or bigger, anytime soon,” the hunter told KIVI-TV.
When he was asked what he thought, Sherman said he will get an even bigger bear—eventually.
A few bears continue to come in and grouse hunting has been better than expected with all the foliage.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
Posted on Thu, 03 Sep 2015
Bear reports have been inconsistent.
Loon’s Nest (218) 286-5850
Bear baits are getting hit, but the activity hasn’t been “super consistent” the past week.
Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636
Most bear hunters have reported good activity.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912
Bear baits continued to get “wiped out” early this week.
Bear baiting has been good. Most hunters report multiple bears at each bait.
Redding Sports and Spirits (218) 763-2191
GRAND MARAIS AREA
Bear reports have been strong: “Everyone’s baits are getting hit, even during the day.”
Buck’s Hardware (218) 387-2280
GRAND RAPIDS AREA
Bear baits are getting hit. Most hunters believe there are more bears in the area this year than last.
Ben’s Bait and Tackle (218) 326-8281
Bear reports have been inconsistent.
Loon’s Nest (218) 286-5850
By:Daniel Xu +
Ted Nugent, along with over 1,000 other hunters, will be heading into the Florida woods to pursue black bear.
Florida’s first black bear hunt in 21 years is proving to be a big hit, despite a controversial start and at least one lawsuit against the state for holding the hunt. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), more than 1,100 special-use permits have been sold as of Wednesday, with the majority being bought as soon as the agency opened up licenses for sale. Among the first non-resident to sign up for the hunt was none other than rocker Ted Nugent, an avid hunter and advocate for hunting rights.
“The reason there hasn’t been a bear season until now—even after more than 6,000 nuisance complaints—the reason we’ve waited so long is because of the scourge of political correctness dispensed by the idiots who claim the defenseless animals need protecting,” Nugent told The Orlando Sentinel.
The musician, known to fans as the “Motor City Madman,” echoed the complaints of many Florida residents when he pointed out that there was a surplus of bears, and the population is becoming a dangerous liability for the state. Black bears were once a rare sight in Florida, but thanks to the efforts of the FWC and conservationists, the population has rebounded to around 4,000, which is only a conservative estimate. Some experts suspect there are a lot more bears in the state, and the animals seem to be encroaching on human habitats. Data from the FWC show that in 2013, there were 6,667 bear nuisance calls, compared to 100 in 1995.
Biologists say that the problem is not too many bears, but rather too many bears moving from the woods to the suburbs.
“As other states have shown, hunting is the most effective and responsible method for managing the growth of bear populations, but is just one part of FWC’s overall approach to managing bears,” the FWC stated.
Animal rights groups claim that the hunt could have a negative effect on a recovering bear population. The FWC currently intends to reduce the bear population by 20 percent overall. Using hunting as one of the main methods to cull the bears, the agency expects hunters to harvest about 320 of the animals during a limited, seven-day hunt in October. Activists say that with no limit on the number of permits sold, the hunt may go over its harvest quota. A lawsuit by several animal rights organizations has been filed against the FWC in an attempt to halt the hunt, but biologists at the agency say the season has little chance of hurting the bear population in the long run.
“We may end up a few over the objective just because of the timing on any day, and we’ve considered that. But it’s still a very conservative hunt. That’ll be OK,” FWC spokesperson Diane Eggeman told WESH.
Other critics also slammed the season for what they view as catering to trophy hunters. Many hunters, including Nugent, have refuted this claim.
“When we kill a bear in Florida and everywhere, we cherish the meat. It’s the sweetest pork you’ve ever eaten,” he said. “How dare they claim that we don’t utilize every scrap of this precious animal, cherished for the gift that it is. The rugs are magnificent.”
Permits for the hunt cost $100 for residents and $300 for non-residents. The FWC also intends on ramping up programs to educate residents on coexisting with bears, including proper trash disposal.