Bear Season Questions
The 2010 bear season is history. The results, with a much lower
than expected kill, beg more questions than answers. Did the
altered format, with a Saturday opening day, increase or decrease
hunter participation? Were more school-age hunters involved? Are
hunters happy with the change?
While the Game Commission claims higher bear license sales, there
were widespread pre-season reports of long-time bear hunters who
were not going to buy a license or hunt this year because of the
change. Other, more casual bear hunters, might have not purchased a
license because there was no extended concurrent bear and deer
season. Commission officers’ field reports indicated a high hunter
participation in the northern half of the state and possibly below
average in the southern half.
Personally, whether they liked it or not, I have a difficult time
understanding why any died-in-the-wool bear hunter would not hunt
this year because of the change. This would be a classic “cutting
off your nose to spite your face.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I can see
disgruntled bear hunters claiming that they won’t buy a license,
but then making the purchase anyway.
I talked with many bear hunters, and every single one was happy
with or neutral towards the change to a Saturday opener. However,
my sample was biased, because I was talking mainly with parties of
successful bear hunters on the opening Saturday. I didn’t survey
those who might have stayed at home.
Another possible explanation for the lower harvest could be that
the Saturday opening day attracted hunters new to the
sport-therefore less skilled-while at the same time alienating
enough more-skilled bear hunters to make a difference.
Hopefully, the commission will sample license buyers and get some
definitive answers before the bear season structure is set for next