Challenging bear season arrives
Early bear season is getting under way in parts of New York. This includes a season that runs from Sept. 7-22 in parts of Regions 3 and 4 in southeastern New York, as well as the traditional early season in Regions 5 and 6 that begins on Sept.14 and continues on into the early muzzleloading and regular big game season in the Northern Zone.
As New York Outdoor News recently reported, locating bears this season could prove challenging for hunters. Unlike last year, there is plenty of food in the woods for bears and thus the bruins are scattered about and could be anywhere. Bears are travelers, too. Radio-collared bears have been recorded traveling 50 miles or more.
But when a bear keys in on a solid food source, they may stick around awhile. Therefore, bear hunters this year will be focusing on mast crops like acorns, beechnuts and black cherry. I can attest that in the Adirondack region we’re looking at a solid acorn crop. That will benefit the deer herd as well, but will also make it hard for hunters to pinpoint whitetails.
One food source bears key in on is beechnuts. I’ve been in the woods enough this summer to say there are plenty of acorns, but I haven’t found any beechnuts yet. I have spoken to some hunters who have and if you’re one of them and happen to be a bear hunter, then you’ve got a hunting spot that’s as good as any.
Black cherry is another crop bears are drawn to. I’ve deer hunted quite a bit out of my brother’s camp in the Northern Adirondacks where I’ve had encounters with black bears and found their scat full of black cherry in years when that crop mass produces.
I’m not much of bear hunter. But if I were, there are a few strategies I’d employ. First, I’d talk to the pros such as forest rangers and biologists who have been in the field and know where bears frequent. One friend of mine who is an ecologist for a land preservation organization tells me he regularly sees black bears in certain areas of the lands he’s responsible for.
I happen to hunt some of these lands. Dens are found regularly here; in fact, I’ve walked up on them myself. And so is scat. So there are places that simply hold bears year after year and therefore must have a consistent food source.
In the Adirondacks, one of those places is the High Peaks region, where hikers and campers constantly encounter bears. The bear-human conflicts aren’t as high as they were last year when food was scarce and bears considered a peanut butter sandwich to be dietary staple. But bears consistently roam this region. The hunter just has to decide if a long drag and dealing with the non-hunting hiking community is worth it. I know for a fact that for some dedicated bear hunters, it is.
Good year, or bad year, there are bear hunters out there who won’t miss the early season. If you are one of them, good luck to you.