Last week I helped hunting and fishing guide Joe Flater with his bear hunters. Basically Dave Schmitt and I of Adams were grunt labor; as in stand movers, bear trackers, draggers, and skinners. There is a ton to write about, so I have to be brief.
Thursday, Sept 16
High 78, low 51
Most of “Musky Joes” operation takes place in the area where the Flambeau and Chippewa Rivers meet in Rusk County. This year there would be five hunters and yesterday was opening day and no bear were harvested but one small one was passed up by 24-year-old Mitch Dess, who is a teacher and a football coach at South Milwaukee High School.
Tonight, Joe received the call every guide wants to get. Tracy Martin, who was sitting with her boyfriend James Ward, had taken a shot and it was all hands on deck for tracking a bear in the dark.
Tracy and James are from Boscobel, as are their good friends Stewart and Heather Updike. A part of bear hunting that many people may not be aware of is that it is a family/friend type of sport, and Tracy certainly had some quality support.
So, we have spent two hours in a beautiful forest tracking in the dark and keep losing blood. It is midnight and the decision is made to call Jeff Ewers of Sheldon, who is a good friend of Joe’s. Jeff is a dog hunter (runs dogs for bears), and he shows up with his 11-year-old Plott hound named Rosco!
This story is super cool because we were going to lose the bear, Rosco is near the end of his life, and it was very cool to observe Jeff and Rosco slowly but steadily track down what would end up being a beautiful 250-pound dressed sow. Our very happy crew of eight was done skinning at 3 a.m and after supper it was 4:30.
Friday, Sept. 17
High 81, low 48
I became friends with Jeff Dess a few years back when he was bear hunting with Joe. This year he is sitting with his son Mitchell and today Mitchell harvested his first bear, which was a 375-pound dressed boar. This father/son team stays at Flater’s Resort, as do many of the hunters. So we get to spend a lot of time together and it really is a great experience. Mitchell was a wide receiver for UW-Whitewater from 2015 to 2018 and from what I hear his dad was a heck of football player as well.
An interesting side story on Mitch’s bear. A month ago, in this same area a friend of Joe’s hit what he described as a very large bear with his truck, he rolled it and the bear vanished into a cornfield.
Mitch’s bear was totally healthy but had a wound on its right shoulder the size of a basketball and its entire right side was bruised. The damage was well healed but had to have hurt like H E double toothpicks.
Another one of Joe’s hunters is Peter Rubish, who is in his mid 30s and a construction worker out of Platteville. Pete had a great attitude, hunted geese in the morning and, after Joe moved him to a different stand, harvested his first bear.
In closing, our youngest hunter was Joel Weeks, who is 12 and from Cadott. Joel was on his first black bear hunt, is a sixth grader, and on the Cadott Middle School football team. I was very impressed with the respect this boy had in every sentence he spoke and how accomplished he is for his age.
On Sunday night, while sitting with his dad Eric Weeks, Joel harvested his first bear, which was a 200-pound male, and my friends that is what I call a great bear hunt for everyone involved.
I have run bear baits for ten out of the last eleven years and took this year off due to no one in my gang having tags. Next year one of us will get one and I can’t wait.
Respect what you harvest! Sunset