Meet Jerry.

January.6.2009

This is Jerry. He is a Plott Hound.

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So I went bear hunting over break. Now, I shot a bear two years ago from a treestand. I’ve been hunting for a good while and even I felt kinda weird about that. I mean. I love hunting deer. I love eating deer. Bears, on the other hand, are disgusting animals. I had little intention of eating the bear I shot. As such, I feel like the bear ought to have more of a fair chance. I gave him one two weeks ago.

There are a great deal of bears in eastern NC… which for whatever reason is something most people (even most NC residents) don’t know/understand. World record black bears come from the eastern part of the state.

Hunting in the swamp thickets of the eastern part of the state is a bit tricky. Hunting bears makes it even more so. It’s so thick in the woods that when you are standing in it, you cannot see your feet. You can’t see more than 3 feet in front of you in most places. The are two ways to get around in the swamp: by crawling through the tunnels of brush the bears make by moving around… or by cutting a path with chainsaws.

Basically, the way it works with dogs is you have a group of guys that circle a large piece of property (ours is 1 mile by 2 miles). You’ve each got a radio and you search for bear tracks. Once you find some, the dogs head in and your job then becomes to make sure no dogs get out of the woods and onto somebody else’s land. Plott hounds are expensive. Some sell for several thousand dollars. Same goes for the Walker hounds they send in. Losing one is bad.

Once the dogs find a bear, all the other dogs are sent in to intimidate the bear into either A. stopping, or B. climbing a tree. At this point the shooter (determined by lottery), a second shooter to back up the first if he misses, and a third shooter to back up the second and first if things go badly (usually one of the dog owners), go into the woods. They crawl to where the bear is using the bear tunnels and by following the sound of the dogs. Now, there is always a chance that either the bear you’re hunting will change directions and come running down the tunnel you’re in — meaning you’ll be face to face with a frightened bear — or another bear trying to get away from the dogs will come running down the tunnel you’re in — meaning you’ll be face to face with a frightened and annoyed bear. By the way, the tunnels are about two feet wide and two feet tall. Usually this doesn’t happen, though. Upon finding the bear, he must be shot in a place known to be lethal. Wait…. You cannot see a bear 5 feet away from you in the woods. So you have to be closer than that to the bear to shoot him and not a dog, and in a place that will kill him and not wound him. Wounding bears is bad for your health. Apparently it makes them mad. So you want to avoid that… if possible. Anyhow, once you successfully kill the bear without being killed yourself, you tie up the dogs and wait for three hours while all the other hunters cut a path to you with chainsaws. This takes well over an hour. In the case of another guy’s bear shot two days before mine, it took three. And then you all drag the big fella out, load him on a truck and head home to skin and butcher him.

Both my dad and I were fortunate enough to kill boar bears during the trip. For those interested, here’s what mine looked like.

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