OUTDOORS: Fall black bear season opening Friday

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

NOW WE'RE HUNTING for bear. Or will be, Friday, when the fall black bear season opens in Game Management Units across the North Olympic Peninsula.

Hunters who have completed hunter education training and possess a valid big game hunting license, which includes black bear as a species option can go after a bear from Friday through Nov. 1.

If a hunter wishes to bag a second black bear, another black bear transport/tag license must be purchased.

With males typically ranging from 150 to 300 pounds and females a bit smaller, choose a caliber of weaponry that is legal, and packs enough punch to inflict as much tissue and bone damage as possible.

The use of hounds to hunt bears in Washington was outlawed by a vote of the people in 1996.

And hunters also must refrain from using bait to lure bears.

Temperatures are forecast for the mid 70's with plenty of sunshine for the opener this weekend, but bears don't need to tan, so a good bet would be to hunt just after dawn or in the gloaming before sunset.

Ward Norden, a hunter and former fishery biologist passed along some good general tips for the black bear hunt.

“There is a good berry crop this summer and the bears will be gorging themselves, but it will be mostly at night due to the heat,” Norden said.

“A hunter's best bet will be the first few moments of light in the morning or last few moments in the evening when a beast might be foolish enough to come out of the shadows.”

There are many, many locales on the Peninsula that fit what Norden describes as “the ideal place to look.”

This would be “the edge of a berry-filled clearcut next to a stream in a cool canyon of older timber,” Norden said.

Fish and Wildlife regulations urge hunters to not shoot a sow with cubs as sows may be accompanied by cubs in the fall that tend to lag behind when traveling.

Hunters are tasked with being observant and patient in these situations, but that shouldn't be an issue this early in the hunt.

The bear necessities

Possessing a fairly bear-like countenance, i.e. I bear a resemblance to the species, I have developed a soft spot in my heart for black bears.

It's not a spot that thinks people shouldn't hunt the species, more of an appreciation factor and respect for their athletic abilities.

Plus, I don't like the taste of bear meat — I recall it as too sweet and greasy for my palate.

I've eaten chicken-fried squirrel in Arkansas, water buffalo in many forms in Thailand, and whatever is thrown into corn dogs, so it's not like I'm afraid of trying new types of meat.

That bear meat recollection comes from pretty early on in my childhood when my Uncle Paul bagged one here on the Peninsula.

It certainly made for a warm and amazingly life-like bear skin rug, one that could give you quite a fright if you were small and forgot it was just a rug every time you walked in to his house.

A few years back, I came across one while walking in Olympic National Park. I came around a ridge and saw a fine fellow just off trail, enjoying some ripe blackberries.

He saw me seeing him, and went right back to the berries.

I sometimes wonder if animals found in the park, or in areas closed to hunting like inside of city limits, have some sort of sixth sense about their own mortality, and know they have little reason to fear humans.

This bear and countless deer, even the huge buck that wonders the Castle Hill neighborhood in Port Townsend — and would be a wonderful trophy for any hunter — just seem to know they have the run of the place.


Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 30. 2014 5:43PM
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