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An Outdoorsman's Journal

Bear Camp 2019


September 18, 2019

Hello friends,

Forty days after Doug Cibulka of Portage and I started running bear baits the season opened. For nine days Doug stayed at my northern Juneau County home as we completed the final tasks to prepare for the hunt, eat good meals, and enjoy some campfire time.

Wednesday, September 4

High 77, low 51

Today is opening day of Wisconsin’s black bear season. Doug and I have five baits that we are running, of which one is pretty active with maybe one daylight hit a week but it is getting hit every night after dark.

We have two other baits that are getting hit about three times a week a piece with almost all hits after dark. Last year four black bear were harvested in Juneau County and let me tell you there were a lot of hunters that put a lot of time and money into harvesting, or not harvesting a bear in this neck of the woods.

Just to put things into perspective, when Doug runs the baits his total round trip is a 171-mile drive and he has four hikes into the woods while carrying a five-gallon bucket of granola, trail mix and cookies that weighs about 40-pounds to each bait sight. Each hike is a round trip of between 1 to 1.5 miles.

During the week Doug Cibulka works from 5:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at UW Hospitals, American Center on the east side of Madison, the weekday baiting was a killer for my buddy of about 45-years but he never made a single complaint.

I have harvested several bears in my lifetime, so there never was any doubt that Doug who had never harvested a black bear would be the one hunting our most active bait.

Today I sat in a red pine, deep in a mature forest and watched two porcupines and kept envisioning the huge black bear that is always nocturnal but hits this bait about once a week.

On the walk back to my truck in the dark I got off the trail for a bit, told myself to relax and found the trail.

When I picked up Doug who was hunting about 8-miles away, he had not seen a bear but we were both very optimistic for the next night’s hunt.

Thursday, September 5

High 71, low 46

Tonight’s hunt was a duplicate of last nights for me, two porkies, no black bear. When I picked up Doug I would find out that his hunt was much different. Just as daylight was fading he saw movement in some dense brush, it was a good-sized bear and Doug’s main concern was that he was running out of daylight.

With just enough daylight left Doug Cibulka took a shot, the black bear took off and Doug headed for the place where I would pick him up.

When I pulled in I was told this magical story and it started with “Mark, I think I harvested a mature bear!”

We did the 3/4s of a mile walk back to his bait sight and by using headlamps found blood in the direction the bear had run off. We headed back to the truck with a plan to find it in the morning.

Friday, September 6

High 70, low 43

Derek Cibulka is Doug’s 20-year-old son and would be the third-man in this operation as we carried a homemade stretcher into the woods and pulled a feed cart as far as we could get it. The last part of this hike is dense forest and then marsh.

We found Doug Cibulka’s bear right away and the mood was incredible as our trophy was a dandy and the kill was clean with a shot right through the heart. Getting the bear back to the truck was a physical test for each of us as when we later weighed it at my good friend Dale Nichol’s butcher shop “Pittsville Meats” it weighed 315-pounds with a live weight of 378.

It would be impossible to describe how happy we were after all of our hard work and fun, and all I can say is that “I love hunting black bear!”



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