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Thread: Bears in Northern Wisconsin

  1. #1
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    Bears in Northern Wisconsin

    Bears Fighting Near the House

    On August 4th, 2010, while I was taking care of my 95 year old mother at her house in Northern Wisconsin, my brother was out using the tractor and brushhog to mow down the tall grass and the young aspens that constantly threaten to obliterate the open spaces on the land. He is an experienced woodsman who has shot several bears. As he came near the house, he saw a black animal run onto the open land. His first thought was Bear!, then Big Bear! Moments later, a second bear ran after the first, followed by his observation "Even Bigger Bear!" The two bears ran a short way into the open area, then they stood up and started swatting at each other with their front paws. He estimated the weights of the bears at 300 lbs and 400 lbs. The smaller of the bears broke off and took off running again, followed by the larger bruin. All of this happened within 150 yards of my mothers house.

    We believe that it was a territorial dispute between two adult boars. I wouldn't want to stumble across one that was sore and hurting after such an encounter. The large population of bears in Northern Wisconsin is a good reason to open carry there when outdoors. A couple of years ago, my brother shot a 500 lb bear within 400 yards of the house. I was glad that he did so. Aside from aquiring an outstanding trophy, that bear was becoming a pest, and was way to familiar with people in the area.

    I have eaten roast bear at my brother's table, and it tasted like a good grade of roast beef.

    My Brother was open carrying a Glock 23 in a Serpa holster.

    In 2005 this story from Duluth, Minnesota, about 75 miles from my Mother's house. It sounds very much like a typical "predatory" attack:

    Woman tells of bear attack
    by Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
    August 1, 2005

    Duluth, Minn. Mary Munn says she's been around bears before, but she was totally surprised by the bear she ran into Friday. Munn described her brush with a black bear from a room in Duluth's St. Mary's Hospital. She lives near Holyoke, in rural Carlton County.

    Munn went for a walk into nearby woods Friday, to see a beaver dam. Her dog, Maggie, accompanied her. It was on the return trip that she ran into trouble.

    "When I came out of the woods, there was a bear, standing, looking right at me about 30 feet away, and it immediately charged me," Munn said. "I ran a couple of steps but I turned around, because I didn't want to be tackled from behind. And it stopped and just snorted at me and dashed away about 10 feet. And then it came right back at me again."

    Mann says the bear was maybe desk-high on all fours. But when it stood on its hind legs, it was about six feet tall. Munn says it came at her with its head lowered. She'd been holding a stick, which she broke across the bear, to no effect.

    "I punched it in the nose -- I mean, each time it charged me. I whistled for my dog to distract the bear, and the dog ran by behind the bear, and the bear went after the dog, and as soon as the dog outran the bear, the bear came back and chased at me again," Mann said.

    "At that point it took a swipe out of my knee, and the dog went by again, and it chased the dog again, and I looked at my knee and it really hurt bad, and I kind of went "ahhh." And the bear heard me and came back," Mann said.
    It knocked me down to the ground, and grabbed me by the waist and shook me, and grabbed my armpit. And then it just looked up and it took off.
    - Mary Munn

    "That's when it knocked me down to the ground, and grabbed me by the waist and shook me, and grabbed my armpit. And then it just looked up and it took off again, and at that point I just stood up and walked away as fast as I could," she said.

    Until now, the bear stood on the path between Munn and her home, but this time the way was clear. Munn started for home, a quarter of a mile away. She never looked back.

    "I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to look back, because I just had no more defenses. And I just kept walking and hoping it wasn't behind me," said Mann. "And my dog joined me again about 50 feet later, and she stayed with me on the rest of the walk home."

    Munn called 911 from her house. She rested in the shade outside her home and waited for the police.

    Dr. Kevin Stephan is an infectious expert at St. Mary's hospital. He could find no record of a bear in Minnesota transmitting rabies. But he says, some bears have been known to carry the disease, so Munn was given a rabies vaccination.

    "The bottom line is we just couldn't know. Mary has a profession where she might be exposed, and recreational pursuits where she be exposed to animals in the future," Stephan said. "So going forward, it really seemed like the wise thing and the prudent thing to offer the vaccination."

    In the meantime, the DNR has set traps, hoping to capture the bear, according to Assistant Wildlife Manager Chris Balzer, in Cloquet.

    "There's two traps set -- baited traps. ... They're big barrel traps basically on wheels. And we wheel them out there and bait them, and they're set in the vicinity of where this lady was attacked," says Balzer. "And if we catch a bear it will most likely be killed and checked for some forensic evidence, to see if we have the right bear or not."

    Balzer says it's impossible to say why the bear might have attacked.

    "Who knows? I mean, there's thousands of people and thousands of bears in Minnesota and they interact on a daily basis. And it's just extremely rare to see anything near this aggressive in terms of bear behavior," says Balzer.

    DNR experts say there's no right way to respond to a black bear attack. They're so rare, experts can't say just how a person should react.

    Munn suffered deep wounds to her knee and her side, with many other scratches. Still, she says, there was no severe damage to organs or arteries.

    Doctors say her knee still needs to be watched for infection. Her wounds were dirty, with clear evidence of the bear's jaws closing on her sides. There were dirt, sticks and pine cones embedded in some of the wounds, and bear saliva all over.

    The whole encounter might have lasted a minute. Recovery will take a lot longer.

  2. #2
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    Some people think I'm a little nuts for OCing a sidearm when I am in the woods. But I say you never know what you're going to find around the bend or over the ridge. Wisconsin has predators in the state, and you'd better be prepared when you are a half-mile from civilization.

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    You are only being prudent

    Quote Originally Posted by smithman View Post
    Some people think I'm a little nuts for OCing a sidearm when I am in the woods. But I say you never know what you're going to find around the bend or over the ridge. Wisconsin has predators in the state, and you'd better be prepared when you are a half-mile from civilization.
    You don't need to be even a half mile from civilization to have to depend on your own resources. I always carry when I am in the woods, and most of the time when I am not. While Northern Wisconsin has a very low crime rate, we get the occasional incursion from lawless areas in the inner cities who have not yet learned that it is a bad idea to commit crimes in the North Woods. While animal attacks are rare, I enjoy exercising my right to bear arms. If I ever were attacked while unarmed, I would regret it.

  4. #4
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    Yuo don't have to be in the "North woods" to encounter a bear. I often see them and/or signs of them on my farn in West Central part of the state (45 miles east of St. Paul). Estimated bear population in Wisconsin is 26,000.

  5. #5
    Founder's Club Member protias's Avatar
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    Someone can correct me here, but I don't think the firearms we "normally" carry will do much damage to a bear. You'll need 454, 460, 500 for handguns or anything in the .300 and above for rifles.
    No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. Thomas Jefferson (1776)

    If you go into a store, with a gun, and rob it, you have forfeited your right to not get shot - Joe Deters, Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Prosecutor

    I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians. - George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by protias View Post
    Someone can correct me here, but I don't think the firearms we "normally" carry will do much damage to a bear. You'll need 454, 460, 500 for handguns or anything in the .300 and above for rifles.
    Not necessarily.

    Male adult black bears range from 125-550 pounds, with the average weighing around 250 pounds, and the average female a hundred pounds less. Grizzlies are another matter and are considerably larger and somewhat more aggressive but they don't live in Wisconsin. Bear attacks in Wisconsin are rare and black bears are not prone to attack, so the threat they represent tends to be exaggerated. The DNR bear hunting pamphlet states:

    "It is illegal to:
    Hunt bear with any rimfire rifle; air rifle; any center-fire rifle
    less than .22 caliber, .410 shotgun, fully automatic firearm,
    or with ammunition loaded with non-expanding type bullets.
    Use handguns that are not muzzleloading handguns, unless
    they are loaded with centerfire cartridges of .22 caliber or
    larger. These handguns must have a minimum barrel length
    of 5 inches from the muzzle to the firing pin with the action
    closed.
    Use a muzzleloading handgun unless it is at least .44 caliber
    with a minimum barrel length of 7 inches measured from
    muzzle to breech and fires a single projectile weighing not
    less than 138 grains.
    Use a muzzleloader, unless it is a smoothbore muzzleloading
    firearm of .45 caliber or larger, or a rifled muzzleloading
    firearm of .40 caliber or larger.
    Hunt bear with a bow having a pull of less than 30 pounds, or
    to use arrows which have metal broadhead blades less than
    seven-eighths of an inch wide."

    Note that those are not particularly potent loads that are required. The ballistics of a .44 caliber muzzle-loaded handgun with a 7-inch barrel are not very different than a standard .38 special. Of course there is a difference between a well-placed shot on an unsuspecting bear and taking on an angry or aggressive bear on an emergency basis. But clearly less potent loads are capable of taking a bear. Personally if I felt there was more than a remote chance of a bear attack I'd have a shotgun with 000 buckshot or slugs with me. But I have tent camped and hiked in black bear and grizzly country and never carried anything larger than a .357 magnum revolver in those places. If I were to do so again I would take it up a notch and carry my 10mm.

    The loads you suggested are for hunting and not very practical for the more probable threat posed by other humans.

  7. #7
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    I have yet toi have an unpleasant encounter with a bear, Yes I invade their territory when I am out berry picking and that is why I am always armed when in the woods up here. But I have seen more agressive behavior from, turkeys than any of the bears in this area.
    From my unbderstanding, When a grizzly charges you, there is a good chance it is just bluffing, but when a black bear charges you, it plans to attack.

  8. #8
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    Family tradition has it that my grandfather, Reginald Rix Page killed a large bear in Alaska in a close embrace with a small caliber revolver, probably a .32 or a .38

    By the time I first met him, 1962, when I was fourteen, he was carrying a pair of M1911s. My mother hadn't seen Grandfather Page since 1928. As she was making up the guest room after he left, I remember her complaining about the "greasy imprints from his guns under the pillow."

    We spent many grand hours together while I learned, among other things, to fly fish. I'd come back to camp, worn out from a day getting good fish. He'd still be standing on the same rock or in the same pool with better fish and fresher than the pipe he smoked.

    ps. On a whim I G00gled "reginald rix page" and got one hit, a pay-per-view, but showing a bunch of family names
    "Page, Reginald Rix: Page, John Moses: Gibson, James Low: Page, John Moses: Coffin, David Whitten: Page, John Moses: Page, Reginald Rix: Page, John Moses:" George Page here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayes_Mansion is my great-grandfather.

  9. #9
    McX
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    around here we have to deal with the 2 legged bears.

  10. #10
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    I've been looking unsuccessfully for an on-line version of our local raconteur Jay Hagen's 'The Year of the Bear'. Twenty years or so ago a bear swam to Washington Island. The stalwart DNR agents determined to remove it over the protests of the Islanders. The DNR brought a live trap but stopped for a drink or three, maybe someone else paid for their drinks. The trap disappeared. The bear was seen off and on for a year and never again. Since I've been here there have been reports of bear and puma but only down in the county.

    We need a top predator year around here. Foxes and "coyotes" don't cut it.

  11. #11
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    I was born and raised in the woods of Northern Minnesota. Seeing bears was a weekly event. My grandparents had a "hardscrabble" farm. When I was a young kid I remember a neighbor driving over with his team and wagon and telling my grandfather that a sow and her two yearling cubs had killed a couple of his sheep and were in a tree at his farm. I remember my grandfather getting his rifle and going to the neighbors. Couple of hours later they retuned with all three bears in the wagon. The neighbor exclaimed "three shots, three bear". Weapon of choice: Hamerlii single shot rifle. Cartridge .22Long. Although that probably isn't a good choice of a defensive weapon it is a shame we have apparantly exchanged precision shooting of smaller more manageable caliberss for "point and hope" shooting with large calibers. Pains me when I watch or attend matches where our shooters are out performed by shooters from countries with very strict gun control laws.

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    Where I'm at, bears and wolves are a common occurance. I ususally see a couple of bears a week in the summer, on average. I really don't worry much about the boars, but the sows with cubs are a different matter. You'd be surprised with what will kill a bear. A vet buddy of mine said the DNR called him to look at a dead bear to see what killed it, and it looked like a shotgun with bird shot did the honors. They figure it was ripping up bird feeders and someone was most likely trying to run it off. All it takes is one pellet to the lung.

    When I was a kid, you could kill a bear in deer season with a $5 tag, added to your deer tag. The ones I was involved with were shot with whatever a guy had from a 25/20 on up. Those of you that are familiar with that cartridge know it an't much! Point being, a 9mm, or the likes, will do the job.
    Last edited by duckdog; 08-09-2010 at 05:15 PM.

  13. #13
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    Bears??

    The bears still suuuuck!

    sorry i could not resist that one since football is so close!

  14. #14
    Regular Member Yooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by protias View Post
    Someone can correct me here, but I don't think the firearms we "normally" carry will do much damage to a bear. You'll need 454, 460, 500 for handguns or anything in the .300 and above for rifles.
    Anything is better than nothing, my friends dad shot and killed a charging black bear with a .22 mag revolver. Lucky? Yes.... Really, really, really lucky? Yes, but it was better than waving his arms and making himself look big.

  15. #15
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    I must be getting old or something. When I saw the thread title, I thought it was gonna be about trouble with state police.

    (Not one word, Grapeshot. Not one word.)

  16. #16
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    Nyaah, then we'd be "bashing", like ya know, really!

    Can we bash 'bears' as proxy for staties?

  17. #17
    Founder's Club Member protias's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    I must be getting old or something. When I saw the thread title, I thought it was gonna be about trouble with state police.

    (Not one word, Grapeshot. Not one word.)
    I haven't been in WI for a while, so I haven't had any more issues with them.
    No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. Thomas Jefferson (1776)

    If you go into a store, with a gun, and rob it, you have forfeited your right to not get shot - Joe Deters, Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Prosecutor

    I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians. - George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

  18. #18
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    We have had several bear sightings and one 'large' cat near our home about 25 miles Northeast of La Crosse. One bear was hit by a car 2 miles from us and a neighbor found a den on his acreage. They are around and certainly are not the only predators that we could run across during a casual stroll. I actually worry a little more about the growing business of drug producers using public lands to grow and harvest illegal drugs.

    Many years ago (60-70's) my Dad and older brothers worked in the woods around the Black River State forest, Dad always had a .22 LR nearby and my oldest brother carried a .22 magnum revolver. Dad harvested just about every animal around Wisconsin that you can imagine with that .22 and almost always with one clean shot. He was just an old, proud, smart, retired Navy man that at many times had to eek out a living on modest means, and that .22 put the food on the table pretty reasonably.

  19. #19
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    Not locked, back to the top. Bears hungry due to beetles surviving mild winters.

    http://www.physorg.com/news201706707.html
    Quote Originally Posted by crAP via PhysOrg.asm
    Scientists report that a favorite food of many bears, nuts from whitebark pine cones, is scarce. So as grizzlies look to put on some major pounds in preparation for the long winter ahead, scientists say, they will be looking for another source of protein - meat - and running into trouble along the way.

  20. #20
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    We get bears down in the Baraboo, Reedsburg, Portage area. Last summer we had one running around town, but that is rare.

    You could easily kill a bear with a 9mm or even smaller, shot placement would probably be vital though.

  21. #21
    Regular Member opusd2's Avatar
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    "In the County", we've had bear around for at least the last 40 years. My dad killed one with a 308 in the late 60s, I nearly hit one with my Chevelle when i was 16, and have had seen sign around the farm for years.

    Was out in Wittenberg staying and saw a sow in the usual spot. It's been a regular sight too, I usually see bear during deer hunting.

    Oh Darn it! I forgot to keep tally of all the animals I saw for the DNR!

  22. #22
    Regular Member Archangel's Avatar
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    Whenever I travel in the north woods of WI I carry at LEAST a .357MAG. Usually a 44MAG.

    I've had several run ins with black bears there. Never had to shoot one, but wanted to ensure I had enough gun.

    My aunt has a cottage on Lake Hilbert in Forest County and we had bears in the yard almost every night. We'd kick on the floodlights and there they were. Skulking around the campfire area looking for the inevitable dropped marshmellow or graham cracker piece from the evenings smores. We also had wild raspberry bushes all around the property they liked to raid.

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