Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Area Hunter Gives Thoughts on Bear Hunting

Through a variety of conversations over the last couple of weeks, it became apparent that bear hunting is a fairly popular sport in our region. While there are not as many participants as during the elk and deer seasons, it only took a few days to track down an avid bear hunter.

MarioTroche of Mossyrock was glad to share stories and a couple of common sense tricks to find bears in our local area. Troche, who works for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife at the Mossyrock Hatchery also operates his own sideline business as a taxidermist where he has created models for education and outreach events for several state and federal agencies along with the Audubon Society. There is no hiding his affection for wildlife.

Mario Troche with one of his bear hunting prizes at the Southwest Washington Fair.

Troche says that he frequents the Winston Creek game unit just south of Mossyrock some evenings after work and on the weekends. “I like to hunt in the evenings from about 7pm to 11pm. When the birds start to roost, the bears come out”.

One area he likes to frequent are old abandoned homesteads where almost without exception, there are a few apple trees dropping their fruit. The bears of course are attracted by the sweet apples.

A second area is to find an old abandoned logging road that is becoming choked with blackberries. Troche says he tries to find an observation point where he can watch the bears eat a berry or two and then suspiciously look for danger. Hunting pressure has made bears very careful in our area. Troche believes that bears see far more humans than humans see of bears.

As a taxidermist, Troche says that the best pelts are harvested in October after a full season of nutrient gathering, but a quality pelts can also be found after hibernation by an alert and discerning hunter.

Troche had successful hunts in Alaska as bears were completing hibernation. He said that he passed on bears whose hides were less than perfect.

Many October hunts are actually in conjunction with deer season. Hunters looking for a more traditional fall prey, stumble across bear and change their plans. Troche related one such incident while he and a friend were hunting deer in the Blue Mountains. They came across a bear sunning himself on a rock and began stalking him. In the process of using a “predator call”, they attracted 2 other bears to the area within 30 minutes. Even with that success, they walked away empty handed but with a great story to tell.

In 1992, Washington voters passed I165 banning the practice of baiting and hunting with dogs. Troche admits that hunting has been made more challenging, but a bear permit is easy to obtain. The limit is now higher and prices have dropped. There is the potential for more bear hunters than ever in Washington and Troche advises new hunters to live by a “hunter ethic”. One specific to this sport is to make sure that sows with young cubs are left alone.

As much as he disagrees with some of the laws in place, he encourages all hunters to comply with the laws and go steps further and use good hunting ethics. Good words from a man that has made his living managing wildlife.

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