My Letter to Governor Brown asking for Veto of SB1221

 

Governor Jerry Brown

c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA  95814

 

Dear Governor Brown:

 

Please Veto SB1221. This is a case of the majority taking freedom away from a minority.

 

There is no biological reason for elimination of hound hunting for black bears. On the other hand, there are many good reasons why hunting bears is a good thing. First of all, in areas where black bears are not hunted with hounds, bears are causing significant damage to homeowners. (Lake Tahoe for example.)

Hound hunting produces revenue that is beneficial to all wildlife management.

This is your chance to be a voice of reason.

Sincerely,

 Rich Fletcher

That’s close enough Cubby

I sat against a large boulder in the direct afternoon sun. The wind was blowing hard out of the southeast and it was cool, but the sun was keeping me warm. I’d already moved around several times adjusting my position between shade and sun to deal with the dynamic weather.

I was set up 200 yards above a large willow patch, hoping that a buck might show up out of the forest shadows. A sniffing sound from behind me caught my attention.

I turned my head to look over my right shoulder and found a bear staring at me from ten feet to my right. It was not a large bear, no it was a small bear, yes a bear cub. There was nothing intimidating about the blond bear cub, but wait. Where was mom?

I knew enough to be uncomfortable about having a bear cub standing ten feet from me. I kept my rifle in my hand as I stood up and moved over to my pack. If I could get my camera, I might get a good photo.

Reaching the pack, I looked up and the cub was gone, but after finding my camera, a few squeals produced results. He was back.

This blond bear cub was apparently without a mother bear.

After the cub departed, I wondered why it would approach me, obviously smelling me as it came in from down wind. Then I remembered a hunk of salame was in my pack. This was one hungry bear cub. Since bear season had opened three days earlier, I concluded that possibly this bear was now an orphan and very hungry.

Bear Tree and Black Bear Sign

As my cousin Wes and I watched the big bear, he walked into a patch of timber. He approached a tree and stood tall, apparently using it for a scratching post. He then turned and rubbed his back. It was a back scratcher as well.

We took note of the tree, but didn’t get a chance to visit it on that trip, but on the next trip (during the rifle deer season)we walked past the tree when following a nice buck. Although we didn’t find the buck, we did stop at the tree and check it out. Here is what we found.

Wes at bear tree cropped and resized

 

Wes hand at bear tree marking cropped and resized

We also found some hair and scat.

bear scat at bear tree cropped and resized

 

Here’s one of the bears. I’m not sure if it’s the one that scratched the tree.

black bear best cropped

He was a long ways away. In all we saw about ten bears between our two hunts in D6.

bear track cropped and resized

Above is a photo of a track of one of the bears that passed by our camp.

black-bear-track

This is a sketch of a black bear track as I measured it on an X-12 archery hunt for mule deer several years ago.

According to biologists with the California DFG, the black bear  population in California has been on the rise for several years. The department will ask that the quota for black bear take be raised again this season. It is important that the bear population remain healthy, but not larger than habitat can support.

Others say that black bears are impacting deer populations. They prey mainly on fawns, but there is also a theory that black bears find mountain lion kills and because they eat the carcass before the lions can finish it off, lions are forced to kill more deer than they would otherwise.

D6 Drop Camp Rifle Deer Hunt 2009

On the last day of the D6 hunt, I took a long shot at a small buck feeding on a ridge overlooking the Clarke Fork of the Stanislaus River. Each day produced excitement of one type or another.

On the second day of the hunt, I passed on a young buck, but he just didn’t have what it took to get me excited. He and his spike buddy passed at about 20 yards.

I got a few other photos of interest.

On our previous hunt during the archery season, Wes and I had watched a big bear mark a tree and use it as a back scratcher. When we passed by that area on this trip we decided to look for the tree to see if it had any defining marks. Sure enough, the big bear had been leaving his claw marks and we also found a bit of hair.

Wes at bear tree cropped and resized

Wes hand at bear tree marking cropped and resized

Here’s a bit more evidence.

bear scat at bear tree cropped and resized

On day two of the hunt, I sat near the bear tree while waiting for a buck to show. Mountain quail had a good hatch this year and they were constantly calling in the area. These quail are extremely shy and difficult to photograph, but I did manage to get a couple decent shots of them.

Mt quail male (5) cropped and resized

Mt quail male (6) cropped and resized

It was a great hunt which included  the success and failure that make hunting worthwhile. Although none of us bagged a buck, we each had our chances and for one reason or another failed or elected not to kill.

Once again we received great service from Kennedy Meadows Pack Station owned and operated by Matt Bloom.

2009 Kenndy Meadows D6 Pack in Archery Hunt

Fernando was one of our two packers.

Packer Fernando resized

Randy was the other. They work for Kennedy Meadows Pack Station. The owner, Matt Bloom, is very accommodating.Packer Randy cropped and resized

This was a very large bear and we saw him two days in a row. We observed about six bears in all.black bear best cropped

One bruin left his track near camp, but we didn’t have any trouble with our food.bear track cropped and resized

This Cooper’s hawk landed about fifty yards away while Wes and I alternated glassing and nodding. Shortly thereafter, a cinnamon colored bear walked up to within 20 yards of us before attempting to leap out of his hide.Coopers Hawk 2 cropped and resized

On the second day of hunting, this three point buck appeared in the willows below us. We’d seen him on day one as well.

 

three point buck in sun cropped and enlarged

Then we saw him again on day three, but at about 150 yards. Apparently he’d seen us as well.

 

three point or four point cropped

His partner was a four-point buck (in the lead), but was more camera shy. Like many bucks, he was better at keeping his head down. As you can see fairly well, this buck has blacktail characteristics.

We have noted that some deer in this area look like blacktails and others more like mule deer. There is  a species called the California mule deer and these deer would most likely fall into that taxonomy.

According to biologists I’ve discussed this with, the California mule deer is not a cross between blacktails and mule deer, it is a species that evolved in this habitat. Could be.

three point following four point cropped resized

We saw these bucks every day of the hunt.

Chipmunks were plentiful, as were many other ground squirrels including marmots, pica and Townsend ground squirrels.sierra chipmonk cropped and resized

The most prevalent creature on the ridge was the Clark’s nutcracker. While watching one of these birds from about 20 feet away through his binoculars, Rob observed one of them regurgitating pine nuts and storing them in a slot in a pine tree.Clarks nutcracker cropped and resized

After a few hours of watching deer in the morning, a three-point buck with a nice spread bedded in these willows. Wes decided to sit on him and see if he’d make a mistake.

Where’s Wes? Wes stalking buck in willows cropped

Wes stalking buck enlarged

There his is. Wes sat next to that large rock for several hours waiting for the buck to show himself, but he didn’t.

One exciting moment occurred on the last hunt day when Wes jumped a mountain lion that took off at full speed until reaching a place to hide behind a large rock.

Tracking the Black Bear

While archery hunting for mule deer in the Hoover Wilderness in 1991, I noticed that the well-warn trail leading into the hunting area was littered with animal tracks each morning only to be erased by human travelers during the day.

One morning I arose early and took a few minutes to observe, measure and sketch a beautiful and perfect pattern of black bear tracks in the deep dust of the trail. Carrying a notebook, pencil, tape measure and string is what one needs to make an accurate record of tracks. I keep these items in a ziplock bag when I’m in the tracking mode.

Note that when the black bear walks he moves one side of his body and then the other as is the case with other wide-bodied animals like porcupines, beavers, wolverines and raccoons. This is his primary mode of travel, but when he shifts into high gear, his gait will change to a lope or a gallop.