First Wisconsin Black Bear

By Jake Bartes

August 31, 2022

I was up in Douglas County Wisconsin. Hunting just a half hour south of Superior, Wisconsin. I have some friends up there who bait and run Plott hounds for bear. I went up on a Tuesday night after work, about a 3.5 hour drive from my work. We started early on Wednesday morning. We treed two young boars that we let go. Beautiful to see them so close, but just too small. We quit for the day around noon in order to give the dogs a break.

We started again on Thursday morning around 6:30am. We treed another young boar around 7:30am, and again, we let him go. Then, around 8:30am, the dogs jumped another bear and had another good chase going. After about a 20 minute chase, we could tell by the change in the sound of the dogs' baying that they had the bear treed. We had to walk through a thick and wet beaver slough to get back to where the dogs were at. Finally, we hit some dry ground where the dogs were at, and they had treed the bear in a giant 80 ft white pine tree. We could tell right away that the bear was a shooter, but she was tucked tight up in the crotch of the tree, with only her neck and head visible. I decided that if she turned her head that I was going to go for a neck shot. I settled my 444 Marlin on a small birch tree and prepped for my shot. The bear turned her head, I settled the crosshairs of my scope right behind her ear, and slowly squeezed the trigger. At the shot, the bear instantly slumped over and was dead on the spot. Unfortunately, the bear was stuck in the crotch of that tree and did not fall! We had to make a plan in order to get the bear out of the tree.

We went back to camp, and since one of my friends is the fire chief of the local fire department, we decided we were going to get one of their 40 ft extension ladders and walk that back into the woods, strap it to the tree, climb it, and attempt to push the bear out of the tree. We carried that ladder across that same beaver slough where I proceeded to trip and fall into the small creek we crossed and was soaked up to my waist. That water was cold and had me singing soprano for a little bit there haha...We finally got back to the tree and set up the ladder. I cut down a sturdy little birch tree and carried it up the ladder with me, as I needed it in order to reach and attempt to push the bear out of the tree. I was having a really hard time trying to pry the bear's butt out of the crotch of the tree, and just as I was starting to feel like we might have to come up with another plan, God must've taken some pity on me and I was finally able to push on the right spot to get the bear to move. One more push was all it took, and she came falling down. Unfortunately, not in the direction I wanted, but right back at me! I quickly hugged the tree and felt the bear brush across my back as she fell. I was very fortunate that I reacted quickly enough to hug the tree and avoid being hit squarely by the bear as she fell, otherwise I was tumbling down a good 65 ft with her. The bear landed in a big pile of leaves and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I unstrapped the ladder and slowly climbed down, and it was all smiles, handshakes, and celebrations from there. I gutted the bear and then we made the arduous trek back across that beaver slough with both the bear and ladder in tow. I tell ya what, I was dead tired after that trek, but you sure couldn't wash the smile off of my face. The old 444 did it again!

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