With the huge increase in the bear population in WI, more bear encounters are becoming common.
During bow season a few weeks ago, I was up in my tree stand when a couple does came in range. I wasn't too interested in them, but they seemed very nervous, which usually means another deer (maybe a trophy buck!) is near by.
They passed by eventually and as it was almost dark I started lowering my bow to the ground using a rope. As I was hand under hand lowering the bow very quietly I continued to watch the does to make sure I didn't spoke them and give away my hiding spot to them.
With the bow about 5 feet from the ground I looked down to make sure it wasn't hanging up in any limbs or hitting the trunk of the tree. There, right below me was a small black bear. The bow was right above his head as he/she was sniffing the ground picking up my scent. I quickly started to raise my bow and it heard the soft rattle of it grazing the tree. It looked up but could not distinguish me, nor smell me. He continued to nose around and started to smell the tree pegs I used to get up the tree. After a few minutes I had enough so I shuffled my feet, growled and finally had to literally tell him to "get the hell out of here" before it decided it was time to leave.
I don't know how he walked in on me without me seeing him, but due to my tree "blind" I have areas where if something walks straight in from certain directions, it can come in unnoticed, obviously. It looked like a fuzzy caterpillar. It was a young one with short legs and small woolly body.
When I first bought my land, I had a bear in a den we discovered during hunting season. All winter long I brought friends and family to peer into the den to see the hibernating bear.
During rifle deer season, it's not uncommon to see bears nor their many tracks if we have snow. In most cases they have not denned up for hibernation. As we make many drives to push deer, we cover a lot of ground and bear sightings and sign is noticed often with not much more than a causal comment.
One day this last rifle season my cousin decided to take a doe that had walked out of the woods on the edge of a farmers field that hunts with us. He hit the doe but did not kill it and instead of risking pushing to too much as he found a lot of blood as it ran back into the tall grass and trees, decided we'd come back in the morning and find it. As it was well below freezing the deer would keep fine.....we thought.
When we came back in the morning. my cousin and the farmer were tracking it with a few of us posted up in case it was not yet dead and it tried to run off. After a bit I could hear my cousin talking loud and rather abruptly. I walked the 200 or so yards to where they were standing after I could make out the words "a bear found it".
Seems as they were tracking the doe they looked ahead 30-40 yards and saw a suspicious mound of grass that did not have any frost on it. My cousin approached it and discovered a large pile of grass which seemed to be covering something. He pulled some off and there was the doe with one complete hind quarter gone.
The farmer then took us over to an area where he had piled up stumps and dirt in clearing some woods to expand his field. He had noticed a bear in that area earlier in the summer and it had dug out a huge den, large enough for 2 of us to crawl into. It had to have been a pretty good sized to make this.