WBEZ | hunting http://www.wbez.org/tags/hunting Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Where can you hunt in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-can-you-hunt-chicago-108954 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Hunting%20Topper.jpg" title="Hunting has been a tradition for generations of Chicagoans. (Courtesy of Chris Rollins)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115791960&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Curious citizen Andrew Eubank&rsquo;s hunting experience consists of exactly one unsuccessful Wisconsin expedition in pursuit of squirrel.</p><p>&ldquo;I shot nothing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We saw one squirrel, and it got away.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a different story for the Lincoln Square resident&rsquo;s downstate relatives.</p><p>His grandfather graduated third in his class from the University of Illinois, but decided to raise hogs back home in Willow Hill, Ill. &mdash; a village of 300 people. Andrew&rsquo;s father, Arthur Eubank, has fond memories of shooting squirrel, rabbits and quail downstate. They still visit their Jasper County relatives for holidays.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s that kind of cultural dissonance from here to down there and back,&rdquo; Eubank said. &ldquo;When one of my friends sees a rabbit in the park, they say &lsquo;It&rsquo;s a cute little bunny rabbit!&rsquo; And I kind of think of how it would taste in a stew.&rdquo;</p><p>So Andrew wanted to know:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What are local policies on urban hunting?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s generally assumed that hunting in your backyard is something you need to give up when you move to the city. As distant as city life may at times seem from the rural lifestyle, food is one thing that unites the two &mdash; a trend explored at great depth in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/books/new-breed-of-hunter-shoots-eats-and-writes.html?_r=0" target="_blank">the recent wave of books in which previously unlikely sportsmen rediscover hunting</a>. Still, as Andrew points out, there is a cultural gap. But you don&rsquo;t have to travel to Jasper County to find out.</p><p><strong>Huntable lands</strong></p><p>So where can Chicagoans hunt? Well, <a href="http://fpdcc.com/preserves-and-trails/rules-and-regulations/" target="_blank">you can&rsquo;t hunt in any of the Cook County Forest Preserves</a>. And Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/island-gary-guns-or-laws-which-protects-us-better-106538" target="_blank">gun laws seem to constitute a de facto ban</a> on hunting in the city. But we wanted to know what was actually on the books.</p><p>Roderick Drew with the city&rsquo;s Department of Law <a href="http://chicagocode.org/8-24-050/" target="_blank">dug this up</a> from the city&rsquo;s municipal code (Prior code &sect; 193-32; Amend Coun. J. 5-16-90, p. 15819):</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Any person licensed to hunt under the provisions of The Illinois Wildlife Code, as amended, may hunt or kill game birds in the open season as provided by the laws of the state, within the following prescribed districts and portions of the city: upon Wolf Lake and along the shores thereof; upon Lake Calumet and along the shores thereof; and upon the Calumet River and along the banks thereof.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Provided, however, that no weapons shall be used for the purpose of&nbsp;hunting such birds, or killing or wounding, or attempting to kill or wound such birds, other than a shotgun, and that such shotgun shall not be discharged anywhere within 750 feet of (1) any building or structure used or intended for human habitation or employment, or to be used as a barn or stable; or (2) the centerline of the right-of-way of Stony Island Avenue.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $250.00.&rdquo;</em></p><p>So, there are only two public hunting areas within city limits: <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r2/wmpow.htm" target="_blank">William W. Powers State Recreation Area </a>on the Illinois-Indiana border, and Lake Calumet just to the west. You have to get a <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/pages/gettingstarted.aspx" target="_blank">state permit</a>, obey state hunting season and limits, and you can&rsquo;t hunt there with anything except a shotgun.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%2082-70-27.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Duck hunting at Wolf Lake has been a tradition for decades. (Photo courtesy of Chris Rollins)" /></p><p>Andrew could also take a boat onto Lake Michigan, where Chicago&rsquo;s jurisdiction only goes out one mile.</p><p>Better known as Wolf Lake, the state acquired the William W. Powers site in 1947. About half of its 800 acres lie in Illinois, where the state&rsquo;s Department of Natural Resources presides. (You can&rsquo;t hunt on the Indiana side.) In total you&rsquo;ve got 419 acres on which to shoot waterfowl.</p><p>As on most public lands, <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/hunter_fact_sheet/R2hfs/wlpw.htm" target="_blank">hunting on and around Wolf Lake is heavily regulated</a>. (Check <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/HuntTrapDigest.pdf" target="_blank">IDNR&#39;s annual hunting digest</a> for comprehensive information.) There are 26 duck blinds &mdash;&nbsp;huts built onshore or out in the lake, which is quite shallow throughout, and camouflaged with reeds and sticks. Hunters set up shop early in the morning during duck season, using duck calls and decoys to lull their game into a false sense of security, and fire from the blind.</p><p>Each blind has a direction &mdash; the local Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials regulate this to make sure hunters aren&rsquo;t firing toward one another. Access to the park is restricted each day during duck hunting season until 1:00 p.m., when hunting ends.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%20IMG_1434.jpg" style="height: 116px; width: 175px; float: left;" title="A duck on Wolf Lake being shot, for now, by a photographer. (Courtesy of Chris Rollins)" /></p><p>The blinds are reassigned each year by public drawing. Anyone 16 years or older with a valid hunting license can apply, but there&rsquo;s more demand than supply &mdash;&nbsp;this year there were about 100 entrants. If a blind is unoccupied and you&rsquo;ve got your state permit in order, it&rsquo;s fair game to use a blind even if you didn&rsquo;t win the public drawing. But those hunters who did get priority.</p><p><strong>Southeast side oasis</strong></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of one of those sportsman&rsquo;s secrets,&rdquo; said Chris Rollins, who manages Wolf Lake for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Rollins grew up in Quincy, Ill., where he hunted waterfowl. &ldquo;I thought I&rsquo;d seen a lot of ducks in my day,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Here there&rsquo;s mergansers, teal, golden-eye ducks &mdash; lots of species.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087" target="_blank">Once a Cold War-era Nike missile base</a>, William Powers is now part of a pastiche of natural areas and industrial sites that stretches from Chicago&rsquo;s far South Side into northwest Indiana.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bentley pic Chris Rollins DNR.jpg" style="height: 212px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Chris Rollins manages Wolf Lake for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He said the waterfowl hunting in this area is among the best in the state. (WBEZ/Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;At Wolf Lake not only was the idea to preserve a natural environment, because a lot of the environment has been impacted by human activity, but it was also to preserve a way of life here,&rdquo; Rollins said. &ldquo;A lot of folks living on the southeast side are avid outdoorsmen. They&rsquo;re just as big on the outdoors as any northwoods guy you&rsquo;re gonna find.&rdquo;</p><p>So our question asker Andrew Eubank doesn&rsquo;t need to traverse the state to plumb the depths of that &ldquo;cultural dissonance&rdquo; he associates with hunting.</p><p>One Chicago-area hunter, Kraig Kaatz, told me he comes to Wolf Lake in part to escape the hustle of Chicago and its sprawling suburbs.</p><p>We went out on the lake one morning in his 12-foot metal boat, joined by his wife Arlene and four-year-old retriever Buddy. It wasn&rsquo;t hunting season yet (that starts Oct. 19), so Kaatz tested his duck calls and decoys while Buddy splashed around.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re in the rural culture more than in the city culture,&rdquo; he said. Kaatz grew up in northeastern Wisconsin, so it&rsquo;s easy to see which one he prefers. &ldquo;The hum of a motor is a lot better than the honk of a horn at a stoplight.&rdquo;</p><p>On our way back to shore, Kaatz said he thought Wolf Lake could stand to have more hunters.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bentley%20pic%20Buddy%20and%20blind.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Buddy the dog and a duck blind on Wolf Lake near the Illinois and Indiana state border. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Years and years ago everyone hunted,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Not having a place to hunt is obviously the biggest deterrent. People hear bad things about public hunting areas, and if they don&rsquo;t experience it for themselves they don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo;</p><p>The number of hunters in the U.S. is actually up after years of decline, <a href="http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/2011_Survey.htm" target="_blank">according to the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife and Wildlife Service&#39;s latest report</a>. If the trend continues, urban hunters may have to go farther afield than the southeast side. Rollins said the number of duck blinds at Wolf Lake isn&rsquo;t likely to change soon.</p><p><strong>Other options</strong></p><p>So there isn&rsquo;t much hunting in Cook County. But Chicago isn&rsquo;t very far from several public hunting areas in the region. To name a few: <a href="http://www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/R2/Chaino.htm" target="_blank">Chain O&rsquo; Lakes</a> in Spring Grove; <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/Lands/landmgt/parks/R2/MAZONIA.HTM" target="_blank">Mazonia/Braidwood</a> in Grundy County; and Will County&rsquo;s <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/I&amp;M/EAST/DESPLAIN/Park.htm#Shooting" target="_blank">Des Plaines Conservation Area, which offers the largest pheasant hunting (by permit only) facility</a> in the state.&nbsp;<a name="HUNTINGMAP"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="475" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/hunting/HuntingEmbed.html" width="610"></iframe></p><p>Northeast Illinois hunters made <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/programs/Hunting/Iphar/10Table2.pdf" target="_blank">more than 35,000 trips on public lands during the 2010-2011 season</a>, according to IDNR records, bagging more than 27,000 animals. The bulk of that (71 percent) was pheasants.</p><p>Until December Wolf Lake&rsquo;s steward Chris Rollins was the regional land manager for IDNR, meaning he watched over state sites in Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties.</p><p>&ldquo;Hunters have some wonderful choices here in the Chicagoland region,&rdquo; Rollins said. &ldquo;Man, I would stack this region up against any region in the state as far as waterfowl hunting goes, for the people who would seek it out.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The kicker: Trapping</strong></p><p>Andrew also wondered about trapping, and for Chicagoans the situation is similar to hunting &mdash; in the city your options are limited, but you don&rsquo;t need to go too far. In Northeast Illinois there are three IDNR areas that allow trapping: <a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/hunter_fact_sheet/R2hfs/dsp_archerydeer.htm" target="_blank">Des Plaines Game Propagation Center</a>, <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/i&amp;m/main.htm" target="_blank">I &amp; M Canal State Trail</a>, and <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r2/kankakee.htm" target="_blank">Kankakee River State Park</a>.</p><p>Trapping requires a state permit separate from hunting. The state issues limited licenses for &ldquo;nuisance animals,&rdquo; say a bat caught in your attic, and&nbsp;there are plenty of private animal control firms that will do that work for you, too &mdash; <a href="http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/professionals.cfm#nwco" target="_blank">the state maintains a list of licensed operators</a> by county.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s a different story if you want to keep the trapped animal to eat. IDNR regulations &ldquo;prohibit commercialization or other use of animals taken under authority of a Nuisance Animal Removal Permit.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Animal Control can trap animals, but they won&rsquo;t set a trap for rabbits pillaging your backyard garden; only if it&rsquo;s a direct threat to public health or safety &mdash; like coyotes behaving aggressively.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> reports for Curious City. Follow him at <a href="http://twitter.com/cementley">@cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-can-you-hunt-chicago-108954 For these hunters, it's not all about the geese http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/these-hunters-its-not-all-about-geese-105592 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/goose.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><object height="450" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2F&amp;set_id=72157632796346677&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632796346677%2F&amp;set_id=72157632796346677&amp;jump_to=" height="450" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79853098" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>When goose hunter Neal Brooks says you&rsquo;re in for a cold, early morning, he means every word of it.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it is 6:36 and it&rsquo;s a brisky eight degrees,&rdquo; Brooks told me one bitter, late January morning, as I arrived at the clubhouse of his Mazonia Hunt Club in Gardner, Ill., about an hour southwest of Chicago.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s actually a little generous to call it a clubhouse: We&rsquo;re in a refurbished auto mechanics&rsquo; garage, which Brooks has made a bit cozier with hot coffee, old recliners and a cable hunting show on TV. On the walls is a menagerie of North American game trophies&ndash; ducks, pheasants, deer, elk &ndash; all stuffed.</p><p>This is the rendezvous point, where the hunters get the blood flowing before going out for game - in this case, Canada geese.</p><p>Brooks agreed to let me tag along on a hunt with a couple his clients, so I could hear how hunting informed the way they think about guns and shooting. As part of WBEZ&rsquo;s &ldquo;Our Guns,&rdquo; reporters have been profiling local gun owners to document the range of relationships people have with firearms, at a time with politicians and activists debate gun laws in Washington and in statehouses across the country.</p><p>For hunters and sportsmen, the relationship to guns and shooting is often part family tradition, part politics and part fun.</p><p>Mike Blaske, 32, a logistics manager in Lockport, says his life as a hunter started when he was a boy, going out with his dad.<br /><br />&ldquo;So once I got old enough, my dad was looking for another hunting partner, and uh, took me when I was young, when I was about seven years old. And I didn&rsquo;t have a gun or anything, but I sat in the blind and watched him,&rdquo; Blaske said, as he got ready for the morning&rsquo;s goose hunt.</p><p>Tradition and family, for some, are a big part of hunting.<br /><br />&ldquo;I recognized as a kid that if I was gonna see my father during hunting season ... I&rsquo;d better be hunting with him,&rdquo; said Scott Early, 63, a retired Chicago securities lawyer. Early&rsquo;s backstory sounds familiar: his father, their hunting dogs and some elusive pheasant.</p><p>&ldquo;Once you got started, no matter what you&rsquo;re doing now, you&rsquo;re gonna find a way to get back to it,&rdquo; Early said. &ldquo;It gets in your blood. And that&rsquo;s where I am now.&rdquo;<br /><br />As the sun gets higher, everybody pulls on their camouflage outerwear and climbs into an SUV that takes us to the hunting site. The shotguns are stowed in the back of the truck, unloaded.</p><p>As we drive, I feel like I&rsquo;m asking the obvious, but I want the hunters to tell me what their guns mean to them. Early raises an eyebrow at the question.</p><p>&ldquo;That would be like saying, &lsquo;How do you regard your golf clubs?&rsquo;&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The golf clubs are just a means to an end. For me, and I think, for a lotta hunters, the enjoyment you get is the process, as much as the result.&rdquo;<br /><br />We reach our destination. It&rsquo;s a harvested corn field of stubbled stalks with a long, low hut near one edge, camouflaged by reeds.<br /><br />This is the goose blind - where the hunters sit hidden in folding chairs, so as not to spook the geese and ruin their big shot. Everybody climbs in, loads their guns, and the waiting begins.<br /><br />Early says he owns a handful of guns, but has only every purchased one himself; the others were handed down by relatives, or won at waterfowl conservation raffles.</p><p>The one with him today is a shotgun, covered in camouflage to match the blind, the kind of gun that&rsquo;s made to handle extreme cold and take a beating.</p><p>And today, that&rsquo;s good protection to have: The wind chill is about eight degrees below zero, according to our guide, Larry Juhl, who says he&rsquo;s been hunting geese for nearly 60 years.<br /><br />Juhl was out in the field even earlier than us (when it was even colder) to set out our decoys. There are about fifty of them, and they look remarkably like real geese. Juhl stands them huddled in little clusters around our blind, set up to look like they&rsquo;re eating or sleeping or standing watch &ndash; a pattern designed to attract actual geese flying overhead.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I flew helicopters in the Army, I have an appreciation for runways,&rdquo; Juhl says, explaining exactly why his decoy spread is supposed to be so inviting to Canada geese. &ldquo;And the last thing you want on a runway is something on it. You want it all to yourself.&rdquo;<br /><br />Goose hunters couple this with calling the geese, to create a scene that makes the animals want to land in this particular field. All of this work is what Early says makes him love the process.</p><p>&ldquo;[S]eeing, in this case, a goose, lock its wings and come down and come in, and it&rsquo;s a gorgeous, gorgeous sight,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s like, you&rsquo;ve done all this work, you&rsquo;ve put all this patience and time in, and now it&rsquo;s the fulfillment of it.&rdquo;</p><p>But by around 9:30 a.m., the hunters are still unfulfilled.</p><p>&ldquo;You ever had days where it was a good morning to sleep in?&rdquo; Juhl asks rhetorically. &ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s what the geese are doing this morning.&rdquo;</p><p>But the men swap hunting stories; they share jokes; they sip steaming hot coffee. At some point, the conversation turns toward politics.</p><p>Blaske, the other hunter, points out the shotgun he&rsquo;s carrying isn&rsquo;t all that different from the type of military-style assault rifles some people want banned.<br /><br />&ldquo;My gun - I could use - anybody could use a shotgun as a malicious weapon as well as a assault rifle,&rdquo; Blaske said. &ldquo;But, it&rsquo;s not going to be used that way.&rdquo;<br /><br />For Blaske, his shotgun is practical. Think getting dinner on the table. But for Early, the ex-lawyer, it&rsquo;s also constitutional. &nbsp;Think minutemen, anti-tyranny, the Second Amendment.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very easy to sound paranoid in that discussion, but the short answer to your question is, that&rsquo;s the way the amendment was drafted, and it was drafted for a very good reason,&rdquo; Early said. &ldquo;Because the government knows that it has the citizenry who will not stand for what George Washington called the tyranny of government.&rdquo;<br /><br />This lofty talk about the U.S. Constitution gets me rethinking Early&rsquo;s analogy - how his gun is like his golf clubs. I point out there is no national debate about golf clubs, but he says the similarity is in the attachment people have to their cherished possessions.</p><p>&ldquo;And it may be personal attachment, because it&rsquo;s been such a useful tool to you. It may be because it has sentimental value. It may be any number of reasons. But it&rsquo;s not the kind of irrational, psychotic lust that a lot of people make it out to be,&rdquo; Early said.<br /><br />By mid-afternoon Early unloads his shotgun to call it a day. The SUV returns to take him back to the hunt club in town &ndash; skunked, with not a single Canada goose sighted.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our day was, on the one level, frustrating because we didn&rsquo;t even see anything fly this morning,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s why they call it hunting, and not shooting. You never know. And, as my father always used to say, You can&rsquo;t shoot &lsquo;em in the living room so you gotta come out and try.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 15:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/these-hunters-its-not-all-about-geese-105592 Bears reclaim land near shrinking towns, hunting economy grows http://www.wbez.org/content/bears-reclaim-land-near-shrinking-towns-hunting-economy-grows-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/Thimm&#039;s bear rugs.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><em>With the demise of forestry, shipping and agriculture along the southern shore of Lake Superior over the past century, a once booming region is in decline. As the people have moved out, the biggest carnivore west of the Rockies, the American black bear, has moved back in. Today an estimated 30,000 bears roam Wisconsin forests. And after Labor Day, when the summer tourists are gone, it’s the bear hunters who stimulate the economy.</em></p><p><em>For Front and Center, Joel Bleifuss traveled to Northern Wisconsin with producer Jennifer Brandel to discover more about the big game industry that is emerging from the wilds of the Great North Woods.</em></p><div id="PictoBrowser111116143700" align="center">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><p>In this part of Wisconsin, just a few miles from lake superior, the easiest way to bag a bear is with bear bait.</p><p>&nbsp;“Yeah, I’m the bear chef today, cooking enough of the good stuff, caramel in here,” says Adam Noskoviak, 22, as he mixes bear bait, which he will dump in the woods, where the bear learn to expect these sweet and fattening treats.</p><p>“Sundae best chocolate flavored cone coating, that’ll be my topping,” he says.</p><p>With so few ways to make a living up here locals have turned black bear into a job. Adam's dad and step-mom run a bear camp. The season only lasts a few weeks. So they work around the clock to make the most of it.</p><p>“It's hard to even find time for a shower, you know. But you gotta make hay when the sun shines,” says Mike Noskoviak, Adam’s dad. Mike runs the family business Superior Guides and Outfitters, a few miles south of the Lake Superior port city of Ashland, Wisconsin.</p><p>At his bear camp half a dozen hunters are hoping for a big bear and a good story. Like 24- year-old Stephanie Nolan. Mike took Stephanie deep in the woods.&nbsp;He laid the bait, helped her up into a tree stand, and left her to wait.</p><p>“I kind of thought my luck was a little low,” says Stephanie. “Had a squirrel throw an acorns at my head all day and all of a sudden I looked over and I saw it’s ears coming through and he walked around the bait and sat like a dog and gave me an open shot.”</p><p>Stephanie’s shiny black bear is about 175 pounds—the size of a very big dog.&nbsp;</p><p>“I’m still kind of a little bit in shock. I really don’t remember much,” says Stephanie.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/greatlakesjobs"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);"><strong>GRAPH: </strong></span><strong>Great Lakes, great source for jobs?</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a job? Tell us about it</strong></a></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/food-tourism-sparks-farming-renaissance">Great Lakes foodie tourists</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>This year 103,000 people appled for a Wisconsin bear license, but only 9,000 of them got one.</p><p>Back at the bear camp, after the trophy photos are snapped, the bear is laid on a picnic table where it’s caped and quartered.</p><p>“We’re gonna get some sausage made, we’re gonna make some homemade jerky, maybe a small roast,” says Stephanie.</p><p>Bear sausage? That’s a new delicacy in the Northwoods. I know because I’ve been spending summers up here for the past 50 years.</p><p>Lake Superior’s water is crisp and clear, not much has changed. Except signs of bear are everywhere. Like down the road from the Noskoviaks’ bear camp at Pearce’s Sausage Kitchen, where Bill Pearce has been staying up until 4 a.m. processing bear.</p><p>As his grandkids, in flip flops, slide around in the blood of pigs being slaughtered, Bill talks bear sausage.</p><p>“The two main sausages for bear are a summer sausage and a bratwurst,” says Bill.“We make the bratwurst out of a bear. Because a bear is more like a pig. They’re&nbsp; kind of greasy.”</p><p>Pearce says bear butchering accounts for 10 percent of his profits.Other local businesses— from gun stores to corner shops depend on hunters to survive. &nbsp;</p><p>Non-resident sportsmen spend about $4000 dollars on their bear hunt.</p><p>That money gets spread around. For five years, Wade and Cheryl O’Bryon have operated a state bear registration station out of the village inn. It’s a bar, restaurant and cabin complex in Cornucopia— a quiet beach community on Lake Superior.</p><p>“We put in a new digital scale when we bought the restaurant,” says Cheryl. “Everybody runs out and stands around to see how much did it weigh.”</p><p>Wade adds, “Yeah, there's actually cars that even stop and let the kids get out of the car when they see a bear up on the chain, chained up on the scale.”</p><p>Says Cheryl, “ They look a little different hanging up there than they do digging through the dumpsters in the middle of the afternoon.”</p><p>She continues, “Without hunting we might as well close up for sure right after Labor Day. We were probably up 40 percent last week over the week prior because of all the bear hunters that were around.”</p><p>Wade and Cheryl sell food for the hunters, and Bill Ernst sells food for the bear. He’s the proprietor at the Butternut Feed Store in the town of well… Butternut.</p><p>“Just in our little feed stores here alone it probably turns about $15,000 to $18,000 worth of stuff through the store. They’ll come in here and they’ll buy a box of donuts and you think, ‘Well they’re gonna eat it for them themselves.’ They don’t—they dump it out for the bear.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-17/Thimm%25252527s%25252520show%25252520room%5B1%5D.JPG" title="Gary Thimm’s showroom displays the variety of mount styles he offers. (Front and Center/Jennifer Brandel)" height="402" width="600"></p><p>If buying and laying bear bait is the start of the hunt, a visit to the taxidermist is the finale. At Thimm’s Taxidermy in Butternut, the acrid stink of bear fat hangs in the air, and I wretch. Gary Thimm is scraping fat off bear skins.</p><p>“Come on in” says Gary. “This is my finished room where people come in and they pick out what kind of mount they want with the bear.”</p><p>He’s already taken in 40 carcasses and the season’s not half over.</p><p>“Last year I did 90 bears,” he says. “I'm cutting back this year, got too busy. But I'd say there's 1,000 taxidermists in Wisconsin or more.”</p><p>He says that judging by the amount of fat on the bear, wisconsin is in for a cold winter.</p><p>“How much does it cost to get a bear stuffed?” I ask</p><p>“A bear rug starts about $600 and a full bear will go up to like $2000, like the one in the case," he says.</p><p>Gary brings in $100,000 dollars a year from taxidermy, but half of that goes to the tannery and for supplies—like glass bear eyes. The bear hunt puts food on the table. It also keeps bear under control.</p><p>“For about 2-and-a-half weeks. It seemed to come around every time I was cooking with a crock pot with the windows open,” says Nicole McNally, a restaurant manager in La Pointe, Wisconsin, on Madeline Island.</p><p>Nicole had a problem with a so’called “nuisance” bear.</p><p>“It wasn't afraid of us,” she says. “We tried to shoo it away and it would leave —but it would leave very slowly.”</p><p>Bear pillage trash cans, break into homes and even smash a car windows for a bag of Cheetos left on a front seat. David MacFarland is the bear ecologist at Wisconsin’s department of natural resources.</p><p>“The stated objective of the Bear Management Committee is to, is to bring the population down a little bit,” says David.</p><p>Last year in wisconsin, 66 nusiance bears were shot and 481 nusiance bears were trapped and relocated.</p><p>Bear also destroy crops.</p><p>“They're second only to deer in the, the damage that are caused by a mammal in the state to, primarily corn,” says David.</p><p>But not everyone is convinced that killing bear is necessary.</p><p>“What do you hunt? Have you gone bear hunting?” I ask Len Moore, 26, and a member of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe Indians.</p><p>“No, I'm bear clan.&nbsp; So for me that is like somebody, you know, having a manhunt for my brother,” he says.</p><p>Len Moore lives on the Bad River Reservation. He’s out gathering balsam fir boughs to sell for Christmas wreaths. As he talks, his silver, bear-paw earrings dance in the wind.</p><p>“I don't know if you've ever experienced a bear killing.&nbsp; It's a tragedy,” he says. “It's a beautiful, majestic being whose life has ended because somebody thinks it's cool to kill a predator. When we say the bear is our cousin, and family. We really believe that. I don’t believe the bear are a threat to anybody.”</p><p>What is a threat—to everyone—is the stalled economy. And bear hunting gives the north woods a boost.</p><p>Back at the Noskoviaks’ bear camp, Mike says, “It's not high profit in any way. It's basically covering our expenses and we live off the business. Nobody is getting rich here obviously.”</p><p>Mike and his wife Tanya live in a mobile home next to their backwoods bear camp. She lost her real estate job in the recession. And Mike, as a full-time outdoors guide makes about $30,000 a year.</p><p>Adam, works for his dad during bear season and he lives off the land, as he looks for work.</p><p>“The way the economy is up here, I’ve been struggling and just living off the wild,” he says. “Yeah, I’ll be trapping for coons and stuff for money. An average size raccoon will come in 10, 12 bucks. There’s all kinds of things around here a guys got to struggle with to make money.</p><p>Soon the snows will set in. And like the bear, Adam will hunker down for the winter, do some trapping and hope to emerge in the spring under better circumstances.</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/bears-reclaim-land-near-shrinking-towns-hunting-economy-grows-0