I have no desire to shoot a bear. I’m not saying it will never happen, but I am not fond of bear meat — perhaps I haven’t had it prepared properly — and I am not ambitious enough to try to get a bear, or even parts of a bear one at a time, out of the woods. So, it’s unlikely.
I have nothing against you shooting one and dealing with it.
Lately, it seems there are bears everywhere. There is no doubt the population is growing, and bear-human conflicts appear to be up, as well. We have more than enough of them down at our camp in Steuben County. They show up on the trail cameras frequently, the guys occasionally see them during deer season — I’ve seen just one myself, very up-close — and my cousin has killed one in each of the last two years.
If I do decide to shoot a bear, or you do, we both have to know this: In the Southern Zone, you may not shoot a cub or a bear that should be known to be a cub (kind of vague there, but I get the idea), shoot any bear from a group of bears, or shoot or take a bear from its den.
The last clause might seem obvious; the first couple not so much. Experienced hunters might think everyone knows this regulation, but it’s guaranteed a lot of hunters do not. I do because every year I try to go through the hunting and trapping guide rather thoroughly. I wouldn’t start hunting without doing so. I am not going to say I read every word, but I’m looking for what is new, what has changed and maybe stuff I’ve forgotten about and need a slap in the head to remember.
For example, when transporting deer meat, packaged or boxed venison must carry a tag with your name, address and the DOC number of your license. And the box must be labeled "venison."
And this is something I was unaware of until reading it the other day on Page 37 of the regulations guide: junior hunters and their adult accompanists must wear hunter orange, specifically a shirt or jacket with 250 square inches of solid or patterned orange or a hat with at least 50 percent orange visible in all directions.
So, knowing the regulations is important, but I always find the guide simply fun to read. It’s also sometimes amusing and occasionally confusing.
There is a lot of information in there. Further examples: You may not use a crossbow to take carp or other fish (Page 16). It is illegal to kill Eurasian boars (Page 34). And, my all-time favorite in the category of banned implements, which I’ve cited here several times in the past: It is illegal to hunt with a spear.
You also should know you are required to report taking of a bear, deer or turkey within seven days of doing so. That is a regulation with a low compliance rate, perhaps because of laziness or paranoia or I don’t know what.
There is a good deal of other interesting information in the latest guide. There are items on growing bigger bucks — that involves letting the smaller ones go, which many of us find difficult — mentoring young hunters, non-lead ammunition, furbearer sightings, the 2017 special snow goose hunt and much more.
You don’t have to read the guide all in one sitting, but read it. It’s interesting, and you’re responsible for what’s in it.
Write to John Pitarresi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 60 Pearl Street, New Hartford, N.Y. 13431 or call him at 724-5266.