Minnesota Outdoors
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The killing of a 658 pound black bear near Cumblerland, Wis., last weekend, and reported here, drew a lot of comments from readers.

Pictured above is another big bear, this one weighing 580 pounds and shot by a 12-year-old boy, Cole Martinsen, near Barnes, Wis.

Minnesota DNR wildlife officials say bear hunting here has been fairly productive since the season opened Sept. 1 - this even though the dry weather throughout much of the state has kept many animals from coming to baits.

In Wisconsin, of course, bear hunting is also allowed with dogs, something many people, including some hunters, find objectionable. Others find hunting over bait objectionable.

Fair enough. But bears present a special hunting problem. Unlike out West, hunters in forested states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin wouldn't have much of a chance to find a bear if they were to "spot and stalk.'' That's because the landscape here offers few long views.

Still, that would be no problem, if only hunters were inolved in the equation. But home and cabin owners and others regularly report problem bears, and in some areas bears can be overpopulated. Wildlife officials tend then to issue enough permits to kill enough bears to keep the population manageable.

Which is how we end up with baiting and hunting over dogs. It's the only way bears can be hunted effectively in the Upper Midwest.

Speaking of bears, click here to read an interesting story from British Columbia about how a bow hunter fought off a grizzly bear, using only an arrow.

One more bear item, when I was in Alaska recently, I was checked twice by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent who said that during his career he had been bluff-charged more than 20 times by grizzlies. Each time he stood his ground - he said he had no option - and each time the animal backed off.

Except once. His only mauling occurred when he was hiking with his girlfriend, and he suprised a sow and her cub. One of his legs was messed up pretty badly. His girlfriend survived virtually unharmed.

The kicker: It was the only one of all of his bear encounters that occurred on his day off.