When my daughter, Selina Walters was ten-years-old I transferred my black bear hunting tag to her for that falls hunting season. That tenth summer of Selina’s life she put in at least a hundred hours running baits with me in northern Juneau County on what is a very physical job.
When hunting season arrived, Selina passed up two different bear, one was too small and the other was a sow with 1.5 year old cubs, not the standard 6-month old cubs that most hunters are accustomed to seeing with a sow.
That sow was enormous and came to her bait twice.
When Selina was 14, she received her first bear tag via the Zone C drawing. That was two years ago. Once again she put in at least a hundred hours running baits and on the stand she hunted 17-nights and did not see a bear.
This year Selina is 16, she obtained her drivers license in August and last January another Zone C permit to hunt bear. Without a doubt I have never seen such a slow season for running baits from our start date in early July until this very moment.
Selina and I ran 9 baits, which cover 46-miles of driving and our walks were from 400-yards to a mile. In that time period, we did not have one day hit in August or September but did have some nice bear coming in after dark.
About bear baiting/hunting! I honestly believe that the hundreds of hours that Selina has put in the woods and marshes, the sweat, the work and the observing nature from a tree stand is a huge reason why she has such an incredible work ethic, love for nature, no fear and the plan of becoming a wildlife biologist.
This years stress for myself as we entered the 35-day season is that Selina is simply over scheduled in that thing called life. She is a first year President of her school’s DECA Chapter, very active with The National Honor Society, works four shifts a weeks at the Necedah Kwik Trip, has a friend from “Brookwood” and is a runner on the schools cross country team.
Just the cross country story is very cool when you think that ten months ago we were taking her to her deer stand on a deer cart after she blew out her left knee and had to go through 6-months of therapy which thankfully avoided surgery.
Saturday, September 9th
High 72, low 44
All of the above was on my mind as I dropped Selina off for what would be the 4th night on Wisconsin’s bear season and drove my truck to where I make my half-mile trek into the woods.
Selina was adamant that she could carry her bait, re-bait if needed and do the 16-foot climb into her tree without her dads help.
So we text each other and on this hunt, Selina had three separate deer and a porcupine experience and I kept telling her that this was an excellent sign. The fact that her bait had been hit was good news as well.
I am 20-feet up in a red pine and love the view and doing nothing for four hours but watching the forest. Selina is maybe a 1.5 miles away and at 7:10 I heard a beautiful sound. It was what I was confident was her 30:06 being fired twice.
Less than a minute later I got a text in capital letters GOT ONE! Than another text that said it didn’t even run far. Without a doubt those were the best texts of my life.
So here is where things get crazy. I am hunting a bear that is in the 500-pound range and stay up in the red pine until dark. As I am making my way to Selina, which is a two and a half mile walk and a drive; a sow comes into her bait with two cubs and Selina’s gun is empty and on the ground. Thankfully the sow leaves without incident.
Selina’s brother Joey Duskek, his girlfriend Ashley Potter and my other bear hunting partner, Doug Cibulka all were a part of getting Selina’s trophy out of the woods. It was 1:00 a.m. before we were home and the bear was iced and hanging.
A rug will be made, the meat will be consumed but the memory is one of the best that I have so far as a father. Good work Goof! Dad