On Saturday, November 15, Joseph Trybus of Lanesboro was in his tree stand bow hunting for deer when all of a sudden he spotted a large black bear approaching him. Although he was after deer this day, he also had a permit to hunt bear. When the bear was about 12 yards away, he let the arrow fly and made a good hit. He was hunting not far from home and went there to get his 8 year old son Johnny to help track the bear. According to Joe, Johnny is really good at tracking and he found the dead bear some 40 yards away from where it was hit. Joe was delighted to spend this quality time with his son.
Joe relates that it took three men, a four-wheeler and a sled to get the bear out of the woods and check it in at Dave’s Sporting Goods. The only place he could think of to weigh it was Sayers Auto Wrecking of Pittsfield where he weighed his truck with the bear and then without it. It weighed 420 lbs and that was field dressed. He said Fisheries and Wildlife people estimated the live weight of the bear to be approximately 510 lbs. They extracted a tooth so that they could determine its age, but they “guesstimated” it to be around 15 years old. It measured 6 ½ feet tall and its neck measured 31 inches.
Joe and his helpers then brought it to LaBlue’s Taxidermy in Adams where they had to work together just to roll the bear for the work to be done. He will have a half mount done of the bear and when completed, it will look like the bear is walking out of a wall. Richard LaBlue is an official scorer for Pope & Young and will enter it. Wayne Rodd of Southampton, MA will record it with Boone & Crockett. Before entry, the skull has to be cleaned and dried for 60 days before measuring. The Pope & Young Club records for posterity scientific data on North American big game taken with bow and arrow. The Boone & Crockett Club is the authoritative source for data on native North American big-game trophies.
Incidentally, if the Trybus name sounds familiar, Joe was mentioned in my March 23, 2014 column as bagging the most coyotes (12) in the Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Derby. His 12-year old daughter Samantha’s picture was in that column, too, kneeling next to 3 coyotes that she had bagged. She took up hunting them because coyotes had attacked her dog in their front yard. *****
Keeping with the subject of bears, Ralph Taylor, MassWildlife Connecticut Valley District Supervisor recently gave a very informative talk at the Berkshire Museum about black bears of Massachusetts. He discussed the natural history, status, behavioral changes of bears, as well as human/bear conflicts, current research, and tips on co-existing with them. Space does not allow me to cover the entire presentation, but here are some interesting facts about them which you may not know:
- There are about 5,000 bears living in Massachusetts and at the rate that the population is currently growing, it will be at 10,000 in the not too distant future.
- Hunters currently take about 3% of them per year and that is not enough to control their population
- Bears can live up to 30 years or longer but the average is 7 years
- Massachusetts has on average one bear per square mile
- When there is a good mast product (food), nearly 100% of the cubs survive. In years where the mast fails, there is only a 20% survival.
- In Massachusetts, the average litter size is 2 ½ cubs but litters of 3 or 4 are fairly common. In fact, there have been two occasions where mother bears in Northampton had five cubs.
- There are 6 bears living in the city limits of Northampton. One of the reasons is that there is plenty of food there, thanks to the bird feeders and carelessly handled garbage. That city has recently passed an ordinance whereby if there are constant complaints from neighbors about those who are carelessly attracting bears, someone from the Board of Health visits them and offers advice to cut down on bear visits. If the advice is ignored and a second visit is required, there is a $100 fine. A third visit results in a $200 fine and all subsequent visits result in $300 fines.
- Bears are frequently seen rubbing their backs on trees not because they have an itch but because it is a way to spread their scent which will attract suitors or scare away unwanted competition.