• Dale Bowman

Bear Down, Fair Chase & Smashing Hedge Apples: Ramble with the Lady

Smashing Hedge Apples is not an offshoot of Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins, but that is where my brain went first.

Kids or critters started smashing or mashing open the hedge apples leftover littering the path along the east side of the south old clay pit.

I kind of understand the impulse.

Though, I know hedge apples do provide squirrels and other creatures with food as winter and snows come. And that time is not far away.

But what was really on my mind this morning was bear hunting.

On Saturday, I went upland-game hunting with Ken Gortowski, Steve Palmisano and Pete Lamar.

At one of our breaks for food and muscle rest, Lamar asked me if I still wanted to get a bear.

I do.

But I said I have zero desire to shoot a bear over a pile of donuts.

To me, hunting black bears over piles of bait is not hunting and should not be considered Fair Chase, one of the most honored tenets of modern hunting.

The Boone and Crockett Club I think the club does a nice job of defining and following Fair Chase: Here is the club's basic description of Fair Chase:

FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.

Click here to see an extended discussion at BCC's site on Fair Chase.

If I sound like a pompous ass about that, so be it. This is the 21st Century, shooting black bears over bait piles is not Fair Chase in my world.

With all that said, I would like to shoot one black bear before I die.

Bear Down has another meaning for hunters than the hook in the Chicago Bears song. Yes, I stayed up to watch the game last night and paid for it this morning. I was slow rambling off Lady, our family's mutt.

Not much moving this morning. Unlike the last two mornings, no heavy frost this morning. But cold enough that fog wisps lifted off both old clay pits. It mixed with the simmering smoke from the town's burning leaf pile or should that be the town's pile of burning leaves.

The red berries of the invasive bush honeysuckle are thick and the one splash of color left in the fall landscape. They are especially thick along side rail, now a trail, above the south pit.

Back downtown, a lone gray squirrel, without any reason I could think of, ran off down the alley by the bank. That was about it for critters.

Dawn came in hard on a crisp fall morning, one that promised a warm beautiful afternoon.

I take some comfort there.

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