April 1, 2012

Streaming Bear Video and Bear Stories



Southwestern Pennsylvania has a hidden jewel.

Pun intended.

     An Export (PA)-based company, PixController, Inc., placed a web-cam inside the den of a wild female black bear in Ely, Minnesota. It documents mama bear Jewel and her two cubs, born January 22, 2012. They can be viewed live on the Internet at , a site well worth a visit—I had the video streaming on my computer while working March 27th, and it was quite a distraction. Naturally, I took several photographs while watching.

     In 2008 PixController, Inc.’s, founder, Bill Powers, placed a web-cam inside the den of black bear Lily. It caught her birthing three cubs. This was the first time in history that a webcam has been placed inside the den of a wild, female, black bear in hopes of capturing a live birth.*


     Not everyone considers black bears cute. They were a source of food and fur for American frontiersmen. Many bear stories are hidden in old books, letters, and manuscripts

     One illustration comes from the The Journal of Captain Robert Cholmley^s Batman. The Captain was part of a Braddock’s Trail expedition. The year is not identified here.

Wedensday June the 4th. We halted by the River Lorel [Laurel Hill Creek] and after Receiving Provisions and Couking a party went to work and a Covering party Along with them to guarde them. This day our Hunter went a Shouting [shooting] and Brought home a Bear and killed a Wolf and followed a Panter Better then 6 miles but did not get him.

Thursday June the 5th. We marched to the little Meadows (Near Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania), it being 4 miles, very Bad Roads Over Rocks and Mountains almost unpassable. We was ten hours in marching it. This day our hunter Shot us two Elks and one Bear and a Dear and Wounded two more. Today we dined on Bear and Rattle Snake.

Fryday June the 6th. We halted and unloaded all the Wagons and sent them to Fort Cumberland where we came from. The Rest of the Army they went for more provisions and three hundred men along with em to guarde them. This day a working party went a Clearing the ground Round the Meadows. This day we dined on Snake and Bear and dear.


     Not all bear stories come from frontier times. The following is only a decade old.

Each year… hunters head to the hills and mountains surrounding this region with hopes of luring in a big bruin. With increased sightings and reports of demolished property, the bear is struggling to make a stronghold against development, and at the same time, providing a hunting opportunity for area sportsmen and women…

Hunters planning to lure a bear are allowed to set bait out thirty days prior to the August 25th opening day of hunting season, giving them plenty of time to locate a stand site, gather up tasty morsels such as pastries, doughnuts or stronger-smelling attractants such as meat or fish and hang a tree stand.

…Several years ago I drew in a large bruin on Streaked Mountain in Buckfield with a combination of “sweets and meats.: I started with a liberal spraying of anise oil on the foliage at my site as an attraction to lure the bear(s) in. to hold them there, I offered a smorgasboard. In one bait bucket, I mixed a broth of baker’s malt (the kind that bagel makers use) and water which I poured over a loaf of cinnamon bread…The malt looks and tastes somewhat like molasses. I knew I had a sweet offering when I attracted a horde of bees and wasps to the sweet nectar that spilled on the tailgate of my truck. In another bucket, I thawed some frozen deer meat that had become freezer burned over the winter and would be thrown out anyway. After sitting outside for a few days in the July sun, my bucket contained a putrid mess that was beginning to be attacked by carrion-eating beetles, a sure sign of its attractiveness to scavengers…the sweet and sour offerings I had in store for the bears…reminded me, abstractly, of traditional German fare. A good German meal consists of an assortment of sweets and sours…

After a few days of baiting my offerings were being hit on a regular basis. The bear or bears would devour the sweet bread and malt combination and then turn their attention to the meat. I had originally hung the meat bucket from a tree branch, but it was torn down and chewed on so many times I settled for lashing it at the base of a tree with aircraft cable. Apparently my combination meal was a hit!

     After a few weeks of regular visits by the bear(s) I decided to see what size bear I had coming in. I brought in a pail of sand and spread it around the forest floor near the bait buckets. The soft sand would hold the impression of any visitors, so I could gage the size of the bruin making the track.

At first, I saw a moderate sized track with a smaller one mixed in. this I surmised was a mother bear and her cub. Although I didn’t want to take a sow with a cub, I continued to bait and monitor the tracks.

After a few more days a very large track began to show up and the sow/cub visits seemed to stop. Apparently a large bruin had discovered my cache of food and he was not about to let these delicacies go to any competitor. As hunting season was only a few days away, I put up a portable stand so he could get used to it, and anticipated a massive shoulder mount in my den. The day prior to the start of the season, I gave the bear another dose of my sweet and sour specialty and added a trail timer to his bucket. This way, on the way in to my stand, I could see what time he was visiting and plan accordingly.

Opening day came and I started up the mountain around 2:00 pm. I guessed that my bruin was visiting the stand at sunset like most bears do. When I got to my site, I was pleased to see that my bait buckets were cleaned out and the trail timer had been tripped. Much to my dismay he was coming in at 9:30 pm. Well after legal shooting time had ended. Not to be discouraged, I baited this site again, set the timer and settled into my stand in hopes that he furry visitor would show up early.

After waiting until nearly dark, and jumping at nearly every sound, I climbed down from my stand to call it a day. On the ride home I hatched a plan. I thought about using an old guide’s trick to change the bears clock. Although it would require frequent visits to my bait site, I could remove my bait at dusk and return it at sunrise. After calculating how many round trips this would require, I opted for the lazy man’s solution. I got hold of a battery operated clock radio that had a timer function. I set it out in the woods so it would play loud rock music from sunset to sunrise. After a few nights of listening to WTOS., my bear decided he liked dining music and he continued to take the bait I gave him. Although I was unable to nab this wise old bear, I did realize that streaked mountain is home to some impressive bears…***











*** From the Country Courier’s Greater Lisbon Ledger, Lisbon—Maine, Aug 2003, PP23  Tom Roth: August Means Bear Season Begins


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