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Today is the first day of Maine’s 2007 bear-hunting season, and from now through September 22 you’ll see truckloads of hunters bearing donuts, dog food, molasses and meats into the woods in hopes of luring a bruin close enough for a shot.
This is a quiet sport that most folks wouldn’t even realize is taking place except for the increased traffic on back roads, the fact that all the day-old bread and pastry is missing off the grocery shelves, and that there seems to be a lot more camouflage-clad people milling around gas stations, diners, camps and hotels.
Most of the action takes place in the woods, near dark, from tree stands, blinds or platforms constructed 20 or 30 yards from the bait station. Most hunters head for the woods in late afternoon and just sit quietly, waiting and watching for a bear to appear suddenly and soundlessly. An incoming bear may take an hour to cover 25 yards, and it will do so with remarkable stealth and furtiveness — the old, “One moment he wasn’t there, the next moment he was,” refrain.
In my experience, more bears slowly “edge” into the picture than come walking in boldly and with purpose. I spend hours staring at the bait because I know bears can be sneaky, and it always amazes me how I can just blink my eyes and, on the up-blink, see one or sometimes two bears standing there! They do it all the time and I expect it, but they always seem to appear as if by magic.
Of course, this is good to know.
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