There are several different ways to hunt bears, but likely the most popular is to hunt from a stand or blind over a bait site. T-Bone says hunters can use the bait site to their advantage when sizing up and field judging a bear. Unless you are experienced, it can be difficult to field judge a bear and determine its maturity. He says a good guideline to be mindful of when determining size and maturity is to use the rings on the 55-gallon barrel drum, often present at the bait site, to measure overall size. Ideally you want the bear’s back to reach at least the second ring on the barrel. A bear with a back that goes to the top of the barrel or very close to it is a good indicator of a large mature bear. T-Bone says that mature bears will also have a crease in their head and their ears will appear very small. When bears come in by themselves, one at a time, it can be difficult to judge their size without other bears around to compare them to. As a result, many hunters will take the first bear they see. So, in the absence of other bears, you can use these bait site hacks to determine whether or not your looking at a mature boar. When hunting from a bait site, T-Bone says patience is key. When bears come in they are cautious, and it may take a little bit before they drop their guard and get more comfortable. The shot will present itself, he says, you just have to be patient. One of the biggest mistakes bear hunters can make is to rush the shot. Many bear hunters feel like they need to shoot the second the bear comes into the bait site; however, T-Bone says rushed shots often lead to wounded bears which is a dangerous and undesirable situation. Hunters have to wait it out, take their time, be patient and know that the shot will present itself. When it comes to the shot itself, placement is important. A bear’s vitals tend to sit further forward and lower than other big game animals so it’s important that the hunter understands anatomy well. The outline of a bear can be deceiving, T-Bone says that their fur can be fluffed out 3-4 inches from their body and that has to be taken into account when shooting. In order to get your arrow into the body cavity you need to mentally subtract 3-4 inches off the outline of the bear and that will give you a better idea of the actual physique of the bear. Once you establish that, he explains how to find the ideal shot placement.
Switching directions to other worthy spring pursuits, T-Bone tackles hogs. The internet sets some pretty steep expectations when it comes to hog hunting, leaving many people thinking that they will be shooting Hogzilla when they venture into the field. However, the reality is that most hunters will realistically kill hogs in the 50-150 pound range. T-Bone says to get a hog over 150 pounds is good, but a 200+ pounder is great. Throwing it back to a previous hog hunt, T-Bone talks about taking a behemoth 400-pound sow during a nighttime thermal imaging hunt in South Alabama. There are a lot of different tactics for hunting hogs, and thermal imaging is among the very effective. Hunting with a crew of professionals, T-Bone says that this team killed nearly 4,000 hogs, just last year alone. Taking thermal imaging spotters, they scan the fields where you can see them up to 1000 or 2000 yards away. Once you get a visual on them, T-Bone says that you get the wind in your favor and then set out walking in the dark and try to cut them off, trying to get under 80 yards. Generally, T-Bone says, they get more like 30-50 yards out. The closer the better, that way when you start shooting you are close enough that you get plenty of shots off before they get to the wood line. It’s chaos when you start shooting and being as close as possible maximizes your chances of taking as many hogs as possible. T-Bone says that you have to be very aware of your surroundings, and in this case, they are in heavy farm country where there are no houses around. Furthermore, they line up in a single file line and maintain it when shooting. Out of a single sounder you’ll get anywhere from 3-15 hogs, T-Bone says.
Hogs have become an incredibly popular animal to hunt, but despite their gaming qualities, the reality is they wreak havoc on the land and displace other wildlife as a result. They are an invasive species that are steadily gaining strongholds in other states. T-Bone says this is already a huge issue and one that continues to grow, one that is nearly impossible to control. Thinking that hogs are just a southern problem is misguided, T-Bone says that many people think they won’t move north successfully because of the adverse weather conditions. However, hogs are incredibly adaptable. They can adapt to living in highly populated areas and they can adapt to living in the extreme cold. They don’t hibernate, they breed 2-3 times per year with 8-19 piglets per litter, and they are capable of breeding at just six months old. They have a better nose than a deer or bear, are largely nocturnal, extremely smart and learn quickly. Once exposed to bait sites, traps and other hunting techniques they become educated very quickly and learn how to avoid those situations. T-Bone says that removal by any means necessary is a good thing and staying on top of this problem is crucial. Hunters can benefit from this invasive problem, hunting as many as they can and enjoying the wild range pork they get out of it.
Be sure to listen in as Travis “T-Bone” Turner joins The Revolution this week to talk spring hunting opportunities. Also, don’t forget to catch “Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector”, Sundays at 10:30 pm ET on Outdoor Channel. You can also see T-Bone on “Realtree Roadtrips” which will be back with new episodes in July, as well as on “Booger Bottom USA” – both on Outdoor Channel. You can also find T-Bone and the Bone Collector crew anytime, 24/7, on MyOutdoorTV.
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