Even though several big bears have been killed, WRD reports a slower-than-normal archery bear season.
“Our harvest record indicates that we only have 33 bear records that have come into the office thus far, and that’s low,” said Scott Frazier, a WRD wildlife biologist in Gainesville.
“Typically, we’ll tag over 100 bears during archery season, so this year is definitely down. Keep in mind that individual (WRD) technicians and personnel tagged bears… they have to physically collect a tooth, so even though I’m looking at 33 bear records, there could be another 25 out there that just haven’t made their way to me yet.”
Because of an increase in the north Georgia bear population in recent years, Northern Zone bear hunters have been allowed to kill two bears per season beginning four seasons ago. Also, the north Georgia bear season has been liberalized to where it runs concurrent with the entire deer season. However, even with more bears in the equation, hunting becomes much tougher during years when acorns are plentiful.
Scott said there are plenty of acorns in the north Georgia mountains this year, and that is the likely cause for the slow archery season. Lots of acorns means no real focal points for the bears, and they will be very scattered and difficult for hunters to pinpoint.
Central Zone bear hunters have a one-day season, while hunters in the Southern Zone have nine days of firearms hunting.
“Typically the bears coming out of north Georgia are 20 to 25 pounds lighter than the ones coming out of the south because the mountains are a hard place to make a living,” said Scott.
Scott made mention that a large bear weighing in excess of 600 pounds was taken Sept. 30 in Charlton County. GON is still working on getting the story. Keep checking www.gon.com.
At least one trophy-class bear has been reported from north Georgia. Mark McAfee, of Loganville, killed an estimated 500-lb. live-weight bear in Gilmer County on Sept. 12. The owner of the land, Steve Smith, took Mark out to the property and dropped him off at a blind overlooking a bear trail. Until later in the morning, Mark’s hunt was relatively slow.
“I was on the phone asking Steve to come pick me up when I heard a noise behind me,” said Mark. “I slowly turned around and saw that it was a huge black bear only 10 to 15 feet away.”
Undoubtedly, the bear smelled him, and Mark quickly grabbed his crossbow. The bear hurried back the way he came through the trees and stopped at approximately 35 yards.
“That’s when I pulled up my crossbow and nailed him,” said Mark.
The bear ran down a ridge probably 50 to 60 yards to a ravine where he expired. Mark field-dressed the bear, and it took the efforts of Mark, Steve and two other men to drag the bear with ropes to a nearby road. The men then used a small tractor to lift the bear into the back of the truck.
After a few hours of hard work, Mark took his hard-earned game to a processor. Fortunately, a wildlife biologist was there and helped weigh the bear, which tipped the scales at 430 pounds. The biologist told Mark that the estimated live-weight of the bear was likely in excess of 500 pounds.