Hoosiers Going Bonkers Over First Bruin in State Since 1871!

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

June 24, 2015

For the past two weeks, newscasters across The Hoosier State and elsewhere have breathlessly reported the confirmed appearance of the first black bear in Indiana since 1871! This week you’ll also read about an ATF advisory warning against the misuse of exploding firearms targets, and much more!

Big News in Hoosierland
It could be the biggest news in the state since Coach Bobby Knight was fired as head basketball coach of the Indiana Hoosiers on Sept. 10, 2000 for “uncivil, defiant and unacceptable” behavior.

Absher's ONH 3 6-24-15
A wild bear was spotted in Indiana in early June for the first time in 144 years!

A black bear, identified as a young male, first entered Indiana in St. Joseph County in early June after Michigan DNR officials tracked it from near Muskegon. A scat pile it left in a resident’s driveway just north of South Bend was the evidence DNR needed to confirm the presence of a wild bear in Indiana for the first time in 144 years!

The apparent demeanor and attitude shared by Mr. Bear and Mr. Knight are purely coincidental.

“With black bears in some surrounding states, we were expecting a bear to show up eventually,” said Mitch Marcus, Wildlife Section chief for the DNR Division of Indiana Fish & Wildlife. “It’s quite unusual and exciting for a Michigan lakeshore black bear to move this far south. Michigan DNR officials told us this is the southernmost black bear movement in more than a decade.”

Last week, the bear turned west and was seen in Michigan City, Ind., where it reportedly toppled some trashcans and spread garbage around some yards.

Somewhat predictably, the confirmed appearance of a black bear for the first time since shortly after the end of The Civil War has prompted some unrecommended, and frankly, pretty darned stupid behavior on the part of some humans in its path.

WSBT-TV interviewed one family in Michigan City that covered their garbage cart with watermelon rinds because they hoped to see the bruin “up close and personal.” While they failed to get their wish of bear photographs, the next morning they discovered their garbage strewn across the neighborhood.

We don’t know what they expected from an animal widely known for its “uncivil, defiant and unacceptable” behavior.

That’s Mr. Bear, not Mr. Knight.

Two New States Poised to Permit Bowhunters to Pack Heat
The states of Louisiana and Nevada are poised to permit bowhunters to carry firearms for personal protection for the first time beginning with the upcoming 2015-16 archery big game seasons.

A measure approved by Louisiana lawmakers earlier this month and awaiting the expected signature of Gov. Bobby Jindal would allow bowhunters to carry any caliber handgun while afield with a bow. Previously, hunting archers were limited to .22 cal. sidearms.

SB 212 was sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward (R-Port Allen) and will become effective with the governor’s signature.

Earlier this year, the Nevada Wildlife Commission approved a temporary regulation allowing bowhunters to carry firearms for personal protection while hunting. The action was in response to a bill introduced in the state legislature aimed at removing the longstanding restriction of handguns in the field for bowhunters.

The regulatory language was updated to reflect the changes requested by the Commission by allowing a person to carry any handgun that is not scoped or has a barrel length exceeding 8 inches. The regulation will be temporary and will require Legislative Commission approval to become permanent following the 2015 Session of the Nevada Legislature.

While state-by-state regulations vary, most simply permit those with valid state concealed handgun permits to carry while bowhunting. Still, about a dozen states continue to prohibit bowhunters from carrying a firearm for personal protection.

ATF Issues Warning For Misuse of Exploding Targets
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) posted a special advisory on its social media site June 10 concerning the potential dangers of misusing exploding firearms targets. The agency missive was released in conjunction with another issued May 29 by the National Explosives Task Force (NETF).

“Exploding targets are not regulated by ATF but can pose serious injuries or death if incorrectly used by a sportsman,” advised the agency, which went on to acknowledge that most shooters who utilize the targets do so in a safe and responsible manner.

The recommendations for safe use of exploding targets from the agencies included:

– Exceed the amount of explosive mixture recommended by the manufacturer.

– Place ETs in, under, or next to objects that could produce dangerous fragments.

– Add any materials (internally or externally) to the manufacturer’s mixture.

– Combine multiple ET packages to form a single target.


– Utilize ET containers provided by the manufacturer.

–  Mix the targets at the use location immediately prior to use.

– Ensure that the manufacturer’s recommended safe distances are used for the shooter and all other persons.

–  Use ETs only at shooting ranges or in remote areas, and respect property owner’s rights.

The ATF advisory noted that once the individual chemical components of exploding targets have been mixed, they are considered as explosives and subject to Federal regulations. Mixed ETs may not be transported without a Federal explosives license or permit.

New Jersey Agency Issues Deer Urine Advisory
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection/ Division of Fish and Wildlife is recommending deer hunters in The Garden State use synthetic, non-urine-based scents or lures while afield this year.

The agency said the recommendation is based on research that shows the infectious prions that cause Chronic Wasting Disease can be spread through urine-based lures.

“Studies have shown the prions can survive for years in contaminated soils and the environment,” read the DEP advisory. “Urine-based scents and lures are not treated to kill the prions as heating or chemical treatments would also reduce the desired scent characteristics.”

Hunters using urine-based scents are being asked to place them in areas out of contact with deer, the ground or vegetation.

Quote of the Week
“There is no quadruped on the continent of North America the approach of which is more generally detested than that of the Skunk. Although from the great and strong we have to apprehend danger, the feeble and apparently insignificant may have it in their power to annoy us almost beyond endurance. Even the bravest of our boasting race is, by this little animal, compelled suddenly to break off his train of thought, hold his nose, and run—as if a lion were at his heels!”
– John James Audubon,
American Ornithological Biography, 1831-1839

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at jrabsher@me.com.

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