This year I did not have a bear tag, and neither did my daughter Selina, so I decided to help my old buddy Joe Flater with the 13 hunters he was guiding. Joe owns Flater’s Resort, which is located where the Chippewa and Flambeau Rivers meet. “Muskie Joe” as many people call him, is a blue collar guide who does most of his guiding in a 14-foot boat, and rows his clients down the river as they throw casts in paradise.
Wednesday, Sept. 5
High 74, low 46
Today was opening day for Wisconsin bear hunters that were hunting over bait. There are two very real stories to this week’s column. One is that throughout Wisconsin, most of the black bear that were hitting baits a week ago, pulled off the baits due in part to a very healthy crop of white oak acorns that were carpeting the forest floor.
The really cool part of this week’s column is all of the great people I would spend time with in the woods, and in Flater’s tavern, which is literally and oasis for outdoors men and women to share their stories and enjoy a beer.
This afternoon, Joe and his good buddy Mark Tomasovich made sure the hunters they were guiding, were either taken to, or knew how to get to their stands. After that, the waiting game began, and by that I mean we hoped for a phone call or a text from a hunter saying “bear down.” Out of 12 hunters, there was only one bear experience, which in reality is really bad, but there is not a thing you can do about that.
Tyler Jabaay, from the Chicago area, is a young man that has a landscaping business with 54 employees. For the most part, Tyler and his father have been hardcore motocross racers with a bit of hunting mixed in, but not much. Tyler camped at Flater’s and he was a lot of fun. Tyler had the one bear experience, but did not get his bear.
Thursday, Sept. 6
High 75, low 48
I met a million people that have read this column for years and we had a blast. Today I met Gary Hoaglund, 77, who is from Waunakee. Gary was hanging out as his son Craig tried to harvest a bear with his compound bow. Back in 2014, Gary was bear hunting here and whacked a bear, and with the same arrow harvested a turkey and a 12-point buck.
Today, Craig had a very large bear literally try to climb up his tree stand. Craig could not get a shot and tonight we had a blast together.
Tonight I also met a really cool couple from Medford. George and Rita Kalmon rent a cabin at Flater’s each September and do some hardcore sturgeon fishing.
This year Rita had a bear tag and would be hunting near Medford with a crossbow. There was a slight problem, and that was that Rita could not get to her stand because the path to it was flooded out. George was an excellent husband, and went home and canoed Rita to her stand long before it got light out this morning. Rita had a beautiful bear come to her bait and she put an arrow where it needed to go, and tonight George and Rita were having fun in Flater’s and were back to sturgeon fishing.
As I said earlier, Flater’s really is a place that outdoors people like to hangout at, and another person that I had a blast with was Dave Schmitt, who I just met, and turns out lives only 4 miles from me.
Dave recently retired after a long career as an electrician. Dave does not have a bear tag this year but has used Joe in the past as a bear guide and literally hung out in the woods and helped us just to be a part of the super cool event called bear hunting.
The day I left, one of Joe’s hunters harvested a black bear as he was walking to his stand. I have to tell you, I know lots of people all over Wisconsin’s bear hunting country, and just about all of them were saying the same thing. The bear have pulled off the baits.
I had a blast on this trip!