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IFallsRon

Bowhunter in tree between cub and mama

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IFallsRon

Cub's cry lures mother to man's tree stand

By MEG JONES

mjones@journalsentinel.com

Posted: Oct. 16, 2007

Hunters know it's not wise to come between a bear cub and its mama.

But what happens when a frightened cub climbs up your tree stand while you're bowhunting, gets scared and starts bawling? Then the cub's angry mother comes running and climbs up after it?

Kevin Schultz, 42, found himself caught in that ursine sandwich while sitting in his 12-foot tree stand late Friday near Ladysmith. Now he has a load of stitches closing up his wounds as well as an incredible story to tell.

It all started around 6 p.m. Friday while Schultz hunted on a friend's property near the small Rusk County community of Tony. Wearing hip boots to traverse a swamp and get to his stand, Schultz climbed up, strapped himself in and waited for a nice buck to come by.

He heard a commotion in a nearby cornfield and hoped it was a buck scraping, but instead he saw four black bears ambling his way. Schultz figured they would stay near the cornfield, but they congregated under the elm tree where he was sitting.

Schultz yelled and motioned at the animals to shoo them away, but their response was just the opposite. The smallest cub got so scared he scurried up the tree. Making matters worse, the cub went right past Schultz to a branch overhead, then started crying for his mama. That put Schultz between the frightened cub and its alarmed mother, the last place he wanted to be.

That's when things really got interesting. And scary.

The sow saw her crying cub, saw Schultz and saw red, so to speak.

She immediately went up the tree after her cub. Schultz tried fighting her off with his bow and his kicks. But the bear quickly got the upper paw.

"She got me by the side and by the armpit and tried to drag me out of the tree, but I had my tree stand strap holding me. Then she tried to pull my leg. She actually pulled my boot off. I think she then thought she had me and took the boot off," said Schultz, who owns a snack, candy and tobacco distributorship in Ladysmith.

He dropped his bow during the fight and was pulled out of his seat, but the safety harness kept him from tumbling to the ground. Schultz isn't sure of the sow's size but estimates she weighed at least 300 pounds because she was bigger than a 200-plus-pound bear he shot a few years ago.

"It didn't really feel painful, it just felt super scary. I felt if I fell to the ground - the 12-foot drop would have been painful, but I think she would have killed me because she would have gone after my head and neck. Everything I was trying to do was stay in the tree. As far as pain, there was so much adrenaline I didn't really feel pain," said Schultz.

After the sow pulled off Schultz's boot, the cub climbed out of the tree and the family of bears left.

It's likely they were in the area because of a dead cow near the cornfield, said Dave Oginski, the Department of Natural Resources conservation warden supervisor in Park Falls.

"It's very uncommon for a bear to initiate contact unless you get between a sow and a cub," said Oginski. Cubs are "taught to go up the highest tree to avoid danger, and that was the highest tree in the swamp."

Despite scratch and puncture wounds to his left leg and right arm, Schultz managed to climb down and drive to his parents' home about a mile away. They took him to Rusk County Memorial Hospital - his heart rate was 200 on arrival - where he spent the weekend. Doctors didn't close the wounds for a few days to allow them to drain. He was stitched up Monday and given rabies and tetanus shots.

Schultz has bite and scratch marks on his foot, ankle and thigh, and a patch of flesh the size of a hockey puck was ripped from his elbow.

He told a warden he didn't want anything to happen to the bear since it was natural for the sow to protect her cubs, said Jim Bishop, a DNR spokesman in Spooner.

The cub that climbed above Schultz would have been born in January or February and though its size is not known, cubs weigh an average of 40 to 70 pounds at this time of year.

Though the encounter was frightening for both bear and human, the incident was unusual. Black bears are generally not aggressive and will usually leave when they hear or smell people. Occasionally bears tangle with hunting dogs, and there have been a few times when a habituated bear that is being fed by humans becomes aggressive.

Wisconsin's black bear population is estimated at 13,000.

"Considering the density of bears and the density of people that use Wisconsin's outdoors, these incidents are extremely rare," said Keith Warnke, DNR big game specialist.

As for Schultz, he's at home recovering. He'll be out of the woods for a while, though he hopes to resume bowhunting when the deer rut begins, and he expects to participate in the gun-deer hunt next month.

He does not plan, however, to return to the property where he tangled with an angry mama bear.

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snapcrackpop

"He told a warden he didn't want anything to happen to the bear since it was natural for the sow to protect her cubs, said Jim Bishop, a DNR spokesman in Spooner."

What a great sportsman! Very level-headed thinking.

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Sandmannd

Yes, great sportsman. She was looking out for the cub. Things we have to remember is that's their home and we are intruding on them. This is a great outdoorsman. Sorry he got into that, I would have some stains in my shorts after all that.

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ozzie

safety harnesses have a new statement to be used......they could save your life if attacked by a bear!!!

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vitalshot5

i CAN SEE THE NEW COMMERCIAL BEING MADE NOW laugh.gif

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Jeremiah Johnson

WOW! what a rush!

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vister

Do you actually think that guy was worried about the well-being of the bears as he was getting snacked on! Yeah right, he probably tried jumping out of the tree but forgot he had his harness on he was so scared, i would have shocked.gif. either way, still a tough hunting story to beat., oh yeah, this one time.....

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Lip_Ripper Guy

12 feet...I'd have jumped so fast out of that tree. I'll take my chances with the fall.

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snapcrackpop

Vister,

No. I'm sure if he was gun hunting he would have shot when she started biting and clawing him and he would be justified.

I'm clearly talking about after the episode. (NOT: Let's go back and kill it!)

The GW wasn't in the tree with him... smirk.gif

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vister

I know the GW wasn't in the tree with him, but the comment about him saying it was natural for the sow to protect her cubs, and that being level headed thinking, just doesn't seem right to me. had that been me, the first thing through my mind when the cub come up would have been holy crap. then to watch to sow come up would have been oh sh&*. and followed with me jumping to the ground and taking my chances. I'm sure I wouldn't have been thinking to myself "it is natural for the sow to protect her cubs." Who knows, maybe she was just climbing up to skold the little bugger and saw mr hunter in the way.

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96trigger

I don't know, I think I would have tried staying in the tree. You would have a slight vantage point of being on top. If you jumped, and fell, and she was right on you, you'd be toast. I think I'd fight from the stand as much as I could.

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iffwalleyes

Quote:

I don't know, I think I would have tried staying in the tree. You would have a slight vantage point of being on top. If you jumped, and fell, and she was right on you, you'd be toast. I think I'd fight from the stand as much as I could.


I think your right on this one. Jumping 12 feet is probably going to leave you some what disabled and give this bear or one of the other ones that was on the ground and they somehow became angered. 12 foot is a pretty good fall.

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ozzie

plus he had a safety harness on......I think with the harness on I would have just started swinging from the tree and hopefully scare the bear....LOL grin.gif

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snapcrackpop

"He told a warden he didn't want anything to happen to the bear..."

As in, dont go back and shoot it just because it attacked, which is the usual reaction.

I thought that was a great response(now that he was safe) coming from a hunter.

I wasn't talking about during the attack.

I'm sure that was a very scary moument for him. Glad he's okay.

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analyzer

I think many of us would have notched an arrow and took a shot at her when she was climbing up. I'll give him alot of credit to just sit there and take it. But who knows, maybe he did take a shot, and missed, and didn't have time to take another.

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GoggleEye

I would have grabbed an arrow and used it as a stabbing tool. One poke in the eye and that bear would have been climbing down and high tailing it.....maybe! I guess it's hard to say what you would have done when you are not in the situation he was. I bet everything happened so fast and he really didn't have time to decide what to do until she was already up the tree and clawing him. To tell the warden not to dispose of the bear is true sportmanship and I commend him for it. I Wish there was more sportsman like this out there with a very non-selfish way of thinking. wink.gif

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HootTooten

Yes it was very sportsman like. However, I bet I know where he will be bear hunting next year! smile.gif

HOOT

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Surface Tension

Scary episode for sure.

While reading the story I pictured this guy trying to calm the cub so it would stop crying to momma bear.

That leads into a Tom & Jerry scene.

Cat-hunter

tweetey bird - cub

Bulldog - Bear

We know what happens next, the Cat gets clobbered.

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bigbucks

I'm saying if there was time, I would have been trying to shoot the sow with an arrow too, but a straight on head shot on the the tree directly below your stand would be almost impossible. I'm guessing she was up that tree in a hurry. Most critters don't walk when they decide to attack...

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Nate McVey

I was in a similar situation when I was 14 in MI. I had just finished baiting my deer stand (it is legal in MI) and was heading back to my stand to make sure my lanes were clear. I looked up and saw a cub about 30 yards away and my first thought was "man that thing is cute" then almost simultaneously "where the hell is mom?" I turned and saw her about 40 yards behind me and about that time she saw me. I went right up the tree and to my stand and she proceeded to come up after me. I threw my flashlight, one closed knife (I kept the other on me just in case), my saw and finally my boots. She only made it about 6 ft. up and was clawing at the air and making so much noise I couldn't hear myself think. In what seemed like an hour (but was only a couple minutes) she retreated and ran off with her cub. I waited a good hour and then ran out as the sun was setting with my flashlight and no boots on my feet. Very scary for a kid, but I understood what I had done wrong (got between mom and baby) and I am very careful walking through the woods now. I'm glad he said what he said, it really isn't the mom's fault.

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GoggleEye

Wow Shiner! I can't imagine being in that situation at age 14! I would be scared crapless now at age 28. Glad to hear you came out ok! wink.gif

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analyzer

ya know, hoottooten had a good point. If that bear had attacked me, I'd want the first opportunity to put it on my living room floor. Perhaps he told em not to go after her, so he could have a shot next season. I certainly would, and it sounds like she was bigger than any bear he's shot previously.

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luckey

A few years back I was filming a bear at my bait station. Something startled the bear (another bear approaching) and it fled up a tree. That bear went 15 feet up that tree so fast I could hardly follow it with the camera. My thoughts at the time was there would be no way a guy in the tree could shoot the bear unless he had time to prepare prior to the bear starting up the tree. It was recorde on Hi-8 video so I don't know if I can post a copy.

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