Shooting Teddy: Bear Hunters Aim for a Legal Killing Season in Florida

Time was, Rusty McKeithan could load up a truck with four or five dogs, grab his rifle, and set out into northern Florida's Apalachicola National Forest to kill a black bear. McKeithan, 54, and his pals would drive along until the dogs caught scent and started barking. Then they'd set off down a track through underbrush, chasing mammals that can reach hundreds of pounds.

All that changed in 1994, when the bear was listed as a "threatened species" and hunting it was banned in Florida.

But now experts say the population has rebounded — and on August 23, the bear was officially removed from the threatened list. In places like South Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve, hunting them could once again become a possibility.

"Let's take all the emotion out of the damned thing," says Phil Walters, a gator-hunting tour guide based in Tampa. "We have a good number of bears in the state." The state estimates there are about 3,000 of the creatures in Florida. Some of them are killed every year by cars or eliminated as "nuisances" from suburbs and town dumps.

McKeithan says many of the bear hunters he knew have died of old age since the ban took effect. But he remembers the old days. Once he had a track on a bear, he recalls, he would strap on a pistol and crawl after the dogs through the thick vegetation that bears prefer: "The dogs would bark and basically harass the bear until it finally decided to go up a tree.

"Most people would shoot for the head," he says. "The worst thing you can have is a wounded bear. He's gonna be a bad customer."

If the ban is lifted, it's going to mean a lot more guys in orange sitting around and waiting. "People would get one now and then," he says. "They'd generally mount it like a deer and butcher it. I've had bear meat. It's not my favorite. It looks like beef."

 
My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
ladypurr9
ladypurr9

I think most people understand that in order to eat meat, an animal must be killed.  The only hunting that is justifiable is "subsistence" hunting; hunting carried out in areas where growing vegetables and fruits, and raising food animals "HUMANELY"  is nearly impossible.   Mounting the head of an animal that you killed makes absolutely no sense to me.  You like to show off to your friends and family what a big kahuna hunter you are?  Let me just say that even ethical hunting is grossly unfair to the animal What real chance does an animal have against a high powered rifle or bow?   In a true sport, both sides are equally matched and make decisions to engage in whatever competition is involved.  The bear cannot speak so he certainly can't say "I don't want to take part.  What's fair about having your dogs chase the bear until it's exhausted, seeks respite in a tree and then is literally shot right out of the tree by you?  What joy is there in ending the life of another living being?   Psychiatrists could have a field day with this one if they were honest with themselves and actually challenged the public to examine the motivation behind it.  

 

Contrary to what Phil Walters suggests, what we need is MORE emotion, not a lack of it!  Remember this, "As long as man kills animals, they will kill each other."  Pythagorus, Greek Philospher and Mathematician

Doggg
Doggg

if you eat what you kill, I have zero problem with it.

 

I love those idiots that hate hunting... its like they don't know where the food comes from. 

 

 

leapinleopard
leapinleopard

 @divedogfll We grow it in the garden plot, or on the farm fields.  Humans are taught to eat flesh, they don't have a nutritional requirement to do so.  

Maybe you don't think of animals as being sentient creatures?  if so, you would be incorrect.  

leapinleopard
leapinleopard like.author.displayName 1 Like

well, 3000 bears must be some sort of overpopulation problem, considering there are only six billion humans on the planet.  

Doggg
Doggg

 @leapinleopard   thats some good logic.  apples to oranges.

 

there are a heck of a lot more than 3000 bears in the world.  better question is people vs bears in the FL counties. 

-we all know about the bears invading wellington, lox, and the west palm area last year.

 

-my guess is you don't live in the area were bears live.  or you would be more informed.

 

leapinleopard
leapinleopard

 @divedogfll well, you guessed incorrectly (CA / OR border)  

Bears, like most mammals, would like to eat as well, just like humans, but lack the means to seriously encroach upon humans territory (Bulldozers, chainsaws, highways, shotguns, rifles, etc.)  

 How about just leave them alone?    Or is that too 'human' for you?

 Oh, yeah, almost forgot:  Humans never invade anywhere, huh?  

Most species are not agressive toward humans, unless threatened.   

janisl55
janisl55

How barbaric--leave the bears alone!  If you have to hunt, go up to the northeast and hunt deer--they are overpopulated there.  If you are not going to use the trophy for food, there is no justification for this! 

Doggg
Doggg

 @janisl55 and if they eat what they kill?  then you're ok with it?

nancy_spirito
nancy_spirito like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well now, Ole Phil sounds so intelligent; I hope Karma finds him before bear season begins, then he can join his other old time bear hunters! Killing a bear must be the only way Phil can get his rocks off, what a man!

 
Loading...