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Thread: "The Nursery"

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Default "The Nursery"

    "What's with all the sheila's?" My new friend and client remarked in his ultra-dry Aussie accent i'd grown to like so much... I shook my head in mutual disgust and simply told him i had no idea why we'd seen seventeen brown bear in the last eight days and only one was a boar. "The Nursery" phenomenon...i'd heard about this, but hadnt quite had the opportunity to observe it yet...

    i'd been told (by more experienced bear guides) in the past to watch for places with high sow content, and to avoid them in the early fall while hunting for mature males. the observation being explained with the thought that early in the fall while the boars and more aggressive bears target the obvious protein rich fish food source, the lesser bears, and females with young will tend to group up on outlying food, like berries...the lesser bears and sows with young not wanting to compete or not being mature enough to compete for the fish.

    the above mentioned hunt was a very good example of this...and it really stuck out in my mind. what was interesting to me was the fact that i had hunted this exact drainage a full twenty days later the seaon prior, and had been able to count over eight boars in ten days, most of which were mature. i only observed a small handfull of sows...three or four if my memory serves me. this very same country a year later and nearly a month earlier produced 20 different bear in nine days...two of which where boars. thats not coincidence. it was neat to observe and learn from. i'd always heard of "nurseries" but had never observed what i thought was a good example of this until last year. says alot about bears and theyre social structure, and the different hunting the same area can provide at different times: if you ask me on day eight with the australian if i thought we were in a good spot i'd proly mumble something about women and kids, and TOYS R US and frown at you...lol. but if you'd have ask me in 2010, i'd tell ya it was the best camp i'd hunted all year...cause it was.

    it was interesting to me, and reafirmed some opinions i was allready forming about our seasonal bear movement in that particular country...which is changing by the way.

    i found the australian a bear though...that second boar i mentioned. i had to hunt about four miles from camp, but we found one.

    two sows i found during this hunt had me fooled to the point i insisted on getting close enough to watch them urinate before i could confidently judge them. some bears are tough to judge. older sows really get me. i would have put both of them at right around eight foot, but sexing them was hard. some are. i couldnt tell my client for sure theyre sex until i got to within sixty yrds or so. i look at alot of things to judge bears, but verify it to myself with a fairly common headlength technique...a technique that doesnt work unless you know the sex. this because of the obvious difference in headlength between males and females.

    anyway, was thinking about this all lately and though it'd be a good thread topic...i'd like to know if anyone else has obversed a "nursery"

  2. #2
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    If you were not hunting so much you could see it on the Chilkoot.Boars at the mouth when the run starts strong then the boars move to the back of the lake and sows/cubs come to the bridge area or at least they used to.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    what wonderful information; thankyou soooo much for sharing.
    connie

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    We spent a very nice fall day glassing the lower part of a ridge we were sitting on during moose season. Looking for a bull moose. What kept appearing in our binocs tho, was bears. All females, and most all with cubs. The area was a good berry place, and a river at the bottom should have had a few salmon, tho not lots. I think we counted 13 different bears including cubs. Have been in that area before and after that day and have not seen the same numbers.
    Don't have any explanation for it.
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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    yeah it was interesting...it was a new area for us (federal land) two years ago when i hunted it the first time, and the differences in the hunt were obviously night and day...it will be interesting to learn more about it and the differences the timing and what the food source is doing at the time, and the related effects it will have on the hunting. ie: the timing of the fish runs, winter denning, berry crop...etc. etc.

    amigo...your right about chilkoot...to me thats a bit different circumstance though...simply due to the pressure from the bear viewers and the tight proximity with both hunting pressure and non hunting pressure...but nonetheless demonstrates what i'm talking about though in a different context.


    its just interesting to spend time yearly in an area and seeing things like this in the field. as a guy spends more time, he starts picking up on the big picture...and that really shortens the learning curve when hunting any particular area.

  6. #6

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    can you talk more abut the sx-head length part?
    thanku sooo much
    connie
    Quote Originally Posted by ninefoot View Post
    "What's with all the sheila's?" My new friend and client remarked in his ultra-dry Aussie accent i'd grown to like so much... I shook my head in mutual disgust and simply told him i had no idea why we'd seen seventeen brown bear in the last eight days and only one was a boar. "The Nursery" phenomenon...i'd heard about this, but hadnt quite had the opportunity to observe it yet...

    i'd been told (by more experienced bear guides) in the past to watch for places with high sow content, and to avoid them in the early fall while hunting for mature males. the observation being explained with the thought that early in the fall while the boars and more aggressive bears target the obvious protein rich fish food source, the lesser bears, and females with young will tend to group up on outlying food, like berries...the lesser bears and sows with young not wanting to compete or not being mature enough to compete for the fish.

    the above mentioned hunt was a very good example of this...and it really stuck out in my mind. what was interesting to me was the fact that i had hunted this exact drainage a full twenty days later the seaon prior, and had been able to count over eight boars in ten days, most of which were mature. i only observed a small handfull of sows...three or four if my memory serves me. this very same country a year later and nearly a month earlier produced 20 different bear in nine days...two of which where boars. thats not coincidence. it was neat to observe and learn from. i'd always heard of "nurseries" but had never observed what i thought was a good example of this until last year. says alot about bears and theyre social structure, and the different hunting the same area can provide at different times: if you ask me on day eight with the australian if i thought we were in a good spot i'd proly mumble something about women and kids, and TOYS R US and frown at you...lol. but if you'd have ask me in 2010, i'd tell ya it was the best camp i'd hunted all year...cause it was.

    it was interesting to me, and reafirmed some opinions i was allready forming about our seasonal bear movement in that particular country...which is changing by the way.

    i found the australian a bear though...that second boar i mentioned. i had to hunt about four miles from camp, but we found one.

    two sows i found during this hunt had me fooled to the point i insisted on getting close enough to watch them urinate before i could confidently judge them. some bears are tough to judge. older sows really get me. i would have put both of them at right around eight foot, but sexing them was hard. some are. i couldnt tell my client for sure theyre sex until i got to within sixty yrds or so. i look at alot of things to judge bears, but verify it to myself with a fairly common headlength technique...a technique that doesnt work unless you know the sex. this because of the obvious difference in headlength between males and females.

    anyway, was thinking about this all lately and though it'd be a good thread topic...i'd like to know if anyone else has obversed a "nursery"

  7. #7
    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Default ok...

    i meant that using the headlength method of judging SIZE, you must first SEX the bear (determine whether or not its a male or female). this is due to the fact that a four and a half headlength boar will square much differently than a sow that has the same length when its skull is used as a measuring tool (the headlength method...fairly common among penn. guides and also offered by the state fish and game as a guideline...someone else surely has this reference, as i dont)

    if your looking at a big mature sow with four and a half to five headlengths and havent sexed the bear, you might tell your client excitedly to shoot this nine foot class bear...and if its a sow, your client will most likely be less impressed and your square size will hopefully hit eight and change, but proly not....and thats bein pretty liberal! thats just an example mind you.

    the difference of course is simply the contrast in headlength between males and females.

    in the past i've been pretty vague on this subject thinking that it was an uderstood that the method works on boars...joe was the one who brought it too my attention that it would nice to explain that the method fails for sows. i'm sure theres a similiar method that could work for sows...but hopefully we're all making an effort to kill boars as bear hunters in general.

    few pennies from my pocket. it's winter huh?
    i'm sure joe want, jake, dennis, or other guides/bear hunters might have more imput or different experiences...of which i for one would love to hear.

  8. #8

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    we so appreciate you taking to time to help us learn about bears. thankyou so much. how can we find the difference from a sow and bore? again thankhyou so much.
    connie
    Quote Originally Posted by ninefoot View Post
    i meant that using the headlength method of judging SIZE, you must first SEX the bear (determine whether or not its a male or female). this is due to the fact that a four and a half headlength boar will square much differently than a sow that has the same length when its skull is used as a measuring tool (the headlength method...fairly common among penn. guides and also offered by the state fish and game as a guideline...someone else surely has this reference, as i dont)

    if your looking at a big mature sow with four and a half to five headlengths and havent sexed the bear, you might tell your client excitedly to shoot this nine foot class bear...and if its a sow, your client will most likely be less impressed and your square size will hopefully hit eight and change, but proly not....and thats bein pretty liberal! thats just an example mind you.

    the difference of course is simply the contrast in headlength between males and females.

    in the past i've been pretty vague on this subject thinking that it was an uderstood that the method works on boars...joe was the one who brought it too my attention that it would nice to explain that the method fails for sows. i'm sure theres a similiar method that could work for sows...but hopefully we're all making an effort to kill boars as bear hunters in general.

    few pennies from my pocket. it's winter huh?
    i'm sure joe want, jake, dennis, or other guides/bear hunters might have more imput or different experiences...of which i for one would love to hear.

  9. #9
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    i've seen areas that i've called nurserys before as well. most times if i hit a valley thats loaded with sows and cubs i just start glassing the back corners an nooks as far from the kids as i can get. seem most the bears, even though they will prey on cubs often time want to avoid them...or perhaps their mothers! so i look into the hiddy holes and nastly places that i wouldnt' want to go.

    difference in boar and sow for me, in the long run has been the neck length and facial structure. if its got a neck as long as its head, typically gonna be a nine plus boar, if the head is glued to the body i'm not touching it. sow facial structure has always come across slender and pointy for lack of more descriptive words. narrow snout, beady eyes close together and a nice round face...
    boars seem to look at you different, amost down the nose like they know something you don't. blocky structure, eyes spread, broad snout and a head that swings off the body, toss in some distance between the legs and your onto something.

    guided a hunt over in dillingham some years back, saw a spring bear, long and lanky (lots of neck, legs and torso means lots of bear!), told the client, thats a good bear. we couldn't get to it, but the guide i worked with saw it from a different vantage point, came back to camp and told us about the tiny bear he saw...we measured his tracks the next day at a shade under 8". figured a 9.5 or so boar.
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Back when I appraised livestock a rancher would ask why did you dun the value of that bull and not the other they are from the same flushing. The first thing I looked at was the face.I pretend all I could see was the face looking around the corner of the barn,no body or horns or any other part. A bull must leave no doubt in your mine that its a bull you are looking at and not a cow.Cows are dunned if they look to masculine. An example would be Kottons 2010 ram pic and if you blocked out the horns to my thinking it looks like a ewe.Pray you don't mind the example Kotton as its a heck of a ram..You can put long hair and lipstick on a man but most times he still looks like one maybe folks like Tom Cruse. To me boars just look male and the ones I can't tell I believe have weaker genes
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    i'll add to jakes sexing methods a little.

    i too recognize a long neck in relationship to headlength as a boar, though dont put feet and inches to the bear based on that. Tony Russ, and i'm not quoting him, as i dont have the book, mentions in his bear book that if a bear has a neck thats 2/3 or greater than the size of its head, then its always a boar...that hasnt quite worked for me always (it might possibly be an error in my estimations in the field, or the slight differences in the bears i frequently hunt) but its a fairly good guideline, and starting place. i have much better luck looking at the snout in relationship to headlength. if the snout length makes up half the headlength, your pretty much always looking at a LARGE boar in my experience. if not, you might look at some other things that will help you decide, such as hip heighth, chest width, ankles, and back length.


    For those interested in bears and judgin them, tony russ' book is a pretty good starting place. he's put alot into it, and its the only book i've ever read that actually mentions alot of the things a guy can learn from seasoned bear guides and hunters. if you know bear hunting and read the book its easy to see that there are many years of experience from both the author and the people that he's learned from....i havet read it in some time, but i've always referred to it as the only bear book i've ever read that was actually helpful in learning how to really hunt em, and judge them.

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    i think chris batins book had some bear judging in it as well, i believe want might have colberated with him on that but i'm not positive.
    i wasn't a fan of russ's book, but i only read it once and dont' recal the bear judging part much.
    snout lenght is a good tip as well. toughest bears for me to judge are the mid size...8.5-9' in that mid size they are kinda blending at times. big ones are easy, small ones are easy mid size ones get sticky sometimes. but mid size bears can often times share attributes of both bigger bears and those of smaller bears, kinda like a teenager workin' thru puberty...body ain't quit sure which way its gonna go!
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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    i actually havent read batins book...shame on me. i'll have to read it. yeah i just thought tony added alot of real world knowledge...stuff i'd learned and heard while coming up, stuff that made sense to me, and at the same time he worded in pretty laymen terms...i appreciate his knack for that, and think its important to a general audience. i think he does pretty good. i dont know the guy or anything, not really meaning any promotion, just my opinions.

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    we all have an opinion, cool part about a forum like this is we can share them!
    books like russ and batins you could read every five years and get new information from them after time has passed...neat thing about informative books.
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    we soo appreciate all the wonderful information. the group is so lucky to have mastergides sharing this knowlidge.
    thankyou so much BRWNBEAR and nine foot.
    connie

  16. #16
    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caribouconnie1964 View Post
    we soo appreciate all the wonderful information. the group is so lucky to have mastergides sharing this knowlidge.
    thankyou so much BRWNBEAR and nine foot.
    connie
    nope, i defer to jake, joe, dennis, and muskeg..theyve all got more years in than me...i'm just a guy talking about some observations in the field...the whole hunting forum thing ya know? i'm but a lowly work horse...still just an assistant guide, and happy, and most important of all...hunting. reflecting on experiences and analyzing them makes me better tomorrow...thats important. and this is a good venue for that, with feedback from lots of different angles and voices in the hunting community, the beauty of the forum...hence my efforts in posting at all...............

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    The information on bear judging is fascinating and very helpful. It would be great to have it in a video where you could see the same bears from various angles and see them as they turn their heads. It would also be fun to have a bear judging thread in these forums where bear photos are posted and everyone weighs in with their opinion of them.

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    fish and game has the video...actually a pretty decent judging tool, can't remember the name of it off the top of my head though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    fish and game has the video...actually a pretty decent judging tool, can't remember the name of it off the top of my head though.
    Here's the info:

    ADF&G's Bear Identification Video: "Take a Closer Look"

      • View Online (wmv format)
      • Order a DVD by calling (907) 267-2257



    I'm far from an expert, but I've harvested a few brown bears and helped others harvest a few more and it definitely gets easier as you see, judge, skin and then measure the animal. I watched the video years ago and still return to it as a refresher. There are probably worse ways to spend your money.
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  20. #20

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    While a good starting point,the "closer look" video is of bears in their summer pillage . In my opinion they sure look different with their spring and fall hides. In addition to the excellent advice from 9foot and brnbear, I find that the large adult males tend to move in what appears to be slow, ponderous movements. This is true even when they are in a run.Their mass tends to make them appear to move slowly, with no wasted motion

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