Wisconsin Bear Hunt – Worth the Wait

  • Plan your Wisconsin hunt for a select zone- do the homework to identify the zone for success
  • Be patient, collect priority points for several consecutive years to score on zone selection
  • Research the guide, the gear, the location, and weather forecast…then count your blessings, control your aim

By Jason Houser

Showing up on trail camera photos frequently, this bear quickly became the author’s hit list bear.

If you are looking to bear hunt in Wisconsin, you need to start planning early. Years early, if you want to hunt in a zone with a lot of bears and a good chance for success.

After stacking up points for six years, I knew that I had enough points to put in for application on my seventh year for Zone D. This zone has a lot of bears and the success rate runs high. It is the only zone in Wisconsin that raised their harvest quota for the 2019 bear season while the rest lowered harvest quotas.

I settled on Big Bear Guide Service out of Iron River, WI. After talking with the owner Keith Holly and checking his references, I knew he was as good as they come, not only in Wisconsin but likely of any black bear guide in the United States or Canada.

Watching the weather on the days leading up to our hunt, it became clear that the weather would not be in our favor. High winds with strong thunderstorms, it would not be as suitable for us to be sitting or for the bears to be moving.

Opening day finally arrived and my wife and I went our separate ways. As predicted, the weather was not in our favor. The rain continued throughout the morning as strong thunderstorms were quickly approaching.

The forecast radar showed the rain ending early afternoon, but the winds would continue at about 13 mph. Because the storm and the rain were ending, I decided to return to my blind around noon to be there when the feeding frenzy might begin.

A few hours passed and at four-thirty the hoped-for feeding binge still wasn’t happening. Uncomfortable due to the cold temperatures and strong winds, I decided to keep pushing forward. Trail camera photos told me three bears routinely showed up around five every evening and I hoped that would hold true for this post-storm evening too. I had my eyes set on one particular bear that carried a beautiful “white blaze” on his chest.

At two minutes past five, I look up to see a black blob moving through the trees. Finally, a bear was visiting me.

Cautiously, the bear maneuvered around the bait, testing the wind with his discriminating nose. Satisfied he was not in any danger, the bear made easy work of knocking over the stump containing the cookie wafers he came to love in the weeks leading up to this day.

When the bear turned towards me to scent-check the area I knew it was the bear I was after. It wasn’t the biggest bear that ever visited the site, but the “white blaze” pattern below his chin and the long black coat was a dead give away. It was the bear I had hoped to have an opportunity for.

With the stump on its side and the sweet contents spread on the ground, the bear quickly began his evening meal. A few seconds passed with the bear having his back to me. My Carbon Express crossbow was shouldered, waiting for the perfect broadside shot.

Watching the bear through my Sightmark Core SX scope, he slowly began to circle. Knowing my shot opportunity was about to happen, I flipped the safety off and waited for the shot.

The Carbon Express crossbow and bolts partnered with Warhead broadheads from Rocky Mountain put the bear down quickly. Jason Bisby Photo

Stopping perfectly broadside to me, the bear put his head down for another snack. I quickly lined up the illuminated red crosshair for the perfect lung shot, settled my nerves the best I could and squeezed the trigger. The Carbon Express bolt flew true and with a loud thud, the bear fell for a split second before regaining his composure and bounding into the dense forest.

Within minutes, our guide and my wife Lotte and friend Jason Bisby were all on location. Telling the story of how everything went down, we decided to go to where the bear was standing when I took the shot.

Bright red blood was immediately noticeable as was half of my broken arrow. Looking through the thick vegetation it looked like someone took a red paint bucket and threw it all over the leaves and ground.

The bear ran less than 30-yards before toppling over. Years of waiting went into my first bear hunt ever and it lasted less than a day.

The author was all smiles after his first bear.  Jason Bisby Photo

The bear was not one of the giants from the area, but weighing in at 187-pounds I was quite proud of my first-time accomplishment. It might be a while before I can make it to Wisconsin to hunt bears again, but I will start the process all over again for collecting preference points until I have enough to be drawn in a predictably good zone.

In the meantime, there are other states where I can hunt bears.

Yep, I have bear-fever.

 

Trolling for Winter Crappie, Grenada Lake Style

  • Pontoon Boat crappie fishing offers spacious fun
  • Grenada Lake crappie are the biggest I have ever seen
  • Secret 20-foot long crappie rods are not imaginative, you should see the net!
Can you imagine fishing from a pontoon boat 24-feet long? The Model 824 Crappie Qwest Pontoon Boat has everything you need for fishing and more.

By Jason Houser

Are you looking for a big crappie? Well, look no further than the lake dubbed, “the home of three-pound crappie.”

Jordan Blair couldn’t be happier.

It might not have three-pound crappie hiding behind every submerged stump, but it holds its fair share of some big slabs. Not accustomed to catching crappie much over 12-inches in my home state of Illinois, the thought of catching trophy crappie was exciting. My wife, nephew, and mother were looking forward to this trip.

Our journey would be to Grenada, Mississippi to meet up with Jason Golding, owner of Grenada Lake Charters, who has decades of experience guiding clients to trophy crappie. Add-in state of the art, roomy, fishing pontoons from Angler Qwest, mouth-watering food and luxurious, yet cozy cabins, we knew we were about to embark on a fishing adventure that we would not soon forget.

Pulling up to the headquarters of Grenada Lake Charters, we found a spacious outdoor kitchen named the “Slab Shack,” it is equipped with all the amenities of a home kitchen, plus a fire pit. What more could you ask for? In no time, ribeye steaks and baked potatoes found the grill top that were soon on our plates along with fresh vegetables and bread. When you thought you had enough to eat, they brought out the homemade ice cream and pie. With full bellies, we planned out the next day’s schedule as we relaxed next to a warm fire. Soon after that, we retired for the night to a spacious “cabin” that I could have easily called home.

A grill full of perfectly-cooked ribeye steaks, does it get any better?

Having the opportunity to catch big crappie is one thing, but being able to do it in comfort is something different. Something else that was different was the act of trolling for crappies. Using 20-foot poles, we slowly maneuvered the pontoon through the stumps until a pole doubled over, raised the rod tip upward until the fish broke the water’s surface and was scooped up by an extra-long net. Admittedly, it took a little while to get used to not reeling when a fish took advantage of our minnows.

My wife, Lotte, holds up a pair of nice crappie caught while fishing with Grenada Lake Charters

Several times we had doubles and even triples. Not only that, but enough times that I lost count, the same angler was pulling in two crappies at once. Thankfully, the Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat by Angler Qwest provided enough room that we were able to stay out of each other’s way when things got a little hectic. Even I was able to make easy work of netting the fish. With a whopping 24-feet of pontoon boat length, it was pretty nice not having to trip over each other as we fought fish after fish.

If you have ever wanted to catch your limit of big crappie, Grenada Lake Charters are the people you need to contact They will work hard to get you on the fish. With fully exclusive packages, these trips are great for the entire family, a group of friends, or corporate events.

A warm fire on a cool autumn night was a great way to kick off the start to a great fishing trip with my family.

While this is the first time I had fished out of an Angler Qwest pontoon, I can’t say enough about these boats. I had never given any thought to fishing out of a pontoon, but have quickly become a believer in their many capabilities, even in rough water. With ample seating, plenty of storage, room to easily move about and a smooth ride, these boats are everything you need to fish or swim or picnic.  A great advantage to this boat is that they are built with the fisherman in mind, but they can be used for water skiing, entertaining, or doing absolutely nothing. These options might make it easier to convince your significant other to let you buy a “new pontoon boat for the family” without using the word “for fishing.”

Not only are crappie one of my favorite fish to eat, but the excitement of non-stop action has me already planning my next trip to Grenada Lake. And, after fishing from that Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat from Angler Qwest, I am doing a little more thinking about my next boat purchase.

For more info on those secretive 20-foot crappie poles, or to catch some whopper crappie just for the fun of it, give Grenada Lake Charter a holler at www.grenadalakecharters.com.  For more info about the Model 824 Crappie Pontoon Boat and other Angler Qwest Pontoons, visit www.anglerqwestpontoons.com.

The Slab Shack, the perfect outdoor kitchen.