Trotting at a fast pace, almost running, you step over the crest of the small hill to the other side that leads down a ravine toward a dense thicket and wonder where the bear bounded after it left your sight.
With the scent of pyrodex gunpowder fading, you follow the sign in the brightly-colored, fresh fallen leaves while looking ahead, scanning from side to side of the trail leading down toward the bottom. Entering the densest cover, you’re riding high on the adrenaline rush.
You almost miss it, but since you have slowed somewhat to push your way into the thicket a dark spot off to the right catches your eye. It’s just a small black spot that you probably would have missed if you hadn’t turned your head in that direction when pushing branches away to avoid getting snapped in the face by them.
A second wave of excitement takes hold of you as kneel beside your first every inline muzzleloader season bear. All sorts of thoughts race through your head but slowly begin to subside when the reality of what needs to be done sets in. There are top considerations that should have been thought about and planned before you set out on opening day.
The wave of excitement slowly dissipates as you take into consideration what all it will involve, and quickly in order to preserve this possible once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment which is your reward from and early 50 degree day October hunt. But now what?
For most hunters lucky enough to harvest a bear, it means a lot of work in a short time needs to happen to preserve the memory for years to come. Most often, it means having a rug or a full mount done to display in the den, office or rec room. First, the animal’s entrails need removed, but only if you know how to do it properly for the type of mount you’ve decided on. If, that is, you’ve thought that far ahead.
Then the real work begins. Did you bring a deer cart to move it, or our you going to call some friends to help drag or carry it out? Consider that because, unless it’s real small, bears don’t drag anything like a deer.
Once back at the vehicle, more decisions need to be made. Do you know how to cape it out or do you already have a taxidermist where you can deliver it quickly? Unlike deer, bear tends to spoil a lot quicker as they have a heavy layer of fat that retains heat.
Remember, there are three things a taxidermist recommends: “Keep it clean, keep it dry and keep it cool.’’ Do your best to keep the animal’s fur free from excess blood and keep the skin from getting coated with dirt and debris.
Make sure to keep it covered while on the road, especially in snow or rain, and make sure to get it to the taxidermist as soon as possible. Yes, blood can be washed off, but don’t hose it down as exposure to water and excess moisture can compromise the quality of a mount.
While you’re thinking about, go ahead and get a plan in order for when — not if — you harvest one. I’m sure you haven’t spend hours scouting, checking trail cams for a couple of months or sighting in your firearms just for something to do. That way, you can truly enjoy the hunt to the fullest without any worries once it happens.