In an effort to reduce conflicts between bear hunters who use bait and hounds, Gerry Maciok from Marquette, who is the founder and president of the Black Bear Bow Hunters Society, is proposing that a spring hunt be established for hunting over bait only. At the present time, bear hunting in Michigan is limited to the fall. In the U.P., the first five days of the season are limited to bait hunting. In the L.P., where bear seasons are short, the first day of general seasons are limited to bait hunting and the last two days are restricted to hound hunting.

An experimental spring bear hunt for bait only was held in the state one year from April 1 through May 31, 1953. Spring bear hunts are held in most Canadian provinces and some western states.

Maciok is a member of the Bear Forum, a group of people representing various bear hunting organizations and hunting methods established by the DNR to provide input on all aspects of bear hunting. The forum normally meets once a year during December.

“We are in the process of drafting and presenting a proposal at the next user group meeting for split bear seasons,” Maciok wrote in a Facebook post for his organization. “We hope most Michigan bear hunters will be on board with this adjustment to further reduce conflicts with each style of hunting.

“We want to be as transparent as possible and find a solution to the interference that a lot of bait hunters have experienced over the years – some waiting years for a tag only to be impeded on by hounds. This regulation (Spring hunt) has many hurdles and was brought forward by me on social media well in advance of any meeting.”

The president of the Bow Bear Hunters Society came up with three proposals for consideration. Each of the proposals includes a January 1 through February 1 spring bear license application period, with results of the drawing available on February 28. Placing baits for spring hunts would be legal starting April 1 under each proposal. As part of proposal 1, 82% of the available bear tags would be for the spring bait hunts and 18% for fall hound hunts. Each proposal states, “If the desired harvest quotas are not met in the spring, more tags can be added to the fall hunt.”

Proposal 1 includes three spring hunts. The first would be May 1 through June 1. Dates for the second hunt would be May 8 through June 8 and the third hunt would be from May 15 through June 15. The application period for the fall, hound only hunt, would be June 1 through July 1, with results available on July 25.

The second proposal suggests the first two spring hunts during the same dates as the first proposal, with a third bait hunt in the fall from September 15 through October 25, the same dates that hound hunting would be legal. License quotas would be 12% for the first spring hunt and 20% for the second. Bait hunters would get 50% of the tags for the fall hunt and hound hunters 18%.

The third proposal includes one spring hunt from May 1 through June 1, with a license quota of 12%. This proposal includes a fall bait only hunt from September 1 through October 1. A hound and bait hunt would be from September 15 through October 25. The license quota for the first fall hunt would be 20%, 50% for the second fall hunt and 18% of tags going to dog hunters. The application period for the fall hunt would be the same as it is now; May 1 through June 1. Baiting for fall hunts would begin August 1 under this proposal.

Maciok is asking for serious input about his three proposals on the Facebook Page of the Black Bear Bow Hunters Society. He’s heard from hunters who both support and oppose the proposals and that trend is expected to continue.