You can tell hunting is in full swing in the Upper Peninsula when the photos of successful hunters start streaming in, and there's been a couple dandies lately. Included have been hunters with ruffed grouse, geese and bears, including the two trophy bruins that accompany this column.
There are similarities in the bears, too, including being taken by bowhunters and weighing much more than the average bear taken in the U.P. In addition, both hunters are from Negaunee.
There are differences, as well, including one being taken by a rookie to the sport while the other was dropped by a veteran hunter who has been featured on this page in the past.
Archer Doug Palomaki of Negaunee is shown with the 500-pound bear he took with his bow on Sept. 16. (Photo courtesy of the Palomaki family)
The young hunter is Zak Uren, 19, who was still excited about his trophy hunt when I talked to him a few days after he dropped his 400-pounder, which was taken last Sunday.
Uren, a 2009 graduate of Negaunee High School, said he applied for a bear permit last year but didn't receive one, so was glad to get one for this season.
He said the first day of his hunting period was pouring rain so he didn't have any luck, nor did he see a bear on the second or third days.
"Then (last) Saturday I gave it a break but baited heavily," he said. "On Sunday I got out late, about 7 a.m., and a small one came in right away. Then a second small one ... and a third one came under my ladder stand. It was about 200 pounds and I was going to take him, but it spooked. Then the big one came in about 20 minutes later."
A well-placed shot put the arrow through the bear's lungs and the top of its heart, and the 400-pounder only ran about 50 yards before dying, Uren said.
Although he knew it was a big bear, Uren said he didn't know how big until he walked up to it - then the real work began.
He went and got a few others to help him and with the aid of a couple four-wheelers, they dragged the trophy out of the swamp.
When I talked to Zak the bear was being skinned and readied for a full-mount taxidermy job, which should keep the hunt fresh for many years to come.
The other hunter shown with a huge bear keeps his hunts fresh by getting out in the woods probably much more than the average hunter.
I first met Doug Palomaki about 20 years ago when a mutual friend of ours called me and said I should grab my camera and come and look at the whitetail buck a guy shot with a muzzleloader.
Of course, it was Palomaki with a huge non-typical buck that had upwards of 20 points. Those were the days before modern in-line muzzleloaders, so the success Palomaki found made a believer out of many of us that you could bag big bucks with a muzzleloader.
And now, Palomaki and Uren prove that hunters can coax huge black bears into close enough range to drop them with bow and arrow.
Editor's note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.