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Dennis Garrett Explains That When Bear Move in the Deer Move Out


Editor’s Note: Dennis Garrett of Harlan, Kentucky, in the southeastern corner of the state, lives in the Appalachian Mountains and says, “I've worn Mossy Oak from the first time I started hunting. I've been deer hunting since 1998, but my dad took me squirrel hunting with him when I was too small to carry a gun. I like the Mossy Oak Treestand pattern. When the leaves are off the trees in our section of the country, our trees look gray, and then I’ll resemble a part of the tree. During the early hunting season, I like Mossy Oak Infinity.”

Garrett4_llWhen the area where we hunt first started getting bears, we thought hunting bears would be really cool. Lots of people were excited about having black bears. Before the bears came into our area, I had two trail cameras out on some property I was hunting and would average getting 1,200 pictures per week of deer, turkeys, squirrels, raccoons and possums. When the bear population moved in, after a week of having our cameras out in the same spots, we went from 1,200 pictures in the same spot to 700 pictures. Seventy-five percent of the pictures we got were pictures of bears. We went from 800 or 900 pictures per week of deer down to 200 pictures per week of deer, and the rest were bears. We were trying to bait at that time, and we were being very effective at baiting bears. However, we felt like we ran off our deer. We’ve learned that when a bear moves into an area, the deer move out. That’s why we’ve given up baiting. We only use mineral rocks and let the other hunters deal with the bears. Now bears will eat acorns. But if they have a choice between corn and acorns, they’ll go to the corn. I've learned I can be more productive by hunting over natural food like acorns, rather than putting out corn and trying to bait. 

Originally, Kentucky held a three-county bear season. This year, the season will be held in 16 counties due to the increase in our bear population. Although out-of-state hunters aren’t permitted to hunt bears yet in our area, they can put in to get an elk tag. Last year on the first day of bear season, five bears were taken with archery tackle. By the third day, there had been 12 bears taken, and the season was closed.  You can call the night before, and if the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources tells you the season will be open the following day, then you can hunt and take a bear that day. Even if more bear are taken than the limit the state has established, you won’t have any kind of problem about checking in your bear. However, once the limit is taken - like in 10 bears in three counties - then the next day the season is closed. 

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