Each strike is its own adventure, and the expectation of what is coming next is usually intense. So when I got an invite from Ashley Wish all to come down the last week of the bear season in December, I immediately accepted.
Ashley explained to me that they kept the last week of the season open so they could get together with other hounds men and just have fun together and hopefully tag a few big bears. In addition to Ashley and his brother Brian’s great pack of hounds, Jamie Way and Danny Jenkins, from Tennessee, were bringing their best high-energy hounds. We were going to have at our disposal some topnotch hounds, and I was very excited to see them in action.
Ashley maintains dozens of bait sites set with barrels stocked with a mixture of different baits all monitored by Cudde back scouting cameras. The trail cameras take all the guesswork out of what size bear is coming to the bait and when he was last there. Bait will not sustain a bear’s fall diet, but it will draw them to the area, where they leave fresh scent and tracks for the hounds to get a race going.
Before dawn on our first morning, Ashley and I headed out to check the scouting camera at a bait site while Jamie, Brian, and Danny headed to other baits to check the scouting cameras. This would save time and whoever found the biggest bear that had been at a bait in the last eight hours or so could attempt to get a race going before the track got too old to follow.