The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Most Macho Sport of All

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1992

Issue: June, 1992

For those of you who are bored of such mild entertainment as fishing, skiing, sports car racing, the state of Virginia has announced a new addition to hunting season. This new addition is called, "Black Bear Chase Season."

This new season makes it lawful to chase black bears with dogs, without capturing or taking, in all counties which bear hunting is permitted (except the counties of Bland, Pulaski, Russell, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wythe). It lasts from the first Saturday in September until the first Saturday in October.

Participants may not have in immediate possession a firearm, bow or any weapon or devise capable of taking a black bear. But, has anyone told the bears? Would you go out unarmed and chase a black bear at the time of year when they are preparing to hibernate and are probably grouchy? I'm not so sure who would end up chasing whom.

Wait a minute. Imagine yourself in the role of a person who has just decided to take up the sport of Black Bear Chasing. What equipment would you go out and buy, a suit of armor? What would be the rules of the game if the bear turned around and chased you? Who's to say Black Bears don't have a "Person Chasing Season?" This new season will probably lead to another called "Tree Climbing Season."

Information also included in the press release about the new season from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stated that the Department will evaluate the experimental season based on input from law enforcement and wildlife division personnel. They forgot to include emergency room medical authorities. They also stated this season would allow a time when bear dogs could be trained for regular bear hunting season. To use an old saying, I guess this would really separate the sheep from the goats or, more appropriately, the Chihuahuas from the Dobermans.

Black Bear Chasing has got to be one of the all time macho sports. The participants are bound to be an elite few, probably covered in horrendous battle scars from the one that didn't get away!