December 10, 2023

Great Dismal Swamp Bears 1, Hunters 0

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If you’re keeping score, the bears that inhabit the Great Dismal Swamp that stretches from Virginia into North Carolina, won the first round of the bear hunt on Friday. About 40 of the 58 hunters who had been selected via a lottery drawing to participate in the hunt, found out just how tough hunting in the swamp is. No bears were taken on the first day.

According to an article this morning in the Virginia Pilot, conditions that hunters ran into controlled the extent of the hunt and the lack of success.

The hunt will continue today, but tough conditions make the outcome uncertain. High water in the swamp Friday kept hunters from moving around much, and dense bramble thickets clogged the few dry pathways. Hunters showed off soaked boots and arms shredded by prickly bushes.

In many places, canals running along swamp roads separated hunters from the woods. Some ferried across in small boats only to be greeted by more water on the other side.

“It’s really difficult – a difficulty rating of 9,” said hunter Troy Akers of Norfolk, who added that the swamp is different than in Colorado, another place he has hunted bear. “There, you don’t have all these marshy obstacles.”

It’s like the Everglades, said Mattucci, who lives in Franklin.

Because of the difficult terrain, many hunters slogged only 100 feet or so from roads. Some used tree stands to shimmy up tall gums and maples for a better view. Clad in fluorescent orange clothing, hunters could be spotted from the road.

Authorities have put a cap of 20 bears to be harvested during this hunt. When and if hunters tag 20 bears, the hunt is cancelled. At this rate, I’m not sure 20 bears will be taken. Time will tell and good luck to those bear hunters out today.

Tom Remington