Robert Pattermann killed his first black bear in only two hours.
By about 1:15 p.m. Saturday the Ocala bear check station counted 22 slain bears.
By Saturday night, bear hunting in Central Florida was over.
One hundred bears were allowed to be killed in the Central Region, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The count was 99, leaving room for hunters to bring in kills from Saturday, said Greg Workman, a Northeast FWC representative.
By the end of the day, 207 bears were killed throughout the state. The maximum is 320.
“It went smooth,” Workman said. “We were on-task in the central area.”
But Pattermann, 33, and three of his friends set out early in the morning for Florida’s first legal bear hunt in 21 years.
They lathered in bug spray before sunrise. There were a lot of mosquitos in the Ocala National Forest, he said. But the bugs let up as the sun came out.
A few hours later, Pattermann slowly approached the 252-pound female bear. Then he shot her with his 7mm Remington Magnum rifle.
He plans to bring her to the butcher, he said. He’ll later stand the skin in front of his fireplace. He wants to use every part.
“If not, it’s just a wasteful kill,” he said. “Just going out to kill is not the right thing to do.”
Pattermann and his friends started planning the trip in the summer, when the hunt was announced, he said. Between permits, licenses and processing, he will spend about $1,000.
“You should use and keep as much of it as you can,” he said.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he said.
But before a bear can be processed, each body must be brought to a check station.
Officials extract a tooth to determine the bear’s age. Its waist is measured. A blue tag is clamped onto its left foot. Then it’s strung up in a black rope net between two wooden poles and weighed by a FWC biologist.
At 3 p.m. a bloody 88-pound cub arrived at the Ocala check station in the back of a SUV.
The FWC, which organized the hunt, requires each bear weigh at least 100 pounds in order for it to be a legal kill.
There were a few underweight bears reported, and the FWC will look into each case, Workman said. If it’s determined to be grossly underweight, there will be a penalty.
Regardless of weight, each bear killed goes toward the final count.
“They’re not forgotten bears,” Workman said. “They will be accounted for.”
Protesters with Speak Up Wekiva, an environmental organization working to stop the hunt, noted the size of the cub.
“It’s just about killing animals, that’s it,” said Brian Brown, an economist and animal rights activist.
Brown, 26, said he believes the hunt should have been called off.
“Most of the reason is for the novelty of it,” he said.
The FWC initiated the hunt as a way to reduce bear-human interactions, according to the commission. Workman said it is still determining if there will be another hunt in the future.
There are ways to reduce the population other than this hunt, Brown said.
“It’s 2015 and we really don’t seem to have a problem causing pain and death to animals,” he said.