Potosi’s Karen Reynolds isn’t your typical hair stylist.
As the owner of J’Pauls Salon, located in the upper level of Piggly Wiggly in Platteville’s McGregor Plaza, Reynolds spends her work week doing more than her fair share of cutting, coloring and styling. But in her free time, this salon owner really knows how to let her own hair down.
Reynolds has been an avid hunter of deer and turkey for more than 30 years. Now she can add black bear to the list.
On Thursday, Sept. 12 at 5:15 p.m. the first-year bear hunter harvested a 220-pound male near the small northern Wisconsin town of Birchwood, which is located 19 miles northwest of Rice Lake.
“It was the most exciting hunt I’ve ever been on,” said Reynolds. “The adrenaline rush was just so amazing.”
Reynolds was joined on the hunt by her husband Wayne Reynolds, who has taken two bears in his hunting career, but did not have a permit this year.
The Wisconsin black bear hunting season is just over a month long, Sept. 4–Oct. 8, but only a limited number of permits are issued each year. The Wisconsin DNR holds a lottery drawing each February to award its limited number of black bear tags.
“I have waited for seven years to get a bear tag,” explained Reynolds. “I apply every year, but was never chosen in the lottery until now. So this was my first bear hunt.”
Karen and Wayne were hunting on land owned by Dale Olson, the owner and operator of Meteor Hills Guide Service. They entered the woods around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 and took their places in a double tree stand that overlooked a bait site.
At this particular bait site, Olson used frosting and chocolate chunks buried in an old stump to lure bear into a clearing 15 yards in front of the tree stand.
According to Reynolds, after a three-hour wait she had just 15 to 20 seconds to take a shot. The bear emerged from the thicket as it approached the suger-filled stump. But it quickly realized something was “off.”
Black bears are known for their great sense of smell and astute hearing, as well as their poor eye sight.
“He couldn’t see us, but he could smell something,” said Reynolds. “He was standing up and had his nose in the air sniffing around. He knew something was wrong.”
The bear quickly turned to run, but it was too late. Reynolds had already fired her 20-gauge shotgun.
Reynolds will be having the bear wall mounted from the waist up to commemorate the hunt.
“I recommend for anyone thinking about hunting bear to go ahead and try it,” said Reynolds. “It’s a thrilling, once in a lifetime experience.”