Bear hunting in Port Wing
[anvplayer video=”5194549″ station=”998130″]
Along the South Shore lies a quiet town with a marina, a beach, and two restaurants. Many travel to Port Wing for fishing, but others go to hunt bears with K&B Outfitting.
K&B Outfitters began as Bailey’s Guide Service. Ichabod Russell Bailey started his guide service by helping friends who visited from southern Wisconsin in the 80s. Bailey did not have a website for decades and did not need one as word of mouth brought him a plethora of eager hunters.
“The quality of areas is awesome and a lot of there’s a lot of federal land and a lot of land out there where you can hunt publicly and we hunt probably 60% private and the rest is all public,” said K&B Outfitting Owner Troy Klein. “We have a lot of returning customers that everybody tries to book a lot of times even before they get their kill tags or anything like that, they want to walk up and be with us. We’ve had them from all over. We’ve had them come all the way from Texas and obviously Minnesota, Wisconsin, I would say the bulk of ours comes from down South Madison/Milwaukee area.”
Klein took over the business when Bailey retired around six years ago. Despite retirement, Bailey remains active in the hunting community and often helps out with the outfitting service.
Many hunters come with their friends and family, all there for support.
“I used to have a phone in here. When we’re out just on landlines, and there’d be 40, 50 people. So that phone rang. Everybody went silent. Somebody got a bear,” recalled Bailey. “We have kids around here in this environment to watch it, and everybody’s so excited when anybody shoots.”
Harvest permits are awarded through a preference point lottery system. This means many have to wait years before their first hunt.
“If you get about nine preference points and you start applying for a kill tag or harvesting and then after you get that, then they can call us,” said Klein. “We have a lot of returning customers that everybody tries to book a lot of times even before they get their kill tags or anything like that, they want to walk up and be with us.”
After getting his first harvest permit this year, Brian Miller drove five hours to hunt with K&B Outfitting the second the season began.
“It’s an adrenaline rush because they’re so quiet coming in. You don’t hear them, and all of a sudden they’re right there. They’re right on you,” said Miller. “One of the little ones was in there. It ran off. The next thing I knew, I was sitting at the base of the tree where I had climbed up. So it’s an adventure out there. It’s fun.”
Miller bagged a 250-pound bear. Several people helped bring it to the shop, weigh it, and then prepare the animal.
With the success of his first bear hunt and the support of the Port Wing hunting community, Miller already plans on coming back whenever he can get another harvest tag.
“They treat you like family. These great people over the years just keep coming back even if they don’t have a bear tag, just for the camaraderie of waiting for someone to shoot a bear,” said Miller.