Bear hunters were out with their tracking dogs on Monday morning. It was the first day of firearms bear hunting season in George Washington National Forest.
Dogs are only allowed during firearms season and some hunters have been looking forward to it all year.
Scott Keplinger planned to bring his dogs out every day this month.
"I have the whole month off...Yep, I save all my vacation for this," said Keplinger.
He and his friends come out to the park to spend some time together and hunt. Erica Fink was the only girl in the crew on Monday.
"People don't think much of a girl coming up here and doing all this stuff, climbing these mountains. It's hard at times, believe me, but it's all worth it to me. I enjoy it. I'm an outdoors girl," said Fink.
She has been bear hunting for six years.
"It's like a thrill. I don't know. I just get excitement out of it. It's like a rush. I like to hear the dogs, see them run, see the bear in the tree. It's nice.
When hunters do shoot a bear, they bring it to Mark Grandle's convenience store, which is a licensed check-in station that keeps track of the kills.
"We have to weigh it, check it in on paper, and pull a tooth," said Grandle.
Grandle predicted a slow season for this year.
"From the way it's been so far with bow season and muzzle loader, it's been kind of slow. We've only checked in 12, and they've all been under 200 pounds."
For Keplinger, there were no kills on Monday, but he still had fun.
"They get on the trail, and I guess the bear had enough and it goes up a tree. We went in took some pictures and left. Let it go," said Keplinger.
Sometimes, the bear is not so lucky.
"We usually Crock-Pot it, with barbecue sauce."
The hunting group said they try to only track and kill the male bears and leave the females to reproduce for the next season.
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