OAKLAND - Chasity Hare wasn't in the woods but a few minutes yesterday morning when a 283-pound bear stepped onto the edge of a hay field and into her sights.
She pulled the trigger twice, her father shot once and the bear went down in an area known as "the Abyss," a ravine one-quarter of a mile from the nearest road west of Deep Creek Lake. It took six family members more than an hour to haul the animal up the hill.
"It started out as an easy hunt, but it ended up being the hardest of my life," said Hare, a 25-year-old Taneytown resident.
The fifth annual black bear hunt began just before 7 a.m. in Maryland's two westernmost counties, with about 500 hunters shivering in tree stands and huddling on the ground. A total of 30 bears were checked in by Department of Natural Resources biologists in Garrett and Allegany counties.
Hare, who works in a doctor's office and has been hunting since she was 10, said she and her father, Mike, had just chosen a tree to lean against when the bear appeared.
"It happened so fast. It was kind of unbelievable," she said.
DNR biologists say the bear was a nuisance that had killed a number of chickens and destroyed a coop.
A total of 220 hunters received permits through a lottery, allowing each to participate with a partner and, in the case of a hunt on private property, with the landowner. Only one bear can be taken by each team.
In the past four seasons, hunters have killed 152 bears, all but 15 of them in Garrett County. The largest, checked in last year, was 615 pounds.
The state's goal this year is 55 to 75 bears. The season will continue at least through today.