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Bear Hunting in Japan

Today was with a bear hunter in Yonezawa, Japan. The 67 year-old bear hunter said he kills about 10 bears per year, and lots of deer and hogs. He had a big pile of mixed skulls. Four big freezers.

This place is overrun by bears. So many bears here they come downtown and are aggressive sometimes. Over recent generations, rural Japan has been collapsing as farmers die off, or go bankrupt, and their children move to places like Tokyo. Japan is at extreme risk for famine in time of war or serious crisis.

He has six guns including a 300win mag rifle, a 30-06 and more. He kills most bears from a couple meters away. He tracks the bears, anticipates line of travel, rushes ahead to wait in ambush. Hunts only during daylight due to Japanese law.

Fourth generation bear hunter. Said the first time he went bear hunting, he was four years old, on his Grandfather’s back. He says he is successful in 60-70% of his bear hunts because he only goes when it feels right. He hunts alone and usually hides behind a tree for an ambush. He said he waits until the very last second, whips the rifle around, and fires, saying the bear usually stands up in surprise, giving the hunter a couple of seconds to get the shot off. He said sometimes the shot is like 30cm away. About a foot. I said you could make a fortune off a GoPro video of that. He knows what a GoPro is and laughed.

These bears are straight-up dangerous, and so you gotta be really calm to hunt that close. Remember in Darien Gap, an Embera Indian told me he got a jaguar that close nights before and showed me the fresh skull, and a Kuna Indian got a deer from that close, and we ate it with Ben BergquamOscar BlueMatt Bracken, and Matt Tomlett a few months ago in the jungle.

The Japanese hunter has very good teeth like the Kuna Indians have in Darien Gap. He said he hunts only alone and often walks most of the day until he gets to ambush and then back out again sometimes after dark. He and his friend have a big feast after the hunts…am guessing they have a LOT of feasts cause his home (the part we saw) was filled with furs and skulls.

The Japanese bear hunter said in the old days, previous generations hunted with spears and would go down into the holes and caves to get the bears. He said they don’t really hibernate but just kind of chill out, but their eyes are open if you go look. There is snow around here now, making it easier to track, and the meat tastes better between fall and the end of winter.

He loads his own 300-mag rifle ammo. Five USD per round.

We talked about farming and food security. Japan is littered with ghost towns and ghost villages with old homes for very cheap because of the collapse of Japanese farming. Severe food insecurity is like not having a military at all. Totally insane. Terrible government.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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  1. I loved your article on the Japanese Bear Hunter. I get plenty of “what’s going on in the world.” This was a great article because it got my mind off of all the depressing antics of evil men and women and their never ending attempts to “steal, kill and destroy.” One day the commenter will wish he had half the skills the man in the article has.

  2. These are terrific stories, Michael. Thx. Will be doing a donation soon. Waiting for check. Is there a way to get confirmation of your actual receipt of money other than the bank. I’d be using Bank of America?

    Keep On Keepin’ On!! You’re the Best!

  3. With all that is going on…this is what you choose to write about?

    • I found it very relevant to all that’s going on in Japan, I mean, this guy is going keep on trucking & surviving, while the rest of Japanese society turns into a Soylent Green nightmare.

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