By Michael Jacobson
In 1950, an unexpected bear hunt occurred in the Paynesville area when a black bear was spotted in the vicinity. First seen on a Friday evening in June by Rice Lake, running across a grain field on the James Hanson farm and then crossing the road in front of Ed Schaumann, bear tracks were found leading to Lake Koronis on Saturday morning by Lloyd Lang, with a group of local men giving chase.
An aerial search by Earl Putzke failed to locate the bear, but a fisherman saw it swimming towards First Island on Lake Koronis and reported this to the Assembly Grounds, who in turn notified the game warden, who in turn notified the local sportsmen's club.
Local hunters rushed to the lake, with Fred Putzke, Tom Putzke, Clarence Johnson, and David Schneider giving chase in a boat.
The bear, aware of his pursuers, swam from First Island to Second Island. Then, with hunters behind it, the bear crossed Second Island and started swimming for Third Island. With hunters closing in, the bear changed course and started swimming for shore.
The hunters in the boat finally got close enough to shoot, and Tom Putzke of Paynesville fired the fatal shot, then posed for a photograph with the 210-pound black bear on his fender in downtown Paynesville. (See above.) That picture was taken by Frederich Zniewski of Frederich's Studio, and a copy was recently given to the Press by longtime resident Harry Schuelke, who is donating it to the Paynesville Historical Society.
According to the June 22, 1950, Press article, the bear was the first in Paynesville in many, many years.