Fallon Man hunts for bear (prints) at Bowers Mansion | NevadaAppeal.com

Fallon Man hunts for bear (prints) at Bowers Mansion

Rex Bovee

A Fallon man is claiming a successful bear hunt near Bowers Mansion in Washoe Valley.

Ray Hirschmugl has his trophies to prove it. And he didn’t need a hunting license nor a rifle.

Hirschmugl was only after bear tracks, it turns out, and last week he was displaying a set of four plaster casts of bear paw prints he made in the park near the mansion.

“We were driving back from Reno Saturday, Dec. 4, and I suddenly decided to see what I could find near the park,” Hirschmugl said.

While his children Rebecca, 5, Maria, 3, and Timothy, 2, played at the popular playground under the supervision of his wife, Julie, Hirschmugl scanned the sandy area by the restrooms.

The ground had been softened by the previous night’s drizzle. Hirschmugl soon found a 50-foot trail of bear tracks not far from the park swings.

“I had to kind of beg Julie to let us drive in to Kmart and get some plaster to make the casts,” he said. “We got back and I poured the plaster, but it was so cold that it froze instead of setting.”

Hirschmugl got a promise that park rangers would safeguard the casts once the weather warmed and they hardened. He later returned to the park and claimed his trophies.

He said his interest in wild animal tracks came from an incident in 1996, when a mountain lion came into Fallon close to his home near Maine Street, Fallon’s main street. He wanted a souvenir, so he went to the library and learned how to make the plaster casts.

“That’s when I learned the trick of using some Elmer’s Glue in the plaster,” he said. He had to sneak under some yellow barricade tape to carry it off, but he got his mountain lion print.

Since then, Hirschmugl has reproduced the big cat casting and sold about 50 of the copies at craft shows and to friends. He plans on doing better with the complete set of bear tracks.

Now he has a bug to get some alligator track castings.

“I may have to plan me a trip,” he said.