CR, be carefull, if you shoot that bear you'll be killing one of my friends...grin
actually I think if you don't have a bear license and you shoot one, your in big trouble, better check with the DNR first.
The few bear hunters I know carry handguns as backup but don't know if that's ok or not.
why don't you try one of the game farms for pheasants? a dog is nice, but you can still flush them with out one. try to stay away from the public hunting lands close to the cities, some pretty loosely wound people there. may not have to drive 4.5 hrs but a couple hours wouldn't hurt.
Don't do much hunting around here anymore but if we head for one of the game farms I'll let ya know. most of my hunting is in S. Dakota
shooting prairie dogs. Burnsville range is having a IPSC style fun shoot soon, maybe ya want to come?? you'll have to call for details, I'm at work now so I don't know when it is. stay well and shoot safe.