2006 Maine Black Bear Hunts

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Week 1

The 2006 bear season began on August 27th with the arrival of several hunters that were here to try to hunt Maine's black bear with us. We had two returning hunters Shawn Lundrigan and Dick Grimes who brought a new friend Jeffrey Worth who was on his first bear hunt. We also had a family travel from Missouri to hunt bear. Delmis and Helen Brown and their son Darris came to Millinocket, ME on their first bear hunt. Finally Murray and Nora Caudill traveled here from Kentucky to hunt bear. We had a great lobster dinner followed by orientation. Many of the guests were here hunting bear for the first time and were very anxious to get started. I am sure Sunday's sleep was filled with thoughts of Monday afternoon's activities.
Monday began for me as it always does, rising early to run some baits and quickly returning to the lodge to eat lunch with the guests prior to heading out to the stands for the afternoon's hunt. After lunch I headed out with the first group of hunters, followed by getting the second group out. Around 3pm everyone was in their stand. It did not take too long for things to begin to happen. Helen Brown called me on my cell phone about 6pm to let me know she had shot a bear. I headed out to track her bear and we found it in no time at all, as she placed a great shot on the large boar. We field dressed the bear and placed her tag on it, and headed back to the lodge, we would need some help getting her bear out of the woods, as it was very large. After shooting hours ended that evening I learned that Helen's son Darris had also shot a large bear, as well as Murray Caudill taking a nice bear as well. Delmis brown had heard a bear popping its jaws at him. Jeff Worth had watched a bear on his bait, but chose not to shoot it. So on the first night we killed 3 nice bears, and had action on 2 additional sites. A great start to the 2006 season. It was a late night though, as it took until 1am to get all the bears back to the lodge.

Tuesday came early once again with me running a few baits and hurrying back to have lunch and get the 4 hunters that were still hunting. Today everyone was out by 2:30pm, and I headed back to the lodge for a quick nap. Today right around 7pm Shawn was rewarded with the sight of a large bear on his bait. He placed a great shot on the bear, and it dropped where it stood. Jeff saw another bear on his bait and Dick saw a small bear on his site. Delmis did not see anything tonight, but had an enjoyable afternoon in the woods. So now we had 3 hunters that would be going out on Wednesday.

Today I ran some baits once again, and we had a photo session with the bears we had taken thus far. We had lunch and I headed out with the final 3 hunters. At the end of shooting time I learned that Delmis had an opportunity to watch 2 different bears on his bait, and Dick had a close encounter with a large bear that came out right next to his ground blind. Jeff didn't see anything, but was looking forward to getting back out on Thursday.

Thursday morning found me running baits once again and then heading back to get the guys out for the afternoon's hunt. I got everyone out and headed back to the lodge to wait for the hunters to either call or for it to be time to pick them up. When I picked Dick up he had passed the day away with no bear sightings, but Delmis had seen a very large bear, that noticed something amiss and walked away from the bait before Delmis could get a shot. Jeff had placed a good shot on a nice bear on his bait, and we quickly found it and got it in the back of the truck to head back to the lodge.

Friday found us with two hunters still looking for their bear. I placed the hunters out that afternoon and went back to the lodge to skin Jeff's bear. As the end of shooting time approached I decided to finish the afternoon attempting to sneak into a ground blind and watch for bears while I waited to pick up the final two hunters. Just as I got into position to see the bait after a slow approach, my cell phone rang and broke the silence, this caused the bear that was on the bait to run off as I stared in disbelief. Oh well better luck next time. When I picked up Delmis and Dick, I learned they had not seen any bears that afternoon. Well we had a great first week with 5 nice bears taken and a total of 14 bears sighted.

Week 2

The second week of the 2006 bear season came with a couple of old friends returning, Mike Hurley and his friend Kelly Skahan. We also had Joshua Dubois, Todd Matthews, and Trace Warren fly in from Texas to bow hunt black bear. Finally we had Steve Craig and his wife Cathy come to Maine to take a bear using a foot snare. Steve is a well known trapper living in Arizona, where he operates a predator hunting business Arizona Predator Hunts. Steve wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of having snared every furbearer possible with black bear being one of the last that he had yet to take. Hopefully this week would change that. Once again we had a great lobster dinner and orientation in preparation of the coming week's hunt.
Monday found Steve Craig, Mike Hurley and I heading out to run some baits and set his snares for a bear. We found a couple very good locations and Steve placed his snares carefully with high hopes. We returned to the lodge and had lunch. I then headed out with my 4 archers and placed them on their stands. After shooting time ended I learned that Trace had seen 2 bears on his bait, and Joshua had also watched a bear on his site. Todd and Mike did not observe any animals on their respective sites. We headed back to the lodge for our evening meal and some sleep.

Tuesday found Steve, Trace Warren and I heading out to check Steve's snares and run a few baits. One of the two locations Steve had a bear just miss stepping on the snare pan, close but no bear. We finished our bait run and headed back to the lodge. After lunch I headed out with the archers with high hopes of taking a bear that afternoon. When the end of shooting time came with no one having called me I picked up the hunters and learned that Joshua had seen 2 bears this afternoon, with one being very large and the smaller of the bears having climbed the tree he was in for a visit. No one else saw any bears that afternoon, so we headed back to the lodge for some food and story telling.

Wednesday found Steve, Mike and I heading out to check snares and run some baits. Today we had a thrown snare, but no bear. This foot snaring was more of a challenge than I anticipated. We ran some baits and headed back for lunch. I got the guys out with 1 change, Trace and Todd had decided to switch baits with each other for a change of pace. Well as luck would have it Trace saw a shooter bear and took aim with his bow and released an arrow around 3pm. He called me and we tried to recover his bear. Unfortunately the arrow had missed its mark and the bear eluded us. When I picked the other archers up we learned that Joshua had another visit with his resident small bear, with no other hunters having seen any bears. We headed back to camp for another meal, stories and laughter.

Thursday found us checking Steve's snares again. Once again, no bears snared. We ran some baits and headed back for lunch. After lunch we headed back out to hunt one more time. As we drove towards Joshua's site at a pretty fast pace, I caught a flash of brown, just as a large bull moose almost joined us in the cab of my truck. Joshua is probably still trying to calm down from that encounter. Today the day passed with no hunters seeing any bears. Everyone was learning that hunting over bait is hunting. It isn't easy. We headed back to camp, ate, laughed and slept.

Friday found us heading to check Steve's snare again and we also placed Joshua out to hunt the morning. Today as we approached one of Steve's sets we heard metal rattle, and got excited. Well the rattle was made as the bear pulled out of the snare and ran off. Boy this snaring thing is pretty tough. We ran some baits and headed back to pick Joshua up for lunch. Joshua had no more than got in his stand when he saw his small resident bear again. After lunch we headed back out to hunt. I got everyone out with hopes of someone taking a large bear. That evening I picked up the guys and learned that Joshua had seen the small bear and a very large bear. He just could net get a shot, as the bear kept its vitals unexposed. Finally Todd saw his first bear, but did not have a good shot.

Saturday morning we headed out to retrieve Steve's snares and head back to camp for brunch. Today however we found the snare contained a nice boar bear that Steve quickly dispatched with his Contender. We headed back to camp to photograph and skin the bear. Well the second week found nearly everyone having seen a bear, but only 1 bear killed. We had 11 bears spotted with 4 hunters in the woods, and 1 bear snared. Although there are not a lot of pictures of hunters and their bears for this week, it will go down as one of the most enjoyable weeks I had as a guide. I had a good group of guys here that patiently waited to have a bear present a good shot, unfortunately for the hunters the bears kept the shots offered in the low percentage area, and the hunters wisely passed on those opportunities. That is bear hunting.

Week 3

Well the third week of the 2006 bear season found us with another veteran bear hunter, Frank Dicesare returning for his second bear with us in as many years, and whole group of brand new bear hunters. We had Matt Miller and his girlfriend Erica Stitt drive all night after a wedding in Pennsylvania to be here. We also had two brothers from Michigan, Tom and Gary Haner. We had a group of friends Matthew Kunkel, Trevor Harris and Patrick Burlison here for their first bear hunt. Trevor's dad Richard Harris, came along for moral support and to shoot about 2500 photographs of the Maine countryside. We began the week again with a lobster dinner, orientation and some target practice.
Monday found me heading out to run some baits prior to getting the guys out in the afternoon for their hunt. We headed out to the bait sites after lunch and I got the guys out with high hopes. No one called me on the cell phone, so it wasn't until I picked up the guys that I learned that Gary had heard a bear run off as he had prepared to exit his stand, Matt K. had seen a bear a couple of times, Trevor heard a bear pop his jaws and finally Tom had seen 5 bears. The other fellows did not see or hear any bears near their stands. We headed back to have some of Nancy's good cooking and swap a few yarns.

Tuesday found me running baits once again and heading back for some lunch. After lunch we headed out to the stands for the afternoons hunt. Today the only hunter to see any bears was Tom. He saw another shooter bear on his bait, but opted to pass on it. We headed back to the lodge and ate more of Nancy's good cooking and swap a few stories.

Wednesday found me running baits once again. After lunch we headed out to the stands. After getting the guys in place, I went to run a few more baits, when I heard a shot. This was followed by a phone call from Frank that he had shot a nice bear on his bait. On my way to help Frank I found Richard Harris waiting at the end of the road his son was on. I had him ride along with me. We found Frank waiting at the edge of the road. We headed to the bait site where I picked up the blood trail and a few minutes later we were standing next to Frank's nice boar bear. We got it out to the truck, and picked up the rest of the guys. No one else had seen any bears. We headed home, ate and laughed.

On Thursday morning Pat opted to hunt the morning on his bait site. I ran some baits, and then received a phone call from Pat informing me he had shot his first bear. I arrived to find a very excited Pat waiting for me. His bear had appeared right next to him as he awoke from a brief nap, he shot it. We took a few pictures and loaded the bear on the truck and headed back to camp for lunch. That afternoon we headed back out to hunt again. That evening I got a phone call from a very excited Matt. He had shot a big bear. Well in my tired state of mind I thought it was Matt Miller, but it was Matt Kunkel. So as I picked Matt Kunkel up, he probably couldn't believe how nonchalant we were, as he had just shot a bear and we did not seem to care. We picked up Gary and learned he had watched a very large bear on his bait that did not present a shot. By this time we had figured out that Matt Kunkel had a bear we needed to retrieve. He and I headed in to his bait site to trail the bear. It wasn't too long and we were standing over the largest bear I have had the opportunity to guide a hunter to. It was all of 400 pounds dressed weight. We gathered up some help that was waiting at my truck and got the bear loaded in the back. No one else had seen any bears, but boy were we excited about Matt's bear. We got back to camp, ate and heard his story.

Friday found Matt Miller and Trevor trying a morning hunt as I ran some baits. We met to head back to camp for lunch, they had not seen any bears. After lunch we headed back to hunt the afternoon. That evening I got a call from Tom that he had shot a large bear with his bow. I picked his brother Gary up and the rest of the guys headed back to camp as we headed out to help Tom with his bear. Well we learned that Tom had seen a sow with 3 cubs, and later a large boar came in that he shot. After a short tracking job we found another very large boar that dressed at 300 pounds lying on the ground. It did not take the 3 of us long to realize we could use a hand or two to retrieve this bear. Matt Kunkel, Matt Miller and Trevor Harris drove back to give us a hand with this bear. We returned to the lodge late with week 3 pretty much over. We had 22 bears seen or heard near the baits and two of the largest bears I have guided hunters to taken this week and a total of 4 bears taken.

Saturday after most of the guys were heading home I was still skinning Tom's bear and then we packed the hide and meat for their return trip to Michigan. Tom's bear will grace the wall of his campground office, where he can view it and relive the week he spent in the Maine woods and the 11 bears he had watched up close, and did what many hunters are still trying to do, kill a black bear with archery equipment. A great week of hunting was had by all. If you are going to be traveling through Michigan and plan on staying at a camp ground, you can visit with Tom Haner and see his bear at Cross-N Creek campground. If you stop in tell him Rick sent you.

Week 4

The final week of the 2006 season came with 1 veteran hunter returning with two cousins of his. Steve Willey, Jon Harris, and Bill Baldwin had driven here from Michigan. They were joined in camp by Gary Cole, Ronnie Davis, Bernie Rhea, and Randy Burkhalter from Ohio. Of these hunters only Steve had any fall bear hunting experience. We ate, had orientation, and some target practice where it was determined one potential archer needed to spend more time with a bow before I would let him hunt bear with archery equipment.
Monday found me running just a few baits as this was the last week, and it was time to start closing up bait sites. After lunch we headed out for an afternoon of bait hunting. This day found Jon hearing a bear pop its jaws, and Bernie taking a nice dry sow with a muzzleloader. No other bears were seen.

Tuesday we hunted and again Jon heard popping jaws and Bill did as well, but the bears were alerted to the presence of these hunters, and would not come in. We headed back to the lodge and ate some good food, swapped a few stories, laughed at Bill and got some sleep.

On Wednesday the wind blew and it was a tough day to hunt bears and no one saw any. By the appearance of some of the baits I was getting the feeling that something happening on the stands was spooking these bears. We headed back to camp, for more food, story telling and a few laughs.

Thursday afternoon found me placing the guys on new bait sites with hopes a change of scenery and fresh bears would help these guys out. I went out and retrieved a few tree stands while I waited for the guys. When I picked them up I learned that Steve had seen 3 bears, and both Ronnie and Randy had seen a bear. As bears can do, they appear when you are not ready, and then while you try to judge them in low light, they disappear. We headed back to camp without any bears, but higher spirits as the sighting of game tends to raise hunters spirits.

Friday found us heading out with high hopes of taking a bear or two. I again pulled a few tree stands while I waited for the guys, and then I sat on a bait site to see what may come in. After about a 90 minute wait, a nice bear came into the bait site. I watched this bear for at least 25 minutes, when a second bear came from behind me, suddenly both bears bolted and then it was time for me to go pick the guys up. Once again Steve had seen a bear, but the bear knew he was there and would not come into the bait. Gary saw his first bear of the week as well. Well the 4th week ended with 1 bear killed, and 13 bears seen or heard by the hunters counting the two I had seen. We went back to the lodge and ate more food, told a few more stories and prepared for everyone's departure the next day. The 2006 bear season was over.

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