2012 Maine Black Bear Hunts

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Week 1

The first week of the 2012 bear season opened with one of my very first bear hunting clients from my days guiding in Quebec for a different outfitter came to my lodge to hunt bear with me one more time. Jim Balog and his brother Jason had hunted bear a few times in the past several years at a different lodge in Maine with limited success. Jim had an opportunity on one of the trips when a shot opportunity was presented, but Jason had yet to even see a bear in the Maine woods. All of that was about to change. They were now hunting with Mountain View Drifter Lodge & Outfitters. We take what we do very seriously.

Jim and Jason had traveled here from Pittsburgh, PA and arrived on Sunday to our traditional lobster dinner. We then went over orientation, where I discussed judging bears, what shot to take, what not to take, basically everything you need to know to be a successful bear hunter if a bear presents you with a shot opportunity. We then went to the range where we all checked our sites on a target. Once we were satisfied with our bullet placement we returned to the lodge for some of my wife Nancy’s fabulous pie.

Monday began with me running a few baits in the morning and getting back in time for lunch with the guys. We then all prepared to hunt that afternoon. For the first time in several years I was going to sit on a bait site while my hunters hunted to see if I too might take a bear. I got Jim out to his site first, then Jason, and finally myself. I set my phone on vibrate to await any incoming calls from the guys if they should shoot a bear. The afternoon passed and I saw nothing but squirrels on my bait and as it got close to the final hour or so of daylight I heard a distant shot. Shortly after that my phone went off and it was Jim. I scampered up to my truck and headed off to look for Jim’s black bear.

Jim had seen a sow earlier in the afternoon, but right around 6:45 a boar came in to the bait and presented Jim with a broadside shot. At the shot the bear bolted into the brush and Jim was able to hear the death moan of the bear. So when I arrived he had an idea of where the bear was. Well bears do not bleed much and this bear was no exception. It took me several attempts at cutting the blood trail before I found sign of the shot bear, and then I found the bear. You can ask Jim how thick and nasty that patch of woods where the bear died was, suffice it to say, it was very nasty. We quickly retrieved the bear and got it into the truck so we could go to check on Jason’s adventures.

Shortly we found Jason waiting at the predetermined rendezvous and he got into my truck. Where we learned he had spent much of the afternoon watching a very large sow with three cubs feed on the bait. Sows with cubs are not shot at my lodge, so although she was very big, she was off limits. Jason had finally seen his first bear while sitting in the Maine woods. We headed to the tagging station with Jim’s bear and then to the lodge where we placed it into my walk-in cooler for the night.

Tuesday morning we took many pictures of Jim and his bear and then watched as my taxidermist processed the hide for a mount and quartered the meat for further processing by the butcher. Bear is fabulous table fare when properly handled. We then had lunch and Jason and I headed for the woods to hunt bears one more time. The afternoon passed by. I think I may have dozed off once or twice, but I was definitely on my game when a nice boar popped out of the woods and into my shooting lane. I watched it for a bit to determine if it was a bear I wanted. After several minutes I finally got the broadside shot I needed and I slowly squeezed the trigger. The silence was shattered as the bullet found its mark and the bear disappeared into the thick brush. I listened to see if I could hear any sounds that the bear was dead, but the breeze that was blowing masked any sound from the bear. I slowly made my way to the bait and found a small spot of blood. Several minutes later I found my mature Maine boar bear.

I then went back to the truck to get my cell phone to see if Jason may have called. He had. He had called and my wife had called as well. That meant we had two bears to retrieve, mine and Jason’s. I told Nancy to meet me in the woods with Jim, as we needed all hands to make light work of retrieving bears in the dark Maine woods. Once I had Jim with me we road very quickly to Jason’s stand, where he gave us the run down on how he had watched a large sow with no cubs on his site. She had a great coat and was perfect for a rug when he decided to shoot her. I went to the bait site to see if there was any blood and in a short time I was on the trail. After a few minutes we found Jason’s bear and began the process of getting her out of the woods. Once we had that bear in the truck we went back to get my bear. Then we went to get our two mature Maine black bears tagged and into the cooler.

Wednesday morning Jason and I took pictures with our bears and then assisted the taxidermist with skinning of our bears. Both bears will be made into rugs over the winter. The rugs will provide a lifetime of memories in both of our homes. The meat from the bears has already graced both of our tables. Bear is my favorite wild game meat.
Jason, Jim and I spent Thursday enjoying some of the best bass fishing available anywhere. It just happens to be right in my back yard. The first week of the 2012 bear season came and went very quickly. We had an opportunity to strengthen friendships started many years ago, as well as in the case of Jason and I beginning a new friendship. We killed three great examples of Maine black bear. We caught some tremendous bass. I am sure over the coming years we will all get to spend many afternoons in Maine’s bear filled woods.

Week 2

The second week of the 2012 bear season began a couple of days earlier than usual as the guests from the first week had filled their tags early and departed a day early for their homes in Pennsylvania. Two guests from Michigan, Ray and Kim McVeigh were able to arrange to arrive Friday evening at the lodge, which allowed me to get them out to hunt bear on Saturday. I first put Kim in a blind on an active bait site and then drove Ray to his tree stand. I then planned on rebaiting all of the other sites in the area while Ray and Kim hunted.

On my first stop as I walked in to the bait site I saw a large bear run off, followed by her two cubs. It was about 2 p.m. I continued to all the other sites and refilled my bait barrels until it was time to make my way to pick Kim up. I learned as she entered the truck for her ride home that she had seen two bears on stand that day. The first was a LARGE boar that offered no shot as it just walked right by. The second was a sow that did not like something about the situation and quickly left the area. When we finally got to Ray we found that he had an opportunity to watch two cubs, but did not see any other bears on this sit. So we headed back to the lodge to see what treats Nancy might have for us.

When we got to the lodge we found three additional hunters had arrived. Dave smith, Dave Bertieri and Matt Miller from the Pittsburgh area had made their way to Maine for a chance for them to take a black bear. Nancy had one of my favorite bear meals ready for us all to enjoy. Bear fajitas made with the loin of my bear were ready and were enjoyed by all of us. Now we only had to await the arrival of Tom and Julie Nagy from Ohio to round out our group for the week. Tom and Julie were camping in the area and made their way to the lodge the following afternoon in time for a Maine lobster feed.

Once Sunday’s lobster feed was completed we had bear hunting orientation once again. All of the hunters in camp this week had been here several times in the past and most had taken a bear or bears. I always have orientation for every hunter, whether you have never been here or been here several times. The information is straight forward, but it is important to review. We then all headed to the range where everyone’s sights were checked and then we headed back to the lodge for some of Nancy’s great home baked pie.

Monday morning found the two Dave’s waiting to go run baits with me. We headed out to refresh a few sites and then returned back to the lodge for lunch and to ready ourselves for the afternoons hunt. Once lunch was completed I loaded my truck with bait and headed out with the first group of hunters to the stands. Nancy followed a bit later with the second group whom I loaded into my truck to get them out to their stands. I then headed back to the lodge for a bit, and as the afternoon drew to a close I headed out to the hunting area to be close if a bear would be taken. Right around 7 p.m. Dave Bertieri called to let me know he had seen 4 bears on stand and had shot the last one. I headed to him and we quickly located his bear and got it loaded into the truck. I had Nancy pick up a few of the hunters while I gathered up the rest for the ride back to the lodge. Most everyone had seen bears while sitting on stand this day with Tom seeing 2 bears, Matt seeing 3, Kim seeing 1, Ray seeing 2 and Dave Smith seeing a coyote, moose and a deer, but no bears.

Tuesday was going to be an interesting day. Typically bears like quiet, low wind days, today was to begin windy and get windier as a front pushed into the region. After lunch I headed out with Ray, Kim and Dave Smith to get them into their stands. I then met Nancy in the woods with Matt and Tom who I got situated on their bait sites. I then made a brief stop where Dave B. had shot his bear the day before, and when I returned to my truck there was a call from Ray stating he had shot a bear a few minutes prior. I hurriedly headed off to his stand, and in short order we collected Rays beautiful bear. This was Ray’s second bear he had taken with me. Since it was early yet I opted to run to town, and tag the bear to get it placed in my walk-in cooler. I had just made it to the town limits when my phone rang again. This time it was Kim.

Kim had just shot her first bear. I let her know I had her husband with me with his bear, and we would be back to her in short order. She asked if she could go look at her bear since it had fallen dead at the shot right at the bait. I said go ahead. When Ray and I finished tagging his bear and getting it into the cooler at the house, we headed off to collect Kim and her bear. When we arrived Kim was convinced that her bear was small, I informed her that the mature boar that lay on the ground was a great bear, as did her husband. We had good light so we took a few photos at the stand location, loaded the bear into my truck and headed back to town.

Once back at the lodge we took pictures with Ray and Kim with their bears. Then got them both tucked into the cooler for safe keeping. As the afternoon waned I headed back towards the hunting area, when I received a call from Matt letting me know that he had shot a bear. I quickly pointed my truck in his direction so we could locate the bear in the diminishing light. I located a few spots of blood at the bait and several minutes later located the nice mature bear in a thicket behind the bait. Matt and I loaded the bear onto my stretcher to carry it to the truck. We then picked up Dave Smith while Nancy collected Tom. We learned that Dave had watched a very large sow and two cubs while Tom had seen 3 bears on his stand. He had wanted to shoot the last bear, but the low light prevented him from being able to accurately place his shot, so Tom had held off. Well here we were on a windy Tuesday with all but two of the hunters with filled tags and three days of bear hunting left.

Wednesday morning it was rainy and windy. We had yet to get any photos of Matt with his bear, and the taxidermist arrived during a downpour. We did the best we could do under the circumstances and took pictures in the rain. As lunch time arrived the weather improved and Tom, Dave and I headed off to hunt once again. I got the two hunters into their stands and headed back to the lodge. I headed back to the lodge to wait. The afternoon passed by without my phone ringing. Once I had Dave and Tom rounded up at the end of the day, I learned they had both seen bears on each of their sites. We headed back to the lodge for some of Nancy’s cooking and rest, as we had two more days to hunt.

Thursday began with lunch at the lodge and Tom, Dave and I heading off to the bear woods. Tom would be standing pat on the same site as the bear activity there was very high. Dave would be sitting where Kim had seen the large boar several days earlier. I ran some baits after placing the guys in their stands, and waited for the phone to ring. It did not. I waited for Dave after shooting hours and Nancy picked up Tom. Tom had seen a small bear once again, but Dave did not see anything. We headed back to the lodge for another fine meal and a chance to rest for the final day of the hunt.
I planned on sitting in a tree stand today with a video camera while I waited for Dave to fill his tag. So after lunch Dave, Tom and I headed off for the bear woods, but not before bidding farewell to Ray and Kim who would begin their journey back to Michigan. I got the guys into their stands and headed to the stand I had hopes of getting some footage. Well it was a quiet afternoon for me. I did not see anything. Dave found it to be quiet as well. Tom however had seen two different bears, but not the one he wanted to shoot, so he held off. So the week ended with 4 bears taken and many bears seen. We headed back to the lodge for a steak dinner and some fellowship. Everyone would be heading out in the morning for their homes.

Saturday morning found Nancy and I rising early to bid farewell to Matt, Dave and Dave as they prepared to head off to Pittsburgh. A while later we had breakfast with Tom and Julie as they prepared to work their way back to Ohio. Nancy and I are looking forward already to seeing everyone again as we gather together to hunt the black ghost of the woods, the Maine black bear.

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