Last year was my first official bear hunting season, yet last year’s anti-bear hunting referendum in Maine was in full swing, and I wasn’t able to fully enjoy what might have been my first and last bear season. I dang near cried when the end of the season came and I hadn’t gotten my bear. The threat that we might lose the ability to manage Maine black bears because a bunch of anti-hunting animal activists could lie and twist facts on 40 years of bear research was disturbing to say the least. I never campaigned so hard to get the facts out to all my social media friends, and some now former friends because they got sick of my posts. Oh well. I’m passionate about hunting, and I’ve always been a science-minded woman who makes decisions on facts and not claims surrounded in emotion, and on top of that, I made a lot of new friends in the process.
So thanks again to all my hunting and non-hunting friends who “get it” and for voting “No on 1”. Maine bear hunting is safe for now, but not forever. The Humane Society of the United States will be back will lots of other lies, inaccurate and misleading information, and staged videos, but I hope after this season you’ll get to know more about bear hunting and will even better understand the facts. I’ll be blogging about my/our adventures, so wish me luck!
Last Saturday, August 1, 2015, marked the first day bear bait could be placed out for the 2015 hunt which begins August 31st. This year we obtained permission to once again hunt a privately owned mountain about an hour and a half from home. Thank you Mr. S! This 1,000 acre property is gated, but not entirely off limits to outsiders because the Appalachian Trail runs adjacent to part of the property. We take this into consideration when we place our baits since I use a gun and wouldn’t want to be shooting in the direction of hikers even though we’re legally far enough from them, but more so, even though it’s illegal to tamper with baits, we don’t want to take a chance that some anti-hunter hiking through would find our site and try sabotage it. Avoiding “issues” is the reason we get permission year after year, and we don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. We’ve already had bear at one of the three sites we bait and I’m stoked because it was my spot!
With permission from a landowner and former high school classmate, we set up a second location with about 100 acres only 40 minutes from home. Thank you Paul and Bea! We were pretty excited to see so much bear sign. Bear poop and clawed up beech trees from previous bears made the setup seem a lot quicker…that and the fact that sons Zack and Tyler joined us. For now we have one bait on it, but may add a second if it turns out to be a productive site, meaning big bears visiting it. 😉
Long before we could bait, we made arrangements to get bait, which can sometimes be difficult if you wait until the last minute. We’ve used a host of different types of bait. Last year’s bait was cattle feed from the Midwest; I figured if it was good enough for beef cattle, it was good enough for bear. It consisted of mostly cookies and nuts…lots of them and chocolate, which we’ve since learned can be toxic to bears if they eat too much. The raccoon and squirrels liked it better than the bear did. In fact, probably half of the bait we put out is eaten by other critters and not bear.
This year’s bait is nothing we’ve had before: lots of fritter-like-spice cake-like cake-muffin-glaze-like…all mixed together and really fragrant. We also have caramel, blueberry pie filling, grease, and a bunch of scents like anise oil (smells like licorice), Northwoods Bear Jelly that’s waterproof and scented with anise and beaver castor (smells like stinky beaver hormone), and a cherry burst sprinkle additive. The Bear Jelly is a new product for us but it seems we’ve had bad luck when it comes to baiting. We’ll just get one site baited only to have it rain so it washes the scent away, so waterproof please don’t fail us! The cherry burst is like confectioners sugar on a dough-boy, and the smell is so strong your mouth waters when you smell it, and all necessary to hopefully lure in a mature bear for me to harvest. Bears have an extraordinary sense of smell which means not only do I have to attract them away from preferred natural foods, but also not have them smell me.
We can’t wait to go back and check and fill our baits. It’s going to be exciting to see who’s there and who’s new. I hope there are less critters and more bear this year. More to come!