Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Neighborwoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog. 

American White Cedar, Viles Arboretum, Augusta Maine

Friday, December 26, 2014

Keeping Maine Wild, one project at a time


The following is my article from the Northwoods Sporting Journal for January 2015.  I wanted to share it with you all since I think Maine's Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is going to be busy and active this year -- and there are ways that we can be involved!

***
Many of us think we know Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and associate them with our favorite hunting and fishing activities. While we may think we know what they do, there are a ton of projects that are being done to better the lives of Maine’s wildlife and we hunters and fishermen have no idea.  

This year marks the start of the comprehensive 15-year plans for moose, deer, bear and fur bearers like bobcat and fisher.  It will be a lot of multi-organizational work and will be worth it to keep these populations healthy, but what a lot of people, including myself, don’t know about are the programs and research that is being done now and throughout 2015 that will enrich the entire Maine outdoors.  There are 330 different species that need information updated on their habitat, the number of species in the overall population and geographical health across Maine.  From our fisheries and birds to the reptiles and the game and fur-bearers we love to hunt, IF&W has a lot of things happening that few of us know about but will surely impact all of us as outdoorsmen to some level.

Over the next year, I will be writing updates about the following projects (and more) to help shed light on what IF&W is doing behind the scenes for the Maine outdoors.  I will also be posting stories and more photos at my website, www.andastrongcupofcoffee.com.  The following is a quick list of some of the interesting projects happening around the state.


Wood Turtles – This multi-State project looks at the habitat range and the turtle’s dependency on rivers.

Black Bears - Satellite receivers will be put on a handful bears to track their range.

Bald Eagles – Biologist will be studying the impact of wind turbines on the bird’s flight patterns.

Ruffled Grouse – Tracking collars will be put on a few grouse in order to study their behavior and range.

Snowshoe Hare – Another region-wide study that will look at habitat and population numbers of hares.

Brown Trout in the Kennebec – For a second year, radio-tagged brown trout will be stocked in the area around Shawmut/Fairfield.  Using telemetry, fisheries biologists will track the fish to monitor their health and how they travel the river.

Landlocked Salmon – Along the entire stretch of the Crooked River, biologists will be studying and counting active nesting areas for nest health and location. The crooked is a major nursery for Sebago’s landlocked salmon fishery.

Togue – Munsungan Lake will also be using telemetry to monitor the population of togue and locate spawning shoals in order to monitor the number of togue and of salmon and keep the populations balanced and both populations healthy.

Brook Trout – Fisheries biologists at Nesowadnehunk Lake will be removing eggs and milt from native brook trout and bringing them to the hatchery where they will be raised and then released into ponds around Baxter Park.

These are just a handful of the quiet projects that are taking place across Maine in the next few months.  As we spend weekends in the ice shacks and rabbit hunting, biologists will be conducting these research projects to better the quality of wildlife and habitat that we have across the state.

Maine is fortunate to have such dedicated biologists who are eager to get out in the field, study the animals, birds, fish and reptiles that they love to give us a better wildlife experience regardless of if we are taking to the woods to hunt, the lakes to fish or just enjoying the outdoors to sightsee and nature watch.  As a hunter and lover of the outdoors, I can not wait to learn more and see firsthand the impact that these projects will have.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

My backyard

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best of 2014: My bear

As I was looking through photos of 2014 and printing some out, I couldnt help  but get nostalgic.  I had no intention of bear hunting a year ago.  I had actually told my Dad (a few times) that I had no desire to shoot a bear, didn't think I could like the meat and that it was just not in my wheel house.  Skip ahead a few months and with the invitation of Steve and Lorri, I learned how to prepare and set bait and went hunting.  Then, given the opportunity to hunt with hounds, I took a chance to learn more about it and came home with an incredible story and some delicious meat.

I may look calm but I was freaking out
Grateful
Look at those scars! I told the taxidermist that I want each one of them to be seen when I get the hide back
Such a great hunt
So big that it took 6 men or a tractor to move him




Thursday, December 18, 2014

A frozen selfie

You do "funny" things when you are a hunter. You willingly wake up at 4am.  You willingly spend hours tracking, sitting and walking and you willingly sit out in 0 degree weather waiting for an animal (coyote) in my case.  Some mornings, it is fun to document my questionable saneness and the last weekend of deer hunting season was one of those cases.  I never did get a coyote but night hunting for them starts this week!

Frozen Selfie



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Neighborwoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Robin

Monday, December 15, 2014

My goals for 2015

In 2015, I have a few goals that I am hoping to finally accomplish.

1. Get a turkey!  I came close last year, but I am hoping that the 3rd time is the charm.
2. Goose hunting.  I had plans last year that fell through so I am hoping to try that this year.
3. Catch a 'keep-able' fish.
4. Go bear hunting again.  I will never beat this year's hunt, but I can try.
5. Get that 8-pointer!
6. Go with biologists to a bear den.
7. Shoot a moose (this will be on my list each year until I do.)
8. Shoot a coyote.
9. Learn about trapping. I don't know if I will actually do it, but I want to go and see how it's done.

What else should I add to my list?


My too-small-to-keep salmon

Turkey hunting

My magnificent bear

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Karma is...

...having a deer bed down next to your tree stand.  This bed was about 15 feet from the bottom of my stand.  When I went out to see where the deer was that Hubby jumped, I noticed this.  The deer were everywhere the guys were, but they just couldn't make a connection. Maybe next year!






Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Cattails at Viles Arboretum, Augusta Maine





Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

This is an entrance to the Viles Arboretum, Augusta Maine.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Taking a pause

I do have a few blogs in the hopper that I am working to get out to you.  I was the only one who tagged out during deer season, but I was able to take some cool photos and will share some fun still hunting stories from Dad and Hubby's adventures but I am taking a pause for a minute to get refocused.

This Thanksgiving was the first without my Grandmother who died on September 27 - two months to the day before Thanksgiving.  The is the first grandparent that we have lost and it seemed odd to not have her there with us.  Then, after a short illness and x-rays that showed a tumor in the soft tissue at the base of the nasal cavity, we made the heartbreaking decision to put our dog down. 

Hubby tried to put in the effort, but his heart was just not in hunting after that.   It has been an emotional fall with a lot of loss that we are processing.

But know that I am writing (old school with paper and pen) and getting ready to get all of you caught up on the latest adventures and what I have planned for 2015!

Leah's resting spot - she can watch over the pond that she loved




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

The Maine woods



Monday, November 24, 2014

The skull of a bear

I got my skull back from Lori and Jim at New Frontier Taxidermy!  They are incredible.  Not only are they tanning my bear hide but they saved my skull.  Saved it!

A look into my bear's mouth
 One of the things that I did not want to tell people was that when my bear was getting cut up at the butcher's, his skull was cut.  I knew it was bad and the look on my guide's face was a give away for how bad it may be.  But, I had my bear head, hide and an extra bag with the back part of his skull in it that I took up to New Frontier Taxidermy for Lori and Jim.  I lied to people when they asked me about it and hoped against hope that Lori and Jim could but it back together.  I wanted a complete skull and if I could make it into the record books, that would be an added bonus.

This past weekend, I got my skull.  It is together but not complete. 

Not quite the same angle but close.
They had to wrap my skull and the additional piece in cheese cloth to make sure they would be able to find all of the pieces that they needed as they fleshed it out. Jim made me promise to never have that butcher touch any animal that I kill and then assured me that if the pieces were all there, he could rebuild it. I needed it to measure 18 inches in length and width to be a record book bear.

Check out those teeth - left side view

Are you ready for the "bad" views?

Right side - no cheek arch

There was no arch to find and glue back on to the skull.  You can also see the cut at the back of the skull where Lori and Jim reattached it to the main part of the head.  No cheek arch meant that the skull was unable to be measured, which meant no record book.

From the back

We didnt know it at the time, but the butcher had cut into the skull three times before my guide stopped him.  If he hadn't, it is clear that the skull would have been beyond repair.

Lori and Jim did an incredible job gluing the pieces back together and making sure that they got as much of it complete as they could.  I asked Lori when I picked it up if she thought that it would have hit 18 inches if the arch was there.  She started comparing it to other skulls on the table and guessed that mine would have measured 18 and 9/12 inches.  Given that she is a taxidermist, she knows her stuff and can break it down into fractions.  He would have made the record books! He is a record sized bear.

I save the deer antlers from the deer that I have shot and have a few sets mounted but I have never kept a deer skull (I might after seeing this bear) but I now have my bear skull.  It is not complete but it is still impressive.  I will have a bear skin rug with my bear's face and his awesome scars, that will be seen by my friends and family for years to come.  My grandkids will see and feel that bear and know the story.  This skull is a prop to tell the story with.  Every cut and missing piece is a part of the story of my bear hunt.  And I am ok with that.

My bear - 457lbs.  Shot Oct 13, 2014








Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.


A young bull moose






Monday, November 17, 2014

The big boys are still around

Well, I can still look at the photos right?  Since Dad and Hubby still need to fill their tags, we are still looking at the trail cameras to see which deer are around.  It is also fascinating to see how the deer change their behaviors as the season progresses and the rut starts.

Case in point - those two big 8-pointers that I want the guys to shoot, are still around! These are from a couple week ago.  I forgot to get the newer pictures from Saturday am when they walked through.


I have been chasing this second deer for two years now.  If the guys don't get him this year, I want to land him next year! Also, how funny that the two biggest deer around are within three minutes of one another in the woods.




Friday, November 14, 2014

Why We Hunt: Belonging

For those of you who live out of State or have not picked up the November issue of Downeast Magazine, here is my article online.  I would love to hear what you think about it.  Thanks!

Why We Hunt: Belonging





Thursday, November 13, 2014

Joining the movement of the National Deer Alliance

What happens when you tag out in the first 30 minutes of deer season?  You get bored and are done hunting.  Hubby and Dad both needed to be elsewhere last weekend so we stayed out of the woods.  This weekend though, I am going into the woods. I will bring my camera and play photographer but I may also bring my gun and look for some coyotes.  We know they are around - we saw a ton of high traffic areas in the snow recently.

The issue of coyotes came up recently in a weekly newsletter from the National Deer Alliance.  The NDA is a new organization that was started by hunters and managers at the North American Whitetail Summit.  The goal of the group is to get all deer hunters involved and talking about the issues facing the deer herd in each state.

From coyotes to Chronic Wasting Disease and habitat concerns to celebrating youth hunters... there are a lot of things that deer hunters should be talking about and sharing our concerns.  If you have not heard about NDA and don't receive their newsletter, sign up!  We need to have our voices heard when it comes to the animals that we care about.

And hopefully, next week, I will have a picture of a coyote to show you.  Can you imagine? A bear, deer and coyote all within a month (or so)?  We shall see!  I would also like Hubby or Dad to shoot one of those two nice 8-pointers that we know are still around. 

I may have tagged out ridiculously early, but I love deer season!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NeighborWoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.









Tuesday, November 4, 2014

One and done

As I walked into the woods with Dad, I noticed many more posted signs than in previous years.  And more than what had been there even two weeks before.  No one had signed them but they were clearly on the property next to ours.  We walked along the property line towards my treeseat.  It was raining hard enough so that I could see the drops flash in front of my headlight but I was in my wool pants and coat so I knew that I should be OK for the five hour sit that I had planned.

Dad waited until I had climbed up, got situated and clicked off my headlamp (it was a new purchase that I had made when I decided to go bear hunting and it was very useful now as we walked into the dark woods.)  I settled in and waited for day light to break on opening day of deer season!

I wasn't going to sit in this spot.  I had planned to be in the Sky Condo but after viewing the latest trail cam photos and seeing that 8-pointer make his first daylight appearance on Thursday morning, I decided to switch up my strategy.  And here I was.  Sitting in the rain, watching the light slowing come up and preparing for the new season.

Something moved off to my right and it took me a second to realize that it was - a flashlight! Someone was walking down the trail and coming towards me.  They were about 20 feet away when I flashed on my headlight.  I did not want some random hunter coming onto our property!

"You're on my property!" he yelled at me
"No.  My Dad owns this land" I answered back.
"Well... I own this property and I don't want to hear you shooting down here." He instructed me.

I didn't respond.  I was livid. I switched off my headlamp and sat there watching him make his way down the line of posted signs and into the woods, out of my sight.  I checked the time.  6:41am.  Legal time was 6:43am.  This jerk had blown it for me.  At the perfect time when deer start moving around, here was this guy walking through the woods and yelling at me.  Any deer nearby would have heard us.  My hunt was ruined.  I was furious.  Right then and there, I decided to shoot any legal deer that I saw.  I didn't care about waiting to get that 8-pointer, I was too mad after being told not to shoot anything.

I moved around a little in my seat.  I mean, why not? I clearly didn't need to worry about startling a deer.  I thought about getting down and walking to the Sky Condo to sit there with Hubby.  There was no point in me sitting here for the next five hours.  I was so mad!  How unsportsmanlike.  This was hunter harassment.  I was on my property!  If he truly owned the property and had put up the posted signs, he would have seen my seat in the tree - there was a new posted sign about 10 feet away from it.  And my seat been there for weeks now. 

My train of thought was broken by movement off to my left.  I saw an eye, then a head.  A deer!  It looked like a doe. Figures! (Only Dad has a doe permit this year).  Then I saw antlers.  I clicked off the safety to my gun and got in position.  I aimed into a clearing that Dad had made over the summer and waited.  This deer was in no hurry.  He was walking through the woods with his head down, slow and easy.  When he walked into the clearing, I made a bleat noise and squeezed the trigger, dropping him in his place.  It was 7:14am.

150lb crotch-horn shot at 7:14am on opening day.
I called Dad, who had heard the shot, knew it was me and was on his way.  I sent a text to Hubby to say that yes, that was me and that he should stay put in case another deer was passing through.  Then I made the traditional calls to my Mom and Grammie. 

I was still mad about getting yelled at.  I half expected this guy to come back out of the woods and yell at me again for firing my gun. He knew that I had shot and assuming that he would trespass on my land to see if he could find evidence, we left him the gut pile.

It was a family affair to get my deer out.  Dad and Hubby helped drag him out to the field and Grampa brought the tractor down to finish the job.  We tagged and weighed my deer - a nice 150lb crotch-horn - and got him hung up and ready to be butchered.

I shoot it, they haul it out of the woods.
I am a little sad that my deer season is over already but I will still go out and be the photographer for Hubby and Dad as well as look for the coyotes that we know are around.

My favorite hunting buddy - my Dad.
I am extremely excited and proud about the fact that in the past three weeks, our freezer went from empty to filled with bear meat and deer meat.  For me, that is one of the best things about hunting.





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why I love being a hunter

* The meat! There is nothing better than butchering and eating meat from an animal that you killed

* Sitting in the woods for hours with no technology The sun, the honking geese in the fields, the eff'n squirrels... and no office walls.

* Watching wildlife in their natural habitat I love watching does and fawns playing when they have no idea that I am in the tree nearby. Only well-behaved squirrels can hang out with me in the tree though.

* Spending time with my Dad =)

* Breaking the stereotypes of what a hunter looks like Yes, those are 4 inch heels that I am wearing

* Breaking the stereotypes of how a hunter acts Go bear hunting then listen to Alec Baldwin host the New York Philharmonic, yes please!

* Meeting and connecting with other great hunters There are a lot of awesome people in Maine and around the US who are passionate about hunting and are sharing their experiences.

* The meat! Worth being mentioned twice!  On a cold snowy day having a nice bear or deer roast in the crockpot is heaven... yum!







Monday, October 27, 2014

Sportswoman's Alliance

Nov 2014 Downeast Magazine
A few months ago, I was asked to write an article for Downeast Magazine about what it means to be a woman who hunts.  I was excited about the opportunity and eagerly sat down to write what I knew would be the widest seen piece of my career.  It took me a month to come up with the article, edit it and edit it again but it was submitted and I felt good about it.
Then, I was asked to do a photo shoot for the article that would be me and a few friends in the city.  It was a perfect depiction of what hunters look like compared to the perception that non-hunters (and maybe a few hunters) view as a hunter.

My friends Lorri, Jenn and Melissa agreed to be in the shoot with me. 


Seeing the finished photo and my article in print and to be able to hold it is surreal!  I am excited to hear what people think about it.  If you can, please go out and get a copy.  There are great stories about hunting heritage, traditions and explanations (including some great financial stats) about how hunting impacts Maine. 

The published photo





Thursday, October 23, 2014

New photos show deer in the rut

This could be the best season ever when it comes to trail cam photos of the deer around the Sky Condo.  Hunter or not, how can you not love and respect these great animals?!  I can not wait until deer season starts.






Monday, October 20, 2014

In search of the iconic Maine moose

It rained.  Rained hard and the wind blew.  It was anything but ideal for finding moose in the Maine woods.  But Brian, Jenn and I knew that the weather was going to be clear and with some rain gear, we were off for an adventures.  Last year, I was spoiled; beautiful calm weather and moose first thing in the morning.  This year, our normal 4:30am start was pushed back to 10am.

About an hour after we left, we were winding down dirt roads heading further into the woods. We pulled into an old skidder road, grabbed our cameras and were off.  The sun had finally come out but the wind was still whipping through the trees and causing bursts of leaves to drop from their branches. 
Brian calling for moose
We walked along the trail, stopping every once in a while to call and attempt to listen between gusts of wind.  It was turning out to be a beautiful fall day and we had high hopes for seeing some wildlife.  The first chopping that we came to was beautiful - the photo does not do it justice - with Black Spruce below us, hardwoods to our left, swamp to our right.  If the day had started off nicer, this would be prime moose territory.


Brian called a few times and we listened hard to hear grunts or bellows when the wind would die down but it was apparent that no moose were coming in to see what was going on.  We headed back to the main roadway and continued on into some boggier areas.


Three years ago when Dad was drawn for a moose permit and we were searching for our moose, he would take me down these paths and down some even thicker and I was sure he was out of his mind.  Spaces that deer seemed too big for, would have great moose sign.  It still amazes me how animals with huge antlers can get through places like this without getting stuck. 

Brian began pointing out places on the trees that had been rubbed by moose.  Similar to deer, moose will make rubs to leave scent, get velvet off or to relieve some frustration.  The tree had this great rub at the bottom and several smaller nicks all the way to the top that were probably made by the tines further out on the antlers.
Jenn and I checking out the moose rub
We walked and walked and walked looking for moose and hoping to hear a call back in response to one of Brian's but nothing came.  We headed back to the truck for lunch and to move on to a new spot. 

As the afternoon wore on, we tried a couple different spots and could not get a moose to call back to us.  Brian wanted to try one specific clearing before we called it a night and headed home.  The temperature was steadily dropping and the sun was beginning to set.  The moon was high and bright and the wind was finally gone.

We stopped along the edge of the clearing and sat down on a couple of stumps.  Brian started calling.  We listened and kept scanning the tree line for movement.  When he called a few minutes later, Brian heard the first response.  He started pointing behind us and Jenn and I moved to get out of the open.  Brian called again and this time, I heard the muffled grunt.  I looked off to my left and saw the antlers coming through the trees, along the same path we had taken to come in.

It was a young bull and he came within 30 feet of us.  He was not scared but seemed more curious as to what was making the noises of a moose but didnt look like a moose.  Jenn and I snapped frantically trying to get the best shots.  In the end, Brian was the one who snapped these great photos.


We stood there for about 30 minutes with this young bull as he checked us out, moved away from us, came back to check on us and eventually headed off into the woods below the ridge we were on.

It was exciting to have one so close and the payoff, after hours of hearing nothing, was great!  Brian came through with a wonderful adventure in the woods and great photos of this young bull moose.  You never know what kind of adventure you will have in the Maine woods!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A once in a lifetime Black Bear

I was glad that I had brought extra layers when we stepped into the 29 degree October air.  It was going to be a perfect hunting day with bright sun, cool temps and a great view that showed off Maine's fall foliage.

Tim Cote of Cote & Sons Guide Service was taking me out on a guided bear hunt with his friends Al, Scott and Scott's two boys.  And Tim's six Walkers, pups Boy and Lady, Jill, Emma, Garth and Moose.  We headed for the Maine woods when it was still dark out and as the first light was breaking, we turned off the paved road and started to head deeper into the woods on some old dirt roads.  Tim let the dogs out to stretch and run around the truck as we slowly drove down the road.

I was taking in the view and talking to Tim when the dog's demeanor changed and they began to bark. First one, then two, then all of them were barking and running up the mountain and into the thick forest Maine in known for.  Tim pulled out the GPS to see where the dogs were.  We watched them run as Tim explained that each dog has their own GPS collar that allows him to see where they are, how far away they are and he can make sure they do not go onto the paved roads and into any potential danger.  In the 19 years that Tim has been raising and hunting with dogs, he has used technology and thorough training to make sure that none of his dogs were seriously hurt on hunts.  He has never lost a dog.

Listening to their barks change and watching their location on the GPS, Tim announced, "They have a bear." He showed me on the GPS where the dogs were and in what position they were in.  For example, Moose was sitting, "Because he likes to sit back and look up at the bear."  Emma and Boy were at the base of the tree with their front paws on the tree and their back paws on the ground.  They may have had a bear in the tree but was it a sow with cubs? was it a cub? or a small bear that would be too small to shoot?  And would the bear stay there?  There were a lot of variables in play.

We drove slowly up the road until we came to a washout and had to pack up our gear and start hiking.  I was focused more in my awe of these incredible dogs than I was the realization that we were hiking towards a bear.  The sun was totally up now and the cool air felt good as all of us hiked up and up and up, bushwhacking for most of the way.  The dog's barks were getting louder and louder but I could not see them.  Tim stopped in front of me and pointed up, "There's your bear."  All I could see was a black blob in the Maple tree.  We were slow and cautious as we walked up to the tree.
"That is a nice bear"
"That's a good bear"
"He's a shooter!"

I had seen bear before on two occasions; once when I was in grad school and a sow and cub came to eat at the bird feeder and once when I went out with Randy Cross to tag bear cubs.  I had no way of being able to size up the bear that was now in the tree in front of me. Tim and I walked around the tree until I could get a broadside shot.  While Tim, Al and Scott tied up the dogs, I found a spot and settled in.  "When we pull the dogs back, if the bear starts to come down, you need to shoot" Tim advised.  I was nervous.  I am not religious, but I said a prayer for a good, clean shot that would instantly kill the bear and feed my family.  With the dogs still barking, but tied up behind me and everyone safely out of the way, I found my spot, took a breath and squeezed the trigger. 

I remember hearing Al off to my right telling me to jack another bullet into the chamber.  Tim stepped out from my left and yelled to hold.  I watched as the bear let go of the tree and landed on the ground.  I cried.

Right after I shot my bear
The emotion that came from a successful hunt and the respect for the animal I had just harvested got to me.  The dogs had worked hard to be able to give me the opportunity to harvest that incredible animal.  Tim and his group had put in hour upon hour, week after week and month after month of work to train his dogs and pull those big bears from the depths of the woods.  I was extremely grateful to all of them.  I looked at my bear in awe.  He was beautiful and I kept shaking my head, unable to believe that I had just shot him.



Tim Cote and me
We pulled to tooth to turn into Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.  They will let me know how old he was.
After we took photos and guessed how much he weighed (best guess was 350-400lbs), we marked the GPS with the bear's location and headed back to the truck with the dogs, to get the 4-wheeler, Jet Sled and more man power.  Tim's son Devon came along with his friend Julian and Tim's friend Dave.  We all hiked back up, took some more pictures and got the bear in the Jet Sled.  The guys were a well organized machine.  Scott drove the 4-wheeler, Al, Dave, Tim, Devon and Julian all took turns moving blowdowns and rocks from our path and helping to keep the bear in the sled.  It was an impressive operation, with all six men bringing my bear down to the truck.


We finally got the bear down from the mountain and onto the back of the truck.  Then it was off to the tagging station to see just how much this bear weighed.

It was a proud moment to walk into the tagging station and ask to register and weigh MY bear. Two couples came over to look him and I was able to talk to them about why we needed them to Vote NO on the referendum.  We removed a tooth and gave it to the guy processing my tag, so that he could pass it on to be aged by Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (we are guessing that my bear is 8-10 years old). Finally, it was the moment of truth. The 350-400lb guess was blown out of the water when the scale started climbing, climbing, climbing... all the way up to 457! This beautiful creature that I was lucky enough to harvest was also one hell of a Black Bear. 

Our fifteen hour day finally ended at Dave Finocchietti's butcher shop Dave's Deer Cutting in Gray.  Tim and I had said goodbye to everyone who was with us throughout the day and we stood talking with Dave as he began to skin my bear.  Under his long, thick pelt was about 5-6 inches of white jiggly fat.  My bear was impressive even while being butchered.
I had not intended to go bear hunting with hounds... I had not intended to go bear hunting at all this season (or ever) but circumstances and opportunities had paved the way for me to learn what it means to set out bait, hunt over bait, learn about trapping and now, learn what it meant to hunt bear with hounds. And I got a magnificent, once-in-a-lifetime bear.