Skip to main content

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.



Comments

  1. Congratulations! What a long day. The hardest work begins when the animal hits the ground.

    ReplyDelete
  2. great Job! and good story too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tom! It was an amazing experience.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations! That is a beauty of a bear! Hunting with hounds is on my bucket list so let's vote No on 1! A lot of respect for the effort that those guides put in! (Hunters too of course!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris. It was an incredible hunt and I was so lucky to have been successful. Tim and his hounds worked hard and I really appreciate all of the behind the scenes work that they did to allow me to have a great hunt. Vote no!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The unlikely bear hunter

Jesse Phillips had no intention of bear hunting.  He was along for the ride with friend and host of Blood Origins , Robbie Kroger, who was on his annaul bear hunt with Grove Hill Outfitters .  Being convinced that he should go hunt, Jesse grabbed the 45-10 and headed into a treestand.  He wore his cowboy boots, jeans and flannel, "the only thing I didn't do was put on deoterant" Jesse laughed.  Climbing up into the stand a little before 2pm, he held no expectations for seeing his first bear in the wild.  He was doing this just to apease the guys in camp.  At 4:02, a bear appeared. "He was about 40 yards away," explained Jesse, "and he was just walkeding around, sniffing and eating.  He wasn't interested in the bait at all."  Watching the bear, Jesse knew he needed to remain calm. He was in no position to move his gun and take a shot without the bear spooking. The bear walked in and out of the opening with no intention of heading to the bait. Jesse

Conservation organizations need your help NOW

As we plan for 2021, we know that we will not be attending sportsman’s shows.  We won’t be able to catch up with fellow hunters, trappers and anglers and we won’t be spending money on all of those raffle tickets.  And that is hurting hunting organizations – a lot. Many outfitters and organizations rely on the foot traffic that these shows provide to help get reach more people which helps to draw more donations.  Businesses rely on shoppers to buy the cast iron, jackets, wooden carvings, jerky and more but we will not there to make those purchases next year.  And while everyone is still feeling the pinch of the pandemic and a changing world, we need to make sure that these organizations have what they need to continue with their mission because it is so important to the hunting and outdoor world.   Some of the organizations that could use your support: I would be remiss if I didn't start off with my organization. A couple of friends and I started  Women of the Maine Outdoors

Grateful for the community

I am technically an adult-onset hunter.   I started when I was twenty after watching Dad hunt every fall and deciding that I wanted to see what it was all about – and that killing your own meat was not a bad thing. If you had asked me (or dad) to imagine what the next decade and a half would be like, I guarantee you neither of us would have pictured this! As I write this, I have just hung up the phone with Taylor and Mark Drury. Throughout deer season, I will be writing up all of the Drury family hunts that will be featured on DeerCast (make sure you have the app or the website bookmarked!) I am also going to continue interviewing hunters from across the country and Canada that have taken amazing deer. Just like last year when I got to f eature Wayne Bernier  from Allagash Adventures after he dropped his amazing 200lb, 20 point buck with a 31 inch spread! The fact that I get to do this blows my mind. I get to share a mutual love and excitement over hunting with so many people and