I have a geography riddle for you. Where can you find aspen trees, loons, pine martins, fishers, moose, bear, ruffed and spruce grouse, delicious seafood, brook trout, L.L. Bean, Mt Katahdin, and the Kittery Trading Post………. You guessed it MAINE!
Labor Day weekend is a long weekend and most people spend it giving summer one last fling. For Jim and me it was the kickoff to hunting season. We headed to Patten Hunting Lodge in Patten Maine to hunt black bear with Mr. Bill Finney.
The weather could not have been better for the two day drive, blue bird skies and sunshine. Hurricane Earl was headed up the coast, the closer we got to Maine the more the wind picked up. Other than that it was smooth sailing and there was nothing but great weather forecast for the next week we would be hunting.
Jim and I had decided to treat this hunting trip more like a vacation so we took our time going up. Our first stop was in Hershey PA, the street lights are shaped like Hershey kisses and it smells so good you could lick the streets and let’s not forget Chocolate World, have mercy.
Our second stop was in Freeport Maine, the home of L.L. Bean. Freeport is a coastal town and of course we had to find the best seafood they had to offer. We ask the lady at the front desk of our hotel where the locals ate and she gave us directions to the wharf. We ate at the Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster and it was amazing to say the least. We also enjoyed the town of Freeport and L.L. Bean, if you are ever in Maine these places are a must see.
We headed to Patten Maine on Sunday morning; it’s only three hours from Freeport. When we arrived at Patten Hunting Lodge we were met by Bill, his lady friend Linda who is also the camp dietary technician and textile manager and the other hunters we would be spending the week with. We had four hunters from Pennsylvania, Vincent Kosmack, Jeff Patrick, John and George. Bob and Nick Gieringer were from Gray Maine and Rob Newcomb and his wife Deb from Weaverville North Carolina. We spent the afternoon getting to know everyone and deciding where to go for supper. On the day of arrival hunters come so staggered they do not serve supper at the lodge. Bill gave us some great suggestions in town to eat and Jim and I loaded up and headed to Bill’s number 1 pick of Craig’s Clam Shack. We were joined by Bob and Nick, enjoyed their company and the seafood did not disappoint either.
Monday we headed to the stand at 2:30pm, sunny 68 degrees with a little wind. I climbed the stand slowly and quietly and quickly got set up. I placed the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrows on the string and put the QAD Ultra Rest in the capture position with my 100 grain M-X 3 Muzzy broad head at the ready. I saw one bear, it came in at 5:30 and stood under my stand for about a minute then left the way it came, it did this twice. The bear came back again at last light on a trail to my left. There was a small clearing that he went through at the speed of light to the bait, he walked behind the barrel, sat on a log, turned the barrel around and ate his fill. All I could see was the barrel and his feet sticking out from under it. I did not have a shot with my Mathews Z-7 until it was too dark to see the pins on my Sure-Loc Max ST rear movable sight.
The first night did prove to be memorable though, Rob Newcomb harvested an awesome boar with his AR bow. The bear weighed 455 lbs and the skull green scored 20 10/16. Rob and his wife Deb had sold their house the beginning of the summer and decided to travel for a year or two in their 5th wheel camper. He had hunted with Bill about 10 years ago and decided to come back for another bear hunt. He was glad he did.
Bob also shot a bear at last light that weighed over 125 lbs. Jim did not see a bear but did see a “herd” of twenty five or thirty grouse. Several of the other hunters saw bear but they also came in at last light with no shot opportunity.
Our second day was overcast, a few showers, windy. One of the great things about bear hunting with Bill is that it is very laid back. He likes to hunt afternoons due to the fact that going out in the morning when its wet leaves too much scent on the ground. So in camp, breakfast is from 6:00am-8:00am and then you can do whatever you want until early afternoon when you head to the woods. Linda packs everyone a bag lunch you can eat whenever you want and then there is a full supper when you get in from hunting.
Jim and I took full advantage of having mornings free. After breakfast we would hop in the truck and go exploring. We were only 30 miles from the New Brunswick border, we didn’t have our passports so we couldn’t go into Canada, well we could have drove in but they would not have let us out. The pace in Maine is much different than here, it is slower and the people there are very friendly, even though they thought our North Carolina accent was amusing.
After an afternoon in the woods we all headed back at the lodge for supper and this had to be one of my favorite times of the day. All the hunters were great and the comic relief of Jeff, Vinnie and Bob was almost more than our sides and jaws could take from the laughing. Dinner conversation was great especially when a bear was harvested. John harvested a bear this afternoon and it was the only bear checked into the station that day.
Day three we woke to a very stormy morning. We ate breakfast and hoped the lightning and rain would let up so we could go hunt. The storm subsided around lunch and we were all eager to get to the woods.
I saw one yearling cub around 4:30. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and there he was walking a down fall just to the right of my treestand. He walked to the end of it and came back up to where he was directly across from my treestand.
He then stepped off the down fall and walked out the trail I had walked in on, he didn’t have a care in the world. He was small, maybe 50lbs, to small to shoot. I also had a sow with two yearling cubs and two tiny cubs from this year; they came under my stand and just stood there for what seemed forever. My stand was only 10ft off the ground so I sat motionless. They were checking the wind with their noses and they eased back out the way they came in. I was hoping they would circle and return but they didn’t. Jim saw five bears tonight. One even decided to bite the 4th rung up on his ladder stand just to let him know they knew he was there. Needless to say we had great dinner conversation every night.
Thursday I didn’t have any bears come in but I had a very amusing afternoon thanks to the red squirrels and the Boone and Crocket sized chipmunks. Okay, I guess it’s time for me to come clean and tell on myself a little. For some reason I have this vendetta on squirrels. They are my nemesis! I want to kill one with my bow so bad I can hardly sit still when they come within range. Yes, I know plenty of you have harvested squirrels with your bow but they seemed to have a sixth sense and do moves that you would only see in the movie the Matrix just as my arrows gets to them.
When we walked into my site this afternoon Rob baited and actually slid the barrel over a few feet and turned it. Well, guess what, Mr. Red Squirrel could not run up the snag and jump in the barrel anymore. The hole was too far around and he would thump into the side of the barrel and slide off. He decided that if he did it faster he would succeed, so up the snag, jump, thump, splat on the ground, up the snag, jump, thump, splat the ground. He did this 4 times in fast succession with no luck. He then ran up the snag across the pole and just sat there heaving his little lungs out. I was laughing so hard I thought I would fall out of my treestand, thank goodness for the hunter safety system. Apparently Mr. Tree Rat knew I was laughing at him and cut loose with a tapestry of squirrelly obscenities that went on for five minutes. He finally faced his defeat and slipped into the woods to lick his wounds.
I was amused by the squirrels and chipmunks that came to the barrel for their afternoon snack everyday and the WWE smack down that ensued. I have never in my life wanted to cut a squirrel off of a barrel so bad but knew if I did I would ruin my hunt. So I was at their evil mercy.
Rob came to pick me up at dark and we drove the 8/10 of a mile to pick up Jim. He had bears at his sight so Rob walked in to get him. It is better to spook a bear by walking in instead of educating them to the treestand. I stayed at the truck, I am still recovering from knee surgery and didn’t want to take a chance on tripping on a root or step in a hole in the dark.
When Rob and Jim arrived at the truck Jim opened the door and I ask him if he saw anything. He tried to play cool but the smile on his face gave him away. He said “I saw several bears” I looked at him and said, “You shot one didn’t you”? The hugs and high fives were flying; he was still shaking so hard he couldn’t get his back pack off. We gave Jim time for his knees to recover from being noodles and walked back in to see if we could find the blood trail and his bear.
The bear was easy to track and was found about 20 yards from the stand. The beautiful big sow weighted 203lbs and they thought she was about 10 years old. Jim had seen 6 bears and said the bears came right back in after he shot. No one else harvested today but a few of the other hunters saw bear
Friday, last day of the hunt it was rainy and there was a cold wind and the temps were in the lower 50’s. I sat in Jim’s stand this afternoon in hopes that the bears would be back and his set up would give me 10 more minutes of light over my previous location. I was hoping I could pull out one of those last day last minutes miracles.
The rain stopped not long after I got on stand but the wind began to howl at 4:30. I was having flash backs of a stand I nicknamed the ‘Little tea pot’ in S.C. The wind blew so hard that it felt like you were going to be tipped over and poured out. I called Jim right at dark and told him to walk in and get me. In the windy conditions the bears could be all over you and you would never hear them coming.
Not being able to run makes you think smarter. After I called him I looked back at the barrel and thought I saw something. It was so dark it was hard to tell until they moved, it was two small bears. One hit the barrel and the other walked up and sat at the edge of the trail to watch for danger but I could only make out faint silhouettes. When Jim and Rob walked in they spooked the bears and we walked out to the truck. No bears were harvested today. Camp count was 3 bears harvested and all but one of the hunters had a shot opportunity but decided to wait for larger bears.
Ladies, I know you are always looking for great hunting camps and outfitters that will treat you with respect. Look no further than Patten Hunting Lodge. You won’t regret going to this great camp. Bill and Linda were more than willing to accommodate all the hunters and their separate needs.
This was an amazing trip, our first bear hunt but it won’t be our last. You really have to hone your bowhunting skills and be quiet and still to get the bears to come in. Jim and I saw the most bears; I saw 7 and Jim had a total of 10.
I highly recommend a hunt with Bill Finney and Patten Hunting Lodge. If you are looking for a quality bear hunt, great pricing, and a knowledgeable guide, book a hunt with Bill Finney at Patten Hunting Lodge, he has over 30 years experience. He offers both bait and hunts with hounds, which is his passion. If you hunt once with Bill you will book again.
To book a hunt call:
Patten Hunting Lodge
Bill Finney (owner)
Or you can find of his information on our website on the preferred outfitters page www.teamfrady.com
Mathews Danner Boot Manzella Gloves
Real Tree Camo Nikon Sports Optics Limbsaver
Tru-Ball QAD Ultra Rest Carbon Express Arrows
Sure-Loc Muzzy Products