If you like to hunt and consume what you eat, but have never hunted bear in Maine, you have been missing out.

For a number of years, Diane and I baited and hunted our own bear sites up north. We have hunted a number of critters from Maine to Colorado, but the Maine bear hunts will always stand out as some of our most exciting and enjoyable hunts.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

Diane still looks back fondly on the hunts and the bear she bagged from a ground blind overlooking a dark, mossy swamp. It was a young bear and the meat, which we took particular care with, was as good as wild meat gets.

One of my sisters, who says she doesn’t care for wild meat, unknowingly dined on bear in one of Diane’s bear-burger lasagnas. Our guest smacked her lips and came back for seconds.

Beyond the kill itself, there is a time-tested hunt regimen that has an attraction all its own. Spending quiet moments in a treestand overlooking an active bait site in the fading fall afternoon is an elixir of anticipation and excitement mixed with a soft blend of September solitude and long dancing shadows as the sun lowers and the magic hour descends.

Baiting your own sites requires a lot of advance work and can be time-consuming. First-time bear hunters might consider engaging a Maine bear guide. According to the state, 65% of harvested bears were taken with the help of a licensed guide. Check out the bear outfitters ads in a recent copy of the Northwoods Sporting Journal or the Maine Sportsman.

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A recent press release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will help you count the reasons why a fall bear might be considered in your future fall hunt plans:

• Bear hunting helps keep the population at a number where bears and their environment stay healthy.

• Going on a bear hunt is a great way to enjoy nature, get some exercise, and spend quality time outdoors with friends and family.

• For those who find late autumn hunts too chilly, the mild temperatures of a bear hunt might be just right.

• You might be rewarded with wholesome, locally sourced, free-range lean protein, which, if handled properly, is excellent to eat.

• Registered Maine guides are happy to bring hunters at any skill level on this true Maine adventure.

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• While you are out bear hunting, you can scout for other species such as deer or moose.

Here are the dates for this year’s bear hunts:

• Youth hear hunting day: Aug. 27

• General bear hunting: Aug. 29-Nov. 26

• Hunting with bait: Aug. 29-Sept. 24

• Bear trapping: Sept. 1-Oct. 31

• Hunting with dogs: Sept. 12-Oct. 28

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at [email protected]


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