Every game animal in Maine is more elusive, harder to track, or more difficult to shoot than a black bear once it’s begun. A bear is never caught unaware, since his mental and physical responses have an almost uncanny sense of smell and are stronger than chain lightning.
The best month to hunt black bear in northern Maine is October, since it is the month they are finding cozy winter quarters and are preparing to build up excess fat in anticipation of a long coming nap.
If the beechnuts are plentiful, walk slowly along the ridges of the hardwoods, not up the ridges, but where the black growth mingles with the hardwoods. Move in your face, with water. Be cautious. When the bear you ‘re hunting detects or hears you, he’ll certainly head for unknown parts without any preliminary motions. He’s not going to quit searching, so once you’ve started, you may as well find a needle in a haystack as trying to locate it that day.
If you think the oak trees leaves look new in small stacks or windrows and signs, sit down for a well-hidden spot and stay on the lookout. Stay there for about five minutes then continue along the edge of the same ridge on your way. Look closely at the “green middle stump” as you move along, for sometimes black bears are such “stumps.”
If there is some location where a forest fire has happened, and thus acres of blackened trees and stumps, walk around the edge of the sites. Bears like to hunt for grubs, and for just these morsels, you can see one tearing a stump apart …
One of Maine’s most prolific bear hunters limits its operations to lumber camps in the area. The location where the garbage of the camp is thrown away is looked at carefully. When signs suggest that bears often forage on the garbage the hunter climbs to a tree near the spot and awaits Bruin ‘s visit. He hunts only in the afternoon, climbing around two o’clock into his tree perch, and staying there until dusk.
Bears enjoy going up and down the old tote and logging roads, but slowly sail along and sometimes sit down – and trust in luck. Hunting the black bear is just a matter of chance anyway. You may be hunting for twenty years and not see one sight or you might see one on a hardwood ridge on the first day.
You have to really be a good rifleman to reach a running bear. He looks like a moving barrel in full flight and he flies much faster than you think he ‘s capable of.