At Chauncy Bakers Funeral my good friend Donny Keefe who drove from Boston, Ma, and who loved Chauncy, told me of a buddy of his that has a cabin up in Maine that he uses for bear hunting and asked me if I would like to go. I said Donny you don’t even hunt, the last time I saw you with a gun I had to take it away from you to stop you from shooting yourself (long story but he wasn’t contemplating suicide it was stuck on his thumb and he feared that it might go off). Well plans were laid and we said that we would go between the end of September and early October very generally speaking(Like it was even going to happen) then low and behold the call came from Gerry Murphy Donny’s bear hunting friend and he thought the 5th of September would be a good time to start and we would stay for a week. Now Gerry said the cabin had running water installed last year so all we had to do was bring a towel and bedding. “Oh Boy” I so was looking forward to using an outhouse.
My initial thought was that I would hunt and Donny would play at cabin boy or something so when he called me and asked “What kind of gun should I get to hunt with??, Billy”. I was shocked but thought that if Donny wants to hunt so be it, he never use to play golf and now he has a place in Naples in a golf community and plays all the time and is a 25 handicap so why not. I told Donny not to buy a gun he would never use it again he could use one of mine. After fifty questions and lots of yelling at each other Donny figured that one of my guns might just be good enough. I arrive in Newton, Ma on Friday Night the 5th and stayed at Donny’s house. We drove about 4hours north and met some friends of Donny played golf stayed at AL’s place and had a great day and swimming in the morning on the lake, pontoon ride and a coffee cruise this lake was beautiful and just into Maine. We then drove up to Murphy’s Bear lodge, we hunted between Sherman and Millinocket about 30 miles from Gerry’s.
Donny practiced shooting at a gravel pit they used for a shooting range and did pretty good considering he never shot before. We Hunted in Ladder stands the first 4 days with little success the bears were there but we would leave at 1900 hours and they were there at 2000 hrs., Midnight, 0400 and then not till 2000 again we had 8 or nine different bears on the trail cameras but none came in while we were in the stands.
Meanwhile back at the ranch Gerry who is a guide, works with Mike and Mark who are guides with dogs and were busy and successful every day with hunters from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Gerry figured that if we didn’t get one from the stands by Thursday we should try a dog hunt on Friday because Mike and Mark didn’t have any hunters on Friday and agreed to take us on.
Friday 0430 we are up and in the trucks going to a different hunting area some thirty miles the other way from where we were hunting from. Donny is in the truck with Mike and his dogs and I am in the truck with Mark and his dogs, both of us hunting in different directions to keep the dogs seperate. Donny and Mike quickly got onto a bear and were following the dogs via gps collars there was lots of excitement and chasing in the truck trying to get close with the truck, finally the dogs treed the bear and they had to travel the last 1000 yds by foot through a very thick swampy bottom land. Gerry joined them with a fistful of dog leashes to get the dogs out Donny got to a good vantage point and shot his bear right in the head. When I saw him he was very excited about his bear and he loved the hunt but said the he got his bear first (0930) so he won the bet. We started arguing about the terms of the bet I said the bet was for the biggest bear and he said it was the first after much discussion he casually asked me why I didn’t have a bear yet?
Mark and I got his dogs onto a bear that had been at the bait at 0500 and the trail cam showed a 250-300 lbs bear and Mark had put two dogs onto it at first and we were waiting for the dogs to get on the bear. Ervin the guy who had the lease on the property we were hunting drove up and told Mark he saw where the bear had crossed the road. Mark looking at his gps said the bear hadn’t crossed the road, just then one of Marks dogs came back and now Mark didn’t have any confidence that the remaining dog was even on a bear so we went to where Ervin saw the tracks and we followed them right down the middle of the road for about 1/2 mile and the saw where it went into the woods and Mark got his dogs on the fresh sent and we were off. Driving miles to roads that really weren’t roads only old lumber paths and going back and forth and running up and down the lumber paths on foot hoping the bear would show himself, back to the truck and off to another road and running down another path and it looked like the bear was going to cross the path so I was in position only 10 feet from where we thought the bear was going to come out, the bear appeared and I got a shot at him only 10yrds from me. This was about 1030, the bear appeared to be hit he stopped in the thick woods for about an hour and wouldn’t move so we went in after him, the bear started moving again and appeared to be going back to the bog/swamp area where we first started.
Back in the truck I said to mark that that bear sure looked bigger than three hundred pounds and he said maybe 400 lbs so off we go Mark said he doubted the bear would cross a road again, he was heading back to the creeks bottoms and we would have to go in and get him. Sure enough Mark was right the bear was in the bog for good just coming within 200 yards of any the roads surrounding the swamp. Mark described the area as maybe some waist deep muck and I told Mark if its waist deep he would be on his own. About noon we went into get the bear and at the time we entered he was about 800yrds away and after about an hour we worked our way to within fifty yards and it was hard for two guys traveling in so thick a swamp to be quiet we worked our way to within twenty yards and I saw the bear and was about to shoot again but a dog got between me and the bear so I didn’t fire, the bear saw us and smelled us and was soon 800 yards away again we worked our way towards him again but to no avail. It was 1630 when Mark and I got out of the swamp and back to his truck.
Mark, Mike, Gerry and I discussed our strategy and we agreed that I probably wasn’t going to get this bear if we didn’t set a trap for him so Gerry and I went back into the swamp to flush him out and Mike was on the West side of the bog and Mark was on the East Gerry and I went in and got within fifty yards of the bear and sure enough the bear was heading towards Mark and was getting close to him and then he suddenly turned and went towards Mike and he shot the bear at about 15 yards in the head and finally killed the bear it was about 1730.
We had to get chain saws and Ervin’s 4wheeler with a bear sled to get the bear out, it was a tremendous amount of work and effort to get the bear out we finally got it into the truck at about 2100 about a 16 1/2 hour hunt
Mike, Mark and Gerry agreed that his bear would be one for the record books so we didn’t gut out the bear they wanted actual weight. The bears head was 20 inches which gets it into the Boone and Crocket books and gets into the State of Maine books also Mark who is a taxidermist also is going to do a full body mount on the bear. The scale that we weighed the bear on only went to 550 lbs and it was pegged so we can only say it was in in excess of 550lbs.
It was a thrilling experience and a great hunt pictures are attached