G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Columnist
Aaron Brown of South Shore recalls fondly those southern Ohio squirrel hunts and fishing trips that his father, Terry, took him and his older brother on in the days when they were growing up.
“Dustin and I both have families and responsibilities now, and with him living in South Dakota it’s hard for us to get together and enjoy those times in the outdoors like we had as kids,” said
Aaron, 31. “We’re all growing older and we figured that if we were going to be able to realize taking the trip my father had talked about for so long we’d better do it now.”
The three of them talked it over and decided to go on that trip – a black bear hunt in the wilds of Maine.
They made arrangements with Joe Bowen of Tomah Mountain Outfitters. Bowen lives in North Carolina but leases land around Topsfield, Maine to run his guide service.
Aaron and his father drove straight through from South Shore to Lincoln, the closest town to Topsfield. They arrived Sept. 4 and weren’t due in camp until Sunday, Sept. 6.
Dustin flew from South Dakota and they would pick him up late Sunday night at the airport in Bangor.
While waiting the two rented a motel room. On Saturday they took their fishing poles to the closest body of water they could find, the Penobscot River.
Fishing from the shore with a topwater lure, Aaron immediately battled in a 30-inch northern pike.
At the mouth of a little stream, he found that smallmouth bass fell in live with that topwater lure. He landed several
over the next hour, including one smallie that was 21 inches long and weighed 4 pounds.
“With fishing like that, I had a hard time concentrating on the upcoming bear hunt,” Aaron said.
He and his father drove into camp Sunday morning. The arrangements the outfitter, Bowen, had made were perfect. They
stayed in the Lake Cabin, which was right on the shore of East Musquash Lake.
Sunday night they made the 90-mile drive over to Bangor to pick up Dustin, and Monday morning the hunts for the wild bears began. They had the full week to fill their expectations.
Each day’s hunt began at 11 a.m. with lunch.
Joe Bowen asked the blessing on the meal and prayed for success for the hunters.
Then they were driven to their respective sites, hoping a bear would show at the bait below their tree stands. They would hunt until one-half hour after sunset before being picked up by the guides.
Monday and Tuesday were long, uneventful days in the stand.
“The forest is really dense with trees and it’s difficult to see in the shadows of near-darkness,” Aaron said. “Monday I lay on my back on the ground at the pickup point and looked up at a billion stars. I thought I could see bears in the trees and my heart was pounding out of my chest.”
Each morning he was up to watch the sun come up, He fished the lake until time to head out for the stands. He caught plenty of smallmouth but nothing like the big one he landed from the river.
Wednesday, at 7:05 p.m., Aaron shot a 180-pound sow. The bear ran off after the shot. The guide picked him and other hunters up. Then six of them searched for the wounded bear. Aaron’s father discovered the blood trail in the beam of his flashlight. The tracked the bear into some dense
brush and the guides decided it would be best to come back in daylight.
He and Dustin and a guide were out searching at 6 a.m. About 200 yards beyond where they have left off in the night, they found the bear, dead.
Aaron was free to fish. He fished the lake and the not-far Saint Croix River, on the Canadian border. He battled smallmouth after smallmouth, including one that won the battle by breaking his 20-pound test braided line.
His father filled his bear tag at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. On Saturday, the last day to hunt, while Aaron and his dad went back to the Saint Croix to fish, Dustin got his bear about 6:30 p.m., making a 75-yard shot with open sights on his Henry 45/70. rifle.
“Our first black bear hunt spent as a family and we all filled our tags,” Aaron said.
“Twelve hunters in camp that week and a total of five bears were taken.
“The memories made that week will last a lifetime, plus it revived my memories of childhood.”
The brought all three bears home for processing. Some say bear meat is tastier than venison.
SOC AND SAM
Aaron Collier and Craig Adkins continued their mastery of the Soc and Sam Sandy Run Saturday, completing the six-mile race down the Little Sandy River in one hour and eight minutes.
This was the third annual race and the duo has won all three.
The race is named in honor of Soc Clay and me, who combined have been writing about the outdoors for 100 years.
(606) 932-3619. Gsamwriter@twc.com.