I took part in last year's first-ever spring bear hunt with Maine's Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe. The hunt took place on 140,000 acres of never-hunted tribal lands. Expectations for this hunt were high because this was not only the first spring hunt in Maine in 30 years, but it was slated to be conducted entirely on private land where there were said to be numerous bears. Unfortunately, lack of experience, in-fighting and politics all got in the way of what should have been a premier hunt.
Without naming names, our outfitter was a fishing guide turned bear expert. He had no experience in spring baiting. Also, he was poorly equipped for the job, and he spent a lot of his time complaining about tribal management, the miles he had to drive and what he called `low pay.' His negative commentary began the first afternoon of our hunt and never ended.
Our group of six hunters went out every day at noon. That's quite early for a bear hunt but that time was apparently more convenient for the guide and his unenthusiastic staff. The baits were in decent locations based on my 40-plus years experience hunting bears in various ways, but the baits consisted of rotten meats, bones and fish. My bait included a dead beaver that had been nailed to a nearby tree. It had been there so long in the summer heat that the head had rotted off! The bait smelled like low-grade garbage, and I am sure the rank smell repelled more bears than it attracted. Four of us hunted over such baits for three days without seeing........(continued)