Maine is blessed with a healthy, stable population of black bear, conservatively estimated at 35,000. Statewide we average 9 bears/100 square miles; in our area, WMD 9, the percentage is much higher. Our region in north central Maine, is a consistent producer of adult bears each season and the new state record bear weighing 699 lbs. was taken on a bear bait less than 20 miles from our lodge in 2012. In the areas we hunt, our hunters consistently tag better than 1 out of every 3 bears taken here each fall. That is not due to sheer numbers but the quality of the hunt. As bear hunting outfitters we limit each weekly hunt to 10 participants, to ensure personalized service. We have hunted this area since 1995 and know how to do it right! We manage our hunting area for a sustainable harvest, consulting with the state bear biologist for harvest goals to maintain a healthy, stable population of mature bears.
Our goal is to provide you the hunter an opportunity to harvest a mature Maine Black Bear dressing over 200 lbs. (add approx. 17% for live weight). Bears reach full adult size, at about 4-6 years of age. Boars average 250-600 pounds and measure 5-6 feet from tip of nose to the tip of their tail. Females are smaller, weighing 100-400 pounds, and measuring 4-5 feet in length. Males stand about 40 inches tall at the shoulder whereas sows seldom exceed 30 inches in height. We have virtually 100% sightings for each hunter and over 90% success rate. (Some good bears are passed by discriminating, returning hunters waiting for a bigger trophy than their last bruin.) Year after year we have about one third of our hunters coming back for another hunt.
The four-week bait season for bear varies slightly each year, but is generally the last week of August through the third week of September. The state tabulations for 2011 (latest available at this time) show the following:
Nonresident hunters took 62% (1,483) of the 2,400 bears tagged and 92% (1,337) of them were on guided hunts
93% (2,200) were adult bears and 57% were males
75% of successful hunters took their bear over bait
The numbers show that your very best chance to shoot a mature Maine black bear is to book with a reputable guide and outfitter. And of course we hope you will consider Northern Pride Lodge for your Maine bear hunt.
Choosing Your Bear Hunting Guide or Outfitter
There are many bear outfitters or bear guides to choose from. Make your choice carefully. We are avid hunters ourselves, and we strive to provide to you the type of hunt that we would look for when we are booking a guided hunt. Here are some of the things that set us apart from other operations:
- We have sighting in at the range upon arrival and orientation meetings the first night. Often a Game Warden will join us for our evening meal and you will gain a world of insight from his experience. After dinner, we review recent game camera pictures, and explain how to judge the size of a bear, shot placement and share many tips.
- Our stands are comfortable and safe, 15 foot steel ladder stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturer's Association. We require safety straps and have plenty available if you do not have one.
- Our sites are pre-baited starting in July (when the law first allows), monitored by game cameras to pattern the bears’ activity for up to 30 days prior to your hunt (see pictures on right), and set up with our prevailing winds in mind.
- We set our stands to provide bow hunters 16-20 yard shots and gun hunters with 30-35 yard shots.
- Stands are set for left- or right-handed shooters and have shooting rails or bow hangers, as needed by the hunter.
- We have many bear bait sites in several different areas. We hunt one area each hunt week, ensuring that each week's hunters, throughout the season, can hunt “fresh” areas.
- We place you on active sites, monitored with game cameras and we have multiple sites available for each hunter. You won't get stuck staring at the same scenery day after day. 100% sightings.
- Our guides deliver you directly to your stand, make sure you are situated and freshen the bait (which is included in your hunt, no additional fees, no up-selling to a “premium bait.” Every stand gets the best.)
- Each hunter is provided a radio for safety and quick response by your guide.
- We will field dress and hang your bear in our cooler shed. We have good butchers and taxidermists we can recommend as well.
- We provide scent free soap, and advice on scent management as well as keeping your hunting clothing scent-free.
- Always ethical, lawful hunting. Never cited for a violation.
If you would like to see the freshest game camera pictures, just like us on Facebook.
How We Run Our Bear Hunts Here in Maine
Our bear hunting packages provide a great opportunity to harvest a big game trophy that eludes many hunters who have spent a lifetime in the woods. The thrill of seeing a mature boar or sow silently appear at the edge of your vision is enough to get anyone's heart beating faster!
The way we set up our hunts and bait sites makes it easily enjoyed by anyone capable of climbing a ladder. We accommodate bow hunters, muzzleloaders, pistol and rifle hunters and we have stands to accommodate right- or left-handed hunters, at comfortable, confident shooting distances. Youths can get a youth license and hunt, accompanied by an adult; at 16 years old they can hunt on their own. We can set a pair of stands together for a parent and child shared hunt and a lifelong memory for both. On the other hand, we have had hunters in their 80's bag their bear! Your guide will drive you to within easy walking distance and get you settled into the stand. We can also accommodate couples or those unable to climb with ground blinds.
Radios are provided for immediate access to your guide when you need him. He will come and collect you at the stand at the end of legal shooting time and take you back to the lodge for the evening meal and yarns.
Comfortable rooms and plenty of good hot food [see menu for representative meals] will be ready for you. It is always a great time of sharing stories with fellow hunters. With a limit of 10 hunters per week, you will get a chance to reunite with returning friends and to make new ones. The camaraderie between bear hunters is a special aspect of our kind of people. When we mention repeat customers let’s just say that we are not talking about everybody who ever came a second time. We have hunters that come year after year and even have a couple standing reservations for every year. We earn that loyalty and it bring us great joy. We will do everything we can to assure you have a great time on your own Maine bear hunt.
Typical Day – What to Expect on Your Bear Hunt
This is a gear list (note this as additional page) of what we recommend you have on your hunt. You can always call us to discuss special needs or ask advice on equipment and gear. We've probably seen it all over the years.
Your hunt with us starts with a Sunday afternoon arrival. We serve our Prime Rib dinner around 5 pm and afterward have a get together with all the staff and the weeks’ hunters, so that everyone can get to know each other. After dinner we meet in our gathering area to give everyone a rundown on what the week will be like and to answer any questions you may have. This covers all aspects of your hunt and your time at the lodge. We discuss bear behavior and review game camera photos, how to judge bear size, where to place your shot and what to do after the shot. When available, we have our local warden here to help cover local hunting laws and issues that they have encountered during previous bear seasons. This is a very informative yet casual gathering and we have been complimented many times on how helpful it has been to the hunters.
Your hunting day starts with breakfast at about 7 am. While you are enjoying your meal, your guides will be out putting fresh bait at each site and inspecting the bear sign from the previous feeding. Your morning can be spent fishing on our lake or on the nearby Roach River, which can be excellent at this time of year. Some hunters also try their luck at calling coyotes.
Lunch is our big dinner of the day and is served about Noon. After eating, you will shower and get ready to go out for the afternoon hunt. Transportation to and from your bait site is included. Wayne corrals everyone about 2:30-3:00 pm and begins to deliver hunters to the sites. You will be walked into the bait site and your guide will wait while you climb into the 15-foot ladder, T.M.A. certified tree stand, clip in to your safety line and get comfortable. Each hunter is given a radio, for safety and so when a bear is shot, the guides can respond quickly, to recover the bear. On occasion we have big bears feeding on baits in the mornings. When this happens we will sometimes put a hunter out in the AM.
Legal hunting hours end ½ hour after sunset each day. If you have not had an opportunity for a shot and are still in your stand, the guides pick up each hunter at the end of legal shooting. Your bear guide will walk in to the stand by flashlight, in order to assist you in exiting, but also to ‘spook’ any nearby bears so that they do not peg a hunter descending from the stand. Once all of the hunters have been picked up, you arrive back at the waterfront lodge to a hearty meal and tales of bear sightings and bears shot.
Book your Bear Hunt Now
We still have openings for this season so give us a call at (207) 695-2890 to hear our competitive rates and reserve your bear hunt. We are often asked which week is the most opportune to hunt. Over the entire season we have consistent success and large bears have been taken early and late in the season. Our numerous bait sites allow us to keep entire areas fresh for each successive week's hunters. So, week 1, week 2 or week 3, you can be confident of bear sightings and shot opportunities.
Licenses are available locally or online. Check the state's Bear Hunting Page for current regulations, license and permits fees.
“Thank you for the wonderful time I spent at your lodge. If anyone says they had a better bear hunt or food somewhere else they’re just plain lying.”
"I just wanted to say thanks again for the great bear hunt I had with you this fall. Your lodge was comfortable, warm and squeaky clean. The menu was outstanding and the meals couldn’t have been better.”
"The success of your hunters is due in the most part to Wayne’s hard work and positive attitude. The fact that most of the hunters saw bear every night speaks volumes for your hunts. Of course, the best part of Northern Pride Lodge is the friendly atmosphere you provide. From the time I arrived I felt welcome and at home in your lodge.
"It’s not often that you do something that really, really exceeds your expectations but this was one of them!”
Dave, New York
“You have a really great hunting service and my hunting experience with you was just incredible and it was exceptionally exciting. …it was your attitude, friendliness and exceptionally good nature that made my stay in your house feel like my own home. All of the meals were really extraordinary, even overwhelming.”
Gear List - Bear Hunter's Checklist:
Weapons: .270’s and the .30 calibers are all good choices, as are shotguns with slugs and muzzleloaders. .44 mag and larger hand guns with a good solid-base bullet, and bows and crossbows are also effective options. Sight guns in for 30 yards. We will check all guns at the range before hunting.
Safety Harness: We require a safety harness in our tree stands. If you do not have one, don't worry--we have plenty to loan out.
Clothing: Dark camo clothing head to toe, hat, face mask and gloves. Must be quiet clothing. Scent elimination is a must, so keep your hunting clothes scent free. Clothes should be warm weather or something comfortable for 40° - 65° and sitting still for about 4 hours. Also bring rain gear, just in case.
Flashlight or headlamp: whichever is your preference.
Pee bottle (you don’t want to get in and out of the tree stand)
Boots: I prefer rubber boots or at least rubber bottoms
Coolers to take your meat back in
Slippers or something to slip into when you get back to the lodge (no muddy, bloody boots worn in the lodge, please)
Rain Gear: quiet, dark camo pattern
Seat Cushions: some stands have them, some don't. Bring one just in case, if you can.
You will need proof of a current hunting license in your home state or proof of completing a hunter safety course in order to get your Maine hunting license. Maine hunting licenses can be obtained prior to coming to Maine by logging onto Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. Don’t forget, you need a big game license or archery license and a bear permit.
A fishing license is also required, if you intend to fish. The fly-fishing-only Roach River can be spectacular in September. Fishing licenses are also available locally, if you’d like to wait until you’ve taken your bear.
Visit our hunting pricing page for rates and options.