Destination: Eagle Lake, Maine; quarry - black bear

I am going to jump off my steady stream of "what’s new" articles and treat you today to one of my adventures. I have been on many trips, from fishing the waters around the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles into the Pacific off the west coast of Ecuador, to moose hunting in Newfoundland, one and a half Time Zones further northeast. I will preface these stories by saying that I have never received anything from any outfitters, so my opinions are unbiased. I hope you enjoy reading this first one, my bear hunting trip to northern Maine.

Four years ago, I met Edgar Lugdon, the owner of Lugdon Lodge in Eagle Lake, Maine at the Northeast Sportsman's Show in Syracuse. A delightful man to chat with, he gave me all his time and attention. I was working for the Adirondack-Catskill Chapter of Safari Club International (ACSCI) trying to get some vendors interested in attending the annual banquet and possibly donating a trip to help the cause. Ed was very interested in helping out ACSCI and did in fact donate a six-day bear hunt.

Anyhow, Ed has donated year after year and finally I could not resist bidding. After talking with other successful hunters, all had great things to say about the camp, the amount of game, the meals, accommodations and guides. So, after a few emails and phone calls to iron out the details, I was set to go.

Ed told me that they had a good population of bear, but they are rather on the small side, as in Maine they spend half the year in hibernation. A good-sized bear would run 300 pounds, but speaking with biologists and folks at the bear check station, average adult Maine bears run 140-175 pounds. At Lugdon Lodge, they hunt only the first three weeks of the four-week fall bear season. The last week off allows the woods to calm down a bit and the guides to prepare for the opening week of moose season.

With the first week filled to capacity, I opted for the second. The hunt weeks start on Monday and ends on Saturday, with arrival and departure on Sundays. This allows for six full days of hunting.

With my car packed I hit the road for the 14-hour trip north at 3 a.m.. By sun-up, I was half way across Massachusetts and my breakfast stop would be a quick coffee and Egg McMuffin via the drive-thru at Micky D's in Worcester. My next stop would be the State Liquor Store just south of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Right on Interstate 95, the big draw is there are no taxes on liquor in New Hampshire. So, most libations are about 40 percent less than you would find anywhere else. I grabbed a bottle to share over the evenings’ story telling in camp, and a few to stock up the liquor cabinet at home, and I was quickly back on the road again.

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