After spending many years chasing Mr. Blackie around the USA and Canada, I wanted to try my hand at hunting with a revolver. Since Canada takes a very dim view (read.... no can do) on handgun hunting, my choices were restricted to the US.
After much research I contacted Sunrise Ridge Guide Service in Bingham/Jackman area of Maine. I obtained all the references contact info for this camp and spoke to each of them. I also searched the net for additional info. I contacted Sunrise and spoke with a female who provided me with future contact info, current rates etc. She advised that she/they only had one opening which was for Sept. 10, 2012. After doing all the researsh possible I booked the hunt.
My first day of hunting was Monday 9/10/12. I was assigned a guide (Art) who was to transport me to and from the blind each day. One the first day he arrived at my cabin at 10:00 A.M. to take me to my hunting area (?) I have been hunting bears for too long and know that the majority of bear movement (over bait) is during the last few hours of daylight. I ask about this and was advised that since we had an hour and a half ride, we would need to get started. First I heard about the three hours a day drive time!
I threw my equipment together and joined Art and three other hunters that were also being taken to their blinds. I was dropped off at my blind around 11:30 A.M. and was to be picked up at 7:30 P.M. I try to keep myself and gear as scent free as possible. When the guide retrieved my back pack for me I discovered that it had just spent and hour and half riding next to gas cans and it smelled of it too! I cannot understand why anybody would do such a thing, but..... it happened none the less. Nothing to do but hunt at this point. Maybe they thought gasoline was a good cover scent
The guide took me to my ground blind and lifted it up in the air advising me that the zipper entrance was not working so I would have to enter and exit in this manner? Once in the blind I discovered that about half of the front of it was torn exposing me greatly. I used camo tape that I happened to have in my back pack and repaired as much of it as I could. I spent almost 8 hours in that blind and was entertained by many types of wildlife..... except a bear of course. No problem, didn't expect to tag out on the first night.
In my past experience/s my guide/outfitters have driven right to the blind or as near at they could to pick me up. This was done in case I had a bear or bears at my bait after legal shooting. The thought being that since they were used to the vehicles it would just chase them off the bait and out of the area long enough for me to exit the blind without me being the object of attention making all the noise getting out of and leaving the blind....... especially this one since I had to pick it up in the air to get out of!
This outfitter however instructed me to walk out of the blind on the trail to the logging road then walk about 50 more yards to a pick up area. On my second night on stand I had a "trophy bear" on the bait at sunset but could not take an ethical shot so vido taped the bear. Now I was stuck in the position of having to lift up the blind, gather up my gear, then slip out behind the blind and walk out to the logging road then up same to meet my ride. The bear retreated into an area thick with saplings and stood and watched as I exited the blind and hunting area. Needless to say I didn't see him at the bait the next night.
The bear that I had been hunting all week was THE only bear coming to that bait and was obviously THE dominant bear of the area. There were no subordinate bears coming to the bait or seen in the general area at all. I had told the guide of my sightings and of the fact that there was a "big" bear coming to my bait around sunset. I also showed him the video tape. This of course then became common knowledge.
With one day left to hunt the other hunter ask to be moved to a different bait site (not unheard of) . The outfitter decided to move him to a bait (which i didn't know existed due to nobody being stationed on it all week) that was less than a mile from my bait site. The outfitter made the statement that he would put the other hunter there and squeeze the bear between us giving one of us a shot.
The rest should be easy to guess, the other hunter shot and killed the bear on Thursday night! Although I did not have a DNA test conducted, I am convinced that it is the same bear that I'd been hunting all week. My educated guess is that due to having been bumped off the bait by me, that he was hitting the non-hunted bait earlier then working his way down to my bait at or near the end of legal shooting.
The next day I expressed my concerns to the outfitter and spoke my mind about it having been very poor judgement on his part to put another hunter so close to my bait/blind. He basically made us compete for a shot at the bear and with the other site not being hunted, the bear came in there first and was rapidly reduced to a rug! As there were no other bears hitting my bait during legal shooting hours, I sat all evening the following night on the bait but didn't even see the chipmunks that I'd been entertained by all week!
The outfitter apologized and offered me a "hound hunt" on Saturday and he was certain that I would get a bear. Well, I had no interest in a hound hunt and it wasn't just about "getting a bear". I also had to leave Saturday to get back home to attend to pressing business. Staying was not an option. The outfitter then advised me that if I came back next Fall, that he would do something for me on the price in an attempt to lessen the blow of how things went down on this hunt.
I agreed and was pleased that at least he was attempting to do something to "make it right" or at least better. As soon as I got back home and took care of business, I contacted Sunrise Ridge and requested to book a hunt for the Fall of 2013 and of course ask what I should expect to pay. I was advised that they were totally booked for the entire Fall bear hunt in 2013. I ask how it was possible that 51 weeks before the season that they didn't have one opening. They knew that I'd be attempting to set it up after I returned home. Why wasn't a spot kept open for me so that I could take them up on their offer?
The outfitter advised me that the three other guys that had been hunting with me and my guide this Fall, booked a fourth hunter for next year thereby filling all the openings! Are you kidding me !!?? I was advised that if there was a cancelation they would let me know. Really?
When I had been checking this camp out I saw that they had been in business for a considerable time and had lots of past hunters. However......... I also learned upon my arrival that this was only the second season that the couple that now owned it have operated it.
Sunrise Ridge Guide/Outfitters Maine has a LOT to learn about ethics and customer service ! Needless to say, although I would have had this worked out for the better if I had my choice, I won't be going back. Especially since I've just burned that bridge