U.P. Black Bear Hunting

By: Kirk Howes

I was a mile back in the woods, strange woods. Perched in a ladder stand Black Bear hunting.

My guide Joe, from Top Of The Line Guide Service had been gone twenty minutes. There in the brush, was movement, my heart raced as I hoped to see a good sized bear coming to the bait. I did all the mental checks…gun is loaded right? Scope is at 3 power? Safety is still on?

OK I’m ready.

Well after 10 minutes a nice doe stepped out. Not my bear. Oh well lets watch her for a bit and maybe the bear will come in and the doe will run off. She milled around for 10 minutes and vanished into the deep woods before me.

I stayed on the stand till almost the end of shooting hours, as I made my way out of the woods it was still light out, the woods were dark where I had just came from though. As I walked out I saw many deer and I wished it were deer season. This was bear season though and I wanted I bear, so the hunt was still on.

black bear huntingThat first night on the stand was full of adventure for me. I heard owls, coyotes and things I still don’t know for sure what made the sounds. Joe was there to pick me up at the road right on time. He asked if I had seen any bear and informed me that another of his hunters had taken a bear. The hunter was a guy who was going to go home after hearing all the bear stories the night before. Lucky for him he stayed.

Speaking of luck the next night a hunter shot a small boar with a handgun. The luck was he saw a bear, after that his skill with the handgun took out a good portion of bear lung. The bear went 20 yards and collapsed dead. I was with Joe and the hunter during the tracking job, it was a blast for me to tag along.

I hunted three nights and had yet to see a bear time for plan “B”. Plan “B” was a different bait that had been hit several times in the past few days. Mother nature played a trick on us and delivered some early cold weather that resulted in the baits slowing down.

Well I was still having the time of my life grouse hunting with Cindy and our dog Doc, during the day. Exploring back roads and lakes stopping along the way to eat lunch in the woods. I can’t remember ever driving so long without seeing another person, this UP stuff is great. Don’t tell anyone about it OK?

The trip started by talking to Birddog of the forums right here on The Michigan Sportsman. I had hunted Black Bear in Alaska with Curdog and wanted to try Michigan again after a bad experience with a so-called guide once.

black bear huntingBirddog was very helpful and I will tell you this right now, He feels for his hunters. The man will work hard to get a bear to come into your set up.

I am going back for sure, if anyone else wants to join us contact me.

Hold on now …I want to finish this bear hunting story, but first let me explain the rest of the beginning.

I applied for third season and sort of mentioned it to Cindy. Well I got drawn and had to say it was our vacation. Then I had to tell her about the scenic UP and how she deserved a break from the rat race down here. Plus the fact that the new 300 mag. would just sit till deer season lying in waste. Well maybe I didn’t mention that.

So off we go first thing in the morning right around the crack of 10:00am. We drove to Seney our first day. Oh it was a good drive and it only took us nine hours. I had a pasty for dinner of course and looked at all the old lumber camp photos on the wall. Yes I was in DA UP!!!!!

Morning comes early for me when I’m traveling so I walked across the road for a coffee. Ravens gawked as they flew over head.

Leaving Seney and heading west for the Bergland area we spotted a small Bull Moose of the side of the road. Cindy thought that was the greatest thing in the world. I did as well as I have never seen a Michigan moose before.

Halfway through the day we spotted an eagle feeding on a deer in the road. Slowing down to a snails pace the bird flew off the deer offering us a view at a mere 25 feet. WOW is all I can say.

After what seemed to be days of travel we arrived at Marenisco. It took me all of 3 minutes to find a house that looked like it belonged to a bear guide. You can tell by the four wheelers and 55 gal drums of bait, in the backyard.The dog Duckman was a dead giveaway too.

As soon as we pulled up Joe’s father came across the road to greet us. Man what a guy, friendly, as the day is long. He managed to contact Joe and Dean . Dean came and showed us the lodge and said Joe was running baits. Well after unpacking I went to meet Joe and Deb.

We had two days before my season opened so we Grouse hunted and fished. I have never seen so many grouse in one day.

“Birddog” and “Born to Hunt” put on a really nice dinner with all the bear hunters showing up and telling stories and asking Joe last minute questions. Some bear stories were sorta scary and several hunters wanted Joe and Deb. to sit with them, which they did. Don’t count on this though if you go up to hunt.

I hunted for six afternoons and evenings and had yet to spot a bear.

I think the grouse hunters and weather played a big part in the bears slowing down. You have to remember this is hunting and one can’t expect to see a bear just cause your bear hunting.

I saw over ten eagles, tons of deer and a fisher. The fisher was on the last evening and seeing a flash of black coming through the woods had me going. He went to the downwind side of the bait and came right into the bait. I watched my first ever fisher feed at the bait for a good twenty minutes. They are a great looking animal. The fisher could have been a bear and Joe would have been happier for it.

Cindy and I both had the time of our lives up there in Marenisco hunting and sight seeing. My only regret was leaving; I could have stayed for a month. If you are planning to hunt Bear in Michigan, I can assure you Top Of The Line Guide Service will take care of you 100%.

I guarantee I’ll be heading back next year.

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