Trapping Ursus Americanus — Aka the Black Bear

Maine is unique, in that it is the only state where it is still legal to trap black bears.

Trapping Ursus Americanus — Aka the Black Bear

The author's trip to the Pine Tree State resulted in fine trophy.

My most recent trapping season started a little different from other years — in Maine, the only place in the United States where it is still legal to trap bears. I had made my mind up I was going to do it, so with the required trapping license and bear trapping permit in hand I embarked for the Pine Tree State.

The Crit-R-Done was the snare of choice on this adventure.
The Crit-R-Done was the snare of choice on this adventure.

Deciding in late 2019 that I wanted to go bear trapping, I began my search for a reputable guide. I use the term bear trapping but in reality it’s bear snaring — the Crit-R-Done foot snare to be exact. One guide, in particular, stood out to me. Not just for trapping but also for hunting and his dedication to the sport and that was Jayson Lucarelli, owner of Maine Whitetail Adventures located in Millinocket, Maine.

Home away from home for the week.  Not your ordinary trapping cabin.
Home away from home for the week. Not your ordinary trapping cabin.

Jayson offers an inclusive package for all of his bear, moose, deer and grouse hunts as well as for his bear trapping. You can expect home-cooked meals and scenic views, and the Coventry log home nestled on the shore of Millinocket Lake offered all of the comforts of home and more during the week-long stay in the Northwoods of Maine.

Before we ever made a set, we used intel from our Reveal cellular cameras to assess bear movement and to avoid activity from any sow and her young ones. Even though it is legal to trap any bear in Maine, the ethical thing to do is to avoid an area where you could catch a female or one of her cubs.

With our camera surveillance in place, the need to get up at the crack of dawn was off the table because we could remotely see if we had a bear or not. This enabled us just to make the drive to the trap site later in the afternoon.

The ethical thing to do is to avoid an areas where you could catch a female or one of her cubs.
The ethical thing to do is to avoid an areas where you could catch a female or one of her cubs.

This went on for the first two nights, and even though we had a nice bear visiting the site every night, it was not committing to the set. Our camera recon allowed us to piece together what we might have to do differently to catch the bear. With our cameras on the job transmitting every movement, we were in for a surprise when a sow and two cubs showed up at the site. Jayson works hard to avoid these situations, but with bears always on the move it’s just a matter of time before a sow and her cubs might show up. Jayson rushed to the trap site in time to scare the bears off and to pull the trap.          

The following day we remade the set at a different location for one last attempt before I had to return to Illinois. Unfortunately, I forgot the Reveal back at the cabin so we would not be able to monitor the site. 

I was wide awake before the roosters the next morning, eager to check the trap one last time. After a short drive we made it to the area of the trap. Walking through the dense forest for a few hundred yards before the sun was up, I was more than happy to wear the Super Bright Headlamp from Bossman Outdoors that Jayson recommended. The name says it all for this headlamp and I will be getting one of my own for all my outdoor adventures.

Our adrenaline was flowing, and our hearts were pounding with anticipation. As we made the final bend, it was quickly evident we had a bear even though we could not see it. Trees were shaking and with no wind, only one thing could cause all of that movement. Still not sure what we had, we continued closer. Jayson was able to get within sight of the bear, the only thing I heard was, “That’s a really big bear!”  I could not see the bear yet, but those words caused my heart to go into overdrive.

Knowing that we had to move fast in case part of the snare gave and the bear was able to free itself, I got into a good position to dispatch the bear. With my nerves somewhat settled, I was able to put the beast down for good. Everything worked as it was supposed to. You had better have tough gear when trapping bears. You never know what you might catch. The snare caught the bear between his wrist and elbow just as it was intended to do. The chances of this bear escaping were low, but you just never know. It is trapping after all.

With warm weather expected, we made quick work of getting the bear field dressed. Estimating it to field dress at 300 pounds we knew we had our work cut out. We were only a few hundred yards from the truck, but we just as well had been two miles. This bear was not an easy drag. With brute force, we were able to get it to the road and into the bed of the truck. Making the drive to the check-in station, we knew we were hauling something special. We both called our wives and had them meet us in town. We wanted them to be part of the celebration.

With the bear properly tagged; it was time to weigh the animal. We had guessed him to be 300 pounds dressed. But as the bear came out of the truck and we hit the 325-pound mark, 350, then 375 and we could not believe what we were seeing. In the end, the bear tipped the scales at 386 pounds dressed.

Bear trapping might not be for everyone. But if it is something you’ve always wanted to do, don’t put it off. This is an adventure of a lifetime.

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