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By Robin Follette Bear hunting is my favorite season. I love the work of setting up bait sites, lugging bait, and especially studying game camera photos. We’re able to bait here in Maine because our bear population is too high and increases each year. It sounds like it should be easy, but it took me five years to shoot my first black bear and another two years to shoot the second. The first bears appeared on cameras at both of our sites in three and four days. By the third week of baiting there were ten bears at my site and one at my husband Steve’s. On opening day my site was down three and Steve’s still had only one. None of the bears were visiting the bait barrels during legal hunting hours. After 60 hours sitting on the ground at two sites and a tree stand at one, I was losing the desire to hunt. There were more blackberries and mushrooms this year than I’d ever seen. Bears strolled through our sites without a side glance at the barrels. You can offer up food but you can’t make a bear eat no matter how hard you will it to. I made the decision then to take the first bear that wasn’t a sow with cubs or a cub. She walked in from behind the barrel, disappeared to the right to the trail I knew she’d use to enter the site, and stood broadside. Three minutes from the time I saw her, it was over. Steve and friends took the tenderloin off and skinned her for me, and Steve broke the carcass down into sizes I could manage. I spent three days teaching myself how to debone a bear and grinding the meat into sausage. The people who raise our pork for us supplied the fatback. The fourth day was spent seasoning the meat. It was simple work but more time intensive than I expected. Next time I’ll have the butcher do the deboning. His experience and tools are much better than mine.