By Leroy Hauge
September 10th finally rolled around and my long awaited bear hunting trip finally got started. My brother and I were going to Massachusetts for a hunt with my pack that Chip was hunting for me. They had been hunted all summer so I knew they were in good shape. As we were nearing the Massachusetts line it started to snow. This was that freak snowstorm so early in September. Anyhow as we started up the mountain there was about a foot of snow on the road already. We put the truck into 4-wheel drive and we finally pulled into Chips driveway. It snowed all night and by morning there was 32 inches of snow on the ground.
Now what to do. We were snowed in until the plows opened up the roads, which didn’t happen until two days later. Chip called around and found out northern New Hampshire only had about 2 inches on the ground. So we piled into the trucks and headed North after about 300 miles we got into the part of NH Chip had hunted before. We found some rustic log cabins for rent and got settled in for the night. It wasn’t real cold and the snow had started to melt by this time so we went to bed feeling good about the next day.
After a good nights sleep and a good breakfast we started loading up the pack. We had Buck our rig dog and a real cold trailer. Bob the best bear dog anybody ever hunted with. When Bob opened up Chip said you might as well load your gun and start in. Tiger, you’ve heard about him before. Mike another fine dog that didn’t need any help and Sadie and Jenny two of the best females I ever was in the woods with. They were the cut in dogs and treed quite a few bear by themselves while going to the pack. They were real fast and would go the pack as far as they could hear.
Anyhow we started for some cornfields Chip knew about. There still was about 2 inches of snow on the ground, which helped in deciding how big a track it was. We passed up 3 or 4 100 pounders when we found a nice one about 250-300 pounds. We got Buck down and he started in. After about 30 minutes he sounded pretty good and was moving out towards a rough looking Mountain. Steve and Mike were the other hunters. We turned in Bob, Tiger and Mike. What a beautiful sound they made on this clear crisp morning as they closed the gap between them and Buck. The last we heard they were going over the top. We jumped into the trucks and went looking for some roads, we soon found one going up a long valley. Going up that road, we found several nice bear tracks so we knew we were in good bear country.
We soon had to go in 4-wheel drive as we got off the better road in to some rough country. We stopped to listen, we heard nothing. The tracking collars said straight ahead so we kept going slipping and sliding. We finally made it to the top after clearing several trees from the road. We stopped to listen, Mike said he could hear them about half way up the next mountain. So he got out Sadie and Jenny and turned them in. When they go to the pack you only hear them whining they don’t open till they hit the track. It’s been about 3 hours now so we started around and down this long valley after about an hour of sliding most of the way down we came to a wide meadow. We stopped to listen and we heard them treeing about a mile up the side of the mountain. So we started to them. Boy, take 2 steps forward and slide one step back. It took us over an hour to get to them. They had a nice 200-pound bear up. But the females were not there yet. Steve took the shot and down he came. He slid down the mountain about 200 feet and piled up against a tree. We soon got down there and slid him on down. This was the easiest bear I ever helped drag out–all down hill on snow!
We soon got him to the trucks and loaded. Mike got his tracking outfit out to locate the females. He said they never made it over the top yet. We waited for about an hour and decided they were not coming over the top. So we started back up the way we came down only now we were spinning instead of sliding. We soon topped out and stopped to listen, we could hear the females treeing down the long valley that we had come up earlier. So we started down and found them treed about 200 yards off the road in some big pines. We went to them and they had one up which later weighed 285 pounds. My brother took this one and we headed for camp. As it was now about 4 O’clock. We got the bears taken care of and fed the tired dogs and headed for some grub for ourselves. So after a long day we hit the sack and you should have heard the music now almost as loud as the chase. Boy those guys can snore.
The next morning we crawled out about 7 am got loaded and headed back to the corn. We turned on good size tracks but wound up with a 150 pounder after about a 12-15 mile chase. Now I’m going to leave out the next 2 days and 2 bears. One was about 325 and the other 210 pounds.
The fifth day we decided to hunt in a different area, about 20 miles away towards the Vermont line. Chip said he had seen some huge tracks there the year before. The snow was gone by now and we put Buck up to strike. We drove all day strike after strike, all in the 100-pound class. Chip and Mike agreed not to turn loose under 500 pounds. So we drove all day and no turn ins. We headed back to camp. The dogs needed a rest anyhow so we had no regrets we had a good time anyhow. Seen some good rig work and also several nice moose, one nice big bull. We put the cross hairs on his shoulder and said bang and had some good laughs.
Anyhow next morning we set out towards some cornfields. We got several good strikes but all small tracks so we got to this big cornfield and decided to walk around it leading the dogs. We got about 3 quarters around this field when there in the mud was this big track. Chip said that’s him for sure. Buck was only mildly interested. But Chip unsnapped him and told him to get with it. He stuck his nose in and sniffed loudly. Chip said that track was made night before, it looked like old molded frozen mud had settled into it.
Buck sought out the next one the tracks were about 2-3 inches deep in the mud. Chip talked to Buck and let him know he wanted that bear. I don’t know if Buck understood but he went to work. Chip said you guys go back with the dogs while I stay with Buck. We watched them as they worked through the corn and into the woods. We headed back to the trucks and waited for what seemed like hours. I asked mike, “what do you think?” Mike said if there is a dog alive that can get that track going its Buck. I’ve seen him get tracks going that I never had any hopes for. After about 2 hours of waiting. We heard one lone lonesome bawl. Mike pointed half way up the mountain and said he’s got it, after about 15 minutes another long bawl. Chip called in and said he’s on it to drive north and wait until he calls back.
After about an hour Chip called in and told us to get on a certain road to track and listen as Buck was now moving and opening good and when we heard the dog to send in the other dogs with the females leading. We got up the 2 tracks until it rained out against a rock formation. We waited about 30 minutes when we heard him coming. He was about a quarter mile in. And we turned all 5 dogs into him.
It seemed they no sooner got there than they started baying hard. Today Chip had a client named Tanner. When we heard the dogs baying he started in but they soon moved around the mountain. We were not to see Tanner or Chip until dark that evening. We were up high Chip told us to stay there until he called back. He also said Tanner had just got there and it was rough as hell with ledgers all around and that the dogs had a hard time in the cliffs and big rocks after about 3 hours of this he called back and told us to go back out and find the road that led up the back side of the mountain as they were moving in that direction. We got turned around and started out and got on a black top at the foot of the mountain. We stopped to listen as there was a big field there and we could hear them it was a steady roar coming off the side of the mountain. So we stopped but the bear was walking and going up higher. Chip told us to stay put as they were trying to get it caught up but it being so rough they were hard put to even keep in hearing.
This went on and on, first up high than down, then backup and finally started going in circles. Chip and Tanner closed the gap. All the time they heard a hell of a fight, pretty soon they heard the dogs yelping and screaming. They knew the bear was making his stand. They crashed through the brush and there he was backed up against a cliff taking the dogs one after another. They both shot and he went down taking Tiger with him. Tanner finished him off and they looked around—what a bloody mess. Bob had a broken shoulder. The females were slashed across the ribs so the bones showed through. Mike was eaten up from front to back. Buck was bitten through the neck and hams. But poor Tiger he was a bloody mess bitten through both shoulders, 3 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a broken tail. They left the tracking collars by the bear after they had gutted him and carried Tiger out, the rest limped after them. They were beat. Eight bloody hours on that mean bear and a big vet bill later. They all pulled through although they carried a lot of scars. They went on and treed many more bear for Chip and Mike.
The next morning we called the game warden to came and weigh the bear after we got him down. One warden was real nice, but the little one wanted to make an arrest one way or another. He thought we forgot to tag the bear after we killed him. And he went charging up the mountain ahead of us. The old warden said let him learn the hard way. No one could find a dead bear in that mess. Anyhow we followed the tracker and found the bear with no trouble and brought him down while the dummy beat the brush over the mountain. We could hear him holler every once in awhile. The DNR came out with their truck with a side bar to weigh him. He almost turned the truck once we had to stand on the other side. He weighed 615 pounds field dressed. They had quite a story in the local paper about the old rogue, he had torn down many apple trees in the orchards.
So ended our hunt in New Hampshire. Oh yes the little warden came out just in time to see the big bear. The old warden told him, next time trust the man until you can prove him wrong and save yourself a lot of trouble. We said Amen to that and came on in to check the dogs.
We hung around for a couple days until we got the dogs from the vet. Tiger was in bad shape. We fixed him up with a couple of sleeping bags for the ride home and took him to Chips regular vet where he stayed for a week. He pulled through to run, fight, and tree many more bear until he got killed. All these dogs finally got killed except old Buck. Chip sold him to Virginia where he was still striking and trailing until he was 16 years old.
One thing for sure this was a mean bear. He had been caught in a couple of snares from the marks on his legs. So I guess he just hated everything that bothered him and killer or whipped them out. Only thing he couldn’t whip out these six Plotts. Many bear have tried none ever succeeded. They would not quit a bear that is why they got killed and that is why this old rogue got killed.