This is what bear hunting is all about

Alyssa SansoucyMy name is Alyssa Sansoucy. I am 12 years old and I got my first bear last year. I also got a huge in 2012. My dad wanted to make sure we got the opportunity to hunt bear before bear hunting gets restricted. So, my dad called Shepard Hunting Co. and he said a hound hunt would probably be best for us.

All summer I was excited for fall to come and the hunt to begin. We started preparing a week or two prior and the night before we left I could hardly sleep, I was so excited. The next day we left around 11:00-11:30 am and we got there at about 3:30 pm. When we walked inside the lodge we were greeted by two very nice people. They showed us our room and made us feel at home. After that I went to see all of the dogs – they were very friendly.

That night we had dinner and a little while after we went to bed. The next morning my dad and I got up at 4:15. We had breakfast and then went outside to put the dogs in the van. We worked with the four dogs, Chris, one of the huntsmen brought up. After the dogs were loaded up we left to start driving to the first bear bait site. We checked all of the bait sites and only a few were hit but the dogs could not get on any bear. So the first day we did not see anything.

Again that night we had dinner and went to bed fairly early. We woke up at about the same time, got the dogs loaded, and we were off. The same thing happened that day too. Our dogs couldn’t get on any tracks because the bears were coming in too early. But, another one of the hunters got a big sow that weighed about 370 lbs. He shot it at about twelve feet away.

The next morning Ryan, the head of the lodge, asked us if we wanted to split up. One of us go with Ryan and the other go with Donnie, our guide we had been with two days before. We decided to stay together because I wanted to see if my dad got a bear and he wanted to see if I got one too. I helped load the dogs up and we left. After about an hour Ryan came on the radio and told us we had to meet up with him because his dogs had one in a tree. When we got there we got in the truck with Ryan and two other huntsmen Greg and Brian. We got to the spot where the dogs were and there weren’t many trees a bear could go up. So it was on the ground.

I told my dad he could shoot it because I only wanted to shoot it if it was in the tree. We walked off the dirt road and onto an over grown road. We started heading into the woods. You couldn’t see if you put your hand in front of you. Christmas trees about 4-5 feet tall were everywhere, and of course that’s where the bear was. So when we got into shooting range all we could see was trees moving and patches of white from the dogs. Then the trees in front of us started moving at about three feet. One of the dogs bumped into me and the bear took off about 600 yards from us.

We walked until we were close to the bear again. We were almost in the same situation. There were Christmas trees but it was a little more open. Greg said “Do you see it. It’s right there.” I saw the bear and the dogs surrounding it against a tree. My dad and Ryan were ahead of us a few feet. Just as my dad was about to shoot the bear turned and went around the tree. My dad said “It’s gone.” Then the bear charged and Ryan and my dad shot at the same time.

The bear took off about another 1,000 yards. The truck was about 700 yards away so we went to the truck. When we got in Brian said that the bear was going to come out in a dirt road. We drove for a few minutes and got out. My dad, Ryan and Greg went in the woods and then Brian told them to come back. Brian said it was going to come out behind the truck. So they went behind the truck and the bear walked out. My dad shot once or twice and the bear went into the woods on the other side of the dirt road.

We got back in the truck and we followed the dogs and bear near a cabin. This time I waited in the truck with Brian. After a few minutes we started hearing shots, then they stopped. Brian said “they got him.” Ryan came on the radio and confirmed. Brian and I walked in about 100 yards and we saw it. I couldn’t believe he got it! After we got some good pictures they all dragged it out.

When we got it back to the lodge we weighed it and it was a 270 pound sow. That afternoon I helped cut and bag the meat to put in Ryan’s freezer until we left. The next morning we went out again looking for a bear in a tree for me. But another hunter shot one and it weighed 325-350 lbs. Our dogs had been on tracks everyday but the scent just wasn’t strong enough for them.

That night everyone at the lodge said that I was going to get one the next day, which was Friday. Friday morning we drove around with the dogs for about an hour when Ryan called us again. He said that their dogs had treed a bear. When we got there the dogs and bear were about 125 yards into the woods. We walked up to them and I could see the bear. Ryan and Greg went to pull the dogs back while I was taking aim at the bear. I couldn’t see the head so our guide Donnie said to shoot the body.

A few seconds after they said I could shoot, I looked through my scope and lined the crosshairs up behind the bears shoulder. I shot once and within another second I shot again. Then the bear started falling out of the tree. I shot again and about 2-3 seconds later I shot again. When it hit the ground Ryan said he expected one shot, however I poured the bullets into the bear the whole way down the tree.

At that point I could no longer see the bear because it was behind a tree that was uprooted. So Ryan and Donnie went up and finished it off. When I walked up to it I couldn’t believe it. I had no words. I was just super happy I got a bear. Plus it was up a tree. We made sure to take lots of good pictures. After we were looking at the tree, there was claw marks coming all the way down because he was trying to hold on.

When we got it out of the woods we went to Wilderness Variety store to tag and weigh my bear. It weighed 288 pounds. I beat my dad by just a few pounds! When we got it back to the lodge I help cut and bag it. I was just so happy I got one, and if we can hunt bear again next year I would LOVE to go again! The four dogs we worked with were Bella, Butch, Skinner, and Bruiser – those were all Chris’s dogs. We also worked with Ryan’s dogs but I don’t know their names. All three of the huntsmen are from West Virginia, Greg, Chris, and Brian. Donnie and Ryan were the guides.

I had a lot of fun with them, the dogs, and of course the hunt! Now, I can add bear hunting to my list. My dad is going to mount both bears since he is a taxidermist. I told him I wanted a life size mount! Thank you for reading and I hoped you enjoyed My Bear Adventure story.

NOTE: Alyssa’s Dad is Tim of Tim’s Fish Taxidermy in Alfred, Ma

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.