Tim Jones, Editor
If you are in the northeastern US in Sept. and looking for an affordable black bear hunt, subscriber Michael Theiler recommends Parksies Guide Service (603-631-0252) in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and guide Jon (“Goobie”) Parks. Theiler and his wife Janet hunted in Sept., and Janet took a nice boar over bait.
“This was a classic hunt with a small operator. For my wife and I, it’s close enough to our home that we were able to pull our tagalong camper up Friday afternoon and hunt the weekend. I first met Goobie while DIY moose hunting in New Hampshire years ago and have hunted bear with him ever since. He also offers moose hunts to those lucky enough to draw a tag, and his client in 2016 harvested a 940-pound bull. Another Hunting Report subscriber, John German, has also hunted with Goobie quite a bit and harvested a black bear in the 300-pound range the year before last.
“Hunting with Goobie means you’ll have plenty of help. His two young boys love to bait stands and help drag. His wife Melissa is always standing by, ready to bring their bloodhounds out if a hit bear runs off. And his father, “Big Jon,” often takes us out calling moose in the mornings after a good frost.
“This was Janet’s first bear hunt, so we decided that I would sit with her over bait to help her judge the bears. Several of the stands accommodate two hunters. Despite warm weather, we had two smaller bears come in about an hour before dark the first night, but they seemed nervous. What we didn’t realize until the next morning was that the trail cam had captured a photo of a respectable boar on the bait just before we arrived. We likely spooked it as we walked in.
“We were anxious to get back out the following afternoon. Most of the sitting is done for a few hours before dark, but Goobie suggested we get in earlier in case the boar came back. It did, and Janet harvested him with one shot. Melissa showed up with the boys and Ruger, their bloodhound, and in no time, we were all dragging a nice bear out of the woods. The big thrill for me was seeing the pure joy of success from my wife without any emphasis on measurements or score. She was so excited to see bears that being able to harvest a nice one was a bonus. Lots of sows with cubs showed up on other trail cams. Some sows had triplets. Should be good hunting the next few years.
“Lancaster is a small town nestled in the White Mountains with plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. There are a couple of nice campgrounds and two or three inexpensive motels. Some seasonal cabins are also available. Keep in mind that the town closes up quite early, which poses a problem when trying to celebrate a successful hunt!”
Theiler gives the cost of his hunt as $850, plus $160 for a nonresident hunting license and bear tag. The NH bear baiting season is Sept. 1–28. Lancaster is about a two-hour drive from airports in either Manchester, NH, or Burlington, VT. In most years, you’ll be seeing New England’s famous fall foliage display by the end of Sept.
According to Parks, most hunters stay in one of two local motels ($60–$80 per night) and eat in local restaurants. By regulation, he can maintain only six bait sites and can’t start baiting until Sept. 1, so he typically takes six hunters per season with repeat clients filling many of those slots. “I rebait each stand every other day and wait until the bears are coming regularly before I take my first client—usually five days into the season. But not all stands always have bears, so I limit the number of hunters I take to give everyone the best chance. We are amid a bear population explosion in this area. After my last client left this season, my 10-year-old son took a 348-pound boar.”
If you hunt bears this season, please file a report.