Libby's Lodge & Canty's Registered Maine Guide David Libby has a lifetime of working knowledge from time spent at sporting camps and in the woods of Maine.
In the old days...
My mom and dad had eight children. My dad was a Maine guide. From early in the spring when the ice went out in the rivers he did guide a lot of fishermen. He would canoe up the Aroostook river to the sporting camps that he worked at. So, we never saw my dad all summer long.
As a kid, we would take the clients to a certain spot that we knew there were fish at, and help them carry their tackle boxes and whatever they chose to bring along. I don't think I was a guide that would sit in a boat and take people out on a lake, but we used to do a lot of hiking up to different Brooks and I'd show 'em where to go fishing and stuff like that.
When I actually got my initial guide's license, I was probably thirty-six years old, but long before that, I worked in a sporting camp. I was about 12 years old at that point. I was like the "chore boy" that does all the dirty jobs. I started off carrying thirty pails of water, then I fed the chickens and then I went in and got the coffee going and made oatmeal one day, and Cream of Wheat the next.
It wasn't required in those days that you needed a guide's license to guide bear hunters. I just went along and did what was required: We baited bear, we led people into the Maine forest and back out safely.
I learned to handle a canoe and pole the Penobscot river with a bear and people in the canoe, trying to keep everyone dry. I had to learn how to pull a canoe between the ages of 12 and 14 years old, carrying a 250 pound man and a bear. So dumping 'em in the water, made a few humorous moments.
Back in those days, deer season started the middle of October, so then my dad would go back up into those camps and he'd guide deer hunters right up until a few days before Thanksgiving. Then he was a trapper.
Us kids all learned how to snowshoe and go with him and trap beaver. We grew up with beaver pellets, drying in our bedrooms. We didn't think anything of it. We just thought everyone would have beaver pellets in the hallway and beside their beds drying. That's just what we did.
We greet visitors, our clients, for the first time, and they usually have a number of questions, usually the same questions. You know, everything from how big the bear will be, hunting with the right caliber rifle for the size of the bear that we have, to using scents and if they should they take in some extra bait. We talk about wind conditions quite a bit. We answer their questions about what to wear, the types of clothing, not to wear anything bright. We talk about what to do while they're in the stands, and what not to do.
We'll talk about equipment. Just like any other industry, there's new equipment out there all the time. Thermal cameras and the notches on arrows--when they shoot, they're like a tracer going through the air, you can follow it with the naked eye. You know, all kinds of different new technology that's been developed, and sometimes it's news to me. I'll say, "I didn't know they made that." Then you share that with the next group the following week.
We have those conversations, and then we'll get them ready on the first day of hunting and take them to the woods. I'd drive 'em to their sites and, and kind of drill 'em a little bit on what to expect or where the bear's gonna be coming from. We advise them on what to do in case they get a shot at a bear and, what not to do, too. You know, not to pursue the bear and get lost! I love the GPS systems that we have today and it's getting so easy. You know, you can have right on your mobile phone apps that can help you in the Maine woods.
What could go wrong?
We had a bear hunter that was using a crossbow and he was successful shooting a bear. But what he did was he carried this aerosol spray that they use like out in Montana with the Grizzlies, a bear repellent type thing. While he's sitting in the tree stand, he shot a bear and he called us to come pick him up. While we're in the process of going to pick him and the bear up, another couple more bear came into the stands. He wants to get out of the tree stand, so he takes the safety mechanism off his bear spray. As he is walking out the trail, worried that these other bear are going to attack him, he trips and sprays himself in the face with the bear spray. When Travis picked him up, the tears were running right down his cheeks.
Things happen like that. You know, we've had people turn their hearing aids way up so they could hear the bear come in. And then the percussion of the firearm going off knocks them right out of the tree stand. We've had people put their eye too close to the scope and then pull the trigger and climb out of the tree stand bleeding with a big ring right around their eye.
Maine hunting advice...
Be familiar with the terrain, and have some knowledge of the forest industry. We have some forest now that are much different than they were 30 years ago because of the types of cutting. People can be off the road, but if they get in these tight stands of wood, it's really difficult to get back to a main road. So by having a guide to avoid all those hassles, you're not spending your day lost all the time. if you're not familiar with the territory, that could cause you a lot of problems.
We have working forest in Maine and we have mile markers on main access roads. Those are there so that you can communicate by CB with truckers that are hauling forest products up those roads. If you're not familiar with that, you could be head-on with an 18-wheeler on a blind corner. You have to have a little bit of knowledge about communication and have respect for other people that are out there in that same working forest.
I worked as a forestry instructor too, for years. Even with the GPS, if someone doesn't have enough knowledge that they need extra batteries for it, they could get lost very easily. If they lose their GPS, then their lifeline is gone. They don't have a clue where to go if they don't have any basic compass skills or, they don't reference where the sun is and their location.
Book a Libby's Lodge & Canty's Guided Hunt for Maine black bear or Moose
There is limited availability for the 2023 bear hunting season. The state of Maine Moose Permit Lottery will be drawn on June 10th. If you are one of the lucky permit winners, the race will be on to secure a spot with the Registered Maine Guides at Libby's Lodge & Canty's. If you're real lucky, David Libby will be your guide.