Oxbow Lodge News Letter:
It’s hard to believe that it has been another year since the last newsletter. It’s even harder to believe that we just completed our best season in 8 years. Every year we seem to do a little better than the previous. We harvested some of our biggest animals to date. Inside this newsletter you will read about Jeff Mangold’s 500 lb. bear, Kurtis Artzers 68 1/2” moose and a number of others. Our bear season was terrific. The average sizes of our bears continue to rise.
Oxbow Lodge 2003 News Letter:
It’s hard to believe that it has been another year since the last newsletter. It’s even harder to believe that we just completed our best season in 8 years. Every year we seem to do a little better than the previous. We harvested some of our biggest animals to date. Inside this newsletter you will read about Jeff Mangold’s 500 lb. bear, Kurtis Artzers 68 1/2” moose and a number of others. Our bear season was terrific. The average sizes of our bears continue to rise. The moose hunt was again successful but not without some hard hunting. As you will see I was even fortunate enough to draw a moose tag and even more fortunate to harvest a beautiful bull. The deer season really tested our guiding skills with less than adequate weather conditions during most weeks but overall ending up a good season. Much has gone on during the past year. I recently bought another bear hunting operation, we are expanding on our upland hunts as well as our shooting preserve (I even bought a new English Pointer from some of the best bloodlines in the country), and we are under attack from the anti hunting group the Humane Society of the United States. They are using the Democratic process and the ballot box to eliminate bear hunting in Maine. This will go to vote in November of 2004. It is possible that the 2004 season will be the last year that we will be able to bear hunt with bait or hounds in Maine. The next year will be very busy as we are preparing our newly acquired bear hunting operation. We will be in for the fight of our lives with the anti’s. The shooting preserve will take some work as well as training our new puppy. Not to mention the improvements that will be made to the lodge. I look forward to hearing from all of you throughout the year.
Largest animals in the state at Oxbow Lodge
The 2003 season produced some better than average animals for us. Kurtis Artzer from KS harvested one of the widest spread moose ever recorded in Maine while hunting with us. Jeff Mangold may have gotten the biggest bow killed bear of the year in the state weighing in at 500 pounds. The moose I was fortunate enough to get is the largest bow killed moose to date in Maine during the 2003 season (#12 all time). We also would have had one of the heaviest moose if we did not have to quarter the animal to get him out. It is more than coincidence that we continually harvest some of the largest animals in the state each year. Hard work and dedication are the reason that we can boast about the number of animals that are submitted into the record books each year that were harvested at Oxbow Lodge. Much of our work is completed before the hunter ever arrives.
The 2003 season was one of our best. We harvested more bears than ever and the sizes of the animals were well above average. We harvested a few over 400 lbs including a 500lb giant that was arrowed by Oxbow Lodge veteran Jeff Mangold, all of which was captured on video. The first couple of days of the third week were a little slow with only a couple of bears being shot. GT Warogin from PA was taking some ridicule for passing up what he figured to be a 200lb+ bruin two days in a row. What he did not tell anyone is that he heard another bear in the area which he figured to be larger than the one he had been watching. His hunch paid off. He shot a beautiful bear that tipped the scales at just shy of 400 lbs that sported a white chevron on its chest. Our first bear of the season was taken by lodge veteran Don Smith. After a short wait on “his” stand during the first day of his hunt a bear came in early and he decided that it was big enough for him and was drawing his bow back when the animal took off past his stand. Still at full draw and looking back at the bait site he was shocked to see a larger bear standing where the other was seconds before. His bear weighed 320lbs and will be large enough for the Maine record books.
One of the most asked questions when I speak to prospective customers is success rate. In my opinion there are many variables involved with the answer to this question. It all depends on how you judge your success. We have a policy here at Oxbow Lodge......no sows with cubs or cubs. We also promote the harvest of larger bears. I guess that’s why we sighted 142 bears and harvested 36. With our methods of baiting you will be able to judge the size of the bear you will be shooting at. Many choose to wait for a larger animal. With the size of the bears we continue to harvest I would have to say that our quality not quantity policy is starting to pay off. Not only are we shooting larger bears but more of them. During this past season we had 63 hunters during a 4 week season. There were 36 bears harvested with another 10 being shot at. A total of 142 bears were sighted by hunters while on stand. Multiple bears harvested made the Maine record books as well as being large enough to qualify for Pope and Young.
Even with warm temps during our first week of moose hunting and post rut conditions during our second week we were able to fill all tags on our guided hunts. We were not into as many moose as in the past in zone 6 and after speaking to some of my competitors we did as well if not better than most in this zone. We had no trouble finding moose in zone 5 during both seasons. Not all moose were the 50” bull we strive to get but we managed to get a few real good ones. There will be 550 more permits issued in zones 6, 3 and 11 due to moose/ vehicle collisions. This will really test our skills next year in these areas due to the added hunting pressure. They will keep zone 5 for “quality” management. We harvested a moose during the Oct. season with one of the widest spreads ever recorded in Maine. Kurtis Artzer from KS told guide Don Whipple that he wanted a moose that was bigger than the 50”bull his father got in 1999 (also guided by Don). Holding true to his word he had passed on multiple bulls before seeing the one he wanted. The bull has a 68 1/2” spread and 20 points. The 909 lb. moose was more than the Kansas native expected to get. Kurtis’s brother is waiting to draw a tag and told Don that he was not going to be too picky as long as it is bigger than his younger brothers! Oxbow deer hunting veteran Billy Higgins drew his first moose tag for the Sept season and had opportunity throughout the week and ended up with a beautiful 850lb 19 point bull on Friday morning. Very few people put in more effort than Bruce Conner from NY and guide George Gray. Bruce wanted a bull moose with his bow. With less than adequate hunting conditions and only one opportunity at a young bull at less than 10 yards in 4 days he decided to take his rifle. Friday morning he had his zone 6 moose. Friday was also the luck day for Harry Spiker and his father. After hunting hard all week with guide Bill Johnson in zone 6 he had the opportunity to harvest a 43” bull. They hunted in an area that has always produced very well for us. They could see over 20 moose rubs from one of the ground blinds and the area looked like a cattle pasture. After 4 days with little results they unwillingly left the area to try their luck elsewhere only to find them returning in anticipation of the large bulls that were seen and videotaped by Bill. About an hour before dark Harry had his moose. Fellow Mainer Earl Holdsworth harvested a bull that made the SCI record book on the third day of his hunt with guide Boyd Tibbets.
I was fortunate to have drawn a moose tag myself this year. I had it in my mind that I was going to try for a big one or go without. I also would not shoot one unless it was with my bow. Many made the statement that the pressure was on me...quite the contrary I had no pressure on me at all. I was out there to enjoy myself. I knew if I did not connect it would not be for lack of trying. I teamed up with fellow guide Dave Hentosh who would film the hunt to promote a new broad head (Crimson Talon) that he is involved with. We had good luck for the first couple of days seeing 9 bulls 4 of which were less than 20 yards. We called in a decent 40 something inch 14 point bull two days in a row but not being the one we wanted I passed on him. On Wed afternoon we decided to go after a bull I watched the week before. He was in an area with no road access. An hour before dark we got a reply to our calling and 30 minutes later he was 25 yards in front of me. The bull gross scored 173 P&Y points and will be #12 all time archery killed moose in Maine if I decide to enter him. I am thankful that I was able to hunt for myself for a change.....I almost forgot how much I enjoyed it.
Shooting Preserve and upland hunts
We will be expanding our hunting opportunities with our shooting preserve as well as grouse and woodcock. I had been in the market for a pointing dog from good bloodlines and my choice of breed would be an English Pointer. After some research I visited with Gary Malzone from Indian Creek Kennels in Hardyston NJ. I was invited down to see his dogs in action at his shooting preserve last May. It was evident that the passion that Gary had for his dogs was unmatched by any dog handler that I have ever met. After spending the day with him and his dogs I decided that I wanted a puppy out of his grouse lines. Indian Creek Cali would be the dam and Movelles Chewy the sire. These dogs are from Elhew grouse lines. The parents of these dogs account for 19 championships including 13 national championships as well as a National Grand Champion (Movelles Gypsy). “Oxbow Joe” was born on July 18 and is now part of the family.
I was impressed with what I saw at the preserve on liberated birds and I was equally impressed with his dogs when he brought our dog up this past October. After watching Cali work the grouse and woodcock covers I was assured that I had made the right decision on bloodlines. I look forward to working with “Joe” this year and after what I witnessed I will more than likely be guiding some of you with him next season at just over a year old!
Deer Hunting ‘03
The most prevalent factor during any hunting trip is the weather with Maine being no exception. The first few weeks of the season proved to be very warm and windy, neither of which would be my choice for good hunting. We did manage to get some real nice deer and opportunities at a few real wall hangers. The muzzle loading season provided a little snow with below zero temperature which made hunting difficult. We worked harder this year to find deer than any other in the past and the shot opportunity with our guided hunters proved that our efforts were rewarded (in most cases anyway).
We had a total of 21 guided hunters during our 5 week season eleven of which had opportunity at racked bucks. We were able to hang six of them on the game pole. Of the six that were harvested there were three 8 points a nine and two eleven point bucks. Our total sightings of deer were down considerably from last year but the amount of bucks sighted was higher. We encountered a lot of BIG deer sign this year and even getting a crack at a couple of them. The balance of buck to doe sightings was about equal. We saw just as many bucks as we did doe with some weeks having many more bucks being sighted. It is not too often you are able to find the quality deer that we have on land that is open to the public. The land is so vast and with no concentrated food sources the deer are very difficult to pattern. That is why we spend countless hours setting up stands and finding the “right” spots for our hunters. Each year proves to be a new learning experience with having to find new area because the hot spots we found last year may be void of deer this season.
Bear Hunting under attack
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has circulated petitions for a citizen’s initiative that would ban hunting of bear with bait and dogs as well as bear trapping. The initiative question will be on the state referendum ballot in November of 2004. HSUS is the most aggressive and best-funded national anti hunting antitrapping organization, with an annual budget in excess of $50million. It has been successful in a number of similar referenda in other states, including Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts. This is the groups first effort at initiating a referendum vote in Maine. Make no mistake about it we may loose our right to bear hunt in the no so distant future. We do have some things that are in our favor. Our newly appointed Governor John Baldacci has pledged that his Fish and Wildlife Dept. will do everything possible to defeat the HSUS initiative. With the backing of many well respected organizations the HSUS will be in for a battle they will not soon forget. The Maine Professional Guides association has pledged $100,000 towards the battle as well as many other donations from other groups. The landowners and timber companies have voiced their concern and are backing us. George Smith from the Sportsmans Alliance of Maine is leading this coalition and I could not be more pleased with his efforts. As far as we are concerned it will be business as usual. We have been taking deposits for the 2005 season already with the assumption that we will not lose in November. If the voters of Maine decided that we were no longer able to hunt bears we will either return deposits or apply it to another hunt at Oxbow Lodge. I am confident that we will win this but it will not be without a huge effort on our part.
Oxbow Lodge buys out competitor
Last winter I was presented with an opportunity to purchase another guide service. Ivan Porter (Porters Guide Service) approached me to purchase his guide service and equipment. He has been in the bear hunting industry for over 30 years and he figured at 74 years old it was time to pass on his business. I feel very fortunate to purchase this very well known outfit and will start to utilize it this upcoming season. The purchase will more than triple our hunting area. It is located north of the Lodge in an area known for its bear population. It is my intent to offer a few different options for the hunter, from the all inclusive Lodge hunt to the do it yourself drop camp. We look forward to hunting this new area and anticipate great success.
This year will be a very busy one for us. I will be building new tree stands for our newly acquired hunting area this winter. The preparation for the upcoming seasons will be one of our busiest with our new outpost bear hunt as well as establishing our shooting preserve. Any major construction projects at the lodge will more than likely be put on hold until the following year. The lists of projects seem to grow every year but I look forward to completing them all. We are always looking for ways to improve our operation and facilities. One major project that is in the works will be a game processing building. Although the “skinning shed” works fine we plan on constructing this in the next couple of years. We updated our game room with a new hand crafted slate pool table and new television, as well as adding the modern convenience of satellite TV.
Oxbow Lodge Staff
Bill Johnson- Since his retirement from the State Police we have had the pleasure of having Bill on our staff. Bill is a certified scuba instructor, an Inland Fisheries and Wildlife outdoor safety instructor and a cold weather survival instructor. Bills dedication and knowledge as well as his attention to details bring strong assets to Oxbow Lodge. Bill truly loves the outdoors and during the off seasons you are likely to find him in the woods preparing for the upcoming hunts.
Donald Whipple- Don comes from long time family of guides. Having worked in the woods and guiding most of his life his knowledge of the area is unsurpassed. He makes his living in the woods with guiding and trapping. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated guide on our staff. Having harvested his share of big bucks, including a monster Boone and Crockett 10 pt., Don brings a wealth of knowledge of the area as well as the dedication that is needed as a successful guide.
Terry Collins- Terry has been with us for the past four years. Terry guides for us during the bear season. He is a certified trapping instructor. Spending his life working in the woods and his passion for the black bear brings strong qualities that we feel fortunate to have on our staff. Terry is a logger by trade and other than August and September (bear season) lives with his wife Kandy in Davenport, NY.
Boyd Tibbetts- Boyd lives in Ashland and works for Pinkam Mill. He is known as one of the best archery guides in the area. His specialty is archery hunting for moose. He has the bragging rites to have guided hunters that harvested the #5 and #7 Pope and Young moose in the state. During the off season you are likely to find him paddling a dead water looking for the next moose to make the record-books.
Dan Glidden- Dan is a fairly new addition to our staff. Being a retired game warden from the area and having his guides’ license for 40 years Dan brings a wealth of knowledge of the area that we are fortunate to have. He is also Maine’s representative for the national trappers association. You will find Dan spending his time trapping when he is not guiding. Dan lives in the neighboring town of Masardis with his wife.
George Gray- George has been guiding for us for some time now. He spends half of the year living in Alaska only to return each fall to guide moose and deer hunters. Those of you that have been here remember the two locked bucks that were mounted in the dining room that were found by George. When he is not guiding you are likely find him hanging in a tree somewhere working at his tree trimming service.
Kitchen Staff- Those of you that have been here know the work that goes into the kitchen and the lodge by this dedicated staff. Tracey along with Donna Provencher, Joan Johnson and Ann Currier do a great job at feeding everyone and keeping the place neat and clean. You will be assured wonderfully prepared meals throughout your stay and if anyone leaves the table hungry no one is to blame but themselves.
In Memory of Carl L Sherman Jr.
On December 29th 2003 we lost an employee and dear friend. We are sad to tell you that Carl Sherman passed away after a battle with cancer. I can tell you first hand that he will be very much missed by everyone here. Many of you will remember his quick wit and classic one- liners. Those of you that were fortunate to have known him know that we considered him one of the family and will forever be in our hearts.