My First Guiding Season

I just wrapped up my first bear season as a Registered Maine Guide. I thought I’d capture a few things I learned and some of my experiences. Some day maybe I’ll look back and laugh at this. Or maybe, I’ll never look back.

Up front and out of the chute, it was a life changing experience. I’ve helped people hunt before, showed them the ropes, gave them some tips, basic stuff. This was the first time that a person was expecting me to do everything possible to put them in a situation to have success, and they were paying for it. There’s an extra amount of added pressure that comes with this. I’m fortunate enough to have a good job, and a pension from my Marine Corps service. That takes away the threat of feeding the family Raman Noodles. If I don’t have success guiding I’ll be ok. I’ve developed a ton of respect for the folks that make a living as a guide.

Thom Gardella, with his first ever Maine Black bear. Thom was confident in the plan and positive the entire time. My first harvest as a guide. Life changer 


With that said, I want to be one of those guys. There’s a freedom that comes with guiding that you can’t get anywhere else. There is a singular focus on client success and enjoyment that really just turns down the volume on everything else. My outlook on life and what others are doing with their life has completely changed. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Prior to guiding, I would have been all fired up about the recent controversy of NFL players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. I would be ranting on social media and in person. Now, I could give a shit about what some entertainer has to say, or do. You’ve all heard the saying if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around does it make a noise? Well that’s kind of the stance I’ve taken regarding the eternal anger that we’ve taken on as Americans. If nobody talks about the latest “I’m offended” controversy did it really happen.? Through guiding I’ve been able to mute that crap and really focus on what I enjoy.

With that freedom comes work. Guiding is hard work. I was up before light and in bed long after the rest of the lodge.  There is always more work to be done.

You’re really taking a chance being a guide, communication with your client is the key. Don’t be afraid to lay out the rules for them. Tell them what you expect and what they can expect from you. I developed a rules agreement that we both signed so there was no gray area.

You have to stay positive. There will come a time when you are guiding where you’ll think, man I suck. Believe in your skills and your set up. There is a reason why you’re a guide and why the client chose you. DO NOT let them see you sweat. Your scouting, preparation, and perseverance  will carry you.

Rob Stitham, with his first black bear. He trusted the plan and made adjustments when needed.


Remember the animal has a vote. From the beginning tell your client that, I think there are some that believe that in Maine there’s an animal around every tree, if that was a case then they wouldn’t need a guide.

The devil is in the details. Before you leave the lodge check for licenses, tags, bullets, and magazine.

I could probably talk all day about my first season, I just scratched the surface on what I experienced and what I learned. The way ahead is pretty clear to me. I will finish up the 2017 season with waterfowl, whitetail, and if someone asks moose. This winter I’ll test for my fishing, and recreational licenses. My goal is to have 4 hunters a week for the last 3 weeks of the 2018 bear season: Four in southern Maine, four in Northern Maine and four in the Orono area.  I’ll guide for House in the Woods for the first week. From there I will continue to build my reputation and in 5 years I will have a full time guiding business.

Bet on it.


My first ever complete solo guide experience. Justin put his faith in a new guide and it paid off for both of us.







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