Hunting season is not just about spending time in the woods, tracking deer and trying to bring home wild game meat.

It’s about stories. And probably nobody has as many quirky or ridiculous stories of the woods as Registered Maine Guides.

“Stories are part of what clients are paying for,” said Registered Maine Guide Mike Andreotti of Thornehead Guide Service. “If you talk to enough guides they’ve seen a lot of different things. Some of them make you scratch your head, there’s no question.”

We contacted a dozen guides for stories and found this to be true. Here are a few of them:

BEARS AND BIGFOOT

Dave Carey retired as a bear guide six years ago after a 35-year career. In those years at his hunting lodge outside Rangeley, Carey had seen a bull moose charge his truck, and a black bear chase a hunter and guide.

But Carey’s favorite story was the time he made two Connecticut policemen who came to hunt bear believe they were on a much bigger hunt.

The two men were avid Bigfoot fans so Carey took full advantage. He cut a piece of plywood in the shape of a giant foot and imprinted the footprints in the mud around the bait sites. He then got a bag of hair from the local barber and spread clumps of hair in the footprints.

And on the logging road into the bait sites, Carey put up a sign alerting hunters there had been a Bigfoot sighting, and asking hunters with information to call the University of Washington.

“When they walked into their bait site and saw that, they were freaked out. They were sure it was Bigfoot,” Carey said. “They called the number. One of the other guides talked to them about the reward. They were arguing over it. It was quite funny. They were convinced. They were the only two who didn’t know it was a joke. They were good sports when they found out.”

ROLL TIDE

And then there are those who refuse to believe in the ordinary and everyday, like ocean tides.

Every year without fail when Mike Andreotti of Brunswick guides sea duck hunters along the coast, at least one will be mystified by the tides.

“Some people from the Midwest or Texas don’t know what to do with a 10-foot tide that drains in 51/2 hours. I get more laughs at it and I’m laughing with them,” Andreotti said.

“We’re sitting in the boat looking at a rock ledge and the tide is coming up over the rock, and I say we’ll get them out there and they get really squirrelly. They all say the same thing. I look at them and say they’re going to be hunting from there and they say, ‘No I’m not.’ But in an hour the water drops another two feet. By the time it’s legal shooting, the ledge is exposed. Still they look at me with a puzzled look. And I say, ‘You’re just have to trust me on this.’ ”

MISGUIDED MOOSE

Roger Lambert started guiding people for moose when he was 18. Lambert has hosted the world moose calling championship and lectured on moose behavior at the North American Moose Conference.

Suffice it to say, Lambert, now 71, knows moose.

His favorite story is when he was scouting outside Rangeley for a friend and his son. He took them “up in the jungle on a mountain” and let loose a moose call to which a bull answered. But as that bull came toward them it stopped grunting, or “hung up on them,” as Lambert puts it.

So Lambert gave a different call and heard in response a “super grunt” from another bull. Both moose were competing for the cow Lambert’s call imitated.

“For all but six weeks of the year, bulls hang together, all ages. They’re buds,” Lambert said. “But for those six weeks they want to kill each other over a girl.”

As the second bull came plowing through the trees, it went to turn its antlers to get between two trees, but instead slammed one of them into a maple tree.

“It spun him right around and he went down with his head sideways,” Lambert said.

Then Lambert saw what he never forgot.

“That bull was prepared for a cow. He was so screwed up in his head. And when he saw us and he got up after being down on one knee, he had this embarrassed look on his face,” Lambert said. “There was no question. We’ve all seen dogs look embarrassed so why wouldn’t a moose? He was steaming toward his sweetie and got knocked right down, and the look on his face, he was embarrassed.”

DOG DAYS

At Wildwind Kennels in Knox, Jim Keller has been a Maine hunting guide for 20 years and a bird dog trainer for 32. He’s one of the nation’s top dog trainers with 98 field champion titles and a dog that was inducted into the National Bird Dog Field Trial Hall of Fame in Grand Junction, Tennessee.

Keller has stories of lost hunters from his years of guiding, but one of his favorite stories is about a puppy.

It was the time a retired DuPont executive came to Keller’s kennel to buy a bird dog. The man drove from Pennsylvania to his Rangeley camp and stopped on the way at Keller’s kennel in Knox. When he did, Keller was struck by his attention to detail.

“He drove a black Mercedes SUV. I had never seen a black Mercedes SUV,” Keller said. “His hair was perfect, and his clothing was perfect and that SUV was perfect. He picked up the puppy and we talked a bit. Then he put it in a box in the back. Then I went inside and told my wife, that man might be too meticulous for a puppy.”

Not long after, the man returned to ask Keller to train his dog, but the puppy already had trained the man.

“The man’s hair was a mess, the ball cap he had on was dirty, and his vehicle was trashed. And he looked as happy as could be,” Keller said. “He spent his whole life as a big executive and that dog gave him spirit. You could see it on his face – the transformation. Those are the type of stories I remember.”

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