The Appalachian Mountain range is an iconic and historic place to hunt black bear using hounds. It was the first region of the country to use European hound stock for big game. It also holds some of North America’s best bear habitat. Roy Clark, 69, is a native Tennessean and has been running bears with hounds since he was a child. His father, Hugh L., and grandfather, Charlie, started hunting in the 1940s with Plott hounds they got from Plott breeder, Charles Gantte. From these original dogs, a strain called Clark’s Laurel Mountain Plotts emerged over the last 60-plus years. The rabbit hole of history and tradition goes deep when you’re in Tennessee bear hunting with hounds.
Bear hunters in the Appalachian Mountains hunt for themselves, their dogs and for the joy of sharing their hunts with good friends. And not to say that local notoriety isn’t shed on men with reputations of “being tough in the mountains.” There was a time when bear hunters were known as men of renown in their communities, and in some regions they still are today. And I think it would be a stretch to say that these bear hunters don’t like that, but it’s not why they do it. Or it’s at least not why Mr. Eldridge hunted. I like these kinds of places and people.
-Clay Newcomb-
I’ve been running hounds on mountain lion and hunting bears in Utah for the better part of twelve years, but this spring bear season was different. I finally had a bear tag in my pocket.
Born on a dairy farm in Staceyville, Maine in 1948, Mike wasn’t cut out to be a farmer. Dairy farming is tough, methodical work, especially in the North Country. Mike always seemed to be bucking against the system, though he worked very hard all through his childhood and teenage years. Mike’s father always told him, “There are other gears than just fifth.” Mike never liked farming, and some said he could get sloppy, but he did adhere to the internal value system that comes along with farm life. He possessed the self-motivated drive of an entrepreneur, high levels of integrity, a pioneer mentality towards problems, an extremely hard work ethic and he was exceptionally thorough. This was Mike’s start.

Mike Merry was a bigger-than-life character in the Northwoods of Maine. The thing behind the thing was his enthusiasm and drive for life and for whatever he was doing. According to those who knew him well, he lived life at a different frequency than his peers. The definition of mettle is exactly what Mike was. He dealt with life in a spirited and resilient way. Mike was a living legend until September 28, 2012 – the day he became simply a legend. He was known for his relentless pursuit in bear hunting with hounds, his highly skilled logging techniques, and his high-level musical talent in playing the drums.