New England sports personalities have a long tradition of escaping to the Maine woods to hunt, fish, and unwind.
When Jonathan Papelbon comes to Maine in about a month for his first moose hunt, you may be one of two lucky hunters who get to tag along and fill their own moose tag with the Red Sox standout.
“I’ve never been moose hunting, but I like to hunt back home a lot,” Papelbon said Wednesday during a phone interview. “It’s going to be an exciting and new [project] to take on.”
Papelbon is coming to Maine as a guest of the Passamaquoddy tribe and will be one of three permit-holders who will hunt on Passamaquoddy land during a fund-raising event to benefit the Chief Melvin Francis Memorial Fund.
Francis died in a car accident in January, and this event is designed to help further Francis’ goals of improving the welfare, safety, and lives of tribal members, especially elderly members and native foster children.
Two one-day moose hunts will be awarded in different ways. One will be selected in a raffle, with tickets available for $100 apiece. The other will be earned by the winner of an e-Bay auction.
The raffle winner will be drawn Oct. 15, and the hunts will take place Oct. 21.
The Boston Red Sox used Papelbon as their closer this season, and the rookie posted a 4-2 record with 35 saves and a 0.92 earned run average before he was sidelined Sept. 1 with a shoulder injury.
Papelbon said he never got the chance to hunt in Maine during his stint with the Portland Sea Dogs but is looking forward to the opportunity.
And getting to hunt while doing valuable charity work is an added bonus, he said.
“You get the long grind of the season, it really helps during the offseason to wind down and regenerate, and these are perfect ways to do it,” Papelbon said.
Craig Francis of Falmouth, the tribal attorney and the secretary of the Chief Melvin Francis Memorial Fund, said he got to know the pitcher when Papelbon played in Portland and suggested teaming up on a charity effort.
“My wife and his wife are friends,” Francis said, explaining that Papelbon’s wife worked at a clothing store in Portland and his wife often shopped there.
“We were talking about his fundraising, civic types of work in Boston for youth, and I asked him if he’d be interested in doing something through the tribe through the Chief Melvin Francis Memorial Fund.”
Papelbon jumped at the chance.
“[Craig Francis] asked if I could help him out on a charity event, a hunt, and I was all for it,” Papelbon said.
Papelbon said he grew up hunting in his native Louisiana and still enjoys getting out in the woods and on the water.
“I’m a really avid waterfowler. I like to duck hunt,” Papelbon said. “I like to deer hunt as well, but my passion’s duck hunting.”
Papelbon is also an avid bow hunter and will bring his bow to Maine for the hunt.
“I’m going to try to take mine with a bow. I imagine we might take [a bow and a rifle], because with a bow, you have to get within 50 yards of them,” Papelbon said. “If we can’t do that, we might take one down with a rifle.”
Francis expects Papelbon to arrive in Washington County the day before the hunt.
“Basically, the way I think it’s going to unfold is, we’re going to have Papelbon come up on the 20th, meet with the people, maybe sign some autographs,” Francis said. “Then we’ll hunt all day Saturday and Papelbon will probably go back on Sunday.”
Papelbon and Francis said a TV crew from Camo Country will be on hand to film the hunt, which should only add to the experience and generate more interest for the charity. The hunt is being billed as the first moose hunt by a nontribal member on Passamaquoddy land.
Being able to combine his love of hunting with a charity event is a huge bonus, according to Papelbon.
“It’s hopefully going to turn into something big and fun for the charity,” Papelbon said. “That’s the best part of it: Being out there and being able to give a full effort into something that we love, and being able to work hard to get this charity event to where we want it to be, because this is really my passion.”
Those interested in purchasing a raffle ticket must send a check or money order to Carol Francis (executive director) at 55 Perry Road, Easton, ME 04740. If additional information is needed, Carol can be reached at 488-9062. All checks or money orders, made payable to the Chief Melvin Francis Memorial Fund, must be received by Oct. 14 for the Oct. 15 drawing.
The winner of the raffle will be housed at the Passamaquoddy warden camp.
Moose hunters take note …
If you’re a moose hunter heading north for next week’s opening week, the folks at North Maine Woods have a travel update that you ought to hear.
According to Al Cowperthwaite, the executive director of NMW, hunters trying to access Wildlife Management Districts 1 and 4 may have to change their travel plans, depending on their destination.
Here’s what Cowperthwaite had to say in an e-mail he sent Wednesday:
“Next week, during the moose hunt, construction is planned on the American Realty Road where it crosses the Allagash Wilderness Waterway at Umsaskis-Long Lake Thoroughfare,” Cowperthwaite wrote. “Landowners have been working with the contractor to get this done earlier in the season, but due to the permit process and scheduling of other jobs, this has not happened.
“Everyone is reluctant to wait any longer due to the potential for fall rain and higher water which will complicate the project,” he wrote.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get across the waterway. It just means you might not be able to use the route you’d planned on using.
“Access to zones 1 and 4 west of the Allagash River is possible via Churchill Dam or Henderson Brook Bridge,” Cowperthwaite said.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.