When the October moose hunt rolls around each year, it’s a good bet Doug Kane will be pretty easy to find.
Kane, a regional wildlife biologist for the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, often spends those days in the hangar at Stobie Seaplane Base in Greenville, along with a team of state staffers.
Teeth are pulled from the moose, the moose are weighed, and antlers are measured.
On Monday, however, as the opening day of moose season dawned bright and sunny, Kane was conspicuously absent from the festivities.
Not for long.
Shortly before noon, Kane showed up with brother, Jamie, and son, also named Doug. All three were grinning broadly.
Kane sheepishly admitted that when it comes to the annual moose hunt, his family has had a pretty good run of luck.
“I was one of those lucky guys. I’ve shot two with a bow,” Doug Kane said. “I have six brothers, and every one of them has had an opportunity to shoot a moose. Except Jamie.”
On Monday morning, Jamie made up for that, thanks to his brother.
The permit was Doug Kane’s. But bagging the moose was up to Jamie.
“I said, ‘I’m not even bringing firearms or anything,'” Doug Kane said with a laugh. “Nothing.”
Jamie Kane, who lives in Sangerville, and Doug, of Monson, tagged an 850-pound bull that sported antlers with a 57-inch spread.
And as you might expect, by the time the hunting party got back to Greenville, Doug Kane had already performed many of his regular duties to save work for his colleagues: He pulled a tooth, measured the antler spread, and even sampled the moose’s hide to check for ticks.
The hunt, both brothers said, was an interesting one. After spying the big bull 400 yards away in a cut, they watched him feed … then disappear.
“We were watching the whole time, saying, ‘He’s really too far away, too far away,’ but he wasn’t even nervous,” Doug Kane said.
Then the moose vanished, about 80 yards away from the woods line at the end of the cutting.
Shortly after that, they had a couple more surprises.
“[Then] there was a 21/2-year-old bull looking our way,” Doug Kane said. “[We thought] ‘Where did he come from?'”
That moose began feeding, just like the other bull had … and then he, too, disappeared.
“We [figured out] that the terrain must be such that they’re getting obscured,” Doug Kane said.
Then the Kanes moved to the right and started sneaking down toward the spot they’d lost sight of the moose.
“We get within 200 yards of them and there’s a big cow [moose] standing up,” Doug Kane said.
But though they were closer, none were quite sure where that moose had come from, either.
Eventually, they figured things out: “They’d got up out of beds, one at a time, fed, and gone back down into beds,” Doug Kane said. “It [took place] in an area of about five acres. But from the distance we were, you couldn’t see what was going on.”
From a closer distance, they could.
And it didn’t take long for them to spot the huge antlers poking up out of the grass. Their big moose was still there after all.
After some aggressive calling, Doug Kane convinced the bull to stand up. Jamie took over from there, dropping the moose with a 220-yard shot.
“[The experience] was a little puzzling, but it was interesting to watch the whole thing unfold,” Jamie Kane said. “It just made the whole experience unbelievable.”
An added benefit, both brothers said, was that they got to share the experience with others.
“Most importantly, we had my little boy and my wife with us, so we had a great time,” Doug Kane said.
Jamie Kane agreed.
“I got to spend [the hunt] with the family, got to go out and do some hunting. It was a great time,” he said.
Youth Deer Day approaches
Falling leaves and cooler temperatures serve as a harbinger of our favorite autumn outdoor pursuits, and the state’s youngsters will have the chance to get a head start on one such tradition in a week.
The state’s Youth Deer Day will be held on Oct. 21, and hunters ages 10 to 16 will be able to take advantage of their junior hunting license on a day that’s all theirs.
The regular firearms season on deer for Mainers begins a week later – on Oct. 28 – and nonresident hunters can take to the woods on Oct. 30.
Both resident and nonresident junior hunters are allowed to hunt on Youth Deer Day, as long as they are under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or qualified adult.
Any person who accompanies a junior hunter – other than a parent or guardian – must either possess a valid hunting license or have successfully completed a hunter safety course. The adult may not possess a firearm during the hunt.
The junior hunter can take a deer of either sex with a firearm or bow and arrow in any area of the state that is open to hunting.
Though parents and guardians are not required to have a hunting license, and juniors need not have completed the hunter safety course in order to participate, it’s not a bad idea to take part in a safety course as a family.
Across the state, hundreds of Maine juniors and adults are taking part in those courses as we speak. For more information on a safety course near you, go to the DIF&W Web site at www.mefishwildlife.com, and check under the “Hunting and Trapping” link for safety courses.
Coming up on ‘Going Outdoors’
If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the state-run hunter safety courses, you can do so by tuning in our weekly “Going Outdoors” segment, which airs Mondays on the ABC-7 and FOX-22 newscasts.
This morning cameraman Dave Simpson and I will spend some time at a hunter safety course being offered at the Penobscot County Conservation Association clubhouse in Brewer, and on Monday, we’ll share what we learned.
The “Going Outdoors” segment will run at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on ABC-7, and at 10 p.m. on FOX-22.
And as always, if you think you’ve got an idea that would make for an interesting “Going Outdoors” feature, you can share it with me by e-mailing or calling with the information.
John Holyoke can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.