While Saturday’s weather in these parts probably kept a lot of deer hunters out of the woods on opening day, it didn’t keep everyone away.
One of the hunters who tagged out on opening day is particularly familiar.
Chandler Woodcock, the Republican candidate for governor, went hunting in Bowmantown on opening day with his son, Seth, friend Tommy MacDonald, and campaign manager Chris Jackson.
According to Jackson, Woodcock was high atop a ridge during a snowstorm when he spied two bucks.
The deer he shot with his .270 rifle was impressive indeed: It was a burly seven-pointer that weighed 239 pounds.
Now, Woodcock is likely hoping his hunting success translates to the polls on election day.
In other deer news, a windy Youth Deer Day on Oct. 21 likely limited the number of deer taken by the state’s young hunters, but a few did check in via e-mail to tell their stories.
The most in-depth tale came from 13-year-old Shelby Weston, who spent the day hunting in a “secret spot” in Milo with her stepfather, Brent Bailey.
Weston shot a doe, walked to the spot where the doe had been standing, and found blood on the ground. At that point, Bailey told her they were going to take a brief break to let the deer lie down, rather than pursue it and push it ahead of them.
“I wasn’t too happy to leave, but he knows a lot more hunting than I do so I knew what he was doing,” Weston wrote. “So we went back to the truck and went to a store down the road named C&J’s. We got a drink and some breakfast but I told him I wasn’t going to eat until I knew that I got the deer!”
At this point in her tale, Weston’s pace picked up (as did her liberal use of exclamation points).
Weston and Bailey returned to the woods and began tracking the deer, and quickly found it.
Then the tour began, with stops at the landowners’ house, the store, as well as Weston’s grandmother’s home before heading to her mother’s house.
“Six hours after I shot the deer we were ready to take pictures of me with my deer,” she wrote. “It weighed a big 125 pounds dressed! Brent cut the tenderloins out of it and we had them Monday night! They were so good!”
Congratulations to Shelby on her first deer.
Another Youth Deer Day e-mail came from Matt Mann, who told the tale of his son, Ben.
Ben and his dad were actually bird hunting near Allagash on Oct. 21, but a friend insisted that Ben have a rifle ready in case a deer happened to walk by.
With just nine minutes of daylight left, that’s exactly what happened, and Ben took advantage of his opportunity.
“This was Ben’s first legal deer seen, [his] first shot at one, first day out, with a gun that he had never shot before,” Matt Mann wrote. “I told him ‘Don’t get used to it.'”
The Manns estimated the doe’s weight at 140 pounds.
And finally, I received a short message from one of my favorite e-mail pen pals.
Ever since I started this outdoor writing gig, I have received periodic updates from a girl who always signs her notes “Your Outdoor Friend.”
Over the years, my outdoor friend has shown she has a real aptitude for hunting, and has been very, very successful.
Now, though, she’s getting older, and her junior hunting days are drawing to a close. That doesn’t mean that she didn’t get out one last time on Youth Deer Day.
“How are you doing?” she wrote. “I had yet another successful hunt this past Saturday. Speaking of which, it was my last Youth Day! It makes me sad; Definitely was worth the wait after passing up six does earlier that morning.
“And I got this in the late afternoon, just before quitting time,” she wrote, enclosing a photo of her deer. Here are the specifics: “235 yards. .30-06. Eight points. 160 pounds.
“Your Outdoor Friend, Holly Hughes of Corinna.”
Thanks for the e-mails. And good luck to those of you who didn’t fill your tag on a blustery opening day.
OK on opening day
As far as opening days go, Saturday wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Honest.
A few years back, you may recall, it was about 80 degrees on that sacred Saturday when Maine’s deer hunters get to head into the woods for the first time.
That was also the year Hunting Buddy took me deep into a swamp, pointed his finger, and said, essentially, “Go East, young man.”
At least that’s how I remember it. A couple hours later, after stumbling through the mud and muck on what he had assured me was a “well-marked” path, I had learned a few valuable lessons.
First, it’s entirely possible to encounter swarms of black flies during deer season, if the weather is warm enough.
Second, one man’s “well-marked” path can be another’s confusing labyrinth.
And third, when your hunting buddy sends you bush-whomping with a smile on his face, chances are good that he’s planning to find a nice piece of high ground, lay back, and take a nap.
Yes, Saturday was miserable (if, that is, you were one of the hardy hunters who stayed out there all day long, even as the trees began to sway and the rain began to fall sideways).
But it could have been worse.
And if you were like Hunting Buddy and me, it wasn’t so bad at all.
We planned for the worst, hunted from legal shooting time until about 10, then got out while the getting was good.
Call us chickens. Call us fair-weather hunters. Call us whatever you want.
When we called off the day’s hunt, you also could have called us a few other things.
Dry, for instance. Warm … more or less. And perhaps most importantly, eager to get back out there and try again, after the storm had passed.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.