Let me make something perfectly clear. I am not a huntin’ kind-a-girl. Moving here from New Jersey, only forty minutes outside of Manhattan, it just wasn’t something I did in my free time. If a person was wearing camo-anything, it was because they were in the military. If you had rifles hanging in your truck, or were caught walking down a street at the edge of a wooded area holding a gun, you were chased down by a swat team and forcefully arrested while all the world watched on every major news station. Though there were areas of northern N.J. where hunting was appreciated and practiced, it was hours from me, and it was considered an outdoor sport. Period. So, it always seemed extremely violent to me to kill an innocent animal just “for the fun of it”.
When I moved here in 2006, I became friends with many people who absolutely LOVED hunting. One in particular became a very close friend of mine over the years. She goes hunting any chance she gets. I remember asking her what she does with her prize after she massacres it.
“What do I do with it?” she asked – somewhat confused by my question, “well, I drag it to the truck, get ’er in there, take’er home and gut ’er.. then I cut up the meat and put it in the freezer.”
O.M.G. So sorry I asked. How can you shoot Bambi? Those sweet big brown eyes that say.. “you don’t really want to shoot me, do you?” One thought I hadn’t considered until she pointed it out with a glimmer in her eye… “Bambi tastes reeeeeally good.”
Here, in Maine, families depend on successful hunts so that they have meat for the winter. It has also become clear to me that families actually bond during their hunting excursions. Dads and sons, dads and daughters, husbands and wives, siblings, you name it. They can sit in tree stands, or walk softly through the woods in absolutely freezing temperatures, not making a sound for hours, just watching, p a t i e n t l y … waiting. I still really don’t get it. But then I see photos of a 12 year old holding the antlers of his first buck, and the pride and joy in his eyes. While standing in line to pay for my coffee at AE Robinson in Dover Foxcroft, I heard a dad tell his buddy about the buck his son shot .. he was so proud, just beaming as he told the story. I began to see a different side of it.
Before long, friends were offering deer meet, moose meat, and even bear meat for me to try. This was a way of life here. It’s been eight years and I still haven’t gone hunting, but strangely, I’ve warmed up to the idea.
The down side of hunting, everyone seems to agree, is spending hours upon hours waiting and watching, sometimes for days, and still come home empty handed. You open the front door and hear your kids running to greet you, screeching to a halt and looking anxiously up at you to find out what you shot…….and you shot…(insert drumroll)…. a whole-lot-a-nothin’. You’re not even sure there was any living thing out there besides you.
For this reason, I thought it would be awesome to share some insider information with all you hunters out there.
As the executive director of the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce, I visit and provide support to the businesses within the borders of our county, and I do everything within my power to PROMOTE the county. In doing so, I came across an amazing destination for hunters.
It could potentially be the place you spend your next vacation, if you like to vacation between August and December.
Imagine this: you check-in to a cabin in the woods (this part is free (really!!)). Two bed room, two baths, with a kitchen. All you will do during your time here is sleep, eat, and hunt. The cabin rests on 500 acres, 200 of which are enclosed in high fence. Red deer, elf, fallow deer, sika deer, buffalo, bear (outside of fenced area), and even wild hogs call this land “home”. You stay until you shoot something. Guaranteed. You pay only for what you shoot, and the price is based on points and age of the animal. Did I mention lodging is free? You can bring your own food and stock the kitchen, or pay an additional fee to have food provided for you.
The animals on this land are not native to the state of Maine. They are purchased, placed, and grown on private property. They belong to the owner. This is the man you will pay for the opportunity to shoot an animal and take it home with you. This means you can hunt WITHOUT A LICENSE, unless you are hunting bear. Parents can bring children as young as seven years of age to the hunt. Which opens up a whole new way to celebrate your child’s next birthday… buy him a hunt!!!
Here’s another neat fact…this establishment only books one hunting party at a time so you have 500 acres all to yourself. You’d better book early for the season though, spots fill up quickly! And great news! With no other hunters on your turf, the chance of getting mistaken for a buck and shot is pretty slim, unless you’re clumsy. Pretty safe, I’d say.
The owner is a registered Maine guide, who will join you on the hunt for a one on one walk through the woods. This is a wonderful experience for a young person. Accommodations are made for handicapped hunters, as well, and wounded veterans are encouraged to make this their hunting destination. John Rackley never thought he would ever hunt again after an accident left him wheelchair-bound with no use of his legs. Good friends took him here, to Piscataquis County, where they knew they could make it happen. He pushed through the stumps, branches, leaves, and dirt in his Renegade wheelchair, and was sometimes carried, until he came face to face with three trophy red stags, and took a shot. Check out the video below to see his story.
This outfitting establishment provides everything a hunter needs. Inexperienced hunters are welcome; even those who do not own their own guns. Firearm instruction and target practice is also provided. Some have called it the “best experience of my hunting life!”.
Not sure how you all feel about this, but for a girl from the city, I thought it was a pretty amazing alternative to hours of hunting in the bitter cold with nothing to show for it. And though it took a drive in to Brownville to learn that an “outfitter” was not a person who specialized in planning my wardrobe, I learned much more.
Hunting is not as strange as I once thought, and now I found a great place to do it when I’m ready. In a secret location in the woods of Brownville, a sweet log cabin is tucked away with my first hunt waiting outside.
Hmm. Now all I need is a rifle.
Until next time, thank you for taking a “Peek Into Piscataquis”!