WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Deer hunter’s trilogy from the Big Woods of Maine

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Deer hunter’s trilogy from the Big Woods of Maine

Record-Journal

Hey, how is the deer hunting going?

From the reports I am getting from the field, it looks like a banner year so far.

Oh, there are some deer hunters who have yet to taste the victory of putting a tag on a deer, but that is what hunting is all about. Nothing guaranteed.

In my many years in the outdoors, a good number of them spent hunting the wily whitetailed deer, many times I came home with no deer, but that did not stop me from going out and trying again.

Sometimes I got lucky and sometimes I did not.

And this brings to mind three of the largest bucks I have ever encountered, all of them in Maine, and I never got to put a tag on any of them.

Oh, there was one year when Bill Schafrick and I both tagged out on a Maine hunting trip, with each of us getting a 10-point buck.

Bill got his a couple of miles from camp, down in a spot we called “The Hardwoods.” It was a bruiser and it took most of the morning for us to get the critter out of the woods.

I was exhausted when we finally made camp and said to Bill, “If I ever get a buck like that I will get it in the blueberry field in back of the farmhouse and you can drive the truck out to the deer where we can simply load it and drive it back to camp.”

Lo and behold, my promise came to pass that afternoon when I tagged a huge 10-point buck and, true to my word, Bill drove the truck out to the deer and we carried it in the truck back to the camp.

But, as huge as those two bucks were, they were no match to the three that I mentioned at the start of the column.

The first sighting came down in The Hardwoods. I knew there was a brute of a buck in the area and made plans to go after it. I had an idea of the route he would take along the edge of a swamp, so I set up on the ground with my back to a huge tree.

Sure enough, the buck made an appearance, but in typical deer fashion it did not come in the direction I thought it would. I am right-handed, and to get a shot the buck would have had to come from in front of me. The way I was sitting, it came from in back of me.

I glanced down at the swamp and could not believe my eyes at the size of that buck, and he saw me the same time I saw him.

He never snorted an alarm or anything. He just wheeled around and headed back to wherever he came from and left me with nothing but the sight of his huge whitetail waving “bye-bye.”

Needless to say, I hunted that area for the rest of the week without seeing any deer at all, but the size of that buck and the memories of it made the week worthwhile because that is what deer hunting is supposed to be like.

My next Maine encounter came with a huge buck with a non-typical rack (odd points with nothing symmetrical about the antlers). If I had been on my game, I would have had this one.

I was sitting in the field where I had tagged the 10-point buck. In the middle of the field was a huge rock surrounded by some brush and it made a natural blind. Since my back was against the rock, I was facing downfield in the area that I had got the 10-pointer.

You guessed it, this non-typical buck had come in from behind me and was munching on some greenery only 10 feet away.

How many times do you ever get that close to a deer?

Again, being a “righty,” the buck was on my right, and I would have to try and twist for a shot. I decided to try and move ever so slowly to bring my rifle into position for a shot, but at the first movement the buck wheeled around and ran off.

I can still hear that monster buck laughing as he took off in back of me, taking away any chance I had of bagging it. Another big buck for memories that I still cherish. To this day, I still remember that buck like it was only yesterday.

And that takes us to the third monster buck that I did not get. You think I would have learned by then, but that is what makes the time in the woods so great: You can learn a new lesson almost any time you are out there.

When it came to hunting deer in the big woods of Maine, I was a wanderer. One of my hunting buddies, Mike Hanlon, once said, “If anything ever happens to you, I won’t even know where to start looking for you.”

Of course, back then, being younger and, I guess you could say, more foolhardy, I told him not to worry.

I left camp in the early morning darkness and hunted some new territory. It was a cold morning and quite noisy walking with heavy frost covering the ground and leaves.

As I recall, about 10 a.m. that morning, I decided to take a break at a spot that had a huge tree stump for me to climb up on for a short rest. I was munching on a snack bar when I could hear some heavy crunching in the leaves below me. It sounded like another hunter walking, so I sat and waited to see him.

Suddenly, another Maine monster buck materialized out of the woods below me!

Instinct made me grab my rifle and bring it up to my shoulder, and the huge buck caught the movement. He stopped behind a tree, and while I could see his antlers protruding on both sides of the tree, his body was shielded by the trunk of the tree.

That buck did not get that big being dumb. He knew where I was and made his escape putting the trunk of the tree between me and him as he headed off to safety.

Deer hunting memories stay with you forever. I hope you have some also.

Fishing

The warm weather we have been having has been a boon to fishermen in the area. I have seen some boat fishermen on Silver Lake and Beavers Park even on some of the chillier mornings.

Local fisherman Marty Loos informed me that he has been catching some nice trout at Black Pond.

The DEEP Inland Fisheries has been doing its fall trout stocking, so if the weather holds why not give it a try?

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders whoever they may be serving this great country of ours.



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