Some Maine hunters didn’t like the fact that this year’s second session of the annual moose hunt didn’t follow recent trends.
Gail Read of Phippsburg wasn’t one of them.
Instead of a weeklong gap between the seasons, as has become the custom, this year’s hunting schedule called for a two-week hiatus between the first and second six-day sessions.
The concern of some was that moose wouldn’t be as susceptible to calling during mid-October as they are several days earlier.
Read didn’t worry about that a bit.
“Usually I don’t put in for the October hunt because it falls on the same week I’m in Florida,” she said on Wednesday while tagging her moose at Old Town Trading Post. “I go [to Florida] every year at the same time. But this week [the season] fell the week after and I [entered the permit lottery] and I got it.”
Read made it back to Maine with little time to spare: She flew in on Saturday night and on Sunday she rode up to a family camp in Township 3, Range 1 — west of Enfield and south of Lee — to prepare for her hunt.
The hunt was officially her second, but her husband, Reginald, handled the shooting chores back in 1993. This time, both said, things were going to be different.
“It was her hunt,” Reginald Read said.
“This was my hunt,” Gail Read echoed, minutes later.
The Reads had no problem finding moose, but did face a bit of a challenge: All of the moose they found were in the wrong place.
“We saw 19 moose [Monday], 15 yesterday and two more this morning,” Reginald Read said. “Then she saw this one.”
By any measure, that would be a successful three-day moose hunt. The problem: The couple kept spotting moose while they were traveling from a Wildlife Management District they weren’t allowed to hunt to the one they did, WMD 19.
Each morning, in fact, they saw the same massive bull moose in the same location. Reginald Read estimated its weight at 1,000 pounds.
And how close did they get to the moose?
“Close enough,” he said.
Close enough if their permit had been in their zone … but it wasn’t. So they hunted on.
Gail Read eventually bagged her moose while hunting out of a canoe, transported the critter into a larger boat, and then transported it 2½ miles down the Passadumkeag River.
Gail Read said that getting the chance to see 36 moose over a three-day stretch was a new experience for her.
“I’ve been on the river many times and I’m lucky if I see two moose when I’m on it,” she said. “I was lucky.”
Lucky in the moose-spotting department, but not so lucky in the moose-shooting department. Until Wednesday, no shots presented themselves.
“This morning when we were going along we saw this other one,” she said. “The sun was shining right on his antlers. We thought he was bigger than he was. I just felt he was the one, so I shot him from the canoe.”
She dropped the moose with a single shot from about 60 yards, and then the hard work began. She shot the moose at about 6:46 a.m., and the hunting party didn’t arrive at the Old Town tagging station until nearly 2 p.m.
Gail Read arrived at the tagging station still wearing her orange hunting cap — “I’m having a real bad hair day,” she said, before posing for an obligatory photo — but had made a few wardrobe changes.
Instead of her blaze orange hunting jacket, for instance, she was wearing an aqua sweater.
“I looked like the great pumpkin,” Gail Read said with a chuckle.
Gail Read is an avid deer hunter as well, but said she prefers turkey hunting over anything else.
And though she saw bigger moose on her trips up and down the Passadumkeag, she’s satisfied with the young bull moose she shot, which sported a rack with a 32-inch spread.
“He was the one,” she said.
Hunters breakfast update
Since I asked for your help a couple weeks back, I have received word from a few schools and civic organizations that are planning on holding hunters breakfasts (or lunches … or dinners) this year.
But I know there are a lot more folks I haven’t heard from yet.
So I’ll ask again: If you’re involved with a hunters breakfast, and you’d like to let as many hunters as possible know about it, please drop me a line at the e-mail address below.
Or, if you prefer, you can send to my attention to the Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, 04402-1329.
Include all the particulars, especially the hours you’ll be open, the cost of a meal, and the location, and I’ll do the rest.
And if you think you’ve done your duty by posting a flier in your local general store, please reconsider.
We hunters travel far and wide in search of deer (and breakfasts), and chances are pretty good that by letting me pass along the word for you, you’ll likely target an audience that doesn’t actually live in the town where the meal will take place.
Thanks again, in advance, for your help.