As tagging stations go, Bob’s Kozy Korner Store in Orrington is perfectly typical. It’s a neighborhood store with a neighborly feel, and owner Bob Bastey always makes you feel welcome when you step inside the door.
And lately, Bastey reports, he’s had a lot of people stepping through the door.
“It’s been fantastic,” Bastey said on Saturday afternoon, taking a brief break between stocking coolers and tagging deer. “I went downstairs and looked at my old [tagging] board, and we had tagged 80 deer at [this time a year ago]. We’re at 146 right now.”
Bastey said a few local tagging stations have closed down, which has probably increased his tagging business. But he said he’s still getting the majority of his deer from those hunting in Bucksport and Orrington, just as he always has.
On Saturday, Devin Fitzpatrick of Brewer was among those tagging deer — his was the 10th of the day — and according to Maine tradition, was perfectly willing to share his hunting tale for the second … or fifth … or 50th time.
“We’ve been hunting the same spot for three or four days, hadn’t seen anything but hunters,” Fitzpatrick said with a grin. “Saw about six [hunters] this morning, got a little discouraged. So we moved our spot.”
The move paid off.
“I think someone actually jumped this one,” he said, gesturing to the 125-pound four-point buck in the back of his truck. “It came running to us. We grunted and it stopped. Good shot. Lucky shot, maybe. But we bagged it.”
Plenty of hunting stories have been told at Bob’s Kozy Korner over the years, and Bastey has been busy providing that opportunity to this year’s crop of hunters.
He also takes a photo of each deer he registers, then tells each happy hunter the same thing: “I’ll get doubles printed. Give me a few weeks, and I’ll give you one, put the other in our photo book.”
Hunters are required by law to register their deer at the first tagging station they pass. It’s likely that many take a roundabout route so that they don’t pass one until they get to Bob’s Kozy Korner.
Especially if they’ve got a young hunter in tow.
For the third year in a row, Bastey is giving away a hunting rifle to a lucky youth hunter; all you’ve got to do is register your deer and he’ll give you a Kozy Korner hat and enter you in the random drawing.
“I [run the contest] for the kids from age 10 to 15,” Bastey said. “And we don’t care what size [the deer] is or how big it is. It’s just the idea to get them out in the woods hunting with their parents or uncles or brothers or sisters. It’s been a great program.”
Bastey said he looks forward to hunting season and the bustle it brings to his store.
“You get to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a long time. Guys will move away and come back, just to hunt,” Bastey said. “We love it.”
And while some store owners got out of the tagging business when the state began charging hunters $5 instead of $1 to tag the animals, and began requiring station owners to pledge to turn in hunters they suspected of illegal acts, Bastey said he’s happy to serve the hunting public.
“There might be one or two [people] out of that 170 that we tagged last year that might not have bought something,” Bastey said. “But everybody usually comes in, buys something … [running a tagging station] is something that, I wouldn’t give it up. It’s part of the business.”
Final salmon tally in
For the past several months — thanks to biologist Oliver Cox — I’ve kept you updated on the Penobscot River’s Atlantic salmon run.
Last week Cox, who works for the Department of Marine Resources’ Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries & Habitat, sent his last e-mail update of the year.
Cox said the crew that staffs the salmon trap at the Veazie Dam closed the trap for the season on Oct. 30, and the year’s grand total was 1,958 returning salmon.
That total was the 13th highest since the trap began operation in 1978.
In 2008, 2,115 salmon returned to Veazie. That marked a big improvement over the previous 11 years. During which the highest yearly total was 1,355 fish. The highest single-year return since 1978 took place in 1986, when 4,137 fish reached the fish trap.
As is often the case, as the Penobscot warmed, the salmon run cooled down. “Since water temperature peaked in late July, only 91 new salmon were handled at the trap,” Cox wrote.
The largest single-day return was 95 fish on June 28, Cox reported.