Over the years, Don Hazelton of Newport has proudly kept me up to date on the hunting adventures of his nephew, Ben Sipe.
Our correspondence began back in 2005, when Sipe was an 11-year-old who successfully shot a partridge with a bow. Turkey hunts followed, and Hazelton kept me up to date.
Hazelton recently checked back in with another tale. This one was particularly heart-warming, and I’m pleased to share it with you this morning.
Here’s some of what Hazelton had to say:
“You may not remember me, but a few years ago I sent you a story about my nephew, Ben Sipe of Presque Isle, shooting a partridge with a bow and arrow and a while later another story about him shooting his first turkey,” Hazelton wrote. “You published them both, which I want to thank you for. He’s since shot another turkey, a deer, and a few more birds (with a firearm).
Now he’s shot his first moose, but I think it’s more than just another moose hunting story.
“Since his family owns a 300-acre farm in Caribou, Ben applied for a ‘controlled hunt’ moose permit and he got one. I’ve been trying for 22-plus years and never got picked and my father tried for over 10 years before he passed away in 1997,” Hazelton wrote. “My father had really wanted to go moose hunting so around 1992, after my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I had Jud Bailey in St. Albans make him a custom rifle in anticipation of getting a permit.
Unfortunately, he never got a chance to use it. When Ben got his permit and since he was 16 years old and especially since he has shown that he is a very serious, enthusiastic hunter, I gave him my father’s rifle.”
Hazelton explained that Sipe’s hunting season ran from Aug. 16 until Sept. 25, but Ben’s availability during that period was limited: He also plays soccer at Presque Isle High School and school began on Aug. 18.
“We couldn’t get together to hunt until Friday, Sept 17,” Hazelton wrote. Even then, the hunting was slow, and the duo didn’t have any luck.
“On Tuesday, after 3½ days of hard hunting, I called a young bull out of very heavy, swampy cover,” he wrote. “It stopped at a little over 20 yards. There was a group of about four or five small trees between Ben and the bull’s front shoulder so he wisely held the shot. I was keeping one eye on the bull and one on Ben. Ben had the rifle to his shoulder and was just as steady as he could possibly be. After a couple of minutes the bull stepped forward and cleared the trees. Ben shot it perfectly behind the shoulder and it dropped in its tracks.”
Hazelton said he was proud of his nephew’s performance.
“I was very impressed with the way Ben handled himself. He hunted hard and he was a lot cooler and steadier than I probably would have been at the ‘moment of truth,’” Hazelton wrote. “The bull weighed 642 pounds and had 15-point antlers with a 34-inch spread.”
The successful moose hunt will provide meat for the coming year and memories that will last forever. And for Hazelton, the adventure was particularly important.
“What makes this hunt very special is it satisfied three people: Ben, me, since I was so involved, and my father because his rifle was used to take the moose,” Hazelton wrote. “I know his spirit is smiling.”
Candidates speak up
If you’re still undecided about the gubernatorial election and want to learn about how the five candidates stand on outdoor issues, you’ll have three chances to do so in the coming days.
The candidates recently met with George Smith of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Harry Vanderweide, editor of The Maine Sportsman, for an episode of Wildfire, the TV show the duo host.
The debate will run three times on your local Time Warner cable channel. The first airing is at 4 tonight. Other airings will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and at 9 p.m. Thursday.
In addition, the Wildfire episode will be available on the Internet beginning today. Go to www.wildfiremaine.tv.