April 26, 2018
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Hampden boy’s grand deer story

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
Parker Harriman, 10, of Hampden poses with the deer he shot while hunting with his stepfather, Brian Lachapelle, on Saturday's Youth Deer Day. The eight-point buck weighed 200.5 pounds. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN LACHAPELLE
By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Some Maine deer hunters wait for decades before they get a single opportunity to bag a buck that weighs 200 pounds. Many others never get the chance at a bruiser that will get them listed in The Maine Sportsman’s “Biggest Bucks of Maine Club.”

It took 10-year-old Parker Harriman of Hampden just four or five minutes to post his name on the prestigious list.

Brian Lachapelle, Parker’s stepfather, said the fourth-grader was eager to head afield on Saturday, Maine’s Youth Deer Day.

“Parker had been excited about this day for quite a while, especially after he had taken his first two birds in the second week of bird season,” Lachapelle wrote in an e-mail. “We had done some studying the night before [Youth Deer Day] by watching deer hunting videos, pausing the tape at certain spots and quizzing Parker on what might be an appropriate shot for angle of the deer.”

The next morning, Lachapelle awoke to a chirping alarm at 5 a.m., went to wake Parker and found his young hunting partner needed no rousting.

“He was already sitting upright in bed, wide awake,” Lachapelle wrote. “I chuckled as we retrieved our gear.”

After arriving at their predetermined hunting spot, they set up a portable ground blind, but broke two of the blind’s supports in the process. They were left with a shelter that was a bit weaker than they’d hoped.

“I was making our last adjustment to our seats when I looked out the window and saw movement to my left, coming out into a field,” Lachapelle wrote. “I asked Parker if he could see it and he stated that he could. I was amazed when I realized that the movement that I had seen was coming from the white antlers of a buck.”

Parker was holding a new 7 mm-08 rifle that he had received when he turned 10 in September, but it wasn’t loaded: It was still too early to hunt legally.

“My heart sank as we watched the buck cross the field, knowing that [Parker] might not get a shot due to the time,” Lachapelle wrote. “I told Parker to sit very still and maybe the deer would start to graze and give him the time that he needed to give him a shot.”

At that point, the wind became in issue.

“As we were sitting there waiting the wind came up and picked up Parker’s side of the blind, almost blowing it over due to the supports breaking when we set it up,” Lachapelle wrote. “Parker quickly grabbed the side and stabilized it without disturbing the deer. I was amazed with his reflexes while we were trying to focus on something else.”

A few minutes after legal shooting time, Parker loaded his rifle, used the window opening as a rest and waited for a shot.

“I asked him if he could see the buck in the scope and he stated, ‘Yes.’ I then asked him if he had taken the safety off and if he was aiming behind the front shoulder and he said, ‘Yes,’” Lachapelle wrote. “The buck went behind a small area of brush, then walked out into the open with its head down, feeding, approximately 80 yards away. I told Parker now was the time to take his shot.”

Parker took his shot, and took a step into the record books. After waiting about a half-hour before pursuing the deer, they didn’t have to search for long.

“Parker grabbed the deer by the antlers and had the biggest smile I have ever seen on his face. It was priceless,” Lachapelle wrote.

The eight-point buck weighed 200½ pounds field-dressed and sported a handsome 8-point rack.

Not bad for a first-timer. Not bad for anyone.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime deer for any hunter,” Lachapelle wrote. “Parker is an amazing boy.”

Taking the NaNoWriMo plunge

A week or so ago, I made the decision to join a couple hundred thousand other writers in an ambitious project that should take up a lot of my (formerly) free time during November.

It’s called National Novel Writing Month. And as the name suggests, during NaNoWriMo (who doesn’t like a good acronym), contest participants are challenged to write 50,000 words over a 30-day span. That 50,000-word threshold, contest organizers say, is a rough line in the sand that sets novellas or other works of short fiction apart from actual novels.

Since I’m a writer, and since (like most writers) I’ve long thought that a novel must be lurking somewhere in my subconscious, I decided to take the challenge. In order to avoid backing out (and to lessen the chances of just calling it quits when things get tough) I told a lot of my friends about NaNoWriMo. I told them I was participating. And I invited them to consider hopping into the deep end along with me.

For the record, three of my Facebook friends have accepted the challenge. Even though it might be a miserable month. Even though the only prize we’re competing for is the right to say, “I did it.”

If you’re wondering, compiling 50,000 words over the 30 days of November means I have to write 1,667 words a day — with no days off. That’s roughly half as many words as it took to fill this column. Not easy. Not a sure thing. But doable — I hope.

I also hope that some of you will decide to take the journey with me. If you’ve wanted to try to write your own novel, this approach might help you jump-start the process. Go to www.nanowrimo.org to sign up for free.

If you just want to know how my story’s coming together, you can do that, too. I’ve been writing a blog about the pre-event process and will continue with updates through November. You can find the blog at our BDN Maineville site, www.maineville.com. Click on “Blogs” and you’ll find my entries under “How to Write (Or Not Write) a Novel in 30 Days.”

NaNoWriMo organizers recognize the power of the written word, and encourage writers to embrace the novel-writing process and dive into their own lengthy project, with a set deadline in mind.

In November, aside from writing my regular column and features here in the Bangor Daily News, I look forward to sharing updates about my little — or big — side project.

I hope you’ll join in on the journey.

And who knows? If I’m lucky and everything goes well, maybe you’ll end up reading the actual book someday, instead of just reading about it.

Wishful thinking? Absolutely.

But it’s a start. Finally. And that’s better than nothing.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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