The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the Local 6 of the International Association of Machinists at Bath Iron Works are teaming up to provide hunting opportunities for disabled veterans and youth programs for future hunters and anglers.
“One thing that I think SAM lacked in the past was the ability to tap into volunteers, people on the ground to run programs,” said David Trahan, SAM’s executive director, noting that the Machinist Union statewide has many members of both genders involved in outdoor sports. “We’re pretty proud of the deal we’ve struck with them.”
SAM already partnered with the Local 6 to fill a volunteer shortfall at a youth ice fishing event this winter. In addition, SAM owns 50 acres on Messalonskee Lake. With the organization’s new volunteer pool, the property may be developed into a recreational site for youths and disabled veterans.
“That is an exciting project,” said Trahan. “I would like to hold a spring youth turkey hunting event at our Messalonskee Lake site, but if that isn’t available yet, we will work with Local 6 and other District 4 Machinists to set up some youth turkey hunts elsewhere in the state.”
Introducing the next generation to hunting and fishing is important to the survival of Maine’s sporting heritage, Trahan said.
“These things are not just about the PR,” he said. “They are rewarding, and fun.” SAM member Dave Cambridge agrees. His first experience introducing a youth to turkey hunting was with nephew Madison Dick, 11 at the time.
“I had a friend who lived in Waldoboro, Roger Greene, who was a registered Maine guide with a specialty in turkey hunting,” said Cambridge. “Madison had hunted partridge before and wanted to give turkey hunting a try.”
Cambridge took his nephew, who had never been outside of Aroostook County, to Moody’s Diner on the first day of their trip. That evening, Greene took the pair to scout the area they would be hunting, and they spotted some turkeys.
“We went out bright and early the next morning and got into position,” said Cambridge. “Roger called a couple of times and got a turkey to respond. The turkey came in, a 20-pound tom all by himself, and Madison was patient enough to let the bird get within range. He fired and got the bird in one shot. At the time, it was all he could do to lift that bird. He was very proud of it.”
On the way home, the pair stopped at Dysart’s.
“When we got home, his remark to me was, ‘Gee, Uncle Dave, I got to go turkey hunting, I got to shoot a turkey, I got to meet a great guy, and to eat in two famous restaurants.’ He’s now 18 and a very avid hunter for just about anything he can hunt in season. He’s very respectful of others and about getting permission to hunt on private property,” said the proud uncle.
Cambridge may be at the front of the line this spring to teach another young hunter.
“It’s more fun to go with the kids than to go with my friends, and to see a little guy in a camouflage outfit made for a man six feet tall is even more fun,” he said.
Members of the Local 6 are looking forward to the experience, as well.
“As a sportsman and outdoorsman, my interest is to keep that tradition going,” said Joel Pitcher, chairman of the Local 6 Human Rights Committee.
“The way to do that is to reach out to youth that don’t have that opportunity because a family member or somebody close to them hasn’t taken them. Through our partnership with SAM, we can reach out into different communities and offer kids a chance to get out and do that,” he said.
“Local 6 has about 3,200 members from all over the state,” Pitcher said. “Not everyone is an outdoorsman or woman, but there are a lot of avid sportsmen and women here.”
“That was the reason David was interested in this relationship. SAM has sportsmen and women from all over, so that gives us the opportunity to reach out shoulder to shoulder to youth,” Pitcher commented.