“You’re in the Maine woods, first day of September, opening season. It’s 8 o’clock in the morning, sun’s coming up, frost, 27 degrees. Picture yourself in your favorite spot you like to hunt for moose and just — listen up.”
With those words, Kevin Deschaine, 37, of Madawaska began his onstage performance for the first World Championship Moose Calling Invitational on Saturday before an audience of more than 600 outdoor enthusiasts in a cavernous boat storage building of Oquossoc Marine.
Deschaine, a registered Maine guide and meat cutter by profession, took a deep breath and lifted a megaphone to his lips, cupping his hands around the bottom as he began the drawn-out call of a cow moose. He then transitioned to a bull grunt and with one hand, raked an antler through a potted tree, showering the stage with leaves. He continued to transition between the calls then brought his two moose antlers together, clashing them in a mock battle.
“You weren’t even here anymore, were you? You took us on a real moose hunt — and your swings and your brush work — that was great,” said Bill Pierce, Rangeley Lakes Land Trust director of development, to Deschaine after the performance.
The entrancing act ended with a “pop!” The hunter’s 5-year-old daughter, Alayna, hopped on stage with a pink cap gun and fired, bringing the mock moose hunt to a close. The audience erupted with applause and whoops of approval.
Deschaine’s expert performance was awarded first place and a prize of $1,000.
He competed against six other expert moose callers who also made it through semifinals the evening before. Competitors were judged on four aspects of their performance: their bull call, cow call, other methods of attracting moose and showmanship. A local, Matt Tinker of Coplin Plantation, won runner-up, and Chuck Theriault of Medway won third.
“The antlers work,” said Deschaine. “I’ve tried it out and called some nice bulls in with it.”
His wife, Vicki, and two daughters, Alayna and 2-year-old Ciara, watched his performance from the front row.
Deschaine has participated in and won two other moose calling competitions, both at the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club. He has yet to be defeated.
He was also the lucky recipient of a 2011 moose permit, and in November he bagged a 807-pound cow, the second biggest cow hunted in the state, he said.
“I do guiding for bear hunting, but I only do moose hunting for family and friends. I called a bull in for my dad during the first week of the season last year,” said Deschaine, who is typically kept busy butchering moose for other hunters during the season.
When asked what he will do with his $1,000 in prize money, he said, “Finish the girls’ playhouse.”