Odds are stacked against Mainers who seek to complete a hunting “grand slam” in any given year.
Tagging a turkey, a bear, a moose and a deer in the same calendar year takes a good deal of skill … and more than a fair bit of luck.
Consider the odds: According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, just 17 percent of deer hunters were successful in 2012. Bear hunters were successful only 30 percent of the time and turkey hunters filled their tags just 38 percent of the time.
Then there’s the moose part of the equation. Although moose hunters cashed in at a 79 percent clip a year ago, there’s a big catch: Before hunting, they first had to actually receive a hard-to-get permit through the state’s lottery system.
Despite those odds, several Mainers complete their seasonal grand slams each year. This year, at least three youths, including a 10-year-old who made his first hunting season one to remember, joined the grand slam ranks.
Sierra Wallace, 13, of Phippsburg spent a lot of time in the woods even before she reached the age of 10, when Maine youths are legally allowed to hunt with adults. At first, she accompanied her father, Troy Wallace, as he tended his trapline.
The transition from tagalong trapper to actual hunter was a smooth one.
“I think being outdoors keeps me busy and keeps me out of trouble,” Sierra Wallace said. “My whole family does it.”
Sierra didn’t get a spring turkey, so she wasn’t really thinking much about filling four tags this year.
Then she shot a 185-bear in The Forks. When she bagged a small turkey and a 460-pound bull moose over a four-day span, her mindset changed a bit.
But she had a little problem: Time wasn’t on her side.
Sierra plays soccer, basketball and softball, and is on travel teams and school teams. Those commitments made finding time to hunt a bit of a challenge.
“It was frustrating because [we] can only go on Saturdays sometimes,” she said. “And we only had two Saturdays left [to find a deer].”
Sierra took advantage of the time she had available, filling her tag when she shot a doe on Nov. 16.
A photo of Sierra after the hunt shows the eighth-grader dragging her deer across a field, just as thousands of Maine hunters have done over the years. Her father said that having Sierra drag her own deer was important.
“We actually had an offer to take the deer out on a four-wheeler, and I said, ‘No. My daughter has to learn what it’s like to drag a deer out,’” Troy Wallace said. “I wanted her to realize that you don’t just pull the trigger. That’s where the work starts.”
Over in Jackman, 10-year-old Parker Desjardins enjoyed a first season of hunting that many veteran woodsmen would be proud to have.
“Parker shot his 110-pound bear on Aug. 26 off a bait site managed by Fred Haigis and Kelly Dam Camps in Jackman,” his father, Jeff Desjardins, wrote in an email. “On Sept. 23, he was the subpermittee [on a moose hunt] with grandfather Pete Desjardins. Parker shot a small bull weighing 445 pounds in Zone 4.
“On Oct. 14, his neighbor Norman Theriault took him down to Kennebunkport where Parker was able to shoot a 19-pound turkey with an eight-inch beard and 5/8-inch spurs,” Jeff Desjardins wrote. “And finally, on Nov. 2, Parker shot a small button buck on North Haven where our friend Don Brown allowed Parker to hunt out of one of his tree stands on his family’s property.”
Jeff Desjardins said both he and Parker appreciated the help offered by so many people, all of whom helped make Parker’s hunts a success.
Proud mother Jenn Stubbs also checked in to tell us about the memorable season her son, 15-year-old Kamden Brown of Skowhegan, has enjoyed.
“Kamden hunts turkey and deer with his grandfather, Robert Ashley,” Stubbs wrote in an email. “He turkey hunts every spring, and this year’s turkey was shot the day before his 15th birthday. It weighed 14 pounds.”
Not long after that, Kamden received some great news.
“He was so excited to hear that he had been drawn for a cow moose permit in [Wildlife Management District] 1 and immediately said he was going to try to get his grand slam,” Stubbs wrote. “Everyone who knows Kamden knows that he loves hunting and just being outside looking for animals.”
Kamden’s uncle, Eddie Stubbs, pitched in and took his nephew bear hunting. On the third day of the hunt, Kamden took a burly 303-pounder.
“His uncle asked him how he liked bear hunting, and [Kamden] responded that ‘it’s nothing like deer hunting at all. When I saw that bear, it took my breath away,’” Stubbs wrote.
Kamden also bagged a 429-pound cow moose and completed the grand slam with a doe on Youth Deer Day.
And he’s not done spending time outdoors.
“Now that his hunting is done for the season, he is off trapping for the winter,” Stubbs wrote. “This is one kid who uses his lifetime hunting/fishing/trapping license to its fullest.”