The Abbott family has spent a lot of time in the woods of Maine over the years. Patriarch Walt Abbott taught an outdoor skills class at the University of Maine for years, and his children grew up following in his footsteps.
On Saturday, Youth Turkey Day, another Abbott had a memorable outdoor experience as Walt’s granddaughter, 13-year-old Hannah, cashed in on her first-ever day of hunting.
Steve Abbott, the former athletic director at the University of Maine and a longtime chief of staff for Sen. Susan Collins, said the day he got to spend with his daughter and his brother, Master Maine Guide Scott Abbott, was special, but the fact that many other family members were involved in their own hunts illustrates how much outdoor recreation matters to the family.
“We had a great family day,” Steve Abbott wrote in an email. “In addition to [Scott, Hannah and I], our cousin Woods Abbott was hunting with his son Matthew . We split into two groups and hunted a couple miles apart. After Hannah shot the bird, I left for work and she went with her grandfather, Walt, and her brother, Henry [age 9] to tag the turkey at the Old Town Trading Post.”
The family day of hunting started bright and early, Steve wrote, and Hannah and her mentors were in the woods by 5 a.m.
“It was a cool morning and the woods were still,” Steve wrote. “We set up on the edge of a field, where we saw countless ducks and geese flying and watched a beautiful sunrise. The only thing that we were missing was turkeys.”
After an hour of fruitless calling, the group decided to try another spot about a half mile deeper into the woods.
“We could hear gobbles in the distance, but nothing close enough to get excited about,” he wrote. “We decided to split up and try some more calling. Hannah and I went one direction and Scott went another. After just a couple of minutes, we resumed calling and got an immediate answer from a bird that was close by.”
At that point, Hannah and Steve retreated to the field, where Scott had found a perfect spot to set up and wait for the birds to arrive.
“Scott quickly got Hannah situated with her back against a tree just a few yards from the edge of the field while I set up a couple of decoys about 15 yards away,” Steve Abbott wrote. “We hid as best we could and started calling. The turkey responded aggressively to our next three or four calls, but then went quiet.”
Steve Abbott admits that at that point, he thought the turkey had spotted them, and the jig was up. His brother wasn’t convinced.
“Scott said not to worry. He stopped calling and whispered to Hannah to get ready,” he wrote. “Sure enough, about two minutes later, the jake came in, silently strutting. When the bird came closer to inspect the decoys, Hannah raised up the gun, slipped off the safety and waited for a good shot.”
She made the shot count, and ended up with a nice jake for her efforts.
“This was such a great experience for us and a reminder of why we love the outdoors,” Steve Abbott wrote. “Scott and I have had the good fortune to have had many great hunting and fishing experiences with our parents, grandparents and cousins. To be able to share that tradition with a younger generation was a real thrill indeed.”