Devan Hunter grew up (if, that is, it can truly be said that a 10-year-old boy has lived long enough to have “grown up” doing anything) hunting.
His mom’s father, Barry Scott of Garland, and her stepfather, Brian Carle of Corinna, love to hunt. And for several years, Devan has looked forward to those trips afield.
“He has been tagging along since he was five with my dad [Scott], hunting deer,” mom Beth Hunter explained.
And according to Beth Hunter, Devan loves everything about the hunts he’s been on.
“He gutted his first deer last year with my dad. He liked it,” Beth Hunter said with a laugh. “So yes, he’s right into hunting.”
Devan turned 10 — the legal minimum age for youth hunters in Maine — in February. On Youth Turkey Day, April 30, he took advantage of his new, official status on a day set aside for kids who are allowed to hunt with parents or adult mentors. No turkeys participated in that day’s festivities, but he wasn’t deterred.
And on May 14, Devan headed back into the woods with Carle. Things went much better.
Beth Hunter said Carle and her son found a turkey to talk to and spent some time trying to lure the gobbler within range.
“They worked that turkey, they called that turkey, for like an hour,” Beth Hunter said. “My stepdad saw it coming up behind him. My son was all nervous, so he was slowly turning.”
Eventually, Devan stopped turning. He aimed. He fired. And he bagged his first bird.
“Devan said he doesn’t even remember hearing the gun go off,” Beth Hunter said. “I said, ‘honey, that’s adrenaline.’”
Devan wasted no time in letting his dad, Mark Hunter, know what had transpired. That doesn’t mean that Mark was buying the tale his son was spinning, however.
“[Devan] called first and talked to my husband and told him he shot a turkey,” Beth Hunter said. “He said he thought it was between 20 and 30 pounds. We just thought he was exaggerating a little, because 10-year-olds do.”
It turns out that Devan wasn’t exaggerating a bit.
On an unofficial scale at a store in town, the bird weighed 27.5 pounds.
“They were like, ‘You should call a game warden because we’ve never seen a turkey that big,’” Beth Hunter said. “We ended up weighing him at [P&L Country Market in Dexter] on an official set of scales and it was 26.51 pounds.”
The bird sported a 6¾-inch beard and spurs that were .751 and .875 inches long. Trophy turkeys are graded according a formula that takes the weight, beard and spurs into account, and on those criteria, Devan’s bird wasn’t extraordinary. Its weight alone, however, was impressive.
Beth Hunter said that after a successful hunt, Devan is already planning for his next trips into the woods. Maine hunters are allowed to shoot two male turkeys during the spring season and one male or female during the fall. She said that Devan will likely try to fill one of those two tags.
Then there’s deer season, of course. And let’s not forget: Devan has already proven himself a willing field-dresser of big game.
“He thinks he’s going to shoot a big buck this fall but I told him stuff like that doesn’t usually happen,” Beth Hunter said. “Then again, stuff like this turkey doesn’t usually happen, either.”
Higgins bags a bird
Many outdoors enthusiasts have crossed paths with Woody Higgins over the years, whether they realize it or not.
Higgins is a member of the Penobscot County Conservation Association, and annually helps organize the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show held in Orono each March.
Higgins, as you might expect, is an avid hunter. And earlier this season, he enjoyed a memorable day in search of turkeys.
Memorable, that is, except for the part of the day during which he was sleeping. Or, more precisely, sleeping while hunting. But that’s Higgins’ story to tell:
“May 5, in the rain and after several very early mornings I apparently fell asleep only to wake up and find three jakes about 15 yards [away], right in front of me,” Higgins wrote in an email. “I like this way of turkey hunting!”
Higgins wasted no time in shaking off the grogginess and getting to work.
“As I had two tags and enjoy eating turkey I bagged the one with the longest beard,” he wrote.
After hunting hard for a couple more days, he rested up for a few days and headed back out on May 11. No luck.
But the following day, he filled his second tag.
“I set up in a new location on the edge of a field and just about 4:45 a.m. several toms started gobbling in different directions,” he wrote. “About 5:30 a tom popped out in the field about 200 yards in front of me and started working toward me. Getting excited, I was really concentrating on this tom when from not more than 10 feet to my right [I heard] a very loud gobble.
“I must have jumped about two feet but [the turkey] was so focused on my hen decoy that he never saw me slowly move both myself and my shotgun in his direction.”
Higgins took his shot, bagged the bird, and wound up with a tom that weighed 16 pounds and sported a nine-inch beard and one-inch spurs.
“[That made] it my best turkey season ever!” Higgins wrote.