Isabella Lindsey, 7, of Searsmont touches an antler on the 11-point buck she shot while hunting with her grandfather, Randy Gagne, recently. The buck weighed 210 pounds. Credit: Courtesy of Randy Gagne

Maine has a rich hunting tradition, and over the years the BDN has celebrated that tradition by sharing hunting success stories that can serve to inspire us during those long months spent waiting for the next season to roll around.

Maybe, we tell each other, something like this will happen to me someday. Just maybe.

A combination of skill and luck go into each of those stories. Sometimes, a veteran hunter fills a tag in a big way. Other times, the successful hunter has less experience. And sometimes, the hunter is so young, they’re just beginning their hunting career.

Here are a few of our favorites from last year.

7-year-old’s big buck

Isabella “Bella” Lindsey had a memorable first deer season that she’ll be hard-pressed to top in the years ahead. The 7-year-old from Searsmont shot an 11-point buck that weighed 210 pounds while hunting with her grandfather, Randy Gagne. Lindsey is also looking forward to having her first student lobster license this summer, and will pull her own traps.

Teenager’s grand slam

A montage shows Tyler Winchester with the four animals he shot while completing his Maine big game grand slam over a two-month span. Credit: Courtesy of Tyler Winchester

Tyler Winchester of Bucksport is just 18, but he’s a very experienced hunter. This year topped all his others, though, as he completed a rare “grand slam,” tagging all four of Maine’s big game animals in one calendar year. He shot the moose, deer, wild turkey and bear over a two-month span. Both Tyler and his 11-year-old brother are also avid trappers and fishermen.

Levant man’s 16-pointer

Andrew Lawson, a 23-year-old from LaGrange, had been hunting for 13 years and never filled his tag until this year. He made up for lost time, though, as the buck he crossed paths with on Nov. 7 was a whopper. Lawson’s deer had an abnormal rack that some people thought had 21 points. The official total is 16 points, and the deer weighed 210 pounds.

Lobstermen save a deer

Not all deer tales are hunting stories. Ren Dorr, a lobsterman from Harrington, had just set a triple — three lobster traps attached to each other by a single line — when he saw a young deer swimming in the ocean, five miles from shore. Dorr and his crewmen, Shawn Dowling of Addison and Jared Thaxter of Columbia Falls, hoisted the deer aboard, took it back to land, and released it. Dorr said he was sure the deer would have died if he and his crew hadn’t taken action.

From left (clockwise): Andrew Lawson of Lagrange holds his 11-month-old son, Waylon Lawson, as he shows off the 16-point deer he shot recently; Shawn Dowling watches a floundering deer that he and lobsterman Ren Dorr spotted five miles off the coast of Harrington; Brothers Billy Lander (left), Tim Lander and Chris Lander check out a moose that Tim Lander shot. Credit: Andrew Lawson; Jared Thaxter; John Holyoke.

A personal tale

And finally, a story that took more than 30 years to play out. In October of 2019, my pal Billy Lander and his brother Tim Lander finally headed out on a Maine moose hunt. The brothers had been applying for permits since the state moose permit lottery began in 1980, but neither had been drawn until 2019. The result was a memorable tale that played out just as each had hoped, and the story will be told and retold for years.

Do you have a great hunting story to share? Send them to us at

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...