CUMBERLAND – When she couldn’t beat them, Eleanor Mae Copp joined them instead.

“My father was a very avid hunter, so she was a good sport and went along with us,” including a moose hunt when she was 70, said her son Howell Copp.

Mrs. Copp won a moose permit in the state lottery in 1993, so the family got together at its camp in Greenville on the first day of moose hunting season. They spotted the first bull at the break of daylight, her son said.

In his anxious way, her husband told her to get out of the car and get her gun ready.

As she lifted her gun to look through the scope, she paused and asked her family if it was big enough.

“Dad’s saying, ‘Sure it’s big enough,’ and I said, ‘I wouldn’t shoot that moose,’ ” Howell Copp said, so the hunt continued.

For the rest of the day, the family didn’t spot a bull and her husband grumbled about a missed opportunity. With 10 minutes of daylight left, she proved him wrong.

The moose she shot that day was bigger than any moose her husband had bagged, her son said.

The great moose hunt was just one of many adventures that kept Mrs. Copp active with her family through her later years. She died Friday at age 86.

“She was extremely strong. She had a hard life,” growing up in poverty, said her daughter Eleanor Snow.

Howell Copp said their father worked seven days a week so they could lead a comfortable life. Mrs. Copp’s appreciation for going up to camp and into the woods to hunt grew from the fact that her husband would take time off from work only for such recreation.

Camp became the place where her whole family would convene — her eight children, 26 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, in addition to her extended family and friends.

Every summer, her daughter Sharon Blackstone gathered everyone for a party they called the “Moxie Splash” at her camp in Moxie. Part of the splash’s tradition was linking inner tubes and floating down the Kennebec River — a tradition in which Mrs. Copp participated even when she was 81.

“Looking back, I think, ‘Why did we even do that?’ but she was in great health and always active,” her son said.

Snow said their mother was always game for anything, including whitewater rafting, trips to Alaska, cruises and vacations in Florida.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “I never thought of her as being old she seemed so young at heart. Her whole attitude was just really youthful. It made her fun to be around.”

Two summers ago, when her nephew jokingly asked her if she wanted the spot on the back of his motorcycle for a ride they were taking to North Conway, Mrs. Copp didn’t hesitate.

“She was sitting in her chair, probably knitting, and said, ‘Oh really. Well, yeah. Give me a minute to get my coat and I’ll go.’ And I said, ‘Hey, if she wants to go, let’s take her,’ ” Howell Copp said.

Off they went on a ride that ended up taking about three hours round trip. When they stopped to check on her about 20 miles into the trip, to see if she wanted to turn around, she said, “Oh no, not yet. This is great. Don’t worry about me. I’m having a ball.’ “

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]