It was the second or third weekend of duck season, a long time ago. So long ago that the bag limit was five. I was in the seventh grade. My grandfather, my father and I were hunkered down in a duck blind along a small tidal river in Bowdoinham.

We shivered and made jokes about how many limits we could take.

We were, after all, two fathers and two sons, so didn’t that mean four limits.

We three had been looking forward to this hunt since July, shooting skeet and shopping for the right loads throughout the summer. When we ran out of clay pigeons, cost was a factor for us, so we simply threw cans as far as we could and counted the dents in them.

It had been a good morning, lots of birds flying in the mist, but then the sun burned through. My grandfather got a bit tired, and none of us knew that this was his last hunt. Dad asked how I felt about staying in the blind while he took Pa home. Dumb question.

So the two of them left, and I was the hunter — the only hunter — in the blind.

There was a trail in the woods up back. It connected all the blinds along the river. And from that trail I heard, “Hello, anyone there?”

“I’m here,” I answered, and a tall angular man came out of the brush. He had an impressive water spaniel and a gun, a Browning Automatic, that all in my family could only dream of.

“You here alone?”

“Yeah.” I didn’t explain further; in those days there was no need.

“Mind if I sit a spell?”

He sat, and we talked about the morning shooting, and the likelihood of Canadian Red Legs. He talked like my family and friends of my family.

Then we heard the whir of wings passing from behind. We scootched down and watched a small flock swing around in response to the tollers in front of the blind. Together, we moved up and forward and did what duck hunters do. Instantly the dog was in the water, retrieving.

Though it was a busy time, the stranger was aware that I was looking at him.

“You’re trying to figure out who I am, aren’t you?”

It seemed as though he’d read my mind, and I was caught having to tell the truth. Inartfully, I replied, “You’re that government guy, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am son. My name is Ed Muskie, and I’m your senator.” He emphasized those last two words, shook my hand, grinned broadly. Then he congratulated his dog, who was now the real star of the hunt.

He made certain that my father was coming back and excused himself, saying he wanted to talk to other hunters downstream. He was gone from the blind, but not from my consciousness.

This story is full of anachronisms — a 12-year-old hunting alone, a stranger approaching a 12-year-old, even guns.

Say what you will, but this is how one lifelong voter was made.

— Special to the Telegram