AUGUSTA — Chris Young lives around moose, passes time following moose, and whenever he wants can call a moose to him. The Greenville-based Maine guide knows the habits and haunts of Maine’s largest mammal so well, he was Maine’s moose calling champion last year.
Now Young is hoping his 13-year-old cousin, a more urban-based moose caller, can pass muster at the state championship in June.
“I want to compete in the adult division in the Grand National in Presque Isle,” said Carter Barthelman, a middle school student in South Portland.
For the first time in the three-year history of this growing event, the Maine moose calling championship is open to youth moose callers. Last Saturday at the Maine Sportsmen’s Show at the Augusta Civic Center, Carter advanced to the moose calling championship in the youth division at one of four qualifiers.
“We need to pass on this tradition,” said moose calling master of ceremonies Roger Lambert, who runs a moose safari and moose calling class outside Rangeley.
The Maine Sportsmen’s Show was one of four qualifiers advancing not only adults but youth to the championship that is held the same day as the Maine moose lottery on June 14 in Presque Isle.
Encouraging youth to pursue this favorite pastime of woodspeople is not hard, Lambert said.
Barthelman is but one example of the calling craze that can take hold once a wildlife watcher learns to mimic a wild animal and draw it to them.
But he’s a good one.
“He has one of the best turkey calls I’ve ever heard,” Young said proudly of his cousin. “Most people use a reed. He does it with his mouth. Most people can’t do it with their mouth. And he learned to call turkey and moose watching YouTube videos.”
The result was Barthelman was a shoo-in to be one of two youth to advance in Augusta. A week earlier, three youth advanced to the championship at the sportsmen’s show in Orono.
“It’s pretty neat. A lot of kids in my school don’t hunt,” Barthelman said.
A good moose caller knows how to imitate a high-pitched cow call and the grunting of a bull moose during the fall rut. But an exceptional moose caller also knows to scuff his or her feet and make noise – lots of crashing noise.
Moose walk in a toe-to-heel fashion, not heel-to-toe like human beings. And when traveling through the woods, moose don’t worry about who they disturb since they have no natural predators in Maine.
“And I’m here to tell you, moose do not see well,” Lambert said. “So always have an exit strategy.”
Owen Heseltine of Chesterville was the other youth who qualified Saturday for the championship. But the 8-year-old didn’t know before he got to the Sportsmen’s Show on Saturday that he would compete.
And Heseltine had no idea how to call moose.
But in the flamboyant way Lambert teaches wildlife watchers to call moose at his moose camp in Strong, the moose-calling master of ceremonies invited youth to come up and take a quick clinic.
Just 5 minutes later, Heseltine was a savvy moose caller, belching out deep grunts and walking with slow, side-swaying steps the way only a Maine moose can.
When asked after he took a lesson, competed and advanced if it was a big deal, Heseltine just grinned and shook his head no.
“He did an excellent job, as far as I’m concerned. He really showed poise,” said Bruce Verrill, Heseltine’s grandfather.
It’s all part of Lambert’s master plan to bring along the next generation of moose callers in Maine.
“We are all looking to that generation to carry on these traditions,” Lambert said. “We’re all trying to reverse the trend of kids staying inside in front of a screen. Get them hunting, fishing; get them outside.”
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: