Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FREEDOM — Word spread quickly after someone peeked into the back of Ross Taylor’s pickup truck Saturday morning. It was the sound of the first morning of deer hunting season in Maine.
Sylvana Jaramillo, a Unity College wildlife and fisheries student, takes blood from a deer at the Freedom General Store tagging station on Saturday. She and four other Unity students were at the station as part of their studies.
Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer
Ryan Taylor, 7, takes a closer look at an 11-point buck shot by his father, Ross Taylor of Yarmouth, at the Freedom tagging station Saturday.
“Big buck here. A really big one.”
Men in blaze-orange caps and vests tried to look nonchalant as they walked over. Two teams of Unity College students collecting data from the hunt did run.
They were met by 7-year-old Ryan Taylor standing on the tailgate of his father’s truck. This was his first hunt and he was far from their home in Yarmouth. He wasn’t shy.
“My dad got this one at our camp,” said young Taylor. “My dad. I helped him.”
Similar scenes were played out at dozens of deer registration stations throughout Maine. The first day of deer hunting season attracted hunters keeping alive a generations-old tradition of putting venison on their tables.
The talk at the Freedom General Store, west of Belfast and east of Albion, was of economics rather than sport.
A freezer full of deer meat helps everyone’s budget.
Chilly temperatures of 40 degrees or so at sunrise rose rapidly Saturday. Deer were out and moving after the blustery, rainy weather of the day before.
Maine’s hunters were out, too. Butch Clark of Knox was the first to come in shortly after 8 a.m. with a doe thought to be 2 or 3 years old. He didn’t bother to have it weighed. “A bit small to be weighed,” said Brian Clark, 27, ribbing his 51-year-old father. They hunted on their 100 acres.
“Been hunting since I was a little boy,” said Butch Clark. “I like that I’m doing it on my land. I don’t like that I can’t hear them, rustling, like I used to. I’ve got to put my glasses on, too.” He laughed at himself and his age. He got his deer. That’s what mattered.
Richard “Bo” Beausoleil of Whitefield also got a young, small doe of less than 100 pounds. “In a scope, they always look 200 pounds. I look for 2-year-olds. The meat is tender, tasty. I like frying it with peas and onions.”
Mouths started to water listening to his cooking ideas. He’s a firearms instructor at nearby Unity College and director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency. Beausoleil has been teaching the wife of a friend how to hunt.
Josh Thornhill, a 14-year-old student at Mount View High School in Thorndike, got his first deer Saturday, hunting with his father. First shot, only shot at 200 yards. His heart was pounding.
“I took deep breaths to steady myself. I wasn’t getting high hopes this morning.”
Outside the Freedom General Store it was getting busy. Last year on opening day, 12 deer were tagged. Nine deer came through by noon this season. So did a moose. This wildlife management district had 50 moose permits and Saturday was the first day of the November hunt.
Unity College students drew blood from the gutted deer to send to a lab to check for disease. Harvest locations were noted. Teeth were pulled for analysis and measurements were taken.
Levi Soper of Mount Desert Island and a Unity College sophomore looked at Thornhill and remembered his first deer. “My adrenaline was off the top. I didn’t think I got him. I looked at my deer and asked my father: ‘Is he dead?’ My father’s eyes were big and I knew my eyes were big.
“I still have that same sense of remorse. You respect the animal. I use everything from it. Nothing goes to waste.”
As each successful hunting party pulled in front of the general store, owner Paul Flynn walked swiftly out the door. Large buck or small doe, his greeting was the same: Hey, that’s a nice deer. He was host and master of ceremonies, bookkeeper, and usually the one reading off the weights.
(Continued on page 2)
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The buck Ross Taylor shot in Montville on Saturday is weighed outside the Freedom General Store in Freedom on opening day of deer hunting.
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Seven-year-old Ryan Taylor sits on the tailgate next to his dad’s trophy buck.