Maryrose McLellan began hunting in Unity when she was a teenager and continued hunting in the woods and fields around her home in Clinton, pictured here, with her husband, John. Maryrose continues to hunt around Moosehead Lake, where she and John now live. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

CLINTON — Maryrose McLellan started hunting at age 16, learning from her mother, who hunted to provide food for her children while raising them in rural Unity 80 years ago.

Mabel Trull was an outlier as a woman hunting in Maine in the 1940s, doing so because her husband worked long hours and she wanted to bring in affordable, healthy food for her five children. But Trull proved an adept hunter, often harvesting large bucks.

“She did it as a necessity. But Mama was a good shot. A neighbor used to say, ‘Mabel Trull shot from the hip,’ ” McLellan said.

Since she was a teenager, McLellan wanted to be a proficient deer hunter like her mother. Over the past 60 years she has become just that. She killed her first deer in 1960 and dozens of whitetails after – in a state with an annual average success rate of only 15-18%. Now 83, McLellan still hunts deer each year, climbing into her tree stand beside Moosehead Lake, sometimes despite doctor’s orders.

“My balance isn’t as good as it used to be. I had my left knee replaced. Now the other one hurts. But I’m still hunting. I can put up with a little pain,” McLellan said.

When McLellan learned to stalk deer, she was, like her mother, an outlier. But today Maryrose McLellan is no longer part of an indistinguishable minority as the ranks of women hunters in Maine continue to grow. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of hunting licenses sold to women in Maine jumped from 8% to 13% – and has increased nearly every year since. Last year, 15% of hunters in the Maine woods were women, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.


For Maine women in their 70s and 80s who once felt part of a rare cohort of hunters, the visible signs of women taking to the woods to hunt in the fall is thrilling. 

McLellan started deer hunting with a committed fervor in her 20s with her husband, John, around the family’s dairy farm in Clinton. Later, they hunted together at their camp on the shore of Moosehead Lake, where they now live year round.

McLellan remains a committed deer hunter. Her cell phone ring is a buck grunt. Her Christmas cards each year include a letter covered with family photos – most of them of deer hunting. And if she doesn’t harvest a deer in the regular firearm season, McLellan simply hunts the muzzleloading season in December in the snow and often frigid temperatures.

“I hate musket hunting. But I go because it extends the season,” McLellan said.

Patti Dunton Carter of Brunswick has hunted for nearly 40 years with her bird dogs after starting to hunt in 1984 as something to do with her German shorthaired pointers. Carter, 71, considers herself an advocate for hunters.

Patti Dunton Carter, a Brunswick hunter of for nearly 40 years, enjoys a bird hunt with her dog.  Patti Dunton Carter photo

“I love going into the Hannaford in Brunswick and having leaves fall out of my pocket,” Carter said with a laugh. “Today we are looked upon as equals. We are messy and filthy at the end of the day. I think we’ve gained respect and men understand that in hunting we’re all fighting for our rights. I want to educate people on what I do. My dinner comes from the woods, yours comes from the grocery store. That’s how I look at it.”


Joan Kindred will turn 81 in December and still hunts with fervor after 60 years. She grew up in York beside Mount Agamenticus, where started following some of her nine siblings on hunts as a child. In her teenage years, before she graduated from York High School in 1959, she hunted with her brother, Kenny Moulton, wearing her brothers’ hand-me-down boots and hunting clothes.

When Kindred graduated from Gorham State Teachers College in 1963, her family gave her a 44-magnum hunting rifle as a graduation present. She hunts with it still.

“It will be 60 years old next year,” said Kindred, who now lives in North Baldwin. “I love hunting. I love the smell of the woods. I love watching squirrels chase each other, and see the turkey go by. I had a moose walk past me within 50 feet.”

She shot her first deer in 1968 when she was pregnant with her first child, and was “bigger than a truck.” Later, she killed a deer that weighed 208 pounds.

Kindred has harvested dozens of deer. Her grandson, Alec Kindred, estimates his grandma has shot 45 deer and ranks her among one of his greatest outdoor role models. “She has taught me and inspired me more than she will ever know when it comes to deer hunting in Maine,” he said.

Alec Kindred, left, of Standish poses with his grandmother, Joan Kindred, right, of North Baldwin, after they set up her deer hunting blind. Alec Kindred said his grandmother – who has deer hunted for 60 years – is one of his hunting heroes. Photo courtesy of Alec Kindred

Joan Kindred’s most treasured hunting memory is of her last hunt with her husband, Larry, three years ago. Joan Kindred spent two hours that day, at age 78, walking through the woods trying to “bump” a deer toward Larry. She didn’t care that she later found him asleep in the chair in the blind. She said they both knew that day it was their last adventure together. Two months later, Larry Kindred went into an assisted living center.

Joan Kindred has found encouragement since then from the Maine Women Hunters Facebook group, where more than 5,000 members post about their hunting adventures, many 50 and 60 years younger than her.

“I see those articles on the Facebook group and they have all kinds of activities for women hunters. I would have loved to have gone and done that,” Kindred said. “I watch that very faithfully. I have a niece on there who recently posted about a wild geese she shot. She did a marvelous job. I read that and thought: ‘Yeah, go for it while you can, Julie!’”

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