Reader says L.L. Bean handbook was worth its weight in … venison

In the weekend printed editions of the Bangor Daily News, I offered up some thoughts on “Hunting, Fishing and Camping,” a book written by Leon Leonwood Bean (better known to all of us as “L.L.”) and first published in 1941.

An old classic, reintroduced.

As it marks its 100th anniversary, L.L. Bean (the company, not the man) has re-released that handy guidebook, and added content from L.L.’s great-grandson, Bill Gorman.

As you can read in my review (, I got a kick out of the book; even the parts that are severely dated are entertaining.

No matter the outdoor task you might want to tackle, L.L. had you covered. Want to catch a trout? Shoot a deer? Make yourself a cozy mattress out of boughs? Find a lost hunting buddy?

It’s all in there.

And as I learned on Monday, Mainers placed a lot of trust in that handy little book. Harold Shaw of Penobscot checked in via email with a humorous tale that really brought that point home.

Here’s what Shaw had to say:

“It was 1975, I came home from work in Bangor after dark,” Shaw wrote. “There was a DIF&W warden parked in our driveway talking with my wife, Sue. She told me a deer had been hit and killed. ‘Where is it?’ I asked. ‘In the garage. The warden said we can keep it.’ ‘Oh,’ says I.

“‘I’ve never dressed out a deer,’ I said, kind of plaintively, to the warden. ‘Good time to learn,’ he says, throwing his car into gear and disappearing up the Castine Road.

“Oookay. Better get the suit off first. Move the deer to the backyard, in the garden cart. Prop the carcass against a rock and turn on the back floodlight,” he wrote. “Hooboy. Where to cut first? Think back to grandfather butchering hogs in Kentucky. Start about there, I guess. Right, then what?

“Need a picture. Oh, what about the little book you have, something from L.L. Bean? Yeah, get that. Prop it up against the same rock. Poor reading light but here goes.

“So it was I dressed my very first (and only, but that’s another story) deer, being instructed by my 1952-printing of ‘Hunting, Fishing and Camping’ by L.L. Bean,” Shaw wrote. “I’ve treasured that book ever since.”

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.