Hot weather, good company, no deer (or moose): One hunter’s photo blog

Early Saturday morning, I joined my friend Chris Lander for what we assured each other would be an epic day of hunting.

Chris getting situated, before the crack of dawn.

Of course, Chris and I are optimists. Every year, we assure each other that each day will be epic. Few turn out that way … but that’s OK with us. All are memorable, in their own way.

This year Chris and I are lucky: He received a moose permit that allows him to target a moose of either gender for a period of time that (not coincidentally) completely overlaps with the firearms season on deer in Wildlife Management District 26. I am lucky to be his sub-permittee on the moose hunt.

And both of us are lucky because that’s where we (not coincidentally) do all of our deer hunting, too.

A foggy morning. If it only could have stayed that way. Alas, heat was coming.

So Saturday, for us, was a two-for-one special: We’d moose hunt. We’d deer hunt. We’d shoot one of each (we were sure … but then again, we’re optimists).

But first, we’d eat.

Dedham School, which is on the way to our Otis hunting grounds, was our first stop. The students there put on quite a feed for the residents-only hunting opener, and we decided to fuel up there before heading into the woods.

After that? Success, of course. (At least, that’s the way we thought it would turn out.

Chris enjoys a tailgate lunch.

Alas, we were overly … um … optimistic.

We spent the day in the same large ground blind, side by side, waiting for something good to happen. Our rationale for the two-man, one-blind approach: The blind is in a great spot, 270 degrees of shooting angles and hundreds of yards of terrain in front of (and beside) us. The area is loaded with moose and deer sign. And while deer hunting side-by-side was a new thing for us, we’ve been on two moose hunts together, and work well as a team.

Did I mention that it was hot? This picture can’t do the weather justice. The ground blind was a sauna.

For that reason, we stuck together on opening day. After all, we were planning (or hoping, or something like that) to fill two tags in a single day.

No, we didn’t shoot a moose. No, we didn’t shoot a deer.

But we ate well. And we had a great time. And once or twice, we might even have heard the tromping feet of a moose … or a deer. Then again, it may have been a fat red squirrel.

We hunted from a half hour before dawn to a half hour before dawn until 11:30 a.m.,

The view from the blind at 7:37 a.m.: Foggy, to say the least.

then headed to a local store to grab some grub for a tailgate lunch. Then we headed back into the ground blind and sat until legal shooting hours ended at 6 p.m.

No, we had no luck. But I took a few pictures that I hope you’ll enjoy. Since I’m not a professional photographer, I decided to let an iPhone app do some of the heavy lifting, and have “clarified” this series to make it look a little artsy.

The “clarify” option does not, however, describe nor illuminate just how hot it got in

And the view at 4:41 p.m., with just an hour and 19 minutes of legal shooting left.

Chris’s ground blind in the middle of the afternoon. He checked Accuweather on his own phone and found that it was 73 degrees in Bangor.

I can report that it was at least 90 degrees in that little blind in the woods of Otis. Neither of us could breathe. Both of us were thirsty. And we had little doubt as to why the deer (and moose) weren’t moving around much.

After a long day in the woods, Chris folds up “Beth,” his moose decoy, and gets ready to hike back.

Ah, well. Monday’s another day … as long as the Frankenstorm doesn’t get us.


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.