Dream Hunt Times Two – a huge bull moose and buck deer

Shane Campbell of Franklin has had quite a hunting year. I saw Shane on a back road east of Portage while I was grouse hunting there. He was hooking up a trailer to his vehicle, obviously to transport a moose, and we stopped to congratulate him. He recognized me and we got into quite a conversation. After hearing a bit of his story, I asked him to share it with me later, in writing, so I could share it with you.

But before he found the time to do that, he had another story to tell, about a buck that put him in the Biggest Bucks in Maine club. “It has been an amazing year for me,” Shane told me, definitely an understatement. Here are his stories.

Bull Moose

I have put in for a moose permit for the past 30 years but was never drawn. But this year I got a Bull Permit for Zone 2, for the first week, which was a dream location and time for me. The scheduled first day of the week was September 28, which was the same day my son Nick was to turn 16 years old. We spent three months planning our hunt, arranged for him to miss a week of school, and packed and purchased everything we would need. I gathered my group of men and scouted the area for two days, yet we did not see any moose.

On Monday, September 28th, we were up at 4:30 a.m., yet it was 70 degrees out. My group separated in several trucks in search of a bull moose.  After two days of driving around in the heat and checking prime moose locations, I knew I needed a different plan. I returned to a remote area where I had seen heavy signs of bull moose activity, including tree scrapes, a heavily used moose trail, and lots of other moose sign.

with son and wifeOn Wednesday, September 30th, my son and I walked in a quarter of mile to the end of a rough tote road and the beginning of an active moose trail. It was pouring rain at first light while we set up a turkey blind my father gave me years ago. We spent the next few hours playing an antique cassette tape call and also using a coffee can with a cotton string moose call we had made. My son thought these techniques were so old and odd that he chuckled out loud.

On Thursday, October 1, my entire group scattered to bird hunt for the morning, the opening day of Partridge Season. This left Nick and I on our own to hunt in the same ground blind we were in the day before. It was finally perfect weather of 40 degrees with just a light wind. I got Nick up earlier and parked the truck even further away, way before daylight, hoping this was the day. We walked in a quarter of mile and began calling by six a.m. I would run the call for one minute and wait for ten minutes. We were both staring out the right side window of the blind toward the beginning of the game path.

At approximately 6:45 a.m. I heard a loud grunt behind me and quickly looked out the small rear window. And there was the bull of my dreams 70 yards away, staring directly at me! I stuck my old Remington Woodmaster .30/.06 out the window and fired directly at his chest. The bull moose quickly turned and left the same way he came in. My son stood up, literally threw the ground blind off from us, and ran in the direction of the moose. Trying to catch up to Nick, I could see the bull wobbling in a grown tree cut. I watched my son fire the fatal shot to the moos, which stood broadside for him. The moose fell and the work began. We were all by ourselves.

We took our pictures together and I realized this bull moose was huge. I guessed the moose was well over 850 pounds and well over a 50 inch spread. I could not believe it happened! My son did all he could to hold the rear leg up while I gutted the moose by myself. Nick eventually tied a rope around his waist and to same rear leg of the moose, and leaned back using all his weight so I could finish the job. I now needed to rest and then get the 10 foot wide snowmobile trailer to put the moose on. Nick now refused to leave the moose and said he was going to guard it from coyotes and other hunters. We were so excited! I tried to keep it together, while I screamed and giggled. I had finally completed a lifelong goal.

moose oneI traveled the 5 miles back to where I had left the trailer at a major intersection. I observed a vehicle drive by and I recognized the driver as a retired Game Warden who lived in Portage. I told him my son and I got a bull moose and he asked if I was alone. I told him my party left me to bird hunt. He asked about and I described the pickup truck they were in. Jim said he would look for them and tell them to get over here and help us. I attempted to hook the trailer up and the next vehicle that drove by was Jim Robbins and George Smith, grouse hunting. I told George a bit of my story and we swapped business cards.

I returned to Nick and the moose and got out 1,200 feet of rope which was in three sections. I only used one snatch block which I put up in the air with a chain. I had to go across the remote tote road to reach the only tree I could find that was large enough. I tied the rope to the neck and horns of the huge moose so the antlers would not dig in the ground as I pulled. I guessed the rope stretched 300 feet to the tree and the snatch block. I then tied a second ¾ inch rope that stretched another 300 feet to the truck. Nick drove the pickup in 4X4 low gear and inched along as I held the antlers up.

By the time we got the moose to side of the remote tote road it was almost noon. I then saw my hunting party arrive. Jim had found them and told to come help me. Better late than never! I then used Dale’s large Come-a-long winch which I chained to the Reese hitch of my truck. We manually winched the monster moose onto the snowmobile trailer. More hugs and photos. We could NOT believe that Dale had a tape measure and the moose rack was 55 inches wide. We now predicted the moose was over 900 pounds.

We all drove out together and went out of our way to the Fish River boat launch off the Rocky Brook Road. I got out my Wyoming meat saw and cut down the entire middle of the brisket. I then took my shirt off and climbed into the river to cut the windpipe of the moose. I was in water (cold!) up to my waist, to make the final cut. After exiting the river with the moose heart, we took more photos. I then backed the trailer and moose down into the cold river. I could see the steam and blood wash down stream and felt it was the best way to quickly cool off the moose in this remote area. George and Jim happened by again and joined in our celebration. I promised to write this story and share it with the readers of his Outdoor News column.

Nick and ShaneThen I drove to my cousin’s camp in Portage and gathered all our stuff that my wife, Terry, had collected for us. She even cleaned the camp for us! We drove down to Ashland Gateway Store where they had certified scales. The official moose weight was 922 pounds. It was the largest moose tagged up to that point. We took more pictures and stuffed 13 blocks of ice inside the moose! At 6:00 p.m., after we drove directly to Maple Lane Farms in Charleston, we watched as they took the moose to be butchered and gave us back the antlers.

This was a true dream Moose Hunt of a Lifetime for me and my family!

P.S. I now have a Buck of a Lifetime Story coming to you next if you want it.

(Yes, I responded to Shane, I want it!)

Big Buck

buck twoWe just bought a hunting camp in Hersey in Zone 11 and was fortunate enough to draw a Doe Permit for Zone 6, which is just north of us. I had scouted the area of Duck Pond Road and found some deer sign and decent areas to hunt. We had seen four does one day while bird hunting in October. My wife Terry drove as we went way up to Beaver Brook Road near Portage and hunted in the morning. We worked our way back and ate lunch in Presque Isle.

We then returned in the afternoon to the area I had scouted. I saw a hunter down the road we wanted to try so we drove on, straight down the main road. Suddenly, we spotted a big doe standing near the road. But when I jumped out of truck, I saw a big buck behind the doe! I fired at the buck as it bolted away, chasing the doe. I then observed the doe refuse to cross the road. Instead, she did a 180 and ran right back in front of me.

The large buck was deeply in the rut and also turned, still in pursuit of the doe. My wife said it was like the old fashioned shooting gallery as they crossed the road on the right, turned and recrossed on the left.  I fired one fatal shot at the running buck when he was about 30 yards away.  The buck flipped over and was dead. I could not believe what just happened!

I ran up to the buck and pulled the antlers out of the dirt. The 10 point rack was huge! And once again I screamed! I could not believe the body mass of this deer. The hunter that was on our road then drove up. He could not believe the size of the buck. He looked at the hooves and saw how big they were, and then admitted he had been chasing this buck for the past two days. We shook hands and he congratulated me. He and I guessed the weight of this deer between 220 and 240 pounds.

It was the deer of a lifetime and I could not believe it. He generously offered to help drag out the buck to our truck and I took him up on it, as it was just my wife there to help. He stood by as I gutted the deer out. I pointed out the strong metatarsal glands and his “package” demonstrated that he was definitely in the “rut”. We agreed this buck died because of the rut.

The hunter then helped and we used all of our strength and will to get the humungous buck in the bed of our truck. I shook his hand again as we caught our breath. He was Dan Jewell of Houlton. I told him I would send him some deer meat and he waived us on. We drove out to Route 11 from T8R4 and called our local Game Warden Seth Powers. He congratulated us and confirmed that Wilderness Variety at Shin Pond had certified scales and paperwork for the Big Buck Club.

At 5:45 p.m., Terry and I arrived at the store just before it closed. Others hunters gathered around while I completed the paperwork inside. I came out and assisted the owner with putting the buck on the scales. We all watched as the scale climbed to 224 pounds!! I was ecstatic and hugged my wife as we took more pictures. We drove home to Franklin, calling my local butcher/taxidermist on the way. He agreed to put the monster buck into his large walk in cooler as it was going to be over 55 degrees the next day. He’s doing a full mount of the head and a coat rack with the feet. YES, we now have to go buy another freezer, which will make three in our home. I am so blessed and thankful.

Indeed you are Shane. And thanks for sharing your stories! – George



George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.