The Stan Grover Memorial Moose Hunt
By Jim Robbins
This story is about an incredible set of circumstances about two moose hunts involving Stan Grover, his grandson and some friends.
You may remember Stan Grover as that great big guy that ran the annual NRA banquets in Augusta , Maine for many years. I first knew Stan when he and I were both forestry students at the University of Maine in Orono. Many years later my son, Jim Robbins married Stan’s daughter Shannon. Since then, my son and I enjoyed hunting with Stan and we became close friends and spent a lot of time hunting ducks and deer together.
Soon a grandson Noah came along and as soon as he reached the age of ten he came along on our hunts. Several members of my family got drawn for the moose lottery and Stan always came along with us. Stan was a great guy to bring because he always had all the gear we needed to get a moose out- in fact the highlight of any trip for Stan was always after the moose was down so he could go to work getting the moose out with all his gear like winches, ropes, chainsaw, etc.
You also had to like hot dogs because every noon Stan would get out the grill and cook up a bunch of hot dogs. They were great the first few days but I have to admit that after five or six days in a row a hamburger would have looked pretty good.
Stan applied for a moose permit every year since the lottery started but was never fortunate enough to get drawn- although his wife Marci got drawn one year and Stan shot a nice bull up near Oxbow as the subpermittee. Stan really wanted to get drawn so that he could name his grandson, Noah Robbins , as his subpermittee and they could shoot a moose together.
Finally in 2014 Stan got drawn and he and Noah were going to hunt moose together. Stan researched all the zones carefully as to number of moose harvested in each zone and had selected zone number 4 around Caucomgomoc Lake, which he got. I have a friend, Larry Philbrick, who has a camp on that lake and Larry happily agreed to let us use his camp.
Stan had drawn a bull permit for the second season. On September 20th we headed up to Larry’s camp to scout for a couple of days before the hunt started on Monday, September 22nd. Included in the group were Stan, Jim Robbins Sr., Jim Robbins Jr., grandson Noah Robbins, Noah’s uncle Jim Sohns from Bucksport and Larry Philbrick.
The second season is supposed to be the best week for calling bulls but for whatever reason (it was still quite warm) the bulls in this area weren’t responding to calls. We saw a few cows, calves, and small bulls but not any big bulls. Finally late Wednesday we saw where a bull had been raking up some alders near a beaver flowage and when called he responded and came to the call. However he didn’t come into view close enough to the shooters to get a shot.
We went back to the same spot early the next morning and when my son Jim called, the bull grunted and started to come to us. After much calling and waiting he finally stepped into the edge of the trail and Stan and Noah shot together and down he went. It was a great moment and I truly believe was one of the greatest highlights of both Stan’s and Noah’s life. The bull weighed about 800 pounds and had a beautiful rack- a real Maine trophy.
Unfortunately, between the time Stan got drawn for the moose hunt and when the hunt occurred Stan got diagnosed with lung cancer. He was supposed to be operated on the last week of October which meant he would miss deer hunting with us in November. However, his operation got postponed for a week and he was able to go deer hunting with us on the last Saturday (Maine hunters only day) in October. He sat in one of our tree stands and shot a buck that first morning. Stan had extensive surgery a week later.
Unfortunately, on June 13th, 2015 Stan died from his lung cancer. This ironically was the same day as the drawing for the 2015 moose lottery and believe it or not his grandson Noah got drawn again for a bull tag, for the same week and the same zone. Once again Larry Philbrick was willing to let us use his camp. We decided to call it The Stan Grover Memorial Moose Hunt. On the 26th of September the same group of hunters headed up to Larry’s camp, without Stan of course, but added to the group was an avid outdoorsman, Father Dick, priest at the Belfast Roman Catholic Church.
Once again, we didn’t have a lot of luck calling and the first three days of the hunt came up empty. But we weren’t giving up as it was Thursday the previous year that we got the bull. This year Thursday was going to be October 1, the opening of upland bird season. A friend of Larry’s, Chuck, came into camp Wednesday night to go bird hunting the next day. It was decided that Chuck would go bird hunting by himself the next morning while the rest of us went out to see if we could call in a moose. We were to meet back at camp at noon and Larry would hunt birds with Chuck that afternoon.
The moose hunters all got up early the next morning and drove quite a ways to a likely area to call moose at day break. We hunted all morning with no luck so finally headed back to camp but were running a little late. In the meantime, Chuck had gotten back to camp on time but we weren’t there. While waiting for us he decided to go for a walk down the camp road to have a cigar. When he had gone about a quarter of mile from camp he heard a loud grunt and out into the road stepped a large bull moose.
The moose turned towards him while grunting and Chuck started retreating towards camp with the moose following him. All this time Chuck was thinking “Where the heck are the moose hunters? If they were here now they would get this bull.”
As Chuck got closer to camp he was trying decide whether he should hide under Larry’s four wheeler trailer or run for camp. He decided to run for it. He made it to camp and jumped into his vehicle to come find us. Just as he turned the key he heard some shots. We had arrived and there was the bull standing in a clearing about two hundred yards from camp. Noah and Jim got him- another beautiful bull with a nice rack. It was another highlight moment for all of us, especially to get a similar bull on the same day of the week that Stan and Noah had shot the bull the year before.
After field dressing the bull we dragged him out to the edge of the road to load the bull onto the trailer. I looked over and there was Noah standing by the head of the bull sprinking something on the bull’s head. I said to my son, Jim, what is Noah doing?
He said ”He is sprinkling some of Stan’s ashes on the bull.” I couldn’t believe it . I couldn’t keep a dry eye. I had to walk away. How many sixteen year olds would have thought to do this? It goes to show you what his grandfather and hunting means to him. It still brings a tear to my eye when I think about it.
So we had two great moose hunts two years in a row. I told Larry that it was really nice of him to provide the camp and join us on the hunt but I hadn’t expected that he would also provide a live decoy named Chuck.
I have some more grandsons and granddaughters coming along. I hope we get to go moose hunting together. As I get older I am realizing how important family, and how short time is, and we need to spend as much time in the great outdoors with our loved ones and friends as possible.
PHOTO: The Stan Grover Memorial Moose Hunt