Pineland Farms 3-day turkey hunt for veterans harvests more than turkeys

Pineland Farms veterans huntA recent 3-day turkey hunt for veterans, at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, was a remarkable success and not only because they harvested a bunch of turkeys. Take a look at the photo that accompanies this column and I think you’ll know what I mean. The hunt was part of the Veterans Adaptive Sports and Training Program.

A few years ago the Libra Foundation purchased Pineland, and they’ve done some remarkable things there, with a special focus on home-grown food including beef and vegetables. Their farm-to-table dinners are always sold out and their market is a very busy place. You can now purchase their products in many supermarkets.

As Craig Denekas, Libra’s President and CEO, told me, “We’ve been fortunate to have a venue of about 5,000 acres to do some interesting things.”

One of those interesting things happened a few weeks ago. “We organized a veterans’ three-day turkey hunt,” said Craig, “in conjunction with Mossy Oak (gear), Cabella’s (ammo), some local guides, a few local game wardens, and Smoldering Lake Outfitters. I wish more people could have seen it,” he noted. Indeed.

Pineland Farms veterans hunt two“Maine was in all its glory and the turkeys did not disappoint,” Craig reported. “The Turkey THUGS program sponsored by Mossy Oak was there to film, which should be fun when it comes out.” I can’t wait to see that!

Kristina Sabasteanski, the director of the Pineland Farms veterans program and an occupational therapist, has worked over the last four years with 150 veterans. She’s also married to an Iraq War veteran and has lost a brother in military combat, so this program means a lot to her personally.

The folks from Mossy Oak told Craig it was, “some of the best turkey hunting they had experienced.” The Mossy Oak team stayed at one of Pineland’s guest farmhouses.

“We have some very special things we all tend to take for granted in Maine,” said Craig, “so it is always fun to see an outsider’s eyes light up when they see just how much is outside our doorstep.”

Another reminder of how privileged we are to live, and hunt, in Maine.

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,, 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.