Awesome Maine hunting camp stories

I loved all of Jeff and Josh Russell’s stories about deer hunting and their camp in Maine’s north woods near Mount Katahdin. My son Josh got me this book, Woodstoves and Wool, for Christmas, and boy, was it a great gift! The stories start in the 1950s when the boys were very young, and throughout the years, they loved spending time at camp with their dad and uncles.

They have some great stories about successful deer hunts, including some really big bucks, including one that took them 7 hours of dragging to get it to the road. And of course I enjoyed those stories. But their stories about the years they did not get their deer – including some where they did not even see a deer- are equally good.

The stories end in 2010. So I’m hoping they are writing more now! The book is loaded with wonderful photographs of many of the deer they got. And yes, there are some huge bucks.

I have a camp on the edge of Baxter Park, and I know the spectacular woods and waters all around there. So I can appreciate how much Jeff and Josh enjoyed their time there even when they did not see a deer.

It was a long 8-hour drive from their home to camp, and they would sometimes drive all night and get to camp just in time to grab their guns and head out hunting. And yes, they sometimes napped in the woods.

I wish I could include one of their stories here because I know you’d rush out and buy this book. I’ve already read it twice and I’m sure I’ll read it again.

I did appreciate this statement from Jeff in his introduction: “Should this book breed into even a single soul a true honest to goodness love of Maine and its deer at a level so significant that he or she would stand to protect both the place and the prey, well, then, we’ll have accomplished far more than intended.”

Given that I spent my career trying to protect our great places and wildlife, Jeff’s statement meant a lot to me.

I also liked his recognition that, for Maine deer hunters, “there is no beating the game. Persistence helps some. Stubbornness can be even more effective. But there are no shortcuts on a Maine deer hunt and we wouldn’t want there to be.”

And he got it right when he wrote, “with the purchase of these pages you are welcome into our camp, and into the most memorable days we’ve experienced together.”

Having hunted with my Dad for 56 years, I understand why those times at camp with their dad and uncles was so special. And I must thank Jeff and Josh for sharing those special times and stories with us.

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.