Hunting in Island Falls

Every time I see that Cranberry commercial on TV, I am reminded of a hunting trip to Island Falls in the beautiful State of Maine. Island Falls is a town of about 800 full-time residents located  just about as far north in Maine as you can get. It is in a county famous for it’s snow and cold and the county is called Aroostook.  It is the largest county and the farthest north of any place in the United States east of that proverbial Mississippi.

And we were there, my brother-in-law George (AKA Buzz) and I, because of our friendship with a fine gentleman we knew from Upper Falls , Maryland whose name was Buck Hash.  Buck and his wife Shola were, like it is always said about people like them, two of the nicest people I have ever known…Buck had several Dry Cleaning establishments in Baltimore and was good at what he did.

They lived in a modest house, raised 4 or 5 kids and Buck had a hunting cabin and a small piece of land in the wilds of Maine.  He was avid hunter who loved to talk hunting almost as  much as hunting itself. We spent many hours talking with Buck in Upper Falls about hunting and looking at his collection of hunting rifles and shotguns. Buzz and I both lived close-by in Bradshaw, about 5 minutes away.  Buck and Shola have long since gone to that big hunting lodge in the stars and Shola is probably still making that big pot of coffee for Buck and the guys.

On this particular trip, Buzz and I had been invited to go deer hunting  for a week with Buck and a couple of other hunters from around Baltimore.  Buck had a friend, an Indian, think he was a Penobscot, from Island Falls who took care of the cabin . We had arrived on Sunday night and then on Monday and Tuesday morning we saw but one “button buck”  That’s a little guy with just nubs for horns.  Buzz and I decided we would get our shotguns and roam around the nearby forest and bag a couple of plump Grouse for supper.  It had warmed a little so we just grabbed a light jacket.

The Grouse we had spotted when we had the deer rifles must have seen the shotguns and did a disappearing act. We kept wandering, came across the fattest porcupine I have ever seen in the wild who just grunted and argued with us a little and went on.  It was then, we really did not know where we were.  Our ramblings and wanderings had been in circles and suddenly we saw an open area ahead and thought :”Buck’s camp”…Nope……it was a very large lake, made by a couple of Beavers who acted like we were trespassing and kept slapping their tails on the water to scare us away.  The lake from the dam was acres and acres wide and only up to our knees.  The sun was beginning it’s nightly trip to China and Maine gets cold in October at night.

We heard what we later found to be a Bobcat up on a ridge and we both jumped about 3 feet in the air.  It sounded like someone being murdered, talk about the hair standing up on your neck! We looked at each other, no fear or panic yet but where was that cabin?  We decided we should at least keep walking to stay warm, when suddenly we heard what sounded like trees falling down.  It was a Moose, she had apparently bedded down near the lake for the night and we spooked  her.  She was the size of a horse, a big horse and she was breaking off little trees like they were match sticks.  We kept moving….a little faster now, but it was a long way around that Beaver pond.

Then suddenly, we heard a couple of shotgun blasts from the  ridge on the other side of the lake which was, incidentally, filled with wild cranberry bushes…almost like the commercial.  The shotgun was Buck telling us :”We’re up here, you dummies”.  It was fast getting dark and the quickest way home was straight across that shallow lake, cold water and all. Those two guys in the Cranberry ad remind me of Buzz and I, up to our knees in berries.

About 30  minutes later we arrived back at camp, wet to our waists, cold and facing a lot of large grins and muffled laughter.  After two big cups of hot coffee and some beans and piece of a duck that was left, we headed for the wood stove and it took  us all night to get warm again.  Next trip out, the Penobscot volunteered to go  with us,  he said it was better than having to come find us again.  He also told us that the area is so remote that on nearby Mt.Katahdin, which is the start of the Appalachian Trail, almost every year someone goes hiking or hunting in the winter and they find them in the spring.  They are usually sitting at the base of a tree, frozen solid…

Don Langrehr

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One Response to Hunting in Island Falls

  1. mike says:

    Great story. I’ll think of it whenever I eat craisins. Still don’t know if anybody got a buck they could shoot. Maine is very pretty but it is for the most part really “country”.

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