Finding Common Ground

Originally published in Modern Huntsman

My headlamp dangled around my neck; there was enough moonlight that I didn’t need it as we walked along the old railroad tracks to the blind. It was opening day of duck season in southern Maine, and I had invited Emilie along since she had never been duck hunting before. I had been training my Brittany, Argos, during the off-season to retrieve and was anxious to see how he would do for us that day. 

Early morning fog hovered above the Presumpscot River as we waded into an eddy and put out a half a dozen mallard decoys. We watched with awe as an eagle flew overhead, and a beaver swam across the river. As we settled into the blind, the sky began to turn shades of lavender and amethyst. Argos laid at my feet, eyes intently focused on the river; his ears perked every time I blew my call. 

Emilie and I were acquaintances, but not yet friends. We met through the social community I founded last year, Maine Women Hunters and found common ground in the fact that both of us learned to hunt in our twenties. 

Maine Women Hunters began as a Facebook group because I wanted a scrutiny-free place to ask questions, share stories and meet other like-minded women. The vibrant group now has over 1,500 members. It is not a brag board of grip n grins but a place for ladies to share their successes, lament their misses and ask for advice and offer tips. 

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Some might call it ‘roadkill’ but this ruffed grouse was delicious

Originally published in the Bangor Daily News

“I am not eating roadkill,” Martin, my brother proclaimed.

“It wasn’t run over, just bounced off a windshield probably. And it was still warm when I found it,” I reasoned.

“You mean it’s not even your roadkill? That’s even worse. Get that thing away from me.”

I delighted in his disgust and was now taunting him with the partridge I’d picked up on the side of Route 192, inching it closer and closer to him, as if we were kids again.

Though Martin was my older brother, I was the wildly outdoorsy one. We were both in our thirty’s now, back home in Machias for Thanksgiving.

On my drive home, I spied the bird like body on the shoulder. It didn’t look smushed, but I was unsure whether to turn around and investigate. Eventually curiosity got the best of me and I pulled a U Turn on the quiet, dilapidated County road.

Sure enough, it was a partridge. It was in a good shape, well, besides being dead. It had not been runover, and was still warm, indicating it hadn’t been dead long.

I picked it up by one leg and tossed it on the backseat of my Corolla, next to Argos, my brittany, who was sleeping in his crate. Upon smelling the prized game bird we often hunt, he roused and began sniffing incessantly. I thought about what he must be thinking, “What the heck, Mom went hunting without me?!” I was amused with myself the rest of the drive home.

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Down East duck hunting filled with quiet moments, expectation

Originally published in the Bangor Daily News

I am not a good duck hunter but I don’t let that stop me from duck hunting. The only sound I can make through a duck call is a single, mediocre-sounding “quack” and I miss many more ducks that I hit.

My headlamp dangles around my neck; there is enough moonlight that I don’t need it as I walk across a marsh near Machias, my hometown, toward the coast. I love hunting Down East. The coasts are sparsely developed and the ducks are not pressured by other hunters. Though it’s a frigid 15 degrees I’m starting to sweat. I slow my walking. I’m wearing bulky neoprene waders, carrying a layout blind on my back, a backpack backwards on my chest, and my Benelli shotgun slung over my shoulder. In my arms I carry a small blind for my dog, Argos. I don’t want to sweat in these temperatures because once I stop moving, my sweat will chill me.

I reach the spot I want to hunt in the small tidal cove and survey the water. A trickle of fast moving water cuts through the middle of the cove. I look at my watch. One hour until legal hunting, 1.5 hours until sunrise. It’s an incoming tide and will soon hold enough water to appeal to ducks. Perfect. Outside the cove, the open ocean is calm. A slight breeze from the north annoyingly blows my hair across my face. I plop everything I was carrying down on to the marsh, and dig a few black duck decoys out of my backpack. I slop through the mud in the cove and toss decoys in the mud. In an hour they will be floating in water.

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