Back in the thirties, forties, and fifties my grandpa and grandma Riley owned a family farm in Monroe, Maine where they raised their family of ten kids. When they “sold the farm” in the early fifties, they retained forty acres that remains in the family to this very day. That land has been used by three generations for hunting purposes.
Today we’re taking a trip back in time to my childhood days. When I was just a lad around the age of eleven my dad bought me my first hunting gun. It was a 28 gauge shot gun. Within another year I had inherited dad’s old 30-40 Craig when he upgraded to a brand spanking new 308.
Hunting season in Maine begins in October and runs through the end of November. October is bird and small game hunting while large game is added for the month of November hence the need for two different guns – a shot gun and a rifle.
I have many fond memories of hunting for partridge and duck hunting trips with my dad and his friends during the month of October, but the most fun was deer hunting season at the “family farm”. But first, just a little more background information.
There was a good sized hunting camp located on the property where you had to cross a rickety old bridge that passed about twelve feet over the ledge lined Marsh Stream (Judy doesn’t like that bridge). Then you’d drive up a hill on a two track that swings to the left. Continuing up the two track for about a quarter mile you’d come to an opening and there sat the Riley hunting camp.
During the month of September most of my uncles and their families would gather at the camp for a day of sighting in their rifles and a nice Riley clan picnic. After all, it is a beautiful piece of property and brings the family back to its roots. If we could get the RV in there, I wouldn’t mind spending a month, or so, of boondocking on that land.
Now back to deer hunting season. On Friday nights dad and I would pack up our gear and head out for the hunting camp. Before the night was through about eight or nine more of my uncles and/or cousins would show up for a Saturday hunt. The hunting camp would easily accommodate a dozen people with two triple double bunk beds. The only woman who would show up was my aunt Bernice whose nick name was Bunny.
After an evening of beer (for the adults) and cards, everyone would arise at oh dark thirty in order to be in the woods at first light. I’m not sure if that was the safest thing to be doing after all the beer that was drunk the evening before. Dawson beer was five bottles of beer sold in a bag (“what beer in a bag?”) for a buck. If you ever tasted that stuff you’d know why they sold five bottles for a buck – yuck! Anyhow, we’d take to the woods at first light with rifles in hand and, unlike Barney Fife, the rifles were fully loaded (as were a couple of the hunters).
Now my uncles always had this strategic plan of stationing several people around various positions while several others would drive around to the other side of the woods and then “drive the deer.” I don’t know who ever dreamt up this plan, but have you ever tried to shoot a deer on the run? I can tell you that it is a waste of ammunition.
Anywhoo, Bunny tended to go off by herself. Having grown up on the farm, she knew every inch of the property. I recall one Saturday morning, after spending the morning “driving deer” (by the way, that’s about like trying to herd katts), when we arrived back at camp there was aunt Bunny cooking something on the stove.
She had shot herself a rabbit, skinned it, and was frying it up to have with her eggs for breakfast. She shared some with me and I can attest to the fact that it doesn’t taste like chicken. I’ll just have my eggs over medium with some hash on the side, thank you very much!
Take Care Until Next Time - - - - - - -