Traditions abound here at Chandler Lake Camps and Lodge. Meticulously preserving the history of our camps and sharing as much of the rich outdoor tradition of the North Maine Woods as possible. We love when families visit and share together and we are always very happy and humbled when we can create a lifetime memory. Below is the latest in our family stories series as told to us by Skylar:
During the summer of 2018 I worked and lived at Chandler Lake Camps in the North Maine Woods with Jason And Sherry Bouchard. Towards the end of the summer Jason said that this fall instead of work we would need to have some fun together so he suggested that we plan a traditional North Maine Woods deer hunt the week of Thanksgiving. The rest of the summer goes by and I begin my senior year in high school. Before I know it the day before Thanksgiving is here and my father and I are loading up his pickup truck and heading up to camp for our hunt. Amongst the luggage are two very special items I own, a lever action Browning model 81 BLR chambered in .308, and a Buck hunting knife with the initials P.E.P inscribed on the blade. Those initials were my grandfather’s and both of those weapons were handing down to me before he passed away. The rifle had never shot a deer, however that knife has cleaned very many birds that I shot, it too had yet to see the blood of a deer though.
We began the 30 something mile trip up to camp in a whiteout blizzard that had hit all of Aroostook County hard. Snow was actually a recurring theme of this trip, since we were walking through the woods and tracking deer in knee deep snow the whole duration of the hunt. We managed to survive the ride up, ate a meal that couldn’t be beat then rested up for the first day of hunting, which just so happened to be Thanksgiving Day. That first day it didn’t take long for Jason, Dad, and I to find a fresh set of buck tracks to follow and Jason and I took off after the first buck. The fresh snow made for excellent tracking conditions and the weather was excellent, nice clear skies with a fairly steady breeze, although with fairly brisk temperatures. We tracked the deer for the entire morning. Jason pointed out a number of scrapes, rubs, and noted the habits and traits big bucks have when being pursued in the rut. We jumped that first buck once but never caught up to him again. For the rest of the day we checked more crossings but to no result. At dark we wrapped up the first day of hunting, ate our Thanksgiving meal, watched some lucky deer hunting films then called it a night.
Day number two was another beautiful but cold day and like the first day it didn’t take us long to find another pair of large buck tracks to follow. As Jason and I followed in the snow we found more and more signs that we were approaching closer, tops that he nibbled on, a bed where he laid down, fresh scat in his trail. We followed for about an hour until we reached an knoll rising up from the forest to a old grown up cut, while tracking up that knoll Jason noticed movement directly in front of us. He told me to kneel down and he did as well. A doe and fawn were moving toward us in the deep snow through the winter beech and broke out in a small clearing. Upon seeing us they moved a few steps to our left and stopped, no more than 40 feet away.
By this point my heart was pounding out of my chest, and then Jason called with the grunt call and was responded with more movement from the cut. What happened next was a blur, I realized a deer was approaching, it was a buck with noticeable antlers. I put my rifle to my shoulder and tried to find the buck in my scope but he was to close, luckily I have over under sights so I drop to my iron sights and pull the trigger.
That deer couldn’t of been more than 30 feet away from me when I fired the shot and all I could see was the thing turn away and run out of sight. It didn’t take more than three bounds apparently before it snow plowed into the powder. Only one side of the rack was showing and to my amazement there was four points on it and when I picked the head out of the snow we discovered that I had shot a 9 pointer, that buck weighed 172 pounds dressed. We field dressed the buck with my grandfather’s knife and dragged the deer out of the woods, in waist deep snow.
The moment I will never forget is when my father got out of the pickup and gave me the biggest hug and told me how proud he was of me, it was such a surreal moment that I had finally gotten my buck and done it with my grandfather’s equipment while hunting with my father. It truly was an amazing hunt that I will never forget!