Saturday was a very special day. You see, I was in Rhode Island for my wife's family gathering and took some time to go see my Uncle Rene. Uncle Rene and I have a long deep history of hunting and fly fishing together. He used to have a camp in Vermont where it was a ritual to be there on the opening day of deer season with the likes of Fred and Zeke. We have many fond memories together, like the time we had an early snow storm that dumped two feet of snow in the mountains. We were stranded in the cabin for two days before the snowmobiles came through and created a path to walk on. I was in my twenties then and cabin fever took over, I suited up grabbed my rifle and took off into the mountains. After an hour or so, I spotted three deer and as I trudged up the mountain in the deep snow chasing them when I ran across the hunter that jumped them from their beds. He was wore out from the deep snow and told me to give it a try. Well, three hours later, totally spent physically and with darkness setting in I began my long hike back. At times I would stumble over dead trees and tumble end over end in the snow. It was like I was watching a movie about a mountain man becoming stranded in the mountains in a major storm. Well, except for the mountain man part, it was early in my career, I was in a dangerous place. By the time I hit the snowmobile trail, I could hardly stand up. We didn't have Gortex in those days, only rubber rain gear, so I had sweat through all of my clothes. I persevered by putting one foot in front of the other until I could see the flood lights on our cabin. By the time I reached the bottom of the stairs, I collapsed, banging the butt of my rifle on the wooden stairs to alert Rene. He came out joking saying, "where's the deer?" He quickly realized I wasn't joking around and need help getting in the camp. He quickly undressed me and gave me some dry clothes, hydrated me with plenty of water and then poured a glass of bourbon, listening intently as I told him the whole story.
Then there was the time we went camping with a group of friends fly fishing in the Allagash Wilderness in Northern Maine, 50 miles north of Ripogenus Gorge. It rained for 5 days and the zipper on our tent broke preventing us from closing the fly. It rained so hard we joked the river was flowing through out sleeping bags. We never dried out the whole time there but we caught fish and enjoyed the camaraderie around the camp fire.
Rene's wife of 62 years is in a nursing home and she isn't doing very well. Rene faithfully drives there twice a day to visit her which consumes most of his day. When he isn't at the nursing home, he sits on top of an old tube 19 inch TV and watches TV until he falls asleep. So Saturday was going to be a special day, I took Uncle Rene out and bought him a new 32 inch flat screen TV only he thought I was buying it for myself. Not until I carried it in his house did he understand that it was a gift for him. He was so happy he cried, and so did I.
Now, you are probably asking yourself, what does all this have to do with the 2012 Maine Moose Lottery? Well the lottery was held on that same special day with Uncle Rene, Saturday in Oquossoc, a small town in Rangeley that is between Mooselookmuguntic lake and Rangely lake. 54,338 people applied for the permit opportunity in the lottery. 14,657 of them were from "away", in other words, from all over the world, and 39,681 were from Maine. I have been applying since they started the lottery in 1980 and have had the good fortune of being selected in 2004. I harvested a large bull that year with a 59 1/2 inch spread tip to tip on his antlers. He is hanging over our wood stove and Lynn fondly named him Henry.
Maine Fish and Game didn't post the results of the lottery until 8PM that evening, I was on the computer at my father-in law's at 8:01. I checked all my friends names first as I went through the alphabet, no one I know got lucky. Then came the W's....I couldn't believe my eyes, I was picked again and it was for a bull moose, zone 5, September hunt. What a perfect ending on a special day spent with my 85 year old hunting and fishing partner of so many years. I hope Uncle Rene can be there with us when I harvest another bull moose to make yet another special day.