September 27, 2023

Maine Hunting Camps Or Really Most Any Hunting Camp

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Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to get a submission request from one of our readers on a piece of poetry about Aroostook County, Maine hunting camps. It is my opinion that this poem not only belongs as part of our publications at Maine Hunting Today but it belongs right here at the Black Bear Blog for the thousands of our readers to enjoy. Thank you Laurine for sharing with us.

Hunting camps in northern Maine must be physically like others across the country. Our hunting camps in Aroostook County may be unique to the characters housed within.

Dear editor,
While checking sites to submit my writing on Ruttin’ Season to, I found many views of hunting camps. I noted one that is holding a contest for stewardship. It delineated perhaps ideal camps with its rules of conscious ecological use of land, types of camps, and facilities. I truly believe hunting camps may have all those effects, but the real “camp” is the atmosphere created by the characters that are seasonally housed within.

I have spent much time tucked away in corners of friends’ camps in northern Maine. I cherish the men that I have been privileged to meet. What characters they are, indeed, and each with their own set of stories, memories, and witticisms. One particular camp stands out above others and is referred to as “The Skittacook Tea Room”. In honor of those characters I wrote this poem describing the time of year that men are called to the hunt. After creating the somewhat rowdy first page I realized I had left out the true spirit of nights in camp with those men. I have read these pages aloud at seasonal gatherings, at wakes for those friends, and in the kitchens of the men I write about. Each is pleased, amused and touched to hear their camp life recorded in line.

I am in hopes that this can be shared with many readers who will see the characters of their grandfathers, fathers, uncles and friends from their hunting camps as well. I seek no monetary gain, just the pleasure of sharing what is dear to me.

Thank you.

Ruttin’ Season

Alas, ‘tis time for mortal men
To bellar and drink, we fear.
The air is sharp hauled in their lungs
And all their piss runs clear.
They shout and sing, and belch their drinks,
Stumble round in frozen ruts.
Call down the moon, push all about,
And scratch their hairy butts.
Now, if you’re sane, you will not go
Where men in ruttin’ season gather.
For only fools and desperate whores
Would venture near that slather.
‘Tis not the sound that tears you up,
Nor fear of limb, or virtue,
But rather ‘tis the smell at dawn
That sure as hell will hurt you.
So stay away or join right in.
Just know there is no reason.
Your very life is in your hands
With men in ruttin’ season.

(pt 2)
Yet a closer look reveals the hour
When they gather close to share
All the stories old and tales so bold
Of callin’ moose and huntin’ bear.
Cocktails flow and fresh meat sizzles
As a well-known story grows.
The smoke curls low and wafts about,
All hope for a trackin’ snow.
Cards snap out as dealt around
An eager hand of poker,
While others stand and listen well
To another real life “joker”.
He does a step and struts about.
You’re guaranteed a show.
Though he’s told this one a dozen times
Not one gets up to go.
He bends real low and gives that call.
The whole damn camp is wondrin’
If maybe this time “Gagnon” will have
A hundred moose come runnin’!
The stories of war told by the old
And tales of hunters gone,
With rolling laughter and tear filled eyes,
They talk until the dawn.
Now I have sat amongst these men
And real friendship is the reason,
These men gladly leave it all behind
To bond in ruttin’ season.
So, if you’ve love of man an’ beast,
And can tell a tale or two,
Come tip your cup and linger near,
For this is the best you’ll do.
Leave the women home,
Kiss the children dear,
And say how you hate to leave ‘em,
Then run like hell to the huntin’ camps,
And savor ruttin’ season!

L.T. Wilson

Tom Remington