Maine Game Wardne Kyle Franklin stands outside of his home in Durham. Franklin is a recent warden graduate and is being posted to Estcourt Station District, the northernmost point in Maine.

DURHAM — When 24-year-old Kyle Franklin heads to Estcourt Station in the near future, the population of the tiny village will soar from four to five.

The area’s new game warden is heading to Maine’s north pole, a part of the state that’s so remote, it’s considered inaccessible for much of the year.

Coming from southern parts of the state, you almost literally can’t get there from here – a visitor typically has to first drive into Quebec and then travel a series of logging roads to get to Estcourt Station.

It’s a rugged place in a forbidding wilderness. The bears are bigger, storms more intense, and isolation is a way of life.

All that considered, Franklin couldn’t be happier about his assignment.

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“I’m in a situation where it doesn’t really matter much where I end up,” the Durham man said, shortly after graduating from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. “I’ll be pretty much on my own for the most part. I’m not worried about it. I’ll have work to do and I’ll find something to do with my time. I’ll be fine.”

Once he’s up there, Franklin will work with the various local and federal agents who come and go. Although Estcourt Station isn’t considered a popular choice for illegal border crossings – Rambo himself would find the terrain daunting – the area is closely monitored. Somebody has to keep an eye out for game-law breakers, after all, and manage wildlife issues up there.

According to Wikipedia: “The border control stations on both sides of the international boundary are staffed only several hours daily, usually for processing logging trucks that access Maine’s North Woods to haul timber to Quebec sawmills.

“A few U.S. residents live in the village during the summer. They must follow the hours of the border control stations, so after 5 p.m. on Friday they cannot leave until 9 a.m. Monday. Anyone attempting to enter the U.S. through Estcourt Station illegally would have to travel on hundreds of miles of private logging roads in northern Maine that are difficult to navigate during spring and summer rains, and almost inaccessible because of snow during the winter.”

This is the place that Franklin will someday call home. For how long? He has no idea.

“I could spend my whole career up there,” he said.

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He could indeed – the last warden to man Estcourt Station was Philip Dumond who, in 2016, retired at the age of 85 after serving 38 years there.

Dumond, a self-described hermit, survived that long stretch, but Estcourt Station is a place that could drive a socially-minded man or woman mad. Cellphone reception there is said to be spotty at best, so contact with the world on the other side of all that wilderness is not guaranteed.

Still, Franklin is undaunted. He grew up in Durham, after all, which is not exactly Manhattan. He hunts. He fishes. He knows his way around a snowmobile. Being part of Maine’s nature is built into his DNA – Franklin’s brother is a warden in southern Maine.

His parents, Franklin said, understand that he won’t be able to pop in for every holiday celebration or for regular weekend visits.

“Other than that, they’re as happy as can be,” Franklin said. “They support me. Always have.”

It’s not yet known how soon Franklin will be sent north — way, way north — to take his post at Estcourt Station. First, he and other new recruits have to go through field training, which will mean shadowing other wardens as they go about their business.

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“We get to go work with guys in different areas across the state,” Franklin said. “We get a taste of pretty much everything.”

After that, he’ll make the long journey toward the border, heading to a place that’s north of the Allagash; a place where if you so much as stumble, you might accidentally end up in Canada.

If Frankin is concerned at all about the isolation he’ll face, it doesn’t show.

“It will be an adventure for sure,” he said.

How do game wardens become game wardens?

“The new wardens recently completed an extensive 12-week advanced academy specifically for Maine’s game wardens. The Advanced Warden Academy followed the 18-week Basic Law Enforcement Training Program required of all full-time Maine police officers. The past 12 weeks prepared the new wardens by utilizing classroom, field and scenario based training components.

“Critical aspects of game warden work to include search and rescue, recreational vehicle crash investigation, snowmobiling, water survival, physical fitness, jiujitsu, public relations, and bureau policies and procedures are among the many topics of training covered.”

Source: Maine Warden Service

Maine’s northermost point: Estcourt Station.


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