Because I am so comfortable trekking through the big woods, I enjoy showing youngsters what to look for and how to get back out of the forest.  When I refer to a section of the forest as “the big woods”, I am usually referring to a section that has only one easy way out. If you do not follow the right direction, you could spend days on end looking for a road. These woods are not like down in southern Maine. If you went North, you could end up in Canada.  That is quite a trek if you followed a straight line. One of my friends from the Portland area wanted to come to Rangeley and try hunting in the big woods. I made sure he had a map and I marked where we were going to be. He could see that if he was not careful, it would definitely be a long walk to any road at all. My directions to him was quite simple as I showed him the map.  There were roads to the west, south and east. Do not, I repeat do not go north. North was Canada and it was big country. I checked him out on the compass and survival and what to do and not do and felt confident he would be ok in the area where we were going. We had a nice fresh snowfall during the night and things were just right for the trophy animal. When I went hunting, I always hunting for the trophy animal. Many years, I came up empty handed, but I did not mind that. I enjoyed trying to outsmart the old buck that roamed that particular area. This was his back yard, his living room.  The stories are many of how the big buck played games with me. That was how I liked hunting. It was almost an honor to have him play games and outsmart me.

  On this particular day, the tracks were many and I just kept looking the right set.  I would follow that set of tracks until I thought it was time to come back out of the woods. As the day progressed along, I began to wonder where my friend was.  I knew about where he should be and went in that direction. It was not long that I found his fresh tracks and to my horror, they were going directly north. I will say here that the fault was mine.  I should not have even mentioned the word north. That was all he remembered as he got scared of the big woods. I gave up hunting and started at a fast trot to catch my friend before he got too far away. It was afternoon and daylight fades away quickly in the big woods sometimes. After about thirty minutes, I found the gentleman and he was scared. He thought he would have to spend the night in the woods and never be found. He then resolved never to hunt in the big woods again.  

  On another occasion, I took one of my nephews on a hunting lesson to the top of Potato Nubble.  I wanted to make sure he came out of the woods safely. This lesson was easy. All he had to do was go down the mountain. I then showed him four set of deer tracks.  One set of tracks did not follow a pattern of going down the hill. They kept weaving back and forth. I showed him that this was most probably the big buck I had chased for two years now. You could tell by the tracks that this was a heavy animal.   I instructed him to stay just uphill of the tracks and keep your eye out for the buck roaming back and forth. I would do a big half circle around and try to make sure any animal would venture toward him. All seemed well, so I thought. I did a half circle and came up on the deer tracks and waited for my nephew to show up.  He was indeed going down the mountain, but he was looking at the tracks in front of him and never stopped to scan the woods. He noticed my tracks and began to follow them. I did a couple of fancy tracks and backtracks just to see how he would react to my trail. It was plain his intent was just to get off the mountain and not lose sight of where I was going.  So, I hid behind an old big blowdown and waited for him to pass. I took special note just how he was holding the rifle and where his fingers were. They were not on the trigger, so I felt safe at the moment. As he passed the blowdown, I jumped out, hollered and grabbed him from behind in a big old fashion body hug. I then told him, lesson learned, keep your eyes open in almost every direction.  He never went hunting with me again… HUH… can’t understand that.

Have a fine day now ya all