The various articles below appeared in the October 15, 1896, edition of the RANGELEY LAKES. They share some outdoor news of the day in this Sporting Mecca that Rangeley was and is to this day. The natural resource, methods and attitudes have changed, but the passion for the region has not.  Enjoy this peek back in time and be sure to get outside and make some great Rangeley outdoor history of your own!
Some items have been redacted for space reasons, otherwise all text reprinted just as it appeared in 1896. Contemporary commentary appears in parenthesis.

(Rich Hunter Caught Hunting Before the Open Season)
“Well, did you get him?” asked the warden, greeting the hunter rather coldly- “Yes, by gum, I did and got him the first shot, too.” The hunter pointed to a dead deer lying a few yards up the woods road, as he laughed and hugged himself.  “Um,” said the warden. “I was— that is—I am game warden, you know and sent here to enforce the law.” “Is that so?” cried the joyful hunter. “How are you Mr. Game Warden? I’m mighty glad to see you.” He shook the warden’s hand and danced around him like a wild Indian. “I should think,” the warden began again. “I should think, you’d been afraid I’d seen you shoot and hauled you up. Didn’t you feel afraid of getting caught?” “Not a bit, Mr. Warden,” laughed the hunter. “By gum, sir, I’d have shot that deer if you’d had right hold of his tail! By gum, I would sir.” He put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a pile of bills. Then he looked at the deer and laughed once more. “What’s the damage?” he asked, like a man who is pricing cigarettes in a strange store. “Fifty dollars,” snapped the warden, expecting to see the hunter faint away. Without a quiver the hunter threw out a ten and two twenty-dollar bills. “Cheap enough,” he cried, snapping the empty shell from his rifle and putting in a new one. “Gosh! but this is fun. Shooting deer is real sport. And I got him the first shot.” When the hunter had got through hugging himself the warden tapped him on the shoulder and said: “I hope this has taught you a lesson, so you won’t kill any more deer in close time.” “Lesson be darned,” replied the hunter. I’ll shoot every blamed deer I can see. That’s what I came to Maine for. And it’s a jolly sport—by gum it’s great.” Saying this he walked off into the woods. The warden has been dazed ever since. A man who is glad to pay $50 for the privilege of shooting a deer is something new in his line, so new and startling that the warden believes all Somerville people are millionaires.

($50 Dollars is the equivalent of approximately $1750.00 in today’s dollars and the fine for killing a deer in closed season is now $1000. It appears that here in 2022, poaching deer unfortunately is an inflation defying bargain! Maybe it’s time to bump up the fines).

Guides Gossip
Geo. H. Thrasher was with Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Quimby at Kennebago in July. In 4 and a half hours they took, on the fly, 420 trout. All were returned to the lake. Mr. McLean, of New York, always returns his fish. Mr. Thrasher says he never knew him to carry away a fish. He thinks there are more sportsmen who put back their fish than those who carry them away.
Rufus P. Crosby came out from Seven Ponds with a party Tuesday. They had one doe.
William H. Haines has gone down to Bemis to work for Captain Barker doing carpenter work. Wes.
James Stewart is watching the stream between Dodge and Round ponds at the expense of Mr. C. W. Porter, of Lynn, Mass., who has a cottage on the latter.

Clark Hill says at Bemis, last year, on the spawning beds there were a third more fish than the year before, and he expects to find more this year than last. He went down this week to watch the spots. Wellington Brown, of Winn, was out in his woodlot the other day and he heard the discharge of a rifle. The ball went by his left arm and took about an inch and a half of flesh off it. Mr. Brown turned around and found that the hunter was already to fire at him again. The hunter was a resident of Winn, and he mistook Mr. Brown for a deer. Such a man should be restricted to using a pop gun or better yet, keep every kind of a gun from him. Passing a law to prohibit taking firearms into the woods in close time gives one no protection from such creatures as this. Pass a law to keep them out of the woods at all times. Give the people his name.

(When it came to hunter safety in 1896, there wasn’t any! Dozens of people were wounded or killed annually. Mandatory Hunter Safety Courses as well as required Hunter Blaze Orange (like them or not) have made hunting ‘statistically safer’ than snowmobiling and riding ATV ‘s).

Ira E. Bubier shot a deer at Dead River last Friday.

(Yes, this “event” was newsworthy in 1896 as the deer herd, throughout Maine, was approaching an all-time low. This was due to exploitation via market hunting and unregulated “sport”.  The habitat was excellent with a greater mix of agriculture and forest land and far fewer human’s displacing wildlife than today. U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimates that the entire U.S. population of Whitetail Deer was at an all-time low of just 500,000 deer in 1900! Maine’s total current whitetail population is estimated to be around 300,000, or roughly double what it was in the 1960’s. The total U.S. Whitetail population is estimated at 11,000,000 today! A true wildlife success story. This truly illustrates why good management and scientifically determined bag limits are so important to the future of all game species. Thanks, Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife! Have a great week everyone!).

The nation’s deer population was approaching an all-time low in 1896, however Rangeley was still one of the better places left to hunt, as this vintage image of guide Billy Soule (right) and an unidentified hunter illustrates.

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