President Kevin King Bags Moose in Maine


In pursuit of the “SWAMP DONKEY” 
            The following story is my best recollection of my hunting experience with my oldest brother Greg and the trip to the great state of Maine with my mother and sister. It all started with Greg calling in the summer of 2010 and informing me he had drawn a moose tag for the fall hunt.  Maine allows a sub-permit holder to be named on the application and tag, “Me”, this enables both permit holder and sub-permit holder to carry a weapon and shoot!!!            
I have not seen my brother or his family in over 8 years, it is 27 hours to his house, and I have not spent more than 8 continuous hours with mom or Deb in 20 some years, “Holy Crap.”  I never pictured myself heading east to go hunting; having my mom and sister accompanying me was somewhat mind boggling. The drive was excellent, the scenery was unbelievable, the motels were perfect, spending time with family was great, and beer in every state…priceless. We made it to Caribou, Maine after staying in two motels and approximately 16 beers later. I found if I went to the motel lounge for “at least” an hour after our arrival I slept better…“mother and sister snored a lot.” The apartment we rented in Caribou was perfect: two bedrooms, bath, and a kitchen.  I had a room to myself, and mom and Deb shared a bedroom, this of course made perfect sense since I would be awake well before sun-up and busting brush daily searching for the elusive Swamp Donkey.
Greg showed up pretty much as soon as we arrived, he gave mom and sister a big hug, looked at me and commented on how he thought I had aged and gained weight. He then told us what we would be doing during our trip and so on and so forth. Some things never change. He always was kind of bossy.  I think it has something to do with him being the oldest and me the youngest and smartest. We purchased groceries and BEER and headed over to his house to meet his wife and family. We walked in the door and were greeted with hugs for everyone. We talked for about 2.8 minutes and he looks at me and says, “We are going to the gun range and after that I will take you for a ride around our hunting zone.” Our “Zone” bordered New Brunswick, Canada to the east and north and nothing but solid swamp infested woods to the west and south. At this point you have to realize we, “mom, sister and I” had been on the road for three days straight, driving 10-12 hours the first two days and at least 8 on the third. So, after a pack of cigarettes, “for Greg” and a couple beers we returned to his house 4 hours later. Back at his house we have a couple more beers; I think some food; my mom and sister poured me into the car and my big brother looks at me and says, “be ready at 4 am, I’ll be there to pick you up.”           
Day one, 4 am, someone is knocking at the door, my sister is turning on the light to my room and speaking to me using language I dare not put into words. The hunt begins; we pick up coffee at the local convenience store and hit the road. When I say hit the road what I am saying is hundreds of miles of paper company roads filled with granite rock, sharp as any knife you have ever owned, slimy, muddy, with log trucks coming at you loaded to the hilt going 700 miles an hour all while big brother is driving damn near as fast in a not so structurally sound 1996 blazer with four bald tires, smoking cigarettes, and talking nonstop. This I come to find out is the preferred method in which to hunt Swamp Donkey’s. We did see a cow and calf on day one, day two nothing; day three I think we were lost. Big brother informed me, “we were still in Maine so technically we were not really lost.” This is also the day in which big brother decides the bald tired blazer can cross a ditch while placing the two tires on his side up on a beaver dam and my side down in a  ditch at least 3 feet deep and two feet wide.  I am quite sure of these dimensions since the rocks out my window were approximately 6 inches from my head, we made it only to find out the road ended two hundred yards later, this is the same time in which I begin to understand the term Maine-iacs.  So, after walking a couple hours in a clear cut the size of Rhode Island,  we turned around and reversed the procedure; either way I assure you a part of my heart actually came up beyond my throat and is laying somewhere out in that ditch.
As we were headed down yet another road I caught a glimpse of something down a dirt path to our left.  I very politely asked oldest brother to stop, we backed up the 800 yards it took him to stop, and there he was, the “Antlered Swamp Donkey.” We wait a minute there were two, I slowly exit old baldy.  I would say quietly but I am quite sure the people in the nearest town heard the hinges scream, I grab my trusty 06 settle the cross hairs on him squeeze the trigger, and they just stand there.  I jacked another round in, big brother watching through the binoculars, I squeeze off another round, they are still standing there but at least they gave us enough respect to look our way. My vanity will not allow me to tell you how many times I actually shot nor will it let me tell you my range finder was laying in the front seat of old baldy the whole time.  I will however let you know big brother also let one fly with the same results. Day four begins waking up with a sore throat, headache, and very little sleep with mother and sister speaking to me in tongues at 4 am. Once again we did not see a thing. That evening sister informs me she would like to head home on Saturday morning, she understands I have Friday as well as Saturday to hunt but her and mother would like to spend a day sightseeing on the southern coast of Maine. I knew I was beat and I agreed to the terms. Her last statement as I was getting ready to go to bed went something like this, “Good luck tomorrow hunting, but…(I kind of hope you do not get anything since it would probably delay our leaving first thing Saturday morning).
 The last morning arrives, 4 am, I wake up on my own, big brother shows up and informs me a storm has blown into town, the wind is blowing at 8000 miles a hour and the rain is coming down sideways. We jump into Old Baldy to give it one last shot, drive about an hour to the big woods. Just as we turn off onto Blackstone Siding road the wind and rain stop, it is calm and eerily quiet, we drive a few miles turn off on yet another side road, up ahead a black bear crosses the road, a few miles further a huge Swamp Donkey crosses in front of us big brother spins Old Baldy around to try to cut it off on another road only to find it dead ends before we can get to where we need to be. Back around to another road and there he is walking away from us, I get out with my  trusty 06, get into a perfect shooting position and wait for him to turn.  He continues to walk away, but suddenly he turns broadside and I squeeze one off. Well, they were same results as day 3, my only recourse is Mr. Bullwinkle went out of sight before I could camber another round. Big brother gives me the look, and we continue down the dirt path, we round the next corner and there stands the biggest Swamp Donkey I have ever seen, I tell big brother it is a cow he puts the binoculars up and informs me it is a young bull, I get out, put the scope on him to be sure it is a bull take careful aim, turn to ask big brother if he thinks I should shoot, take aim again and wait for Bullwinkle to give me a shot.  He turns, I fire, and he runs away. This bull was about 125 yards away and looked huge. We looked for a little while and found him dead about 100 yards away.  Upon field dressing we found out my shot was true, the 165 grain bullet completely destroyed his heart. It took us about 3 hours to get the Bull Moose aka: Swamp Donkey, Bullwinkle, to the registration station. My first call was to my sister to inform her we may not be leaving as soon on Saturday as anticipated, secondly I called my wife at work to give her the good news, next I sent out a text message to my son and buddies to inform them “MAINE MOOSE DOWN”. The moose was a year and a half old and weighed 480 pounds field dressed. This was the smallest bull I had seen the entire trip.
In all honesty this was a great hunting trip I enjoyed every minute spent with my mother, my sister Deb, my brother Greg, and his wife Tory, my niece Ashley and her son Duncan. I will definitely be putting in my lottery tickets this spring with the Maine DNR in hopes to once again pursue the elusive Maine “SWAMP DONKEY.”  After driving 28 hours back home, I arrived to a phone call from big brother informing me that the first moose were over 700 yards away and the second was over 500 yards away….note to self: if a moose looks smaller than a whitetail, use a range finder.