Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Northern Maine a special place for outdoorsmenBy DICK PINNEY May 12. 2018 11:53PM
My friend Tom Waltors from Michigan had just stopped by for a chat with the Dickster on his way back from his camp on Madawaska Lake at Maine's most remote county of Aroostook. This county is huge - larger than some of the states - and is known as just "The County" to both Mainers and visitors who spend a big part of their year there when the weather allows.
Meeting with Tom was just fate. We can't remember the details but we think it was an on-the-water meeting in Maine several years go and an almost immediate realization that we had lots in common and a friendship was inevitable.
Tom is a huge man, close to 7 feet tall, and fills it all out. Not chubby but solid. And he has a burning passion for things that we love.
We've recently sold our Maine camp for the reason that we have run out of people who would accompany us there for any amount of time. So the expense of keeping a camp for a very occasional visit was not economically practical for the Dickster, and continued ownership of the camp was vetoed by wife, Jane, the "Commander-in-Chief." So aside from our friendship with Jesse McCabe, who was instrumental in my having some property ownership in "the County," Tom has remained my connection to my friends there and always has an open house for me to use whenever we want.
Tom just left here, stoking my fire to join him for a hunting or fishing visit, and we're setting the groundwork for this to become reality. It will be a fall waterfowl and grouse hunt, staying at his place and hunting with him.
Northern Aroostook County is like being in a new world! Even the people (natives) seem like they are from another place. Although many of them are quite reserved, they are definitely friendly and always willing to share a few days at their home or camp as well as often acting as your non-paid guides.
We fell into a pile of whatever and came up with a diamond ring as far as our connections with people "from the County." A friend of mine who had a very successful butcher shop in Kittery, Maine, had an old-timer living and working a bit for him who came from Aroostook County. Through him we became acquainted with some great people who lived in Aroostook County and because of that we became owners of several acres of undeveloped land that had recently been harvested for timber, which was available for sale at a very reasonable price.
What we didn't know was that there was an abandoned lumbering camp there that, with a very minimum amount of cost and effort, became livable! So that's how the "DoDuckInn at Hootin' Hollow Maine" became created.
The surprise package was the number of close friendships up in the "County" who enabled us to rehab the property at a very reasonable price and accepted us as part of the fabric of their lives. That is very precious and valuable!
So we're right in the process of planning our early fall spring safari there. We'll mostly be chasing that flocks of Canada geese that have the safety of a nearby waterfowl preserve for their nightly roosting but almost always fly out to feed in the harvested potato fields that spring-up with new green shoots as those fields are replanted with cover crops to conserve the soil.
It's a tough life but somebody has to do it! Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and get out there and get you some! We'll be devastating the schools of stripers here at Great Bay so don't anticipate a quick response. We have to stick to business first.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.