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The 2009 L.L.Bean Fall Hunting Expo: A Personal Narrative

October 4, 2009

LLBean

– The Fall hunting season is now underway, with many Mainers taking to the woods in search of a plentiful bounty fit to stuff a kings freezer. It’s no secret that October is the favorite month of many serious hunters, most of which know the logging roads of northern Maine better than the back of their own hands. For these hunters, there is simply no better way to start the season than with a trip to L.L.Bean for the annual Hunting Expo!

Last weekend I made the two hour journey down to Freeport to take in the sights and sounds of the 2009 17th Annual L.L.Bean Fall Hunting Expo. Having already had an excellent experience at the Spring Fishing Expo, I must say that the Hunting side of things was also a real pleasure to partake in.

I arrived just in time to get a front row view at the State of Maine Locked Moose dedication ceremony and watched as the Maine Warden Service Color Guard kicked things off. The excitement was clear, as people from around the state and beyond mingled with representatives from L.L.Bean and M.I.F.W , all of who were equally ecstatic that such a lengthy project had finally come to such a glorious end.  After listening to a few speeches commemorating all of those who donated their time and money on such a beautiful display, I made my way inside to get a better view of the massive display of taxidermy greatness. As one of only two such displays in all of north America, the locked moose were truly a sight to behold. Not being much of a fan as far as crowds are concerned. I snapped a few dozen pictures at various angles and then ran for my life as the swarms of people flooded in from every direction.

Golor Guard

Golor Guard

Maine Locked Moose: The Final Charge

Maine Locked Moose: The Final Charge

Maine Locked MooseThe Final Charge

Making my way back outside, I took a stroll around the front of the Hunting and Fishing store and watched as representatives from the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association led their dogs through various demonstrations of skill and patience. With a sense of professionalism and keen instinct, I was amazed at how well these dogs listened, and how smart they actually were when it came to following specific directions. While everyone knows that dogs are a man’s best friend, these owners clearly have a much different relationship with their animals. The special bond, and a level of trust that few will ever get to experience with their pets gave me a new respect for the place that hunting dogs fill in the lives of hunters the world over. It really is quiet special! I stood mesmerized for over half an hour before finally making my way up every hunters favorite staircase and heading into the Hunting and Fishing store.

North American Versetile Hunting Dog Association Table

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Table

A young pup in training....

A young pup in training....

Upon entering the store I instantly caught sight of the Mossy Oak Pro Team setting up a table and greeting customers. I strolled over and introduced myself in a completely casual, shameless self promoting sort of way and ended up the proud owner of a spankin’ new Mossy Oak hat, compliments of the fellas. Thanks guys!

The next hour (give or take 30 minutes, most likely give) I spent my time walking in circles around the section dedicated to wool clothing. For those of you who know me, it is no secret that I have recently become a real sucker for wool. From jac-shirts to Maine Guide parkas to wool hunting pants, I compiled a list of items that my mother and the first lady of Up’North will have to divvy up come birthday and Christmas time. Strolling through the camouflage section I marveled at L.L.Beans new Big Game outerwear system, extending my Christmas list before setting off to see what might fit me among the racks of Scent-Lok apparel. By the time I came to my senses and realized that neither my mother nor my girlfriend could afford to buy me $5,00o dollars in hunting clothing and accessories, I was almost late for Hal Blood’s presentation “Tracking Big Woods Bucks.”

LLBean

Like most young hunters, I am always looking for ways to improve my chances in the field. While new innovations in calls, camo, and weapons certainly make life easier, often times simply listening to and learning from the experts can prove to be more than helpful. To say that Master Maine guide Hal Blood is an accomplished deer hunter would be the epitome of understatements. As one of the nation’s best trackers, Mr. Blood had a ton of great information to offer on scrapes, rubs, deer tracks, and so much more. He explained briefly his thoughts on the weather, gear, and the most common mistakes that hunters make when perusing trophy whitetails before his time ran short and he was forced to leave us pondering our next deer hunting excursion. Hungry for more answers to my ever expanding list of questions, I made my way back to the hunting and fishing store to meet Mr. Blood and to purchase his second book, “Hunting Big Woods Bucks Vol.2.” As of now I am almost half way through it, but I can already say with confidence that if you purchase your copy HERE, you won’t be disappointed!

With places to go and people to see, I made one last round through the store before deciding that if I stayed any longer I might not have enough money to buy groceries for the next few months. After saying my goodbyes I headed outdoors and into the warm afternoon sun. There waiting ever so patiently for his owner on the doorstep to the store was the most beautiful brown Weimaraner (correct me if I’m wrong) I have ever seen. I snapped a few pictures before bidding him farewell, a perfect ending to a delightful afternoon.

Patiently Waiting...

Patiently Waiting...

The L.L.Bean Hunting Expo for me was a huge success and an extremely enjoyable time. While I wish the day would have afforded me a few more hours to take in a couple more presentations, I take solace in the wonderful time I had, classy people I met, and all the information (and Christmas list ideas) I gained along the way.

With a little something for every member of the family, The expo truly was everything I expected and more. While it would have been great to share my experience with someone else, my only regret still remains that I could not spend the entire weekend taking in every last event.

Happy Hunting,

-Ben

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