MOOSE HUNTING BY BICYCLE

Gander Brook Moose Recon 004   The gate at mile four of the Gander Brook Road — see (DeLorme’s, The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer  (MAG), Map 39, B-4 — is one of those serious, industrial-sized, stay-the-hell-out type of gates.  It blocks the woods road at the point where a bridge crosses Wood Stream — eliminating any chance of evasion by determined motorized trespassers. I came across the gate for the first time in the summer of 2011, in an effort to solve a mystery . The mystery was  this: Why did IF&W moose registration records show that in the five years preceding 2011 a grand total of one moose had been taken from all of Attean Township? The township would appear to have it all for the prospective moose hunter.  Attean lies  on the immediate western doorstep of  one of Maine’s biggest sporting destination towns — Jackman. It contains parts of three big ponds (Attean, Holeb and Wood) Plus miles of deep-woods frontage on the Moose River and massive Number 5 Bog. It also boasts  a system of wood harvest roads that wind their way between Burnt Jacket Mountain and Attean Mountain while passing a dozen or more smaller peaks and remote ponds. The Township comprises most of the land encompassed inside the famous circular canoe trip known as the Moose River Bow Trip Moose River Bow Trip The sole entry point for the entire township, is the Gander Brook Road and the gate at mile four. I parked my truck at the turnout near the closed gate and approached the bridge on foot. Several signs were posted nearby. First, there was the usual wording “AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY BEYOND THIS GATE”.  These words appear on nearly every gate in the unorganized part of the state. In most cases this translates to free passage not only for woodcutters, forest rangers and game wardens  — but also for camp owners, the buddies of camp owners, guides in-the-know, buddies of guides in the know and every other Tom, Dick and Harry who has a pickup truck and a copy of the key to the lock. But this sign was different — it specifically mentioned that  “WALKERS AND NON-Gateway to Great HuntingMOTORIZED BICYCLES ARE WELCOME”.  A larger sign posted on a nearby tree explained more fully. The road was open to official use only because it passed within the 1/2 mile restricted zone around several designated remote ponds — and because the property was subject to  the restrictions of a 1993 Concept Plan passed by the Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission. In other words, the prohibition against recreational motor vehicles had the force of law. The sign carried the name and phone number of the land manager — but advised against calling to request an exception. Mystery solved! No moose were taken from Attean Township because no recreational motor vehicles were allowed beyond this gate. No pickup trucks or ATV’s meant no moose hunters. As if one could not exist without the other. An evil plan began to take shape as I gazed beyond the gate at the motor-less preserve.  The main stem of the woods road, according to the map, was at least ten miles long. The various branches and secondary roads throughout the township would add many more miles. It was too much territory to cover on foot — but a mountain bike could carry a mooseBike Hunting 2 hunter through many miles of prime habitat.  Habitat that was untouched by other moose hunters — or hunters of any kind for that matter. Nothing about killing a moose in this remote area would be easy. The animal would need to be skinned and quartered where it fell.  But the surrounding waterways  provide a potential means for transporting those moose quarters back to civilization. A pack frame, game sled or game carrier could be used to transport the quarters to the shore of any of the big three ponds in the township. Holeb, Attean and Big Wood ponds all have boat landings at their northern ends which are accessible by vehicle.  Transporting the meat by boat or motorized canoe from a remote shoreline to the landing would save dozens of miles of packing out along the woods road. In the southern part of the township the trick would be to get the quarters to the banks of 2012 Moose hunt 074the Moose River. The section upstream from Holeb Falls is accessible by motorized canoe, via Holeb Stream, from the boat landing on Holeb Pond. The lower section between Holeb Falls and Attean Falls would best reached by launching a motorized canoe at Spencer Rips (MAG, Map 39, C-4) the sight of a long-ago washed-out bridge that is accessible by vehicle from the Spencer Road. Several hiking trails connect the road system with these surrounding waterways. Other Gander Brook Moose Recon 025hiking trails climbed from the major waterways to the modest peaks of Burnt Jacket, Attean and Sally Mountains. I noted their location carefully on my map — all part of my evil plan.

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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine. Find Self-propelled on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Self-propelled-Guide-Service-1098692573535403/