Great-grandmother bags a deer and moose
FRYEBURG — An 83-year-old great grandmother of eight scored an incredible hunting double play on either side of Thanksgiving, as Dot (Charles) Ela of Haleytown Road bagged a 175-pound, seven-point buck Nov. 23 and a 610-pound cow moose Nov. 25.
“I was pretty excited. I had not gotten a deer in three years, and this was my first moose hunting permit in 31 years,” said the sharp-shooting mother of six and grandmother of seven.
Physically fit, she says she likes to stay in shape by taking walks on hiking trails near her home.
She said she has been hunting since her oldest, now grown son Charles was 10.
“My brothers and dad hunted when I was growing up in Chatham,” said Ela, who was one of 11 children raised in a log cabin. “I started hunting about 53 years ago, when my oldest son turned 10 and needed someone to go with him. That’s when I got my first license.”
Her late husband Donald, who operated Ela’s Sheet Metal Shop that is now run by their son Ronald, “hunted once in a while, but not as much as I did,” she said. “I started by hunting with friends, a couple, and they told me what I should know, I guess. I just liked it.”
She bagged her buck the night before Thanksgiving off Haleytown Road in late afternoon, accompanied by her sons Ronald and Bruce Ela. They had been out since about 3 p.m., having headed into the woods after that day’s heavy snowstorm had ended.
Because it was getting dark, they did not know for certain if she had bagged the buck, so they went home just down Haleytown Road and did not return until the next morning.
“Sure enough, it was right where they thought she had shot it. It was a perfect shot,” said Dot’s daughter, Rhonda Ela, of Conway.
The day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday — was the next-to-last day of Maine’s moose hunt by permit season.
When many women her age and younger might have donned their shopper orange to head to the outlet malls on the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season that day, Dot — once again accompanied by Ronald and Bruce — put on her hunter orange and went out at dawn. They got her cow moose at about noon, also off Haleytown Road.
“In both cases, it’s a spot where I waited. I didn’t track them. I have seen tracks there going across the road all the time,” said Dot.
She used Bruce’s .270 rifle for both kills, giving him her .35 Remington to use.
“It doesn’t have too much kick on it, no,” she said to a reporter’s question. “I shot the deer at maybe 50 yards; and the moose a bit further away but not much.”
She said she has bagged approximately 20 deer over the years.
A great cook, according to her daughter Rhonda, Dot next will set about making roasts and stews.
“I like to roast and stew the meat, and cook up the hamburger meat, too; stuff like that. The steaks I’m not so fond of,” she said.
Bill Swann, director of licensing for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Augusta, said 10 percent of all Maine hunting license holders are female.
“I would say this is pretty unusual, yes,” said Swann, “although we do have a lot of [male] hunters who are in their 80s. I often hunt with a good friend of mine’s dad who is in his 80s, and he is amazing. He would walk circles around most 40-year-olds.”
Swann said 3,862 moose permits were issued in Maine this year. Information on this year’s hunter success rate for moose is still being tabulated, Swann said. The last day for regular firearms hunting season for deer was Nov. 26 in Maine, and those tallies are also not yet available.
In New Hampshire, Kent Gustafson, deer project leader of Fish and Game, says the total deer kill as of Nov. 27 was 9,723, up from 9,339 at the same time in 2010. The deer regular firearms season ended Dec. 4. The deer archery season continues until Dec. 15 except in Management Unit A.
As of Wednesday, Oct. 19, a total of 212 moose had been taken in the 2011 New Hampshire moose hunt (147 bulls and 65 cows). That means that 52 percent of hunters holding moose permits had succeeded by the midway point in the state’s moose hunt, which is in line with a typical year. The nine-day season ended Oct. 23.