Sportsmen & the Maine Sporting Camp Tradition – Maine State Museum

The Maine State Museum celebrated Maine’s outdoor traditions with a special display presented on May 20, and video series entitled “Sportsmen & the Maine Sporting Camp Tradition: a 3D Historical Experience.”

This sequence feature Libby Camps, with comments by Matt Libby Sr.

The Whole “Dam” Problem

Dams have a major impact on sporting camps and recreational opportunities. What should be done with old dams? Should they be removed or maintained? How and by whom? Big questions!

Grand Lake Matagamon dam in later 1800's

Grand Lake Matagamon dam in late 1800’s

Maine’s classic sporting camps are typically located on the shore of a lake whose water level is maintained by a dam. Virtually all of the dams were built a century ago to hold water for driving logs to the mills in early spring.

Now, over one hundred years later, logs are no longer transported via streams. These old dams remain unmaintained and present a troubling predicament for sporting camps, landowners and those living in downstream flood zones.

The Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation’s challenge is to create a standardized policy for dealing with dams, so that they may be improved, or removed, without undue hardship on all the affected parties – sporting camp owners, forest landowners, Maine’s fish and wildlife biologists and the recreating public.

Here are two excellent examples of how difficult, and expensive, a problem that Maine’s classic sporting camps now face – the dams at Second Roach Pond and Grand Lake Matagamon.

1. Dam at Second Roach Pond

If any dam restoration were to have a successful outcome, this would be it. Unfortunately, despite great intentions, excellent funding and professional staffing, rebuilding the dam turned into a disaster – very costly to the environment and the dam’s owner.

The dam at Second Roach Pond was a very old a rock ramp dam. It does not produce hydroelectricity, has no gates or fish ladder. It had been failing for years, and concern was that it would fail completely in the near future.

Second Roach Pond is home to Medawisla Wilderness Lodge, a classic Maine sporting camp. Failure of the dam would be devastating to the viability of Medawisla Wilderness Lodge. There are many other sporting camps on small lakes having similar dams, in similar states of disrepair.

Fortunately, Medawisla Wilderness Lodge, the dam and the land around Second Roach Pond are all owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) – a well meaning, and well funded, organization that hoped to renovate and operate the lodge.

Walter Graff of the AMC said, “We were afraid that the dam would fail, so we went to the Land Use Planning Commission to see if we could fix the dam or reconstruct the dam, and in the end we decided to reconstruct it. That was to protect the pond for recreational value — people canoeing and swimming — but also to protect the wetlands the dam provided.”

The AMC’s superb fundraising ability was critical, and provided for an engineering study, redesign and rebuilding of the dam. Plans were drawn, state permits were obtained and contractors engaged. No privately owned sporting camps could have taken on this major task.

Sadly, the project did not turn out well. Nearly one mile of the Roach River (described as prime nursery habitat for landlocked salmon and brook trout) ended up dewatered for 10 days while construction was under way – an environmental SNAFU (“Situation Normal, All Fowled Up”). Aquatic life was decimated. Great intentions were made, but the outcome was bad.

After the State’s investigation and negotiations about fines and restitution, an agreement between the State and the Appalachian Mountain Club required them to hire an engineering firm not involved with the previous dam to plan and design a new dam.

According to the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, the Appalachian Mountain Club has paid a $15,000 civil penalty, and according to the settlement agreement, will “complete or substantially contribute” to a project that improves fish passage at a stream or river road crossing at a cost of $70,000 or more.

All that would have put any other Maine sporting camp out of business forever!

Grand Lake Matagamon nearly disappears when the dam was opened up for inspection and repairs

Grand Lake Matagamon nearly disappeared when the dam was opened up for inspection and repairs

2. Dam at Grand Lake Matagamon

Many of Maine’s 100 year old sporting camps are situated on lakes having much more complex dams than that at Second Roach Pond. The Matagamon dam situation illustrates how expensive a repair project might be.

The Matagamon dam was originally built to control large flows of water, first for log driving, later for power generation and flood control, and currently for recreation (fishing, canoe trips).

The dam forms the outlet of Grand Lake Matagamon, which spans the northern area of Baxter State Park (T6 R8 WELS). Grand Lake Matagamon is a headwater to the East Branch of the Penobscot River. The lake itself contains acres 4868 within its 61.3 mile perimeter and has a total drainage area of 496 square miles. The maximum depth is 95feet. Additional flows coming to it all the way from Allagash, Churchill and Telos Lakes. The lake has excellent Brook Trout and Salmon fishing.

Operation of Matagamon Dam is essential to the cold-water ecosystem; supporting a high quality sport fishery in the East Branch system. Regulating the flows in the East Branch has been critical to the rehabilitation of the wild brook trout, landlocked and Atlantic salmon. Stable, regulated water levels in the lake are necessary for a self sustaining lake trout population, and maintaining waterfowl nursery.

The existing concrete dam was built in 1941 to replace a log and timber crib dam originally built in the 1800’s. The dam has flow control gates and a fish ladder. Ownership of Matagamon Dam was transferred to Matagamon Lake Association in 2001 for the purpose of maintaining the structure for the benefit of fisheries, wildlife, recreational values and downstream safety (flood control).

After dropping the water level, the poor condition of Grand Lake Matagamon dan is very evident

After dropping the water level, the poor condition of Grand Lake Matagamon dam is very evident

However, the dam is almost 75 years old, and operating it incurs considerable expenses. For instance, in 2003 the fish ladder was repaired. The old wood was removed around the gates and hauled away. New hemlock planking replaced what was taken out. The gates were replaced with new precut aluminum gates.

And, the now the dam’s entire concrete structure needs major repairs. As you can see in the photo, time and weather (especially winter ice) take quite a toll on the dam. The amount quoted in 2010 for dam updates was in $270,000.00 range.

While abandoning the dam is an option, there would be adverse impact on camp owners, freshwater fisheries, Atlantic Salmon restoration program, wildlife and waterfowl nesting and flood control. Recreation on the river and downriver power generation would certainly be changed as summer flows would not be maintained.

For further info about the Matagamon Dam, visit the Matagamon Lake Association’s website or contact the Association. E-mail:; or write to: Matagamon Lake Association, Inc. P.O. Box 676, Patten, Maine 04765


Bradford Camps are a state treasure

The following article by George Smith captures life at one of Maine’s heritage sporting camps…100+ year old Bradford Camps:

David has hunted and fished all over the world, but Bradford Camps on Munsungan Lake is the only place he’s returned to, and he often comes here several times a year.

The six hour drive from my home to the camps went quickly, with my friend, long-time now-retired guide Gary Corson, in the passenger seat. We shared stories and talked about fishing issues all the way, with one stop at Dysart’s for a great breakfast.

As we drove into the yard at Bradford Camps, we stepped out of the vehicle and back in time. Log cabins dotted the shoreline, made from logs that were floated across the lake more 100 years ago. In all that time, the camps have had only five owners. Igor and Karen Sikorsky knew immediately, after searching the state for years, that these were the camps for them, and they’ve been providing the age-old sporting camp experience for 20 years.

Igor is well acquainted with the sporting camp experience because he started going to Cobb’s Pierce Pond Camps when he was 10. Traditions are important at sporting camps. I loved Karen’s story about the lodge’s beautiful living room. She and Igor moved the furniture around and long-time guests objected!

On the wall of the lodge, I recognized the famous photo of Will Atkins with a canoe full of moose heads. Atkins built the original camps here in the 1800s. And while the camps retain the old, including the gorgeous log siding, they offer modern day comforts including full bathrooms in each cabin. Gas lights and instant hot water are nice features, too.

Our cabin #5 had two large bedrooms and a gathering room with a wood stove. The windows looked out on Munsungan Lake and the mountain beyond. Chad, who helped us move our gear into the cabin and has worked here for 20 years, already had a fire going and the cabin, on this cool rainy day, was nice and warm.

When we first arrived, we walked to the lodge, where guests were eating lunch. Within 10 minutes, we’d met and been welcomed by Igor, Karen, all the staff, and even all the guests! Yes, this is a welcoming place.

Neither Gary nor I were anxious to fish in the downpour (and I do have to confess that I am a fair weather angler these days), so we spent the afternoon in the lodge’s beautiful living room. As I got acquainted with Igor and Karen, and shared stories with them and other guests who had either arrived that afternoon or returned to the camps after a day of fishing, I found the afternoon flying by. I especially enjoyed perusing their wonderful collection of old books and hearing stories about some of the mounts on the walls.


Igor and I talked about the challenges facing sporting camp owners these days, something I intend to write about soon. Finding staff is right at the top of the list and he told me a funny story about one fellow who applied for a job at the camps, emphasizing that, “I would be great because I love fishing!” You would be wrong if you think working at a sporting camp gives you a lot of time to fish. Igor and Karen had, up to the first week in June, fished just once this year, for two hours. Last year they fished for four hours, total.

We also talked about how they’ve had to add outdoor activities and special events to make up for the loss of the traditional deer hunting business. They once hosted 50 deer hunters each fall. Today, almost none. They do get a lot of bird hunters in the fall, are especially busy with bear hunters, and also host moose hunters, but their summers are now busy with families and special events, and they are fortunate to still be a major destination for anglers. Most of those return each year, often several times a year. Ninety percent or more of their guests have been here before. Forty percent of their guests are Maine residents.  Karen explained that, “every two weeks is a new season here,” and looking at their schedule of activities, I had to agree. There’s a lot going on here!

Before we knew it, the dinner bell was ringing. Yes, they have the traditional dinner bell. Chef Tiffany, originally from Dexter and now living in Portland in the off-season, is a great cook. This far off the grid, and more than 50 miles from a grocery store, you have to be imaginative, and she is all of that. All of our meals were great, and my very favorite dish was her beef stroganoff.

With other guests at our dinner table the first night, we shared stories about loons grabbing our trout. I told my story about the bat that picked my fly right out of the air. I had to reel it in to release it. Both Gary and I had also caught ducks while fly fishing. Warden stories were interesting too, some good, some bad. By the time the dessert arrived – home-made vanilla ice cream with chocolate cookies and hot fudge sauce – well, I shouldn’t have done it, but I not only ate every bit of it, I licked the bowl!

And just to show you how tuned in the staff is to your every need, they keep the meals hot for guests who arrive late from fishing. Callie, our server, was very friendly and helpful, and Hannah, the Sikorsky’s God-daughter, who just graduated from college, was also on hand to tackle any and all jobs.

Breakfasts here are awesome and they’ll pack you a lunch so you can spend your day fishing, hunting, and enjoying the woods and waters.


Igor is a pilot and flew Gary and me into Big Reed Pond for a day of very special day of fishing. About a third of their guests actually fly in to the camps. Jim Strang of Millinocket offers that service.

As Gary and I flew back from Big Reed that afternoon, Igor gave us a tour of the region, and I was astonished by how many remote ponds and flowages are available for fishing adventures. Gary has guided on all of them and he and Igor shared stories about each water as we flew over. Boy, did I want to jump out and try every one! Many are accessible by car, sometimes with a short hike after the drive. And Igor flies his guests into any of them for a day of fishing. He has canoes stashed at many and even cabins available at some. It would take a lot of visits to fish them all, but I discovered, while talking to the anglers who were at the camps at that time, that they all have a few favorites.

Anglers here are lucky because they still have good fishing for our traditional fish: brook trout, lake trout, and landlocked salmon. Many of their best brook trout waters are on the state’s Heritage List and protected, offering rare opportunities to fish for our native fish (Maine has 97 percent of the native brook trout left in the United States). Gary Corson – along with the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine when I served as the organization’s executive director – led the campaign to win legislative approval for the initiative to name the brook trout as our Heritage Fish and protect them in 300 waters that have never been stocked and still hold native brook trout. The guests are Bradford were very clear on their desire to catch native and wild fish. They don’t come all the way up here to catch stocked fish.

David told us he likes to hike into remote ponds, and Igor gives him a radio to check in. He has a special affection for the guides here. And his voice got excited when he told me about the 23-inch trout he caught on his 3-wt. fly rod. I’d be excited too!


One thing I love about sporting camps is that you get to meet so many interesting people and always leave with new friends. David, for example, arrived just after us and joined us in the living room that afternoon, sharing micro-brews with me.  I have to admit, despite my affinity for Maine micro-brews, David’s All Day IPA session ale from Founders in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was very good. David first came to Bradford to hunt grouse and still does, telling me the grouse hunting is amazing here. Eventually, he started coming here to fly fish (and he has fished in a lot of other places, including some of my favorites in Montana).

Gary and I got up at 5:30 am each of the two mornings there, and were welcomed into the kitchen where coffee was ready and Igor, staff, and some guests were enjoying the early morning. I could get used to this!

While we were in the living room the first afternoon, a guest came in from fishing, very excited. He’d caught his biggest brook trout ever, with his new Orvis 5-wt. rod.

Another guest told me he plans to bring his five grandchildren here. “It’s a good place to introduce them to hunting and angling in a comfortable and safe place,” he said.

I really enjoyed one guest’s story about the time he was bird hunting here and lost his dog. Igor took off in his plane and searched for the dog that night. They put out a kennel and the dog’s blanket near where he’d last been seen, and someone found the dog and put him in the kennel.

David had a great story about a friend who landed 40 fish someplace (not here), but came out of the water at the end of the day covered in leeches. And I was captivated by his stories of grouse hunting here, when he rarely ever sees another hunter. “If you are willing to walk,” he said, “there are endless covers.”

Karen likes to talk with all new guests, before they arrive, to make sure they know what to expect and that their expectations are met. A good policy, for sure.


On our final morning, Igor gave me a tour of the cabins, his workshop, the new $6000 generator, the sawmill, and the bridge he built across the brook so Brad Hall, their neighbor, could walk over to visit. Brad’s father once owned the camps and we had a great visit with him that morning. I was very interested to discover that Brad has solar power at his camp. His apple trees, like Igor’s and Karen’s, were devastated by hungry moose.

The ice house was particularly interesting. Every winter, Igor and 6 to 12 friends come up to cut the ice and store it under sawdust in the ice house. They stay in one winterized cabin that even has hot water. One guy brings his own beef. They cook. They snowshoe. They snowmobile in. They cut the ice into large blocks and swing them into the ice house with a special contraption. They used to have to lift them in and I guess that was pretty tough. I stuck my hands into the sawdust and felt the very cold ice, understanding that it lasts until the end of October.

I laughed when we entered Cabin 8, everyone’s favorite, at the end of the line of cabins, and then noticed Cabin 1 next to it. While the some of the cabins have been relocated, they kept their numbers for guests who always want the same cabin for their visits here.

Behind Cabin 2, a big old pine was hit by lightning one night while everyone was at dinner. The lightening went into the ground and connected to the gas line under the cabin and the tree caught fire. It burned for about a half hour, when a guest ran to the lodge and told Igor, “You’ve got to come now!” He shut off the generator, cutting off the propane, and the fire went out.

So many great stories here. And I perked up when they started telling stories about Jerry Bard, who worked here for 25 years, but before that, worked at Camp Phoenix, where I now own a camp. After 100 years as a sporting camp, Camp Phoenix was turned into a condominium. It reminded me of how lucky we are to still have Bradford Camps and the few dozen other sporting camps that have been able to transition to this new day and economy, while maintaining such a wonderful and timeless tradition.

Written by George Smith, June 16, 2015  –

Top Five Requirements for Preserving a Sporting Camp

What does it take to “preserve” a particular sporting camp? The answer is not always simple, as each sporting camp’s needs are unique, just as its character and owners are unique. But there are several key aspects that must be in place. They are:

1. Strength in Numbers

Overall, there must be a strong sporting camp industry in order for any one camp to survive and thrive economically. In the tourism marketplace, the collective marketing effort of the entire sporting camp must be large enough to maintain customer awareness. There must be a sufficient number of thriving camps in order to maintain the availability of business services, such as insurers, who are familiar with the unique needs of a sporting camp.  This is also very true for regulatory agencies.

Like most land trusts, the Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation has a significant focus on land conservation. However, unlike most land trusts, we are committed to programs that strengthen the economic viability of individual sporting camps, the nearby communities, and the overall sporting industry so each individual camp might become a fully sustainable and thriving source of nature-based recreation, and family business heritage.

2. Willing Landowner

Of utmost importance, the surrounding landowner must be willing. Landowners may receive financial gains, but they will also incur many expenses and drain on staff time should they choose to make a successful transaction. A credible approach, by a credible person or persons, is what leads to a landowner’s willingness to sell the camp lot and any rights or restrictions on the surrounding area.

The Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation has developed an approach that simplifies the impacts on a landowner’s primary business activity, and has been well received by Maine’s large landowners.

3. Significant Funding

It takes a large amount of money. Period. That means up to $1 million for just the camp lot, plus the potential of $5 to $10 million for the surrounding land and easements.

No one wants to just “give” money. Only where their goals align with our needs will we succeed in our mission. The Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation has spent considerable time developing relationships with potential donors and those who can help influence them.

4. Large Coalition

It takes a large coalition to complete a complex process. In addition to the landowner, there will likely be six or more parties directly involved – state and federal agencies, easement holders, fee owners, and legal experts. There must also need to be a coalition of supporters, promoters and donors to complete a deal.

For example, a project currently underway by a well established conservation fund directly involves at least 6 parties including a willing landowner, state and federal agencies and final easement holder and fee owner. In addition, at least 25 organizations, businesses, foundations and leaders, are involved as promoters and funders.

The Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation has been working diligently to develop close alliances with those who can help in this way.

5. Time

A transaction involving multiple entities, land ownership and conservation easements is not at all like a real estate transaction between two individual persons. The entire process can span four or more years. In the example noted above, the willing landowner initiated the plan in 2012, and the coalition expects to close the deal by the end of 2016.

The Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation spends most of our resources and time working to strengthen the elements mentioned above. While considered to be in its “formative” years, the Foundation must continue in these efforts forever.

Building a Coalition

One of the most important programs to support our mission is building a coalition of individuals and organizations who can help us to preserve Maine’s sporting camps.

Our mission involves conserving land around sporting camps, and assisting on common business and marketing issues. We are very fortunate that Maine’s large outdoor and tourism communities are very experienced in these tasks. Our challenge is to focus them on sporting camp issues.

One of our coalition building opportunities is the “Roundtable” event hosted by Maine Woods Forever. The Roundtables were started in 2004 to foster collaboration between those who are devoted to conserving our forests and woodlands for today and for future generations.

Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award Presented to Mathias Deming

Left to Right: Aaron Megquire (Executive Director, Friends of Baxter State Park, whose organization nominated Mathias Deming); John Rust (Chairman, Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award Committee, Maine Woods Forever), Mathias Deming (Award recipient)

John Rust of the Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation volunteered to chair a Maine Woods Forever committee that recently announced the first-ever recipients of the “Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award,” at the 30th Roundtable event, held at Unity College.

The “Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award,” is a youth-oriented award created to recognize young people and youth groups whose efforts are in the spirit of Roosevelt’s conservation ethic and achievements. The new award recognizes what Maine’s youth are doing to conserve our forest heritage and encourages them to become future conservation leaders.

Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award Presented to the Katahdin Area Council

Left to Right: John Rust (Chairman, Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award Committee, Maine Woods Forever), Jim Robbins (Robbins Lumber & Waldo District BSA member, who nominated the Katahdin Area Council), Michael Aspinal (Scout and Camp Roosevelt staff), Scott Harvey (Scout Executive, Katahdin Area Council)

“Many credit Theodore Roosevelt’s rugged sojourns in Maine during the late 1800s with shaping his determination to conserve our natural world,” notes John Rust, chairman of the award committee. “The recipients, Mathias Deming, 17, of Winthrop, and the Katahdin Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, have both very clearly lived up to this ethic.”

For more about the Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award Winners.

For more about Maine Woods Forever and the “Roundtable,” please visit


Farewell “Snow Moon”

Wabanaki Wendigo or Kiwakwa - Evil spirit of the winter Snow Moon

An artist's depiction of the Wabanaki Wendigo or Kiwakwa - Evil spirit of the winter Snow Moon

Thirteen full moons appear during each year. We have just lived through the “Snow Moon” as taught by the Wabanaki people.

The “Snow Moon” usually brings the heaviest snow falls and coldest temperatures. Wildlife hunkers down to keep warm and save energy. Moving through the woods over deep powdery snow to hunt becomes very difficult. Hence, this time has also been called the “Hunger Moon” and “Starvation Moon.”

The Snow Moon of 2015 turned out to be an extra cold one, and one that lets us fully see how the Wabanaki legends have been used to pass along their hard earned knowledge about living in Maine. For thousands of years the Wabanaki people have used storytelling and spiritual legends to educate their youth and guide their activities in dealing with nature’s challenges.

Each moon has its own Wabanaki spirit, and the spirit for the snow moon is a harsh one. Known either as the chenoo, the giwakwa, or the kiwakwa, you should avoid it no matter what. The word “kiwakwa” means “going about in the woods.” If you don’t want to see one of these monsters, then stay out of the woods during the winter.

And what a monster they are. A “Wendigo,” as this monster is also called in addition to its other Wabanaki names – “Keewaqu” or “Kiwakwa” – is an ice giant, complete with bulging eyes, a mouth full of jagged teeth and a heart of pure ice. They could move around in a whirlwind form hunting for human beings. They are always hungry, and their scream will kill any human who hears it. Entering the woods alone at this time of year makes you most vulnerable to being killed and eaten by this spirit. Safety only comes from trekking with a companion.

This ancient lesson, brought to us by the Wabanaki, is this: Winter can be very deadly. Do not travel into the woods alone. It is safest to travel with a companion.

Behind that wisdom, of course, is our modern knowledge that hypothermia (lowered body temperature) is the number one killer for all outdoor activities. Joseph Conrad’s novel “To Build a Fire” is founded in this reality. Another reality, built into the Wabanaki teaching, is that when alone you will not realize that you are being affected by hypothermia. Your mental faculties are reduced. Therefore, the Wabanaki wisdom says to travel with a companion.

Bringing this to full relevance are two situations from the recent “Snow Moon” in Maine. In one tragic instance, a solo hiker succumbed and died from hypothermia. Perhaps the Wabanaki spirit caught up to the hiker. In a second situation, two fifteen year old boys were able to survive a frigid night by finding shelter and building a fire – or did they survive because the Wabanaki spirit would not attack two persons at once.

Only the spirit world knows for sure.


Legends, Sporting Camps and Special Places

Maine Sporting Camps began to appear in the mid 1800’s as entrepreneurs responded to a growing demand by the ever increasing city dwellers for natural recreational activities that could provide fresh air, clean water and open vistas.

When Maine became a state in 1820, lumbering and the country’s industrial heyday were already in full swing. Cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia were growing tall, crowded and polluted. By 1850, when Henry David Thoreau was making his historic trips from Boston into the Maine woods, the industrialized city dwellers had an increasing amount of free time and started to spawn a new industry – nature tourism. Entrepreneurs in Maine responded by building seaside resorts, and for the more adventurous tourists, Maine Sporting Camps began to appear.

At that time, Maine’s great northern forests were fully occupied by the lumber industry, but had yet to experience any real estate development or tourism industry like we have today. The first sporting camp owners were able to pick the best locations – typically those having good fishing, good hunting and great scenery. And those places are still occupied by sporting camps today.

These vital characteristics, good fishing, good hunting and great scenery, had been discovered centuries, perhaps even thousands of years, ago by the people we know today as the Wabanaki Indians. The Wabanaki recognized the specialness of Maine’s land and water features, and incorporated them into their legends. Throughout Maine you will see Wabanaki names for the lakes, rivers and mountains.

Little Spencer Mountain

The "Kettle" - Little Spencer Mountain as seen in winter across Spencer Pond

One special place is Spencer Pond, site of Spencer Pond Camps, just east of Moosehead Lake, Maine’s largest. This spectacular setting remains unchanged since the ancient Wabanaki spirits shaped Maine’s landscape. A second sporting camp, Kokadjo Camps, is located at Kokadjo, on First Roach Pond.

The following Wabanaki legend, as told by the Penobscot Nation’s cultural historian, James Francis, beautifully illustrates the specialness of the area and how their names came to be.

The Legend of Gluscape and the Moose

This story is about how Gluscape (pronounced “glue-skaw-buh”) slew a cow moose and then chased its calf, creating place names from Mount Kineo all the way to Penobscot Bay.

Little Spencer Mountain

The "Kettle" - Little Spencer Mountain

The giant Gluscape is the benevolent culture hero of the Penobscots Indians who taught the people the arts of civilization and protected them from danger. This legend takes place in the winter, and Gluscape wanted to show his people that the moose was edible.

Gluscape came to Moosehead Lake and spied two moose, a cow and calf. He slew the moose, and its body became Kineo (“high bluff”). Now motherless, the moose calf began to run, knocking over the kettle Gluscape had been using to cook. The kettle became “Kokad’jo” (formed from kok, “kettle,” and wadjo, “mountain,” ie. “Kettle Mountain”), now commonly called “Little Spencer Mountain.”

Spencer Pond Camps is located on the shore of “Kokadjeweemgwasebemsis” (“little kettle-shaped mountain lake”). The nearby Kokadjo Camps are located on the shore of “Kokadjeweemgwasebem” (kettle-shaped mountain lake), commonly known as “First Roach Pond.”

Big Spencer Mountain

The "Pack" - Big Spencer Mountan

In hot pursuit of the moose calf, Gluscape threw down his pack, which became “Sabota’wan” (“the end of the pack, where the strap is pulled together”), now called “Big Spencer Mountain.”

[As you can see in the photos, Little Spencer Mountain, the “kettle” or “Kokad’jo” is quite round, while “Sabota’wan” (Big Spencer Mountain) is long, and its top level, the eastern end being squared off much like the end of an Indian pack basket.]

With snowshoes strapped to his feet, Gluscape continued to chase the calf across the frozen landscape. All the while, Gluscape’s dog had been running behind him, but when Gluscape jumped over Penobscot Bay, the dog couldn’t make the leap and the two became separated.

When Gluscape reached Cape Rosier, he killed the calf and threw his dog some of the moose’s entrails, which landed in the water. They became landscape markers and were given names representing their color and shape. Cape Rosier (“Mosikatcik”) became known as the moose’s rump.

Thrumcap Ledge (“Osquoon”), east of Cape Rosier can be seen due south of Orcutt Harbor. The rock is known as Osquoon, meaning “the liver.” It is a marker for the entrance to an ancient portage route through Horseshoe Cove.

The moose’s entrails can still be seen today as a large vein of white quartz that runs under the water. “If you travel across the bay, you’d go right to that,” Francis said. “It’s very visible from quite a distance.”

Gluscape also left his own mark on the landscape. When he landed after jumping the bay, his snowshoes left prints in the rocks at Dice Head in Castine. Veins of white quartz that run through the ledge there have the appearance of snowshoes cast in the rock. “You have to use your imagination, but I can see why they would say that for that place,” Francis said.

In another version of this legend, when men like Gluscape and animals grew to an immense size, the Indians thought that a moose was too large to hunt. They asked Gluscape to make the moose smaller. He killed a big bull, becoming Kineo Mountain, and reduced his size by cutting slices from his body. The rook at the foot of the mountain today looks like steak; streaks of lean and fat can be plainly seen in it. The hunter cooked his meat, and afterwards turned his kettle, Little Kineo Mountain, on its side, and left it to dry. So the moose grew smaller and smaller, and the Indian people were able to hunt it.

New Logo

Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation Logo

Our New Logo

We are very pleased to release our new logo.

We enlisted a graphic artist, James Francis, who we thought would have a great feel for the heritage of Maine, its sporting camps and outdoor traditions. James is a freelance artist and is also Director of Culture and Historical Preservation for the Penobscot Indian Nation. He was just right for the task.

His creation, that you can now see at right and at the top of this website, combines elements common to Maine’s traditional sporting camps – the cabins, the lake and the scenery – into a traditional emblem style, but leaves out the usual outer border to allow for a more natural and expansive appearance. You might spot the mighty white pine tree – our official State tree – that towers over all else.

James is a fabulous artist, holds a BA in History and is about complete on his Master of Arts in Fine Art at the University of Maine. He is also an excellent teller of Penobscot legends. He may be found at the Penobscot Nation’s Cultural Center on Indian Island in Old Town, Maine.

Wintering Habitat is Critical for Whitetail Deer

Wildlife around Maine’s sporting camps depend on a variety of critical habitats. Shown below are whitetail deer and the dense evergreen forest they depend on for shelter during Maine’s cold and snowy winters.

Whitetail Deer in wintering area February 2013

Whitetail Deer in their wintering habitat near a Maine sporting camp in February 2013

The Foundation’s land conservation plans seek to protect these special habitats, as well as the lands providing scenic values at sporting camps.

Hunt. Shoot. Fish. Share the Pride!

Join the nationwide celebration of
National Hunting and Fishing Day

Saturday, September 22, 2012

National Hunting and Fishing Day has been called the most effective grassroots campaign ever undertaken to promote hunters, anglers and the conservation benefits they provide for all Americans who appreciate wildlife and wild places. Hunters and shooters have paid nearly $336 million in excise taxes and more than $5 billion since 1939!

Over 100 years ago, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. They were the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species.

Sportsman, our early conservationists, called for the first laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife. They urged sustainable use of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies.

These actions were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic conservation successes of all time.

Populations of white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood ducks and many other species began to recover from decades of unregulated exploitation.

During the next half-century, in addition to the funds they contributed for conservation and their diligent watch over the returning health of America’s outdoors, sportsmen worked countless hours to protect and improve millions of acres of vital habitat—lands and waters for the use and enjoyment of everyone.

In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era’s heightened environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn’t understand the crucial role that sportsmen had played-and continue to play-in the conservation movement.

In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills. How’s that for bi-partisan cooperation!

On May 2, 1972, the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day was signed by the President, writing, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”

By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The response was dramatic.

National, regional, state and local organizations staged some 3,000 “open house” hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges to suburban frog ponds, providing an estimated four million Americans with a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor sports.

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is the 2012 Honorary Chairman of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Hunting Facts

  • The contributions, in the form excise taxes paid on sporting firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, benefit every state and have generated approximately $5.6 billion for wildlife conservation since 1939. The contribution for 2009 is a record — nearly $336 million, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which recently announced the Wildlife Restoration apportionment.
  • An average hunter spends $1,638 every year on the sport.
  • Teenage girls are the fastest growing market in sport shooting.
  • According to research, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago. And 50 percent more women are now target shooting.
  • Americans hunt 228 million days per year.
  • More than 38 million Americans hunt and fish.
  • Hunters and anglers support more jobs nationwide than the number of people employed by Wal-Mart.
  • Through license sales and excise taxes on equipment, hunters and anglers pay for most fish and wildlife conservation programs.
  • Hunters and shooters have paid more than $5 billion in excise taxes since 1939.
  • More Americans hunt and shoot than play golf.
  • Firearms are involved in less than 1% of all accidental fatalities. More Americans are killed in accidents involving vending machines than guns.
  • Hunting gear sales are growing faster than all other sporting goods categories.
  • Americans annually buy 1.1 billion shotshells.
  • Non-resident hunting license, tag, stamp and permit sales have risen 41.2 percent since 1993.

Hunting Facts Sources: US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation; National Shooting Sports Foundation.