Family elders on my father's side (King). -
Beda and "Bob" (Louis Frederick) King (my paternal Grandparents) , on a White-tailed deer hunt, on "Plains of Abraham", Salem, Maine in the late 1940's.

Beda and "Bob" (Louis Frederick) King (my paternal Grandparents) , on a White-tailed deer hunt, on "Plains of Abraham", Salem, Maine in the late 1940's.

I cherish this image of my Grandparents because it shows them in their favorite pastime in the Autumn; and it also shows the roots of my love for nature. I am virtually certain that this image was taken on the Plains of Abraham, as my elders called them. "The Plains of Abraham" was a large open area (about 5 miles long by 1/2 to 2 mile wide and resulting from logging), located between the Salem Road (Rt. 142) and the base of Mount Abraham, Salem, Maine. In this image (looking South) Mount Abraham is to the North, and behind the photographer, who is probably my father, Robert King Sr. Dad was the person who hunted most with them in those years, and most other pictures of that time/place have him in them.

That smile on Gram's face is no put-on. She really loved being in the north country, at camp with my Grandfather and the family. As I pointed out in another image, her favorite song was "Those Were The Days My Friend" by Mary Hopkins. I know that this is one part of her life she was thinking of when she heard that song. They loved their life in Salem and Kingfield.

I was born at just about the year this image was captured - 1948. My fascination with nature started right there in Kingfield or Salem, Maine. They hauled me in there when I was too young to know exactly where I was. But when old enough, I took every last bit of it in; I breathed it. I was crazy over nature and still am. Literally, I can smell that scene right now, the leather belts, the blued Winchester carbines from the Hoppes #9 Solvent on them, the cartridges, the smokeless powder, the wool clothing and the smell of the north woods. The north woods has a different smell in each of the four seasons. And that's a U.S. Army Willys Jeep that was bought as World War II surplus for less than $200. And you'll note there was no florescent orange clothing required then. Everything they wore, except that which was against the skin, was made of wool......everything. There was no cotton outer clothing. The softer cotton was used only for inner clothing, next to the skin; and they wore long johns. But why wool? It is because even when wet, wool retains its insulating qualities. GoreTex did not come out until 1970. If it rained on any deer-hunting day back in those earlier days, you improvised.....and suffered. I know.

I spent years in those woods and I spent some of those last years with them, there, together. And for those of you who never had such an opportunity in nature ....... I am sorry that you missed out on so much.

So many kids today spend most of their time playing video games and would not dare set foot in the woods. How can they know the fascinating truths about the woods if they have never been exposed to the woods? What a waste! And that is the base reason I hold little hope for the preservation of the wild places by generations to come, i.e. they will not be capable of realizing the full value of these wild places and so will not fight hard for them when the woods need advocates to preserve them. They are busy with their video games, outside reality. And as the cities grow, this problem worsens. Is there really hope for the wild places? And so I do appreciate those folks who still expose their kids to the wild places. It pays off.

I don't believe Grammy ever shot a deer. But he made up for that, often shooting groups of three or four deer at a time. Then, each person at camp would "tag-up" as they said, each using that year's license on the one-deer-per-person limit. I know, to most this seems un-sportsmanlike. And it is. But I will tell you that most families did it, although nobody talked about it. In most years they were not able to bag even one deer. And times were very tough: I remember Gramp telling me that with the 5 kids he and Gram had, all he could think of was 5 little Robins in a nest, constantly clamoring for food. So when he had the chance, he would take as much venison as he could.

In this deer world, sexually mature Bucks run alone or in small groups but Does (along with immature bucks) stay together in their groups, with the maternal matriarch leading the group. Gramp told me he spotted deer by seeing their black noses through the woods as they were bedded down, as they watched him in their absolute motionlessness. White-tailed deer are masters at letting a person walk right by them. When motionless, they blend in so incredibly well with the woods, that you cannot see them....... and they know it. When deer feel secure in cover, they will remain absolutely motionless and move for almost nothing. But their demise with Gramp was when he saw that first black nose.

I did a lot of deer hunting too but I found that I never liked killing anything at all. But I sure was crazy for these north Maine woods. My most cherished times were with these two at their log cabin camp in Salem, Maine from the 1950's up until my Grandfather's death in 1980.

Robert Lee King Jr.