DEER-HUNTING IN MAINE a Poem
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DEER-HUNTING IN MAINE a Poem

DEER-HUNTING IN MAINE a Poem




      

DEER-HUNTING IN MAINE a Poem


DEER-HUNTING IN MAINE

IN the evergreen forests and swamps of Maine,
When the maples are red with the autumn stain.
By the Lake of Moosehead, or far in the hills,
Where the source of Penobscot trickles in rills,
The hardy hunters and frontiersmen,
In woody fastness, in hemlock glen,
And the "loggers" that toil with axe and with team
To fell the pines that rise by the stream,
Oft leave their labors, to follow the chase,
To ambush the deer in their lurking-place;
Or to hunt the antler'd moose, when the heat
Shall drive the herds to some cool retreat,
To river margin or lakelet cool,
Or cedar thicket that girdles the pool.

When the summer is rife with insect pests,
When the teasing black-fly the air infests,
The browsing moose and the feeding deer
Fly from those torments to waters clear,
And wading far out thro' shallow and bay
Secure from their wing'd tormentors stray,
To browse on the lotus and floating leaves
Of the lily, where blue the water heaves.
'Tis there the fleet-footed cariboo laves
His tawny hide in the gelid waves;
'Tis there the woodmen, in swift canoe,
With heavy rifle the chase pursue.

Far away, where the Adirondacks grand
With their rock-crown'd peaks in grandeur stand,
Where the wild Tahawus, the Onkorlah,
Pile up their ramparts lonely and far,
Casting great shadows from ledge and from wood
On boiling river and limpid flood,
The hunter comes with weapon and hound
To mark the trail in the forest ground,
To follow with keen-nos'd, yelping pack
The cloven foot-prints that betray the track,

His skilful eye discerneth the way
The noble hart hath pass'd that day;
By the bark on the birch-tree fray'd and worn
He notes the bruise of the sharp-prong'd horn,
By the dint in the rivulet's sandy brink
He knows that the hind stopp'd there to drink;
Not a broken twig, not a leaf displac'd,
Not a moss tuft from fallen cedar eras'd,
Not a dew-drop dash'd from the brushwood green
May escape the hunter's vigilance keen;
He notes the herbage but lately cropp'd
The trampled flowers with dews bedropp'd,
The cove where they wallow'd, the dense retreat
Where they couch'd in the mid-day's sultry heat.

No toil may daunt him—ere dawn of day
Hath dappled the morn, thick-shadow'd and gray,
He is arm'd for the chase; thro' monstrous stems
Of the timber grove the river that hems,
Thro' briery swamps, thro' alder brakes,
Thro' upland pine-tracts his way he takes;
He warily creeps to the brow of the hill,
Or brink of the dell, all lonesome and still;
Thro' wilds where the soft forest soil hath the print
Of the fugitive hoof in many a dint,
Till at last he driveth thro' bone and thro' brain
Of the bounding stag the leaden rain!
Far in the South, the stout cavalier
On galloping courser rides down the deer,

Far soundeth his hulloo and bugle horn
From the broad plantation, at break of morn;
Thro' bush and thro' brier, thro' tangled glade,
Like a charging troop sweeps the cavalcade,
And many a noble buck of ten-tines
Is brought to bay ere the day declines.

Where Blooming-grove Park its broad domain
Extends o'er craggy hillside and plain,
The hunter lies in the hemlock woods,
Where the turbid stream pours out its floods,
And awaits the flying deer when the hounds
Pursue their track through the forest grounds,
And oft in the bosky coverts the stag,
In his headlong leap over hillock and crag,
Some rival meets in the forest way,
Disputing with jealous fury his sway.
Ah! then with a menacing front they stand,
Sublime in stature, supremely grand!
Each champion paws the earth in his ire;
Their eyes are aflame with lurid fire;
Their branching antlers in air are toss'd,
And then, like duellist sword-blades, are cross'd,
They start, they retreat, they charge again;
They thrust till each point has a bloody stain,
Till, fast interlock'd, tine grasp'd with tine,
They fall at the root of some giant pine;
And, panting and bleeding, their eyes aglare,
They helpless perish with famine there!


McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.

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