When Dana Carey took his stepson, Dawson Byers, into the woods of Orrington on Saturday morning, he was pretty confident that they’d have a productive Youth Deer Day.
He wasn’t aware that the welcoming committee at the local tagging station, Bob’s Kozy Korner store, would include a reality TV star.
“That was pretty cool,” the Kenduskeag man admitted, as he waited to tag his stepson’s deer.
When the duo pulled into the lot, they noticed a man in a green-and-black plaid hunting shirt, sporting long hair and a beard. Carey recognized him as Tony Bennett, a star and narrator of the History channel show “Down East Dickering.”
“I was like, ‘Dawson, he’s right on TV,’” Carey said. “That was unbelievable. Such a nice guy. All the compliments were awesome.”
Bennett is an avid hunter who spends some time in the Bangor area each year to take advantage of the expanded archery season. On Saturday, he stopped by Bob’s Kozy Korner to check out the action on Youth Deer Day, a day set aside for the state’s junior hunters.
“Great job, Bub,” he told Byers, who stood proudly beside the 96-pound doe he shot. “Good job, old boy.”
Byers said Bennett’s presence helped make a special day even better, and said he was glad he got to talk to the TV personality for a bit.
“He was really excited,” Byers said of Bennett, who wanted to know all the details of the hunt.
Carey said he took Byers to a familiar spot — a place he’s shot five or six deer over the years.
“I’ve been [hunting here] for years,” Carey said while the duo waited to weigh their deer at Bob’s Kozy Korner, the store that serves as the town’s tagging station. “Certain deer movements have always taken place at the same spots, for probably 15, 16, 17 years that I’ve known of.”
That was the case on Saturday, as the 14-year-old Byers shot his first deer in the same spot Carey shot one a year earlier.
“I told him right where the deer [tend to] come out,” Carey said. “[This deer] came out on the same line. It worked out pretty good, actually.”
Carey had told Byers to be ready, and Byers paid close attention to his stepfather’s advice. Past experience hunting together had taught him that Carey knew what he was talking about.
“Last year when we were out hunting, we didn’t see anything on youth day, but all throughout the season, we saw does all over the place,” Byers said. “He’d say, ‘There’s a deer trail right over there,’ and five minutes later a doe would walk by.”
With no any-deer permit, Byers was limited to hunting for bucks last year. All he saw was does.
But on Youth Deer Day, junior hunters are allowed to take does, provided they are hunting in a Wildlife Management District where any-deer permits have been issued.
By 7:45 a.m., a doe had stepped out — exactly where Carey thought it would — and Byers made his shot count.
Bennett, who prefers to still-hunt with his bow, said he has come to look forward to his annual trips to the Bangor area from his home in Bethel.
“I’ve been hunting here for 10 years, and fell in love with it,” Bennett said.
Bennett is in a hiatus from filming “Down East Dickering,” a show that features bargain hunters who search for treasures by perusing the weekly Uncle Henry’s buy and swap guide.
Bennett said he’s a history buff, and appreciates everything about his home state. He’s amazed at how many species of apple trees exist in Maine, and said he often spends time looking for antique bottles while he’s out deer hunting.
Sometimes, that costs him, he admits.
“When I’m out there, I’m looking at the apple trees, I’m looking at the stone wall, I’m trying to find a cellar hole to bottle hunt, and there goes my deer,” he said. “Because I’m not paying attention. I’m looking at everything else, and the deer’s been watching me for five minutes and I never saw him. Then I step up out of the old cellar hole and ‘Boing!’ there he goes.”
The popularity of the show that he’s been working on for nearly two years has turned Bennett into a recognizable TV personality, and he posed for several photos at Bob’s Kozy Korner as he waited for young hunters to show up with their deer.
He said he’s happy to chat with anybody, and thinks it’s his responsibility to do so.
“I love the PR, because without the PR, we don’t have a show,” Bennett said. “Without people tuning in and watching it, we’re no one. So I give anybody all the time I can and I have no problem with pictures and autographs.”