For the past 20 years or so, Desmond Ashman has looked forward to regular trips to the picturesque village of Grand Lake Stream, where he’d visit with friends, hunt, fish, and unwind.
In the coming years, chances are that the 41-year-old Sedgwick lobster fisherman will spend even more time in that place he has come to love: He’s the lucky winner of the camp that was raffled off by the Grand Lake Stream Guides Association.
“”I’ve been going down to Grand Lake Stream for 20 years now, and I’m good friends with J.R. Mabee and Brett Vose, who guide down there,” Ashman said earlier this week.
During the spring, on one of his frequent visits to Grand Lake Stream, his two buddies told him about the fund-raising project. Ashman said he quickly bought two raffle tickets for $100 apiece.
“Then I bought two more in the fall when I was down there bird hunting and deer hunting,” Ashman said. “And I was was lucky enough to get drawn.”
Not that he believed the good news at first.
“I was actually down in Florida with my girlfriend, and we were out on New Year’s Eve,” Ashman said. “J.R. sent a text with a picture of the winning ticket, and it said, ‘You won.’ I thought he was joking.”
Soon enough, more guides from the association began calling him to congratulate him. At that point, he realized that he’d actually won himself a camp that he’d been dreaming about.
“I love that area down there, and that town. Any chance I get, I go down there to do some hunting or fishing,” Ashman said. “I always thought that in the future it would be good, when I got older, to have a camp down there, to hunt and fish out of and to be able to get away.”
Back in December, Louis Cataldo of the GLS Guides Association said that ticket sales had been lagging, and asked for help in publicizing the raffle. At that point, he said, the group had sold about 260 tickets for chances on the $50,000 camp.
It turned out that a little bit of publicity jump-started the project, and sales began picking up.
From Dec. 15 until the drawing on Dec. 31, the guides sold about 1,000 tickets, bringing their grand total to 1,293 tickets sold.
Ashman, who spent a frigid day on the water lobster fishing on Wednesday, said he might head down to Grand Lake Stream this weekend to pick up his key and take a closer look at the camp. He said he did get a chance to look at the camp from the driveway during hunting season.
Ashman said that from what he saw, he thinks the camp is in pretty good shape and won’t need much immediate work.
“Just looking at it from the outside, [I’ll] probably put a little paint on the trim and maybe down the road redo the siding on it,” he said. “But it’s a nice quiet neighborhood with a cemetery right next door, so you don’t have to worry about the neighbors complaining.”
Ashman, who grew up in Bangor and graduated from John Bapst, said he’s happy with the return on his $400 investment. And he said that although Grand Lake Stream may be best known for its fishing, he’s had great hunting adventures there as well.
“I’ve shot three deer in my life, and two of them have been down there,” he said.
Follow me on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke