The recently completed deer season was the first, Jesse McCabe of New Sweden will tell you, that his daughter really caught the hunting bug.
The duo began hunting together when daughter Albany McCabe turned 10. But it wasn’t really until last fall — when she was 19 — that Albany committed to finally filling her deer tag.
“She stuck with me, all fall,” 52-year-old Jesse McCabe said. “In the rain and the snow, she sat right there until dark.”
Until, finally, she didn’t.
“Finally, [the Wednesday before Thanksgiving] was the last night,” Jesse McCabe said. “She said, ‘I can’t do it any more, Dad. I’m all done.’”
Jesse McCabe said Albany had put in a good effort, and said he was proud of her for sticking with it, even as the temperature grew colder and the weather more miserable. And he’d still have been proud of her had their season ended then, a day before Thanksgiving.
But it didn’t.
The duo never did gear up and hit the deep woods together again over the rapidly waning season. But they did go hunting … kind of.
“Friday morning rolled around, and I’d been working. I get up early, but I overslept that morning,” Jesse McCabe said. “I woke up and it was quarter to seven. I looked out my back window, and I could see a deer — I didn’t even know [if it was a buck] coming across my field.”
Jesse McCabe said he yelled to Albany, and told her they had a visitor. Within a minute, they were downstairs, and Albany was legally equipped — if not fully ready — to hit the woods.
Sure, she had “a funny pair of shoes” on her feet, her dad says. And she was wearing pajamas. But as the law requires, she was wearing a hunter orange vest and hat.
“I grabbed that vest, threw it on her, threw the hat on her, and loaded the gun,” Jesse McCabe said. “Then we stepped out the door and I said, ‘Stand right here for a minute.’”
Albany did as her father said, and Jesse McCabe peaked around the corner of the garage to see if he could spot the deer. He didn’t see it, but quickly learned that his daughter had.
“All of a sudden, I hear ‘BANG!’” Jesse McCabe said. “I look over and that buck had walked out behind my garage, just down into the field a little ways, and she had shot that buck.”
Jesse McCabe still chuckles at the sight of his daughter standing there after firing the shot.
“I’m not kidding you,” he said. “She had her pajamas on, and a vest and a hat. And she shot that buck.”
And as you may have guessed, the buck was a monster: It was an eight-pointer that weighed 269 pounds, field dressed. And it was the first time Albany had even fired at a deer, her dad said.
Jesse McCabe is a registered Maine guide who said he regularly fills his deer tag each year, including with some big bucks. But he said the past two years have been special.
“[In 2015] I had a friend who had never shot a deer in his life and I put him in this place and I said, ‘You sit right here,’” Jesse McCabe said. “I even loaned him my gun.”
Then the guide went and “did a couple things” with some homemade deer lure that he created. An hour later, his friend called him on the phone.
“He said, ‘Jesse, I just shot the biggest buck.’ It weighed 260,” Jesse McCabe said.
Albany McCabe sent an email about her deer to the BDN several weeks ago, just before I was sideline with some health concerns. When I reached out to her upon her return, she was reluctant to tell her story, and asked that her dad tell the tale for her. And Jesse McCabe was happy to do so.
“It was the best thing I ever experienced hunting,” he said. “It just couldn’t get any better.”
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke.