Several years ago, not long after I’d begun writing outdoor columns instead of covering sports for this paper, I met a man who made an instant and lasting impression.
His name was Wayne Bosowicz. He was a bear hunting guide. And he certainly looked the part.
Each time I saw Wayne — usually at a sporting expo of some sort — he was wearing spotless camouflage clothing that looked like it had been freshly pressed. And each time I saw him, the first thing I noticed was his glowing white beard.
I was new to the outdoor game. By that point, Wayne was already known in some circles as the “dean of black bear guides” in this state. And I remember that he made a special point to come over, say “hello,” and offer his assistance.
Wayne had a lot of high-profile folks come through Foggy Mountain Guide Service in Sebec, he explained, and while some were looking to get away from it all during their vacations in Maine, others might be willing to sit down and talk for a bit.
Wayne explained that he’d keep his eyes open, and as long as I didn’t need much advance notice, he might be able to help me line up an interview or two.
That’s how, in 2003, I ended up in the woods of Sebec, interviewing rocker and hunting activist Ted Nugent as he munched on a mooseburger.
This week, I was surprised to learn that Wayne had passed away. He died on Jan. 4, after a long battle with cancer. He was 73 years old.
Wayne set his sights on becoming a bear guide early, and moved to Maine with his wife, Donna, in the early 1970s. From there, he built Foggy Mountain Guide Service into one of the industry’s top destinations.
He knew bears, you see. And just as importantly, he knew people.
On the surface, Wayne looked like a rough-and-tough, backwoods character. Sit and speak to him for a bit, and you learned that there was much more to the man than met the eye.
He was very soft-spoken, and complimentary of nearly everybody he spoke of. He smiled often.
And after even a short conversation with the man, you walked away feeling better for the experience.
According to his obituary, he was also a man of deep and abiding faith.
Wayne and I were never friends. If we saw each other once a year, we were lucky. But each time I saw him, and shared a handshake and a few words, I considered myself lucky.
Over the past 15 years, bear hunting has been closely scrutinized by many, and a pair of statewide referendums have sought to outlaw some of the practices — such as baiting — that Wayne relied on in his professional life.
During those debates on the future of bear hunting, some would focus their ire on folks like Wayne, calling him and other guides the foulest of names.
Having met the soft-spoken guide — and formed a favorable opinion about the man — before bear hunting became a hot-button topic, I always thought those who criticized Wayne were doing themselves a disservice.
And I always believed that if they’d simply shaken Wayne’s hand, sat for a bit, and spoken with this true gentleman of the Maine woods, their rhetoric would have taken a softer tone.
Rest easy, Wayne. Your good work and gentle manner won’t be forgotten.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke