It has been said before in this space, but it applies once more. When it comes to hunting big game there are hunters, and then there are hunters. Most of us are of the former. We enjoy the hunt, but we don’t live to hunt. The latter are among the minority; they live to hunt and they stand out in the hunting community because of their dedication, perseverance and singular accomplishments in the field.
Mike Deschaine from Dresden is such, a stalwart and accomplished hunter. A Maine deer hunter for many years and a successful businessman, Deschaine, 67, has been a Maine guide for years and once served as president of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
As fate would have it, life took two abrupt turns that changed him forever. When in his 40s, he lost his wife to cancer. Emotionally adrift and alone, Deschaine took the advice of a friend, Sammy Cantafio, and booked a long-held dream for the two of them: a caribou hunt in Northern Quebec. He brought home two “magnificent trophies.” He was hooked, not only on the so-called “exotic hunts,” but the welcome distraction from his loss and the renewed sense of purpose the hunts brought to him.
Since that first caribou hunt, Deschaine has hunted eight states, eight provinces and Mexico. He is the only Maine hunter to achieve the “Super Ten” designation with the national Grand Slam Club. To bag North America’s 10 big game animals is no small feat. They are bear, deer, cougar, elk, moose, bison or muskox, American Mountain Goat, antelope and bighorn sheep.
Talking with Deschaine on my radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” it was evident that he is a man who relishes the physical and mental challenges that most of these hunts represent. “Mountain hunts are always the toughest,” says Deschaine. Needing the highly coveted Dall Sheep to round out his Super Ten list, Deschaine recently realized a lifelong dream and hunted his sheep in the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories.
“Easily the most physically demanding hunt of my life,” says Deschaine, “this hunt combined many of the outdoor activities I have come to love: hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, canoeing, horseback riding, camping, sightseeing, flying in bush planes and spotting wild animals.”
As you might guess, hunting mountain sheep and other high-country critters involves long-distance shooting. His longest shot was a difficult 547-yard shot at a Columbia Blacktail deer in Oregon!
Deschaine and his second wife, Susan, who also hunts and has taken two caribou, say they never buy red meat at the store. Mountain Lion and muskox also made it to their dinner table!
What is left for hunting challenges for Deschaine? When I last talked with him in December, he was hunting whitetail deer in Iowa.