Newsletter & Web Site
I would like to thank Women Hunters for the opportunity to share my story and ideas with other hunters. Growing up in Northern Maine means plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities. Maine has a well-deserved reputation as a recreational haven with seasons defined by activities.
I spent many happy hours ice skating, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, ice fishing, canoeing, and riding my horses. Hunting is another strong tradition in Maine with whitetail deer, moose and ruffed grouse (or partridge as we call them) being the most popular.
I attended the University of Massachusetts and received my BS in Animal Science. Animals have always been a big part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a furry companion. I was even fortunate enough to take a horse and dog to college with me. In college I rode on the Intercollegiate Riding Team and taught in the riding program. During semester breaks I worked for veterinarians and after graduation I moved to New Jersey and worked with Standardbred racehorses.
I put my degree to use by starting a veterinary diagnostic laboratory concentrating on provided laboratory services on site to the vets allowing them to quickly treat the horses. My love of dogs, particularly Labradors, led me to breeding and training labs for hunt tests and hunting. This led to a few years as president of the local retriever club and time spent judging hunt tests. My involvement with Labradors led to other adventures including trips to New York City to do commercials with the yellow labs including two for Estee Lauder. I have date bred over 120 black and yellow lab puppies and enjoy from the new owners how much they love their new family members. My dogs have earned show and retrieving titles but my favorite activity is to take them waterfowl hunting. This is where good breeding and training really come together. I also worked on several upland hunting preserves with the dogs.
I continued to ride and made many trips to VA to ride in the Shenandoah National Forest as well as many hours spent locally. One of my best trips was a pack trip to Montana for seven days of riding in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Awesome views, fly fishing for cutthroat trout, and riding -that is a trip I look forward to repeating.
Despite all that I was doing and all that I had access to in NJ it wasn’t home. I missed the lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, the snowmobiling, atving, hunting (without fighting over birds on public lands) going to camp, and the slower pace that life in Maine offers. I wanted my daughter to experience this for more than just the three weeks she spent here in each summer. Once I made the decision that it was time to go home I had to decide how I was going to make a living. It didn’t take long for me to put together a plan that included sporting camps, a boarding and training kennel, and as the anchor an upland hunting preserve and guide services. Offering horse facilities for folks to bring their horses and ride our great trails has always been part of the plan but is taking a little longer. Next came finding the right piece of property. This process took two years and meant many trips to Maine for my daughter and me. Many times we drove in the driveway and only got out of the truck to be polite. But when we drove in the yard of our future home we both knew immediately we had found it. The piece was perfect, almost 400 acres of fields, second growth, hardwoods, and cedar swamp with four ponds and a log cabin and storage building. Only problem was it was a wreck!!!!!!!! There were also two mobile homes and junk everywhere. I can document 8000lbs of junk that we hauled out and that’s after the previous owner took what he wanted. My family thought I had lost my mind but said nothing. I wasn’t worried- I had bought junk properties before and profited quite nicely from little more than elbow grease. I put my business and farm in NJ up for sale and signed the papers on the place on Christmas Eve. We moved up in the spring and spent the next year and a half cleaning up, tearing down, renovating then building new. We stripped the log cabin, and did major work. New buildings included a 24-run kennel complete with radiant heat, four cabins with tongue and groove interiors, and two barns. Flight pens for pheasants and other bird pens were also done. The first fall I offered a few hunts to family and friends. The next year I was rewarded with many hunters and my german shorthair pointers, yes I did add two to the kennel, and I was off and running.
One of my early customers had extensive sporting clays experience and he guided me to purchasing automatic and manual clay target machines for setting up five stand and sporting clay shooting for my customers. I find this to be a great addition not only for bringing a new customer base to Silverton but also to give me a way to introduce new shooters to shooting and to evaluate a shooter’s ability. For the most part I find that my customers (probably 95% male) are pretty honest about their abilities but there occasionally those that I find really aren’t as honest about their shooting experience. We were pleased to host the Maine State Sporting Clays Championship in 2007 and 2008, a big undertaking for only being in the sporting clays world for a year.
Along the way I obtained my Registered Maine Guide license in hunting and recreation and truly enjoy guiding folks to new hunting experiences. Hunters have included seasoned grouse and woodcock hunters, kids thrilled with their first pheasant, a pair of 70-year-old gentleman downing their first geese, and a woman who was a former vegetarian first learning to shoot then taking her first pheasant. Deer hunters bring a break from the feathers and while requiring many hours of scouting, moving stands, clearing shooting lanes and praying I look forward to our whitetail season every fall. I am also president of our local ATV club and look forward to welcoming ATV riders this summer as we now have the trails from the lodge in addition to our snowmobile trails.
I have truly found a way to combine all of my loves, including cooking, into a format so that I can offer opportunities to people that they may not have felt comfortable in trying on their own. My daughter helps with the cooking and my boyfriend helps with whatever needs to be done. I have several other guides that work with me giving us a broad range of experience to offer customers. I give upland hunting and dog training seminars at several venues, have done interviews for publications and a few TV shows. I take every opportunity to spread the word and to encourage people to give hunting and the outdoors a try. I doubt that one life time will be enough to do all that I would like to do but I know I’ll have a great time trying.
Articles by Denise Murchison
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