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Take it To Here – A Maine Wild Bird Hunting Film

Take it To Here – A Maine Wild Bird Hunting Film

Join us on a captivating journey through Maine’s wild landscapes as we hunt for grouse and woodcock with pointing dogs with the Carter family.

This Film is Presented by Weatherby & OnX Hunt

“Salt of the earth” gets thrown around far too often. However, there are often-forgotten places that are the perfect habitat for such folk, away from the bustle of modern social trends. 

Maine is the most forested state in the lower 48; 90 percent of its landmass is still forested. It also has incredible stargazing despite being in New England. Vast tracts of unincorporated land hide there, ready to be explored. It is quite literally a place where the salt of 3,478 miles of coastline meets the earth. Maine is a microculture, even to greater New England. 

As a result, there are a lot of good people in Maine. However, to me, “salt of the earth” can only describe people I know and have known. The Carter family, the owners of Merrymeeting Kennels in Brunswick, Maine, are the definition of salt of the earth people. 

I first met Patti and Blaine Carter while visiting northeastern grouse camps with the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS)

Patti Carter radiates happiness with a touch of lighthearted humor. Spending time with her is a captivating experience. On that RGS trip, we spent a day wandering in the woods together hunting ruffed grouse. Her German Shorthaired Pointer worked in front of us. A few mishaps with woodcock hunting had more to do with poor hearing than anything else, and Patti laughed with a huge smile. She is animated, and it is hard not to find yourself laughing with her, smiling ear to ear, simply enjoying a moment. 

We may know many people like her. But her personality truly came to life later that day.

We pushed through Maine’s thick cover. As we hit the edge of a logging road, her dog went on point, and we pivoted from laughter to excitement. She moved quickly and nimbly while approaching the point. Sure enough, a grouse broke down the trail. She raised her gun and fired. I was not prepared for the next part. The flow of emotions that came to her as her dog loyally brought the bird to hand came onto me like a Trojan horse. Her eyes filled with tears; it was happiness in an uncorrupted form, contagious in the cool Maine air. I remember trying to hold my camera steady as my eyes gave salty water to the moment, to the earth.

Blaine Carter will tell you he has no idea why Patti would ever be with him. He is rough around the edges in that Maine kind of way; if you know, you know. But Maine-rough is still the salt of the earth. Weathered hands, hard-working; it’s straight to the point with no bullshit. 

That’s Blaine Carter. 

He has this smile about him. One that says, “I know I said something funny, and I can get away with it.” It’s the sense of mischief Blaine has that I love most. Or maybe it’s how much he is just him, without any concerns with the world around him. It’s an honest way to live. 

Blaine passionately walked around the woods with me and my Wirehaired Pointing Griffon during Grim’s first season. He saw the worry in my eyes as I felt hopeless about how my dog would progress. 

“It will happen. Just show him birds,” he said in a thick Maine accent. Grim bumped bird after bird and, towards the end of the day, stopped to a flush. 

“There ya go,” he said, despite my disappointed look. Grim pulled himself together, bird after bird, and things approved slowly. Eventually, I was happy to bring him back into the Carter’s world.

Patti’s compassion for all the things around her caught my attention. Blaine’s patience, combined with little interference, makes for compelling contemplations. Combine the two, and while you will not have the full personality of their son, Jason Carter, professional dog trainer and school teacher, you can see their better parts shining through.

I have learned so much by following Jason around the woods. His knowledge just sits there, ready to be mined, but never on display; he’s humble in a casual way. For the past year, I have spent even more time with him as we have worked on our upcoming dog training series featuring him and his family. Every day, I have walked away from working with him bubbling with new ideas and insights. Jason has reinforced the saying I often apply to the world of uplands, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Each new training topic has so many rabbit holes that my notes are a blur of disorganized knowledge. 

Above all, I have always been captured by Jason’s human skills. Evening in training classes full of diverse characters, Jason somehow blends and molds himself to each one without ever skipping a beat. It captures one thing I learned early on, “I need more training than my dog.” Training handlers is what Jason does in real-time by accounting for their personality as well as their dogs in a profound symmetry that bursts with progress. This is the reason we chose him for our new training series. He reads dogs, but he reads people, too. 

The story of the Carters has many acts. It’s a play that is far from over. It’s a generational story with bold beginnings, given the Carter’s involvement in the founding of NAVHDA and the ongoing evolution of their children and grandchildren. They have distilled knowledge over generations and compounded it for the benefit of us, all while being motivated by their love of the dogs. 

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