John Altman of Brooksville has worn many hats during his 25-plus years living in Maine.
He has been a farmer, has worked as a building contractor and now develops and manages land as recreational properties. The Registered Maine Guide also hosts and produces hunting films and oversees the Hunting ME Facebook page.
Altman and his wife Emma operate David’s Folly Farm in Brooksville, where they host weddings, retreats, conferences and other events.
Yet through it all, John Altman’s favorite hat is the blaze orange kind. Hunting is his passion.
The Maryland native is a lifelong deer hunter who enjoys sharing experiences in the woods with Emma, sons Will and Rye, and friends.
“I’ve dedicated my life to sort of building a lifestyle that allows me time in the woods,” Altman said.
In September, he went on a moose hunt in Aroostook County. He was the subpermittee for Emma who, realizing the rare nature of the opportunity, offered to let John be the shooter.
The group’s motivation and preparation, the challenges they confronted, the execution of their plan and their emotional reactions to the memorable hunt are forever preserved in the film “The Dream.”
John Altman, who has spearheaded numerous projects involving hunting videos, wanted to chronicle the bow and arrow moose hunt for Hunting ME and share it with the public. Yet he didn’t simply want to document the kill, rather to highlight the depth of the experience involved undertaking a moose hunt in Maine with family and friends.
“It’s sharing that experience with the people you know and love and want to be in that kind of place with,” John Altman said.
“Our approach is being true to who we are and telling the story that we want to tell,” he said.
That’s why John, Emma and Rye Altman, family friend Josh Leach and videographers Forrest Rowe and Niklas Weikert teamed up to show the world how a moose hunt in the North Maine Woods impacted their lives.
“The Dream” focuses on the amount of planning, work and tenacity required to put together a successful backwoods moose hunt and shines a spotlight on the camaraderie of the participants.
John Altman admits there was significant pressure during the process, since the hunt was being recorded every step of the way. It wasn’t easy.
Even though he has considerable knowledge about hunting mature white-tailed deer, Altman admitted moose hunting, because of its infrequency, is a different test.
“I’m not gonna lie, it was a real challenge for us,” he said.
The film shows life around the campsite and features lots of moose calling, watching and waiting. Embedded in the fabric of the story are the deep emotions of the participants.
John Altman expressed his gratitude to Emma Altman for her unselfishness in deferring the shot to him.
“She realized how incredibly important it was for me,” he said of the hunt. “She’s not an avid hunter by any means, but she supports the process.”
Rye Altman, 10, himself an avid deer hunter, tagged along for the hunt.
John Altman’s wingman was Leach, who was Will Altman’s closest friend growing up.
“He’s like a son to me. He’s like a best friend to me,” John Altman said of the relationship. “We’ve had some really incredible moments together in the woods that have riveted us together.”
Behind the scenes were Rowe and Weikert, who captured the hunt with compelling video elements.
Naturally, the climax to the film comes when a 50-inch bull moose finally appears in front of the six-member hunting party.
“It was an out-of-body experience. That was success,” John Altman said of the sighting itself.
With everyone else holding their breath Leach, who was positioned nearby, let out a final cow call. It caused the approaching bull, less than 10 yards away, to take a few steps to its left.
“The adrenaline rush, I really can’t even describe it,” John Altman said. “It was the fear, the excitement.”
Altman made a great shot and described the uncertainty of tracking the bull, which moved off into the treeline. The discovery of the moose a few minutes later proved emotional.
“It was an incredibly sombering moment. We walked in on him and I think everybody started to cry,” John Altman said. “We take it to heart and we feel the responsibility of what we did.”
Ultimately, it meant lots of healthy meat on the table for the Altmans and their friends.
John Altman points out that the depiction of the moose hunt in “The Dream” is a contrast to what is often seen on TV or social media sites. There, it’s often possible to watch multiple hunts in a short time span with the focus on the shot.
While such shows can be entertaining to viewers and potentially beneficial to program sponsors, Altman believes they often send the wrong message, neglecting to explain the process and the rationale for the hunts.
“If we don’t properly represent ourselves as sportsmen, we really might start to lose some of our privileges,” Altman said.
“That is a lot of the driving force behind how and why we create [hunting] content and why we’re so compelled to tell the full story and to really give the backstory to why we do what we do,” he added.
The next project for John Altman and Hunting ME is a film about two Maine women who train and run dogs to help hunters track and recover wildlife that has been shot.
You can watch the trailer for “The Last Track” here.