For the Gagnons, their motto for the 2022 Maine moose hunt was “3 Generations, 3 Hunts, 1 Goal.”
Three generations of the Gagnon family (from left), Don Gagnon, Erik Gagnon and Brooke Gagnon, show off sweatshirts displaying their motto: "3 generations, 3 hunts, 1 goal" after Brooke Gagnon shot this bull moose in September. Credit: Courtesy of Sandra Cyr

Blessed. That is how Erik Gagnon of Brewer described the almost magical set of circumstances he and two family members enjoyed during the 2022 Maine moose hunt.

Blessed, and a little lucky.

Gagnon grew up in Madawaska as an avid hunter and fisherman, following in the footsteps of his dad, Don Gagnon. Naturally, both men applied for a moose permit again this year.

Erik Gagnon took an extra step, submitting an application for his 14-year-old daughter, Brooke Gagnon, even though she had never fired a gun. He had previously only applied so she could accumulate points toward a future permit.

There was a whirlwind of excitement on lottery day as a friend attending the lottery announcement in Jackman reported that all three of the Gagnons were selected.

“We actually were drawn for all three weeks in Zone 1,” Erik Gagnon said of the hunts, which were to take place in a span of four weeks.

There was just one problem. He started a new job earlier this year and didn’t have enough vacation time to hunt all three weeks and also guide a bear hunt to which he had committed.

One thing was certain. Erik Gagnon and Don Gagnon wanted to be involved in all three hunts. That meant making concessions.

Almost immediately, they opted to trade Don Gagnon’s October bull permit for an October cow tag, which would mean he and his father would be hunting in the same Wildlife Management District during the same week. Brooke Gagnon would keep her September bull permit.

“That made life a lot easier,” said Erik Gagnon, who knew that there were no guarantees any of them would be successful with the hunts.

For the Gagnons, their motto for the 2022 Maine moose hunt was “3 Generations, 3 Hunts, 1 Goal.”
Brooke Gagnon (left) of Brewer is joined by her dad, Erik Gagnon, to celebrate harvesting a moose in September. Three generations of the Gagnon family were successful during the 2022 season. Credit: Courtesy of Don Gagnon

He was resigned to doing the shooting on his daughter’s hunt as her subpermittee, because Brooke Gagnon had not expressed interest in squeezing the trigger.

“I have involved my children in hunting and fishing all their lives. Whether they decided to follow it or not was up to them, but at least get them outdoors,” Erik Gagnon said.

A few weeks after the lottery, Brooke Gagnon approached her dad and said, “You need to take me shooting,” he said. He was surprised, but pleased, by the development.

Erik Gagnon helped her work up to handling higher-powered rifles and settled on a gun with history — a Remington Model 7 .308 that had belonged to her great-grandfather, Ron Gagnon.

After adding a cheek pad that improved her sight line, she got comfortable shooting the rifle.

In the meantime, the Gagnons had special hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts made up by Seymour Embroidery of Levant. Their motto was “3 Generations, 3 Hunts, 1 Goal.”

The quest began with Brooke Gagnon’s late September hunt in northwestern Aroostook County. The Gagnons had grown up hunting there and had good local knowledge of where they might find moose in the area.

Brooke Gagnon was accompanied by her dad and grandfather.

Opening day was rainy and warm, but produced no sightings. Erik Gagnon was convinced the last spot they visited was a good one and said, “Something just feels moosey about it,” and they decided to return early the next morning.

They arrived a bit later than planned, but waited before starting to call. A snapping tree branch and a grunt meant a bull was interested.

Don Gagnon woke up Brooke Gagnon in the truck and helped her set up and load. Erik Gagnon intensified the calling sequence and the bull started heading their direction with a purpose, so they ducked across the dirt road and set up.

Brooke Gagnon was ready to shoot shortly after the moose appeared, but Erik Gagnon suggested that she wait as it was coming closer. Eventually, it was within 50 or 60 yards, so he asked if she wanted him to take the shot.

Instead, she took off the safety and squeezed the trigger.

“She’s never shot offhand before. She fired and just made a great shot,” Erik Gagnon said of his daughter’s first shot as a hunter, which went through the moose’s heart.

The bull weighed 745 pounds and had a 37 1/2-inch antler spread.

It wasn’t long before they realized that four generations of Gagnons actually had a hand in the harvest.

“It was a very emotional moment for dad and I. I get choked up talking about it,” Erik Gagnon said of sharing the moment, and Brooke Gagnon using her great grandfather’s rifle.

For the Gagnons, their motto for the 2022 Maine moose hunt was “3 Generations, 3 Hunts, 1 Goal.”
Erik Gagnon (left) of Brewer harvested this cow moose in October hunting with his dad, Don Gagnon (center) and Don Gagnon’s lifelong friend Alan Desjardins. Three generations of the Gagnon family shot a moose this season. Credit: Courtesy of Erik Gagnon

Almost a month later, it was Don Gagnon’s turn. He and Erik Gagnon were accompanied on a warm morning by Don’s longtime friend and hunting buddy, Alan Desjardins.

Erik Gagnon and Desjardins dropped Don Gagnon off at a clearcut he wanted to hunt and went to scout other areas for signs of moose. They would go back and meet up with him a few hours later.

“So 9:30 rolls around and we come back to get him and he had a moose down,” Erik Gagnon said. “From where he shot it, to where the road was, was almost 400 yards.”

After retrieving their gear from camp, they were able to use half a canoe, rope and pulleys to get the 622-pound cow out to the truck.

With his daughter and his father both having put meat in the freezer, Erik Gagnon would have been satisfied to call it quits. He even suggested not filling his own tag, but realized this was about completing the special series of family hunts.

“I don’t want to waste the tag, but I also know how important it is to you for all three of us to fill our tags, so let’s keep hunting,” Erik Gagnon told his father.

For a while, it didn’t look promising. The hunters didn’t see any moose the next two days — they heard a cow early on that Wednesday — but did come across promising spots.

The plan for the next day was to revisit the area where they heard the cow. Driving past the second cut, they saw what appeared to be “stump moose,” old tree stumps that stick up from the ground.

“Then Alan goes, ‘Those aren’t stumps, there’s three cows and they’re all looking at us!’” said Erik Gagnon, who got out of the truck and used his binoculars to confirm the sightings.

He couldn’t get a range on them using an inexpensive unit he had taken along. The moose were at least 200 yards away, which meant Erik Gagnon wasn’t going to be able to shoot a 648-pound cow using his muzzleloader.

For the Gagnons, their motto for the 2022 Maine moose hunt was “3 Generations, 3 Hunts, 1 Goal.”
Erik Gagnon of Brewer (left) and his father, Don Gagnon of Madawaska, pose with the cow moose Erik Gagnon shot in October. The harvest completed a series of three successful hunts by three generations of the family. Credit: Courtesy of Alan Desjardins

Ten minutes later, at about 7:15 a.m., Erik Gagnon completed the third leg of the family hunt by harvesting the cow. As he waited for his father and Desjardins to get the extraction equipment, Erik Gagnon reflected on their experiences.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get emotional,” Erik Gagnon said. “The water works started coming, an overwhelming feeling of being extremely blessed and happy and the joy.”

The next challenge was getting sufficient space to store the hundreds of pounds of meat from his household’s two moose. Erik Gagnon said he had to buy a second chest freezer to go with a standup freezer in order to accommodate all the bounty.

“I’m fine with having a full freezer,” he said.

Erik Gagnon will treasure having the rare opportunity to share the successful moose hunting experiences with his dad and his daughter.

“I don’t think it’s something that I’ll ever see in my lifetime again,” he said.

“It’s very surreal, and 2022 has been a great year for us as far as hunting is concerned.”

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated which of the men’s moose permits was traded.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...