Owen Arsenault wasn't about to be outdone by his older sister Emileigh, but it was a friendly competition.
Emileigh Arsenault, 11, of Princeton harvested this doe on Youth Deer Hunting Day. It was her first hunt. Credit: Courtesy of Adrian Arsenault

Deer hunting has been part of the fabric of many Maine families for generations.

It’s an activity that not only teaches an appreciation for the outdoors and the creatures seen there, but it serves as a way for parents to bond with their children.

That’s exactly why Adrian Arsenault of Princeton wanted to get his children involved in deer hunting this year.

The tradition was officially passed on in successful fashion as the Arsenaults celebrated the first-ever hunting experiences of daughter Emileigh, 11, and son Owen, 8, on Youth Deer Hunting Day in October.

“Our family is filled with hunters every year, from cousins to brothers and sisters to aunts, uncles and grandparents,” Adrian Arsenault said. “It’s a way of life here in Down East.”

Setting the stage for the memorable day was having the opportunity to hunt on some productive ground in the area.

“Both deer were shot on private land so having people who allow children to shoot is beyond measurable,” Adrian Arsenault said.

Emileigh Arsenault was the first to experience the thrill of deer hunting. She harvested a doe at 9 a.m. on youth day — behind the house of her maternal grandparents, Steven and Cathy Cilley.

“We’ve been watching deer all year as they are usually out back in the field,” Adrian Arsenault said.

The does were already in the field when he and Emileigh headed behind the house on that Saturday morning.

“She made a good 150-yard shot, no tracking needed, as [the doe] went down immediately,” he said.

Owen Arsenault wasn't about to be outdone by his older sister Emileigh who bagged a deer early in the morning, but it was a friendly competition.
Owen Arsenault, 8, of Princeton went on his first deer hunt on Youth Deer Hunting Day and shot this buck. Credit: Courtesy of Adrian Arsenault

It was a bit longer of a wait for Owen Arsenault, but he also was eventually rewarded at about 4 p.m. He and his dad hadn’t seen anything when they were forced to leave their spot because of another commitment.

“As we were driving we noticed some deer behind one of the houses, so we decided to turn around as I used to work with the homeowner,” Adrian Arsenault said.

When they heard Owen Arsenault was trying to get his first deer, Bob and Doreen Wallace graciously offered to let them go after the animals.

“Not to be outdone by his sister — friendly competition runs hard in our family — no tracking was needed as the small six-pointer dropped instantly,” said Adrian Arsenault, adding that Owen followed with a “got him dad.”

It was the perfect ending to a memorable day for the whole Arsenault family.

“As a father, I’m extremely grateful,” Adrian Arsenault said of having access to the land and of being able to share the experience with his kids.

And even though he has been hunting for many years and has had plenty of success in the woods, the youth day spent alongside Owen and Emileigh is something he will cherish forever.

“I’ve shot many deer and not one will ever compare to the joy of seeing my kids shoot their first deer and seeing the excitement,” Adrian Arsenault said.

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...