William Altman pauses to scan the woods during the 2022 moose hunt in Aroostook County. Hunting ME's film "The Gift" chronicles the hunt. (Courtesy of Nik Weikert) Credit: Courtesy of Nik Weikert

For the second straight year, the folks at Hunting ME are being honored for both their hunting and movie-making prowess.

The group, headed by John Altman of Brooksville, produced their film “The Gift” as part of a September moose hunting trip to Wildlife Management District 1 in northwestern Aroostook County. It chronicles the hunt of his older son William Altman, himself an avid hunter and veteran photographer, videographer and filmmaker.

The Hunting ME crew is headed to Indianapolis, where “The Gift” will be shown along with the other nominated films as part of the 2023 Badlands Film Festival. The event is held in conjunction with the annual Archery Trade Association convention.

The winners in the Feature Film (10 minutes maximum) and Short Film (four minutes) categories will be announced on Thursday night. The screenings begin at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s kind of a big shout-out for Maine and small Maine filmmakers,” John Altman said of the nomination.

The group’s perspective on the festival after attending in 2022 for their nominated film called “The Dream,” which followed John Altman’s successful and dramatic moose hunt.

This time, Hunting ME is less concerned about the possibility of winning and hopes instead to soak in the experience while representing the state’s outdoors community.

A group from Hunting ME, including (from left) Josh Leach, John Altman, William Altman and Rye Altman, head into the woods during the 2022 moose hunt in Aroostook County. Hunting ME’s film “The Gift” chronicles the hunt.  Credit: Courtesy of Nik Weikert

“Being one of the six films that they select and showing it in a big theater with lots of people, and watching all these people watching your film, it’s really cool,” John Altman said.

The tables were turned slightly for the 2022 hunt. A year earlier, John Altman used a bow and arrow to harvest his bull moose as the subpermittee to his wife, Emma. This time, having been drawn himself, John Altman wanted William, his subpermittee, to be the shooter.

“He’s 32 now and over the last 10 years, we’ve not had a lot of time to hunt together because of his work,” John Altman said of William Altman, who travels the world documenting the pursuits of explorer, biologist, conservationist and sportsman Donnie Vincent.

Hunting ME descended on The County with younger son Rye Altman, good friend Josh Leach and videographer Nik Weikert again part of the expedition.

This time around, Hunting ME took a different approach to making and promoting its film. Rather than create a longer version and releasing it to the public, the group instead developed its feature for the Badlands festival right off the bat.

Josh Leach rakes a moose shoulder blade across the bushes during a hunt with William Altman (rear) in September 2022. Hunting ME’s film “The Gift” chronicles the hunt. Credit: Courtesy of Nik Weikert

“We just kind of went to work on a 10-minute cut. We just didn’t feel it was that important to get something out right away,” said John Altman, who stressed the difficulty of paring last year’s original 40-minute film down to less than 10 minutes.

John Altman hasn’t given away many details about William Atlman’s moose hunt, but it seems pretty obvious that they were successful. Check out the attached trailer for “The Gift” and decide for yourself.

Hunting ME plans, as part of a fundraising effort for an as yet unnamed organization, to unveil a longer version of the film later this year.

You can check out Hunting ME on Facebook, Instagram and on YouTube.

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...