28 September 2006
On the Trail with Boris and Natasha
Next week, in my never-ending, unintentional quest to have the oddest filmography possible, my trusty camera and I will board a plane for the great state of Maine to document a real, live moose hunt and, hopefully, the culture that surrounds it.
Certainly, moose hunting is an odd choice for a film, especially for someone like me who tends to keep his distance from firearms and isn't exactly Grizzly Adams. My family, on the other hand, is littered with hunters and fishers and other various types, so much so that it effectively defines a large portion of who they are. Hell, half of my extended family has either been a game warden, tried to become a game warden, or majored in wildlife management (which is how you become a game warden, I think). Suffice to say that if I were to become a vegetarian, it wouldn't sit well.
According to the State of Maine webpage, the moose population is estimated at 29,000, which qualifies as a slight over-population problem that's potentially of danger to the surrounding community, since in a battle between a car and a moose, both the car and the driver inside will likely lose. So, the state holds a lottery every year for moose permits (2,825 issued in 2006), and the lucky winners get their shot at an animal that can yield 1,000 lbs. of meat. Naturally, that amount of food will easily last the winter, so pretty much every hunter in the state applies. Once you get a permit, you're ineligible for the next two years, and every year you don't get picked, you get an additional entry for the following year.
This brings us to my father, the Susan Lucci of moose permits, a man who'd faithfully entered 27 years in a row before finally seeing his name drawn this year. Friends of his had been drawn multiple times, but this year is the first he's ever won and, as he puts it, he may not ever get drawn again, assuming this pace holds.
In my family, this qualifies as a big deal, so when Dad asked if I wanted to come along on the hunt, it seemed like the natural choice to say yes. It was actually his idea for me to film it, reasoning that this is exactly the sort of rare opportunity that makes for a good documentary subject. So, film it I will, even if I really don't have any real sense of what exactly I'll want focus on or how I'll want to film it. There's no opportunity for a crew, so effectively it'll just be me and the camera and what I can carry, a definite limitation, but one I've dealt with before.
If anyone has any suggestions, fire away.
Oh, and my cousin is getting married the day we leave for the hunt, as in we're leaving directly from the wedding and changing in the car on the way north. Rumor has it he's actually going on a moose hunt (not ours, a different one) the day after his wedding and no one finds this strange, which should tell you a lot about how people think up there.
 Thus far: yesterday (2001): a short student film about suicide, window shopping (2003): an odd, risky short that attempts to be poetic and fails completely, Reclaiming Our Past (2003-2005): three documentaries about the civil rights movement, guard duty (2003): a verite short about old men cooking potatoes, L'Attente (2006): a french film about coffee, Il Matrimino (2004): a sort of wedding video on steroids that I don't officially claim, some corporate HR videos, and various other aborted projects.
 Partly because the moose's natural predators are now rare in the state.