Bowhunting in Maine has a long history. It goes back thousands of years to a time when Native Americans in the state enjoyed a year-round hunting season with no tags, limits or wardens. I’ve never hunted myself, unless you count the little birdie I shot with a BB gun once; I still cry when I think about it. In my ignorance, I assumed it was a man’s pastime. However, I recently picked up a stack of old Bowhunting magazines — I do like to hunt for junk — and the cover of the October 1962 issue showed a woman standing on an island in Maine.

The bow in her hand is not one of today’s complicated compound things with multiple strings and carbon fibers. It was a beautiful and curved wooden work of art, the pinnacle of single-string bow design. She is standing on barnacle-covered rocks with a lobster buoy sticking out of a crack near her feet. In the background are boats and an island. This was the Island Shoot competition for the Spruce Island Bowhunters Club, and the woman was named Judy Brown.

Brown was not the only woman there that day. In the obituary for Beverly Grierson of South Thomaston, it mentions that she was a longtime member of the Spruce Island Bowhunters Club and highlights her two successful moose hunting trips.

The course was set up on little Hewitt’s Island. There were 14 targets ranging from 20-25 yards to simulate hunting conditions. A larger target was set up at 160 yards. The targets were made of hay bales, which were left on the island to benefit the sheep who lived there. Archers came from all over Maine for the competition; Pete Killinger of York County Bowmen took home the top prize with 474 points, and the top woman that day was Jane Conley with 382 points. Another woman noted in the article was Lee Adams, who dropped her purse in the water on the way back to the mainland. Fortunately, it was gaffed to safety by an expert lobsterman.

Naturally, the competition ended with a seaside lobster bake, and a fun time was had by all. About 56 years later, it appears that the Spruce Island Bowhunter Club and the Island Shoot are now defunct. It’s a real shame, because I’m sure it would be just as enjoyable today as it was back then.