Mainely Outdoors: The Mahan’s Kobe moose

Bill Graves, Special to The County
13 years ago

Most folks, regardless of where they live in the world have heard of Kobe beef. Pound for pound it is the most expensive domestic meat in the world. Each cow selected to be Kobe beef is pampered beyond belief to assure a final product’s taste, texture, and tenderness can’t be rivaled.
The special breed of cattle used to produce Kobe beef are fed and raised like royalty. Each cow is fed beer on a regular basis and receives a daily massage. They are even supported in body slings for hours each day so as not to waste energy by supporting their own weight. It’s little wonder that steaks produced from such beef sell for up to $100 a pound, and people actually fight to be first in line. Usually meat in Maine is more economical.
For over 25 years, Rod Mahan has submitted the proper paperwork and a check in hopes of winning a moose permit for his Dad. The Mahan clan have been Mars Hill residents nearly as long as the mountain has existed, and most are pretty handy with a fishing rod, shotgun or rifle. Sam Mahan, the spry 79-year-old patriarch, haunts the Prestile Stream throughout the summer and some say this “dean of the dry fly” knows many of the trout by name.
This past June, the unimaginable finally happened during the annual moose lottery and Sam was finally going to go on a moose hunt with his family. The only stumbling block was the travel required since they had drawn zone 3 rather than their home stomping grounds of Zone 6. But that was a minor inconvenience everyone agreed, moose were everywhere and it would be a snap to find a bull on the first day.
Since four sports would comprise the hunting party, Sam, Rodney, Glen and his six-year-old son Cooper, the three generations of Mahan moose men would require two trucks. Rod owned a 20-year-old Jeep that would be perfect accessing tight tote roads, but it needed work. Four new tires, a set of shocks and struts and labor added up to just under $1,000. Sam vowed to use his faithful old 30-30 with open sights so sub-permittee Glen opted to trade his old rifle for a more modern .270 with a new scope. That was a $500 upgrade.
On Sunday afternoon the guys hooked the trailer loaded with a four-wheeler to the pickup and drove over town to gas up all the vehicles. That visit totaled over 150 bucks, but all was ready for the dawn drive north. About mid-morning the boys spotted a big bull in a clear cut far off the Sullivan Road, but before they could work their way near the brute faded away.
During the mid-afternoon Sam thought he spied a moose while driving past a brushed-in tote road. In a hurry to back up and check, he forgot all about the trailer and jack knifed the rig doing $600 worth of damage to the truck and trailer, and it turned out not to have been a moose! Back in Mars Hill that night the Mahan’s shelled out another wad of cash to fill up both trucks in preparedness for day two.
Tuesday turned out to be a total bust with no moose spotted at all, but a lot of roads driven and another tank full of gas consumed. To everyone’s chagrin day three was a duplicate of day two and morale was fairly low as the Mahan’s headed home. Then just as they passed the Stockholm power line about 5 p.m. Rod spotted a moose. Glen and Sam pulled in and they all began to sneak closer, and by 5:15 p.m. the deed was done and a 680-pound bull lay on the ground.
As in most moose hunts, once the shot is fired the fun is over and the work begins. The power line was stump-strewn, wet, boggy and the bull was a long ways from the highway. They tried using the jeep first, but obstacles were too numerous so the hauling job fell to the four wheeler. Winding their way through the wet mud pulling a heavy moose between stumps and stubs was a long tedious job. Then the big animal had to be pulled onto the trailer and tied down.
In the end the four wheeler had to be pushed onto the trailer by hand as it had burned up a belt and broken a fuel line during the long haul. The Mahan moose party finally ended back in Mars Hill at about 10 p.m., triumphant but very tired. The repair bill for the four-wheeler ran $408. To have the moose skinned, cut up and wrapped was another 532 Washingtons. About a week later Rod began to add up expenses, even adding in each previous years application fees, and decided after looking at the total that each steak was like gold.
When Rod told me the story I had to laugh, and suggested the guys might just as well have bought Kobe beef – all the taste and none of the work. Instead they have Kobe moose. Rod told his father a few days after the hunt, “I love you with all my heart, Dad, but I won’t be applying for any moose permit next year!”