“This Is My Church” Derek Maclearn; licensed Maine guide.

If you had never heard the term “outdoor guide” before, and then passed by someone on the street as they uttered the term I’m pretty sure Derek Maclearn would be the image that appeared in your imagination.
Derek is the only native Mainer in our course this semester, and he’s been living this lifestyle as long as he can remember.

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      Derek Fishing on munsungan lake

He’s worked as a mechanic both in and out of the military, but throughout all of that time has spent any extra time he has fishing, hunting or simply being outdoors. After getting his guide license, he made a decision to be the most well rounded guide he could be.

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          Happiest man in all the land

“Anything people want to do, I’ll take ’em.” Derek has already gotten his fishing and hunting guide certifications, but plans on getting his recreation and sea kayak licenses in order to really make that statement true. He goes onto say that his idea of guiding isn’t just staying at a lodge or going out for a day. It’s a lifestyle that he wants to share with clients. “I want to bring people out into the wilderness and have them live the actual experience.”. It says something about Derek’s passion for the outdoors that this is the style of guiding he’d like to share with his clients. It isn’t  about going out for a day, and bringing along all your gadgets and gear that keep you updated on the world the whole time.

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Derek is ,simply put, an all around solid person. When asked about the “soft skills” that a good guide should have in order to best lead clients, as well as deal with interpersonal tension that’s bound to show up on trail and at camp when the weather/fishing etc is bad, Derek has a simple answer. He explains that most days he views each of the other students as potential clients. “I try to help. If I see someone’s lacking, or not getting something I just try to help, and I’m hoping that if something comes up where I’m lacking, someone else helps me.” That’s sort of how things have to work around here, or around any long-term camp. If someone’s struggling, jump in and help out. The work needs to get done anyway, so at the very least you’re saving yourself a headache down the road. At best, you’re helping someone wrap their brains around a skill they’ll need  in our field.
We’re all here to learn, but we’ve all also brought certain things we’re already good at. For Derek, it’s fishing. On our canoe trip, he felt so bad for being the only one catching fish that he told me he wasn’t putting another line in until someone else got one. (We all know how superstitious avid anglers are about fishing.) The mark of a real fisherman though is devotion. This was exemplified by the fact that about two minutes after making his statement about refraining from fishing, it started to rain. Derek got “that feeling” and I saw him forgo his oath and head down to cast a few lures. He came back up with a small chub and a sheepish grin on his face. Like I said, he’s good at what he does, and between the fish he shared with us, and his famous “high pour coffee” he helped keep everyone fat and happy.

He doesn’t just apply the “actual experience” mindset to his clients, but to his personal life as well. As the only native “maineiac” in the course, he invited us down to his homestead for a long weekend. I use the term homestead in a completely honest sense of the word. When I pulled in I was greeted by the sounds of his hound dogs baying, the pitter patter of chickens racing away from the driveway, and the laughter of Derek and his children. Derek and his wife, Sarah truly live every aspect of this lifestyle they can. They’ve had almost every animal you can think of at some point, are building a green house to go along with the gardens they already have.  I have to say, sleeping in a hammock in their back yard and waking up to their rooster made for some of the most comfortable nights of “roughing it” so far.

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When I ask about his experience so far at Jack Mountain, and how his enthusiasm has changed since day one, Derek responds quickly, and without hesitation. “Its growing every day. Every day we’re out here I feel more human.” As we continue to talk about this aspect of our experience, the side I’ve come to admire most about Derek shows through. “This really is an almost spiritual experience for me. This is my church.” He’s voicing something a lot of us have felt up here I think, and that many people who feel they need the wild to remain sane have tried to put down in ink, paint and song. (The fifth day here I was turned on the the poem “the men that don’t fit it” by Robert Service, and couldn’t help but think about it while talking to Derek and about this.) If days in the woods, count as time spent in prayer at church, Derek’s a regular alter boy.

Derek’s respect for the outdoors, and the life in them isn’t just shown by his drive to be in it, but also in his devotion to utilize anything he takes out of it to the fullest. While we were visiting with his family, Sarah and Derek joked back and forth constantly about rendering bear fat, all the permaculture projects he’s always working on, and cleaning out beaver pelts. They both seem fully committed to making every bit of the natural world count, and not wasting anything if they can help it.  I’ve never hunted in my life, but have met a lot of hunters, and I can’t say I know many who devote as much respect and even compassion to the animals they harvest. Hunting can get a bad rap, and I think a large part of that has to do with the “trophy” mentality that can seem to go along with it. If more of them had the mindset Derek has, I think wed all be better off.

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The most beautiful sight you can wake up to in the woods.

In the month we’ve been here I’ve learned something from all the other students, but Derek has hands down taught me the most. Not just about the hands-on aspect’s (lighting fires was decidedly NOT my strong point) but also just about how to interact with the wild and the people you’re in it with. Derek makes sure everyone is taken care of, without hesitation, and that’s what being a guide is about. Having the knowledge to do what needs to get done, and passing it on in ways that make others experience in the outdoors more meaningful by leaps and bounds. If you’re  looking for any kind of outdoor experience in Maine (and as Derek said, ANY KIND) Derek Maclearn is your man. Hell, he’s even your man if all you want is a kind person, pouring you the best damned cup of coffee you’ve ever had. I look forward to you showing me more of the state you call home for years my friend.

If you’re in Maine, and would like to hire somebody who knows the state to take you out and show you this beautiful place, you can email Derek at Wolf33.derek@outlook.com

Any other questions? Jus comment below or email me at primitiveaddictions@gmail

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