The Legend of the Maine Hermit

It almost sounds like a legend.  A burglar breaks into some camps over and over again, but is never caught.  He’s always careful not to break anything, locks up after himself and only takes food, batteries, propane, and other necessities.

But that’s what happened, folks.  Some of you may have read about him by now, a man who went into the woods twenty odd years ago and never came out until just recently. 

In a way it’s a very cool story because here you have a guy who’s been on his own for 27 years, which is kind of the ultimate in being a loner.  But the downside – at least to me – is that he survived not by hunting and fishing, which he said was too hard, but by stealing from camps in the area.

I guess this leads to a moral discussion.  On the one hand his stealing was wrong, but on the other it was costing the tax payers a lot less money than him being in jail like he is now.  He wasn’t a murderer or rapist or anything, he just stole food and other essentials to stay alive.  True – it wasn’t my stuff that was being stolen or I might have different opinion of the whole thing, but if I knew a guy was in the area living like that and I knew that he was harmless I’d probably be leaving care packages here and there for him.

You have to wonder at the authenticity of the story.  Who could live in the wilderness all those years with minimal human contact?  He did have a radio so he wasn’t completely out of touch with what was happening in the world.  Officials here in Maine seem to be pretty convinced the guy is the real deal though, so until I hear different I’ll go along.

Last I heard he’s locked up, but very cooperative.

Anyway, I’d like to get your thoughts on the matter.  Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the story that strikes your fancy.  For me the cool thing is that he managed to survive in the woods by himself all that time even if he did by stealing.  Who hasn’t ever dreamed of just disappearing into the woods or a desert island or something?  I sure have.

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

40 comments… add one
  • irishdutchuncle April 14, 2013, 8:59 pm

    it would be pretty difficult to make restitution to all the folks he stole from. going to jail is an interesting retirement strategy though…

    how likely is it that he would get “probation”? he’s still young enough that he could put in his 40 “quarters” and be eligible for Social Security. (he’s already accustomed to living at the poverty level)

    • irishdutchuncle April 14, 2013, 9:21 pm

      … and of course, the type of probe-ation he might get in jail is something most men don’t really want.

  • Selkirk April 14, 2013, 9:41 pm

    That’s the thing of it, really. An individual just can’t survive indefinitely in the woods on his own. Pretty much all of the people who have done that sort of thing over time were in either contact with civilization of some kind for at least part of the year, or they were farming out there.

    You need a fairly large group of people for a safety net and a lot of land, never mind several generations of knowledge to make a go of hunting and gathering. Farming is where it’s at for self-sufficiency.

    This guy was just like any other homeless guy, except that he was out in the country. Homeless guy skills are good to have, incidentally. The apocalypse already happened insofar as they’re concerned… urban survivalists.

  • JL April 15, 2013, 1:06 am

    I would not like to live with no human contact, I need other people. If someone broke in a took food I personally would not have a problem with it, now anyway. After a major disaster whatever it may be I would have a huge problem with it. I would leave care packages also.
    When I was a teenager there was a homeless man who lived in the desert near my house. I would buy him something to eat and give him water. He never bothered anyone, I would occasionally throw a few bucks in there too.
    When I see homeless asking for help I will give them some sort of food. I always have snacks of some sort. I would hope if I were ever in that position someone would help me.

  • SingleMom April 15, 2013, 5:54 am

    There’s always been a part of me that admires the long-term homeless. They’ve learned how to live simply, adapt to their surroundings, and survive bad weather without modern amenities. We could learn a lot from them — Like Selkirk said, they’ve already dealt with their apocalypse.

    This guy, however, seems to be nothing more than an antisocial thief. I’d be more interested in his story if he’d had a small garden in a clearing, a permanent campsite, and had hunted and fished. Taking everything you need from other people isn’t something to brag about.

    • Jason April 15, 2013, 10:08 pm

      “There’s always been a part of me that admires the long-term homeless”

      I would have to agree with you in that statement. There’s something about someone who has gotten to a point where he/she is independent of the trappings most all of use fall into – some greater than others. I guess it is a point of appreciating what is valuable most – total freedom.

  • wchancey April 15, 2013, 6:20 am

    He is my hero, and I want to be like him except I have a wife and a nephew and they would never survive in a situation like that.
    How could I watch Fox news or Walking Dead? That is my life!

    • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 7:58 am

      Have to go to the public library with some scrounged up headphones and catch it on a live stream.

      The Walking Dead is killing me, pretty much since the first season. Squandered potential, my friend.

  • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 8:02 am

    You’d have to go to the public library with some scrounged up headphones and catch a live stream.

    The Walking Dead is killing me, pretty much the end of the first season. Squandered potential, my friend.

  • Ray April 15, 2013, 8:38 am

    I love “He /They can’t do that!!!!” Uh, yes they can. YOU can’t do it so you refuse to belive that anyone else can. My other nit to pick is “long term homeless”. Just because the don’t live like YOU DO don’t think they have no “home”. This term “homeless” was created by government to make it easy to accept the violent abuse of the poor. It creates a whole class of people that can be striped of civil rights, jailed, a-judged ,to have “mental defects” with no one to speak for them. It is a term made up to have negative emotional impact. Kind of the way “survivalist” and “prepper” are used by government. I also love how this man is guilty without trial or charge simply because he is both “poor” and “homeless”. Guilty until proven innocent and solvent. This should be a lesson for all the BUG-OUT advocates ,Cause that’s what he was doing. Interesting how well trained so many are now to swallow any government story.

    • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 9:34 am

      Who can’t do what, Ray?

      Maybe you’re the one guy in a million, hunters and gatherers in the rainforest included, who can stroll off into the forest completely alone and live for 20 years without human contact. If so, I stand somewhat corrected.

      In any case, I don’t think anyone meant any offense, man.

      I never said anyone was defective on account of homelessness. I said it takes a certain kind of ingenuity to survive in an urban environment when you don’t have a house or an apartment where you can sleep, eat and shower relatively un-stabbed on most days.

      Where this woodsy drifter is concerned, more power to him until he eats my SHTF Pop-Tart stash. If you’d be happy to feed him through the apocalypse, then you must be a lot wealthier than I am… and probably a lot nicer.

      • Ray April 15, 2013, 10:07 am

        Selkirk , My rant was to the world in general on homelessness . I don’t think of myself as “one in a million” and I have spent years living that way. (80-82) living with just the tools ,shelter,clothing and food I could come up with. Until cancer slowed me down in ’05 I would spend months at a time living like a hunter gather . Knapping flint , making fish traps ,snares and living in a wickiup. It’s WAY more fun than a “9 to 5”. Hell if it wer’nt for running out of coffee I’d like as not never come out of the cave, or at least not the woods . I don’t know if this guy in Maine was a thief or not. People tell tails, and not all of them true. I do know that anyone can live “the old way” with a little training and a lot of will.

        • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 11:12 am

          I gotcha.

          It’s the running out of coffee that I’m talking about. One time I read an Alaskan trapper’s supply list for a season, and it was basically the same as my grocery shopping lists for six months, less the packaged meats.

          Could you actually get 3000 calories a day from the landscape where you were without any agriculturally produced products whatsoever? Did you not plant anything?

          Planting things is cheating in this context. I’m talking about one man with a knife, a rifle and a pot here.

          Independence is farming as far as I’m concerned, and you have to own land for that.

          • Ray April 15, 2013, 12:35 pm

            Selkirk , The coffee is a small joke aimed at Myself and Jarhead as we are both coffee addicted. Yes it is possible to live in the forest ,just on the products at hand in the forest. BUT you will work your ass off to do it. I live in the south eastern hardwood ecosystem. In the summer there is probably as much wild food growing around me as you can find in any modern grocery store. The work comes in putting up food for winter. Gathering nuts and Acorns, drying meat and making pemmican ,gathering berries and rose hipps chickory root, sasafrass , and finding and drying the pharmacopeia ,all take long days. Finding a “bee gum” is like wining the lotto ,but well worth the time and effort for the honey .” The knife the rifle and the pot” are all great luxury’s but I don’t need them to survive , I have my own Hickory longbow , flint knifes and arrow heads, I make my own mocs & clothes and can and have made anything I need . Living a “paliolithic” live IS NOT impossible , It just demands a lot of effort. What do I do for storage? Why clay pots & woven baskets ,the same thing that people did 10000-40000 years ago. There is not one thing that a healthy cave boy or girl did 15000 years ago that you cannot learn and do. They survived and prospered without anything “modern” at all, so can any of us. P.S We have a “jump start” on tech. IF you can make a steel knife on your own (or a rifle or pot ) then you did it without others -its YOURS.

          • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 8:01 pm

            Yep, I know some things about paleolithic life. The problem that people run into, even in the best of circumstances, is that there’s no safety net. What if you get sick for a week, or bust an ulna?

            Ethnography tells us that hunter-gatherers tend not to make it in the long term when their numbers fall much below 50.

            But I’ve done a lot more book readin’ than cave livin’, so I defer to your greater expertise. If you can live for a month out there without a grain of rice or ground of coffee, I’m impressed enough. Te salute.

          • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 10:19 pm

            Oh, and Maine complicates the stone tool issue. There are only two sources of workable stone in the entire state, Munsungen chert and Kineo rhyolite. They only exist in the northern part of the state. Pre-contact peoples couldn’t even make stone tools without an extensive trade network.

            There’s no flint just laying around.

        • Ron April 21, 2013, 8:03 pm

          Where do you plug your computer in at and who is your isp? Cave living has changed apparently.

    • irishdutchuncle April 15, 2013, 9:42 am

      you have a point there Ray.

      and yeh, what j.r. guerra said: breaking and entering.
      (see below)
      if I ever have a similar problem develop, I think I would want to place the food and water at some distance from the house.
      (at the property line) I don’t like having “people” around.

      • irishdutchuncle April 15, 2013, 9:50 am

        and Selkirk has a point also. (see above)
        I like having a place where I can sleep, eat and shower relatively un-stabbed on most days…
        (I prefer dry, secure and completely un-stabbed)

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. April 15, 2013, 8:53 am

    I’d call that breaking and entering (even if nothing was damaged and only foodstuffs taken). Would it be any different is someone broke into YOUR home and do the same ? But it was very considerate of him taking the care not to cause any damage – I’m sure some of his victims chose not to even call the police for the event.

    We’ve had the same happen at our ranch house. Extreme deep south Texas, we’ve had illegal aliens break into the simple block structure, looking for food, matches, water. My Uncle took to leaving cans of food and milk jugs of water outside, requesting that they not break in – that helped, believe it or not. Hanging a cross in prominent place also helped as well – many who live across the U.S. southern border are Catholic. Some even left offerings at the cross for a safe journey (I guess every little bit helps.).

    • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 9:46 am

      See, that sounds eminently reasonable to me. Maybe I’m nicer than I thought.

      I have to say I’m much more understanding of a Honduran who figured out a way through Mexico, swam to the U.S., and headed off into a desert with snakes, cartel guys and minutemen out to get them, all for a chance to work for $4.00 an hour picking lettuce.

      The Maine Hermit guy probably could have made twice as much working at Walmart, and said: nah, I’d rather live in the woods and steal people’s camping supplies. That’s a whole different mentality.

  • Lumberjok April 15, 2013, 11:39 am

    There is more to this story than meets the eye. For example the photo in the Bangor Daily shows him wearing glasses…glasses don’t last for 27 years…..due to normal wear and tear I’m lucky to get 3 years out of mine. Also 27 years without any medical or dental care seems like quite a stretch. He also appears to be very well fed…hardly what you would expect. Imagine the challenge of stocking up enough food to last a whole winter, canned goods are out since the cans would freeze and split…ditto for meat…it would rot during frequent thaws. Finding huge supplies of dehydrated food in the camps he raided seems unlikely to me…living on pasta and rice all winter would leave you malnourished.

    It was claimed that once there was snow on the ground he never left his hideout fearing that his tracks would lead someone to him. He also built no fires fearing the smoke would give him away. I have winter camped before and it is a logistical nightmare. To do so without fire is possible but after the first month or so you would be a prime candidate for pneumonia. After the first winter…rinse, repeat and do it 26 more times.

    Is this story possible? Barely in my opinion…it would need tons of luck and a cast iron physical constitution. My theory is that he has an alternate persona and somewhere else to live during the dead of winter.

    • Pineslayer April 15, 2013, 8:28 pm

      Flawlessly logical Lumberjok. I would guess that he was the gray man in town and had a few different “camps”. It will be interesting to see what comes of all this when the local dentist/doctor/charities chime in. A thief, yes, anti-social, obviously, less of a drain on society than standing on the side of the road holding up a sign, toss-up?
      Jarhead, please forward on any new reports, just for morbid curiosity.

      • irishdutchuncle April 16, 2013, 9:04 am

        they just upped his bail to 250K.

  • okfarmwife April 15, 2013, 11:59 am

    We live in east central Oklahoma and there is a similar “wild man” who lives in the Deep Fork River Bayou. He is a war veteran from the most unpopular war and decided to disappear from the society that hated him and all he represented.
    He has a friend who picks up his pension check and turns that check into food and other necessary items. There are two or three farmsteads where he is welcome to come for water and that is the extent of his contact with the “outside world”. Nobody sees him, only the check gets signed and supplies list is left. The friend does the purchasing and the supplies disappear.

    He hunts, fishes and basically stays in the wilderness area which is so thick in places that even seasoned LOCAL hunters have gotten lost.
    We live within a mile of some of that same wilderness and several thousand acres of connecting wildlife management wilderness. SO that is part of our survival strategy…..bug out to that wilderness where we know low-profile survival long-term is a reality!

    • Selkirk April 15, 2013, 8:03 pm

      Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m sure you’re a great farm wife.

    • Pineslayer April 15, 2013, 8:40 pm

      okfarmwife, I have a similar story. I picked up a local vagabond one snowy night coming up the canyon, I recognized him as the harmless and very smelly, as I soon discovered, guy from town. He didn’t say much, but I was able to get the info that he was living in a cave, fishing, foraging, and making money selling teepee poles that he made. I was working at the local PO at the time and told him that he needed anything he could find me there. Soon after he would start coming in, handing me money and asking if I would order this and that from Cabela’s. I would always order it up and a week later he would come by and get his new stuff, very happy on those days. There were lots of stories about how he came to his lifestyle, all but one were incorrect. He spent his last days in a donated recliner, in a donated attic apartment, from great local people. He was a kind soul and will always be remembered as such. So he did live the kinda hermit life, but still needed society, just a little.

  • D'ja'c April 15, 2013, 12:54 pm

    At first I thought, wow that’s cool. I don’t like crowds much and enjoy the solitude of the woods. But I’ve talked to some people who say he broke into their cabins. He apparently stayed in some of them during the harshest weather. He got caught by a ranger breaking into the Pinetree Camp. That is a camp for handicap kids. The area isn’t that remote. There are 3x more year round residents in the town than the nearby town I live in. The whole glasses, dental and health of this guy say fake IMO. He is a thief but he was probably less of a burden on society than being in prison w/ three squares, showers and medical care. If he really did live out there that long it must be H*#l for him to be in the stir. He might be better off YOYOing the Appalachian trail, Pacific crest trail etc… BTW me and my son watched The Edge last night. 2 thumbs up!

  • waterboy April 15, 2013, 1:31 pm

    I’m with you, it’s already costing a lot to have him confined and will cost a lot more in the future. Seems like some community service should be enough punishment.

  • Grandmamom April 15, 2013, 2:51 pm

    Seriously how can you admire this guy? This is what you look up to, what we want our kids to admire? HE’S A THIEF! True survivalist DON’T steal. That is the opposite of being self reliant, and that’s what prepping is about. He is no better than the people who say they will just use there guns to take what they want. Preppers take care of ourselves and help others when possible. Thieves can stay with our thieving government where they belong.

  • Sierr April 15, 2013, 5:33 pm

    On a lighter side, here’s a little video / ballad entitled: “The North Pond Hermit” by Troy R. Bennett

  • Michael April 16, 2013, 1:11 am

    ” if I knew a guy was in the area living like that and I knew that he was harmless I’d probably be leaving care packages here and there for him.”


    But, I really don’t get why he was stealing. His needs were so few, a little food and propane, a new pair of boots every year the occasional new pair of pants, new sleeping bag and tent, that he could have worked a few days a month and had more than enough money to get buy.

    • D'ja'c April 16, 2013, 6:41 am

      WORK… Work is for losers ;-). Like me! There is a saying that hikers like, ‘at either end of the economic ladder is the leisure class’. Something like that. Maybe he should get a job w/ the government. Spend more than they make, run up a credit card, live off the working class…

      • irishdutchuncle April 16, 2013, 9:07 am

        quit using that nasty four-letter W word.
        act respectable.

  • Ray April 16, 2013, 11:53 am

    Selkirk, I didn’t know that about Maine, I live in the commonwealth of Kentucky and we have flint, and chert everywhere, Stuffs all over my yard. But you made a really good point, Farming and a community give you and your children a huge safety net . If A man alone in the bush gets downed with sickness or injury , he’s pretty much toast. Also you need a huge territory to hunt/fish/gather, and even then that plays out fast. That’s why the “old ones” who lived by hunting were nomads.

    • Selkirk April 16, 2013, 1:35 pm

      Yeah, hunting & gathering requires territory. No sitting around picking off woodchucks.

      Must be nice about the flint. With your kind of experience you should write some stuff. When you look around and can’t find an old guy to ask for advice, that means it’s your turn.

  • No ME Preppy April 17, 2013, 2:30 am

    Just an aside, it it codified in Maine law, as well as many other Northern areas, that if a stranded outdoors person (hunter, hiker, snowmobiler, etc) is is need and comes upon a cabin, he/she can break into the cabin to stay out of the weather. They can even make use if the supplies, if necessary. There would be no criminal charges filed. It is common courtesy to attempt to find the owner and pay for used/damaged item.

    In Canada, if the cabin is built on government land, it cannot even be locked. The government deems that since it is on their land, it is their cabin.

  • Grandmamom April 19, 2013, 12:59 am

    Don’t see how that law applies to him. If he stayed out that long I can’t get where he was “stranded”. A thief is a thief anyway you paint it. Surviving on your own is difficult at best, but if you make that choice then live with it. Let’s not become accepting of wrong just because it cloaks itself as a Super Prepper.

  • Ron April 21, 2013, 8:13 pm

    Back around 1973 they found a Japanese soldier still aliveand living out in the boonies on Guam. In fact he was living in a special weapons storage site protected by US Marines.


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