Bart Hunter

Bart Hunter -- Land Steward

Bart Hunter and AngusWhile it is likely that Bart Hunter is a Mayflower descendent, he will be the first to say that the European history of New England did not begin with the arrival of the Mayflower in Massachusetts in 1620. There were English and other European fishing villages along the coast of Maine close to a hundred years before that. Norsemen had arrived hundreds of years before them, and for thousands of years there were Native Americans.  

Bart and Rachel Hunter came to Wilton from Westmoreland 45 years ago shortly after their son was born, because some of Rachel's ancestors were Wilton people. Her grandparents lived in their home in Davisville until they passed away. Rachel and Bart bought their house

Bart was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, and move to Westmoreland N.H. as a ten-year-old from New Jersey. “I always wanted to be a farmer,” he said recently at his home. “I learned farming from a neighbor, Cameron Pain, a real old-fashioned farmer who milked his cows by hand, and cut his firewood with an axe. Cameron gave up farming when the state ordered him to buy a bulk milk tank". Bart says farming didn’t work out because of the cost of land and property taxes.

During the summer of 1968 he answered an ad for a horse trailer because his sister wanted to show her ponies. When he found the house where the trailer was for sale he pulled in the driveway. A girl was sitting in an apple tree reading a book. Bart notes the tree is still there. He bought the trailer. His sister only went to a few shows, but he went to more horse shows with the girl under the tree.  Her name was Rachel Giffin and Bart eventually married her.

In 1969, rather than being drafted during the Vietnam War, Bart enlisted in the Navy, where he stayed for 17 years, both active and as a reservist. That choice “was a lucky move on my part,” he said. “I went to boot camp in Orlando, then to Great Lakes where I learned to be a diesel mechanic.." After he graduated from his training at Great Lakes he reported to Bremerton, Wash., and joined the crew of the submarine tender USS Canopus while they were in the yards for a refit. After nine month the Canopus sailed from Bremerton to Scotland. Enroute they took a detour and crossed the equator. When they arrived in Scotland they relieved the Simon Lake, which was Canopus's sister tender. The Canopus was anchored in the Holy Loch and Bart crewed as a mechanic on the liberty boats.

Bart's roots run deep to around 1555 in Scotland. His stepfather's family owned land not too far from where he was stationed. When he returned to New Hampshire in 1973 he got married near the tree where he met Rachel. They have two adult children, Michael and Skyler.

“I worked at a lot of things,” he said. “I've worked as a logger, carpenter, vineyard manager, mechanic and archaeologist”

Bart Hunter at Heald TractBut it is people and the land that interests him.

Bart was a member of Marine Inshore Undersea Warfare 202 (which did harbor defense) and served in Bahrain and Kuwait during Desert Storm. When he returned from Desert Storm Bart enrolled in Keene State College where he graduated with a degree in sociology. While he was there he also took photography courses, a pastime he still enjoys. He also took a semester of archaeology, which piqued his interest in the distant past. That enabled him to work as an archaeologist.

After graduating from Keene State he earned a Masters’ degree in social ecology from Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont. As he puts it “Social Ecology examines how our actions and decisions impact the environment.” 

Hunter is the chairman of the Conservation Commission and serves on the Planning Board. He also volunteered for many years with the ambulance service.

He said he favors cluster developments with villages surrounded by open land. Those villages should be family farm communities with their own services, a store, etc.

“They should be topography based, not set by town lines. That’s probably Utopian,” he said. “It’ll never happen”.

He also favors restoring local railroad commuter lines to Boston and elsewhere, relieving the congestion on Route 3. He listed several good locations in the Milford area for a park-and-ride.

He was leading hikes at the Harris Center 25 years ago when he started working as a volunteer with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. He has been a land steward at the Heald Tract for the past 20 years.

“Heald is a very unique property”, he said, “once the location of several farms with a wide variety of former uses. There are 10 to 15 miles of trails that should be connected with other trail systems in town. We should be able to access the Russell-Abbott State Forest, for instance, and Sheldrick Forest. There are many hiking trails and snowmobile trails across Abbott Hill that could be connected”.

Hunter retired about five years ago, he said. “I do some carpentry for people here and there, and I do as much photography as I can.”

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