A Life: Karl ‘Boomer’ Nott; ‘He was a gentle, kind giant’

  • Karl "Boomer" Nott fishes on Portage Lake in Maine with his children Gabriella, Keagan and Lillianna in 2019. (Family photograph)

  • Just before practice in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 1, 2003, Karl “Boomer” Nott, of Hartford, Vt., and his Vermont Shrine teammates don their uniforms for photographs and take them off soon after. (Valley News - Jim Korpi) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Karl "Boomer" Nott, second from left, with friends Corey Gramling, Teddy Mock, Justin Connors, Taylor Kelton and Jeremiah Nordman after Nordman brought back a buck he shot in November 2011. (Family photograph)

  • Karl “Boomer” Nott takes a break on the sidelines during the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl in Hanover, N.H., on Aug. 2, 2003. The 2003 Hartford High graduate played amongst other all-stars from the Twin States. (Valley News - Jim Korpi) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/21/2021 8:42:01 PM
Modified: 2/21/2021 8:41:58 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — When Karl Nott was two months old, his sister Katrina would play music to her younger brother. Although he couldn’t walk, Boomer would be shaking his hands and feet to the music, reminding Katrina of the boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

Soon, Karl was christened with the nickname Boomer, and it stuck.

The name Boomer became associated with a Hartford High football legend and a guide in the woods of Northern Maine, who was also a father of four.

“He was the person you could always go to,” said Jeremiah Nordman, a Hartford High graduate who knew Nott since middle school. “It didn’t matter if you were his best friend or acquaintance, he had a heart of gold. He would do anything for anybody.

“The thing is, honestly, if there’s anybody I know who is a legend, it is Boomer. Whether it was for his hunting outfit, for being a big guy, being a good friend or someone you can talk to.”

Nott died unexpectedly at the age of 35 on Dec. 10, 2020, of a suspected blood clot. Hours earlier he was on his parent’s property in the Dothan District hunting.

“He was a gentle, kind giant,” his mother Gloria said.

Added his father, Keith: “He was well liked and well known.”

A 2003 Hartford High graduate, Nott played varsity football all four years and was selected to play in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl following his senior year.

The talk about Nott started before he even took the football field his junior year.

Entering preseason camp in summer 2001, he had a frame of 6-foot-6, 450 pounds. The only problem was a year before, he was 6-foot-4, 350.

Hurricanes’ trainer Luna Ricker told the Valley News at the time she didn’t have trouble finding the 4XLs and 5XLs Nott needed for jerseys and pants. The problem was his faced filled out, too, over the course of the summer.

The largest helmet made by sports manufacturers was a size 8 3/4, and even that couldn’t squeeze on him. Hartford soon launched a national search to find a helmet for him.

Eventually, a size-9 helmet was found in southern New Hampshire. The helmet couldn’t be acquired before the Canes first game of the season, however, so Nott headed to the northern Maine woods when his team faced Brattleboro.

“It was hard to find him a helmet,” said Nott’s high school football coach, Mike Stone. “We had every helmet manufacturer trying to find one, and we finally got one. It was quite the thing. He became a little bit of a legend. The Jay Leno folks called him a couple times and wanted him to come on. He wanted to bring all the linemen with him, and they said no.”

Though Nott’s teams never won a state title, the 2002 team came the closest with a 3-0 loss to Middlebury in the championship game.

Stone recalls him as a lineman who had great feet, was ridiculously strong and could move faster than the eye would think.

“He was feared by many, but there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for the game of football,” Nordman said. “People would always be like, ‘wow, he’s a big fella.’ That’s the thing, though, he was a big guy and he was a hard hitter. On offense, he was actually fairly quick and was a pulling tackle, so when he came sweeping around the corner in front of the running back it was like, ‘uh oh, this isn’t going to be good.’ Practice was always a little rough when you knew he was coming at you.”

After graduation, Nott coached youth football and worked for his father’s snow plowing business. He started a firewood business.

He had thoughts of going back to school to become a teacher and become a football coach, but he never did. Another dream of his was to be a football commentator.

But the northern woods of Maine kept calling for him. Nott spent much of his childhood making the trek up with his dad to hunt for bear, moose, deer and small game. In high school and after, he was a registered Maine hunting guide working contractually.

“We worked there so long, and people enjoyed it, so they would always say ‘when are you going to open your own business,’ ” Keith Nott said. “He would always say some day.”

Some day came eventually came nearly seven years ago when he launched Big Boom’s Northern Maine Adventures with his partner, Danielle Wurtz. The duo moved the camp around the first few years, finding spots in Allagash and Fort Kent before settling in Portage.

The guiding season for Nott began when the snow started to melt. He and Wurtz would head into the woods with a GPS to mark where they wanted to set ladder tree stands or blinds for the season.

Their favorite part of the pre-hunting season was baiting, when he had the opportunity to see part of the country. Loading up their four kids in the truck with a trailer hitched to it, Wurtz and Nott would go as far as Wisconsin to buy bait for set up in July.

“He lived for hunting,” Wurtz said. “He would always say he would prefer to guide hunters than hunt himself. I think he liked to show people the experience that he always had. He wanted everyone to be happy.”

Hunters would come into camp around the last weekend of August, and all hands were on deck. Nott’s parents would always come up; Gloria working in the kitchen to feed all the hunters while Keith would help guide. It was a team effort, though, as the couple’s friends and family would pitch in.

Another part of the business was making sure to teach the next generation of hunters. Nott offered free guiding service to kids under the age of 15.

Last summer was the best for the business, as they saw 150 bear hunters and 20 moose hunters. Over the last four years, Nott went from roughly 30 stands to 190 stands.

“The main thing people liked is that as soon as they pulled into our yard, they were our family,” Wurtz recalls. “They weren’t just a person or a number. They came up the driveway and we would treat them like we had known them forever.

“The north Maine woods was his life. And he loved bringing people to the north Maine woods who had never been there before. To show how vast the land was and how you can drive hundreds of miles and not see a single house.”

Nott’s parents plan to host a cookout at their house in March to celebrate their son’s life. The night will include a bonfire and fireworks — two of Nott’s favorite things.

“He was a really good player,” Stone, his former coach, said. “He was a really kind soul; good teammate. Boomer’s iconic. He was as kind as could be. He played hard, and was a really good friend, too. I thought a lot of him. He just treated people the right way.”

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.

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