NEW PORTLAND — A New Hampshire man whose body game wardens found Sunday in the woods of New Portland, in Somerset County, died doing what he liked to do best, his brother said Monday:

deer hunting.

“That’s the only solace I have. He died doing what he loved to do,” Steve Babula said Monday of his brother Todd Babula in the small, rustic cabin the brothers owned on Route 27, just over the town line in New Vineyard, in Franklin County.

Steve Babula, 54, said he still doesn’t know how his brother died, but thinks it must have been a medical event, because he was found lying on the ground with his rifle propped up next to him.

It was not a hunting-related shooting incident, he said.

Todd Babula, 59, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was found about 3:30 p.m Sunday. He was located by a team of several game wardens doing a “hasty search” checking wooded areas for known tree stands he used. The area is heavily wooded and located north of the ITS 84 snowmobile trail between Route 27 and Atwood Hill Road in New Portland.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner was notified. The New Portland Fire Department also assisted, as did a group of local hunters.

There was no official word Monday on the cause of death.

Todd Babula was a commercial painter who owned a commercial fishing boat and liked to fish for lobster and tuna, his brother said. He was not married, but he is survived by a daughter and a grandson, who live in the Kittery and Portsmouth area.

Game wardens began searching for Babula after he was reported missing Saturday by his uncle, Robert Jones, of Farmington, who visits the camp daily when his nephews are there during hunting season.

“He didn’t sleep the night before, either; he came right from his job,” Jones, 87, said Monday. “He drove up and was in such a hurry to get out in the woods and go hunting that he’d been waiting a year to do. He came in and didn’t even sleep. He must have gone out just about dark and went out to his tree stand.”

According to news releases Sunday from Lt. Kevin Adam, search and rescue coordinator for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, a team of several game wardens searching the woods for known tree stands Todd Babula used located his body.

Babula’s vehicle became stuck on a woods road Friday sometime in the morning. The road also is part of ITS 84 snowmobile trail. Babula made arrangements to have some local neighbors assist him in freeing the truck later in the afternoon, Adam said.

Jones dropped him off to hunt near his truck about 1 p.m. Friday. Babula was reported missing by his uncle about 5 p.m. Saturday. Game wardens responded and found Babula’s vehicle and used several resources and techniques to try to find Babula on Saturday night.

Game Wardens resumed the search Sunday morning with warden tracking dogs, warden service aircraft and some local residents searching the woods and scouting several tree stands that Babula frequented.

Steve Babula said he provided the game wardens with coordinates of the area on topographical maps where his brother most often hunted. Game wardens then used their own GPS devices to identify an area that they had not yet searched, he said.

That’s where they found Todd Babula.

“They couldn’t find him. It snowed after, so it wasn’t like they had boot tracks,” he said. “We have a lot of places to hunt here. We’ve been hunting up here since the ’60s. He knew the woods very well. It wasn’t like he got lost. He knew what he was doing. That’s why he didn’t have a problem when he got his truck stuck to just hunt and come back, although it was quite a walk to where he had to go to.

“Either way, that was him.”

Richard Atwood, who owns about 350 acres that slope through the woods toward Route 27, said he had given the Babula brothers permission to hunt on his property and to erect tree stands wherever they wanted to.

“Once a year he showed up to hunt. He would check in. Usually the week of Thanksgiving he’d stop by,” Atwood said. “Usually his brother was with him.”

Anette Tindall at Tindall’s County Store and Dam Diner, the only store in town, said she saw Todd Babula once a year, during hunting season.

“He was nice to us, great customer,” she said. “He enjoyed hunting season. He loved to hunt and fish.”

Steve Babula said he was still waiting for official word Monday on how his brother died, but thinks it was a medical problem.

“I’m not sure if he fell out of a tree or if he had a heart condition. He was healthy,” he said. “There’s nothing yet that they know. We just got him out of the woods last night. He wasn’t feeling well. He set his gun down, took his vest off, like he had sat down. They found him laying down.”

Todd Babula had been hunting by himself. Steve Babula said his plan was to come up this week and join others in a group that hunts together every year during Thanksgiving week.

“He usually comes up alone a lot,” he said. “He doesn’t mind hunting alone.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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