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The Oldest Lobster Business in Hampton Rests at Defiant Lobster Company

By Elisha Neubauer

When you think of New England food, you most likely think about seafood: clam chowder, crab, and lobsters are generally at the top of that list. One such company, the Defiant Lobster Company in New Hampshire, has been providing high-quality, fresh lobsters to the New England area since 1981.

Defiant Lobster Company is the oldest continually operating lobster business in the Hampton region. A family owned and operated business, the company started with a small staff- Peter Sr., Peter Jr., and Joan Tilton. No stranger to the seas, Peter Sr. is currently spending his 67th straight season on the water, having trapped lobsters since 1949.

In the early days of the company, Peter Jr. and Sr. both spent their time trapping aboard the Defiant and Sea Eagle, leaving Joan to run the land-operated side. It wasn't long before business took off, leaving Joan Tilton unable to continue as a one-man show. In 1990, they opted to sell off the larger sea vessel, allowing Peter Jr. to help managed ashore, while Peter Sr. continues to spend his time on the high sea.

Today, in addition to Peter Sr.'s catches, Defiant Lobster Company purchases lobsters from only local New Hampshire fisherman, with the occasional purchase from Maine, depending on demand. "We offer good lobsters and steamers at a fair price and keep them in natural sea water chilled to 42 degrees for that fresh from the sea taste," explains Peter Tilton Jr. "We will cheerfully answer your questions but may not keep a straight face doing it if the query is particularly numb!"

With the Tilton family's history on the sea, they've picked up a few tricks of the trade when it comes to trapping. "Most lobsters are caught in late summer and fall, after they molt their old shells and become hungry," explains Tilton Jr. "Contrary to myth, lobsters prefer fresh fish as bait, not rotten stinky stuff." He goes on, detailing further on the best practice for a good catch.

"Lobsters are more active in response to warmer water, which happens when the wind is from the east. West winds blow warm water away from shore and the lobsters won't crawl as well."

While lobster trapping is the Tilton forte, they do dabble in a few other areas of business, as well. They operate a fully-stocked bait and tackle shop. They can provide clamforks and pails, for those looking to dig their own clams, as well as tide calendars. Vegetables are grown onsite and are for sale during the on-season and during the winter, they offer homegrown Christmas trees.

"We offer specials when we have an abundance of an item," states Tilton Jr. "These tend to be 'while they last' and we spread the word via our email customer list which can be subscribed to through our website: We tend to run the most specials after Labor Day."

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Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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