George Smith's blog

A Deer, a Knife, and a Thumb

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My November 2010 deer hunting had been going so well. I’d seen deer nearly every day. In fact I’d seen this particular buck twice.

The first time, he chased a doe right past my tree stand, literally passing right underneath me. My rifle and scope were useless, he was moving so fast. He whipped past me in seconds. I did notice a look of panic on the doe’s face, and I don’t think it was because she saw me. She didn’t want anything to do with that buck!

The second time he came up behind me, and when I stood up to turn around, he either saw or heard me and started to run, snorting at me all the way up through the woods.

So when he appeared at 4:20 pm one mid-month afternoon, slowly walking in front of me about 100 yards away, I said to myself, “Ok, third time never fails. He must be the one I’m supposed to shoot.”

And I did. After I shot, he turned and dashed right by me, dropping dead about 50 yards behind my stand.

I climbed down and began the task of field dressing him as darkness began setting in early due to the cloudy drizzly day.

IF&W Up Next

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Finally! Six candidates for Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow (Thursday, December 23).

Last Thursday, Governor-elect Paul LePage told me he’d have an IF&W Commissioner by the end of the month, and that interviews were scheduled for this week. For these interviews, LePage has added some people who are not on the Transition Advisory Team.

Among those who will be interviewing candidates are Leo Keiffer of Caribous, former Republican State Senator and former member of IF&W’s Advisory Council who is representing the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Richard Thurston of Scarborough, a current member of DIF&W’s Advisory Council, Mike Lee of Denmark, former board member of the National Rifle Association and former President of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Jeff Zimba of Winslow, former SAM Board member and strong gun advocate.

Although Ann Robinson is in charge of the transition for the natural resource agencies, I’ve been told that Tarren Bragdon will direct tomorrow’s IF&W interviews.

The six candidates to be interviewed are:

Quimby Selling Land to State

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Two of the three parcels involved in a complicated deal between Roxanne Quimby (through her Elliotsville Plantation corporation), the Trust for Public Land, and Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, are finally ready to change hands.

 

It took all afternoon on December 13, at a hastily called meeting at the Department of Conservation, for the parties to agree on revisions to the original deal. The Board of the Land for Maine’s Future program approved its part of the revised deal a day later.

 

Deer and Landowner Relations Initiatives Planned

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All eyes are focused on the State Capitol these days. And much of my work is now cast in that direction. Senators Dave Trahan (left) and Tom Saviello are among the outstanding sportsmen-legislators I am working with.

 

Last Thursday I hosted a conference sponsored by the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) to gather ideas for a comprehensive statewide landowner relations program. The conference, held at SAM’s Augusta headquarters, was funded by SWOAM and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and organized by my sister Edie Smith.

 

Beardsley Still In Abbott Still Out

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 Bill Beardsley Update

 After predicting the announcement that Bill Beardsley would be Governor-elect Paul LePage’s Conservation Commissioner, Dan Demeritt, LePage’s Communications Director, told me that LePage choose to go with “safety and security” with his first announcements of cabinet positions. I note that my prediction that John Morris would be Public Safety Commissioner was correct.

 Yesterday, Bill Beardsley delivered a brilliant speech at the landowner relations conference. The room was packed with landowners and outdoor recreationists. Nearly all believe Bill to be Governor-elect Paul LePage’s choice for Conservation Commissioner.

Abbott Turns Down IFW Post

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Steve Abbott has decided he doesn’t want to be Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, a position he was offered recently by Governor-elect Paul LaPage.

Insiders say LaPage has three other candidates for this important position at the top of his list: Chandler Woodcock, Craig McLaughlin, and Art Wheaton.

The popular Abbott was a candidate in this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary after giving up his long-time job as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Susan Collins. Abbott is currently serving as Athletic Director at the University of Maine in Orono. He is an enthusiastic and lifelong hunter and angler.

At the Orono Sportsman’s Show last spring, Steve had the best booth I’ve ever seen for a political candidate. The booth featured large photos of Steve, throughout his life, with deer, turkeys, and fish he had harvested. In the booth was Steve’s father, Walter Abbott, U. Maine’s legendary former football coach and athletic director. It was my privilege to stand there and listen to Walter’s hunting and fishing stories for about an hour. Steve comes from good stock!

Each of the three top candidates would unique attributes to the position.

IFW on LePage's Back Burner

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Apparently the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will simmer a while on Governor-elect Paul LePage’s back burner before he turns up the heat and starts looking for new leadership for this beleaguered state agency.

Transition teams are already at work on the state budget, energy, economic development, education, health care, workforce pensions, and regulatory reform. But nothing is happening for fish and wildlife.

Insiders tell me that it will be a couple of weeks before members of the Transition Advisory Team area asked to interview candidates for IFW Commissioner.

While the Governor-elect promised, “the most transparent transition in history,” he is falling short of that standard so far. I have asked repeatedly for a list of Transition Advisory Team members who are responsible for natural resource agencies, for notices and agendas of that team’s meetings, and for the opportunity to attend those meetings. I’ve gotten none of it.

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