George Smith's blog

Less than 100,000 Mainers hunt or fish every year

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The report shocked me. As several of us looked it over, we agreed, the information couldn’t be right. So I asked Bill Swan, Director of Licensing for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, to step out into the hall and go over it with me.

Turns out Bill’s report was correct. Less than 100,000 Maine residents buy a hunting or fishing license, or both, each year. That’s a pretty small base of sportsmen, especially considering there was a day when almost every Maine household held at least one hunter and angler.

The information came in a report Bill presented yesterday to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, on a professional study of a proposal to expand lifetime licenses. The study found that only 70,000 residents purchased a hunting license in each of the last five years, and only 60,000 residents purchased a fishing license in each of the last five years.

For beauty, hospitality, and food, the Waterford Inn is hard to beat

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Waterford
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Linda

I love traveling to Western Maine during any season, but the rolling hills covered in snow make a particularly impressive sight. I wasn’t sure where the town of Waterford was, but it turns out to be only about 15 minutes west of Norway.

        We turned onto Chadbourne Road and started the climb up the steep hill until we reached the Waterford Inn’s breathtakingly beautiful property. This 1800’s farmhouse which stayed in the Chadbourne family for generations has been lovingly turned into a Registry Select Inn by Barbara Vanderzanden.

Goals for Maine’s deer and deer hunters may be unrealistic

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NOTE: I’ve posted a question for you in this website's Sportsmen Say Survey section on this deer yard protection issue. The question is: Is it fair to expect private landowners to protect deer wintering areas – and give up the value of the timber in those areas – without compensation? Your responses will be shared with landowners, DIF&W, legislators, and the news media. Thanks!

Deer Series

We’ve lost 100,000 deer hunters and now harvest about half of the deer we did forty years ago. Sportsmen cast a wide net of blame for this, from coyotes and bears to private landowners. Perhaps our expectations have always been unrealistic.

This column is the first in a series on deer. When the series is completed, I hope we all have a more realistic understanding of what we can achieve – because I was born a Maine deer hunter and deer hunting remains my favorite outdoor activity. I even purchased two woodlots to assure that I would always have a place to hunt.

These animals may be lost, but they’re not forgotten thanks to Errol Fuller

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It’s heartbreaking and I stared at it a long time. It’s one of the only photos ever taken of the ‘O’u, a gorgeous little yellow-headed bird found in the Hawaiian islands.

As Erroll Fuller tells us in his exceptional book, Lost Animals, published by Princeton University Press, “During the 20th Century, ‘O’u populations plummeted. By the 1970s the species was almost extinct, with just a few surviving pockets. One of the last reasonably stable colonies lived on the slopes of the volcano, Mauna Loa. During 1984 a lava flow demolished the habitat.”

Lest you think extinctions are ancient history, we lost many of the animals in Fuller’s book on our watch.

It’s all about moose - mortality, harvest, and lottery update

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In this moose report, you’ll learn about moose population and health, the 2013 harvest, the declining interest in the lottery, and changes made last week by the legislature to the new allocation of permits to lodges and sporting camps.

Moose Health

“Maine has a healthy and strong moose population and has the highest density of moose in the lower 48 states,” says Lee Kantar, Maine’s moose biologist. That’s the good news, included in a January 22, 2014 press release from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Quotes to make you laugh, remember, and ponder

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 Memorable Quotes 2011

For many years I’ve created a monthly column of interesting and provocative quotes, for The Maine Sportsman. From time to time I’m going to offer you quotes, starting with a bunch from past years, in this outdoor news blog. Some you will remember. Some will make you think. Some will make you laugh. Here are some quotes from 2011.

Working on fairy shrimp in vernal pools while the deer population crashes or you have no clue how many moose there are in the north woods is simply inexcusable.

Don Kleiner of the Maine Professional Guides Association, criticizing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at SAM’s Sportsman’s Congress, January 7, 2011.

Our hope was that we could move them to this Shangri-la island away from the jets and breed them and move them.

Legislators shoot down grouse labeling requirement

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 Maine grouse hunters will be rejoicing to learn that the confusing and onerous new law requiring the labeling of grouse in the unorganized territories will be a one-year wonder. Here today. Gone tomorrow.

Last year, for the first time, hunters who harvested grouse in the unorganized territories and stayed there overnight had to label the birds with information including the day the birds were shot. Game Wardens contended that this new rule would help them assure that hunters stayed within their daily and possession limits.

The new requirement didn’t exactly draw rave reviews from grouse hunters. In fact, many were downright ugly about it.

Yesterday, at a work session of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, Representative Paul Davis led an assault on the new rule. OK, he did it politely, but firmly.

Warden Major Chris Cloutier did his best to defend the rule, but honestly, was hard pressed to do it. The rule is hard to justify.

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