George Smith's blog

Deer hunting is about a lot more than killing a deer

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I saw about 30 deer last season and chose not to shoot one. I need to tell Ralph Sabin this, because in response to my last column on deer hunting and any-deer permits, Ralph wrote, “Most people work for a living and don’t have time to bag their deer every year George… once again I shake my head.”

In that column, posted here on May 18, I noted that I “got my deer” nearly every year for the past 40 years. And that is true. But it set Ralph off, so I need to set the record straight. I enjoy everything about deer hunting, and look forward to spending a lot of time in the woods in November and December every year. I especially enjoy the muzzle-loading season, mostly because there are far fewer hunters in the woods.

An angling story for the ages

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 On the porch of Claybrook Mountain Lodge in Highland Plantation are two carved “Buck Boards” listing the bucks and does that guests and guides have shot since the lodge opened in 1984.  The name of Greg Drummond, who owns the lodge with his wife Pat (a phenomenal cook) is often on the list. But the Buck Boards tell the story better than I ever could.

Here are the harvest numbers for recent years: 2009 0, 2010 0, 2011 1, 2012 1, 2013 0. For many years, the November deer season was the busiest for the Drummonds. But things have changed. “The deer herd in our area has declined to such an extent that our (deer) season is the least profitable of the year,” Greg tells me.

Solace by Tim Caverly

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Tim Caverly offers an intriguing mix of fact and fiction in his new novel, Solace. And while the fictional tale is a good one, it’s the factual parts of the book that I found most fascinating. As Tim writes in the preface, “It is up to you, the reader, to use your detective skills to determine what parts of the following text is fiction or nonfiction, autobiography or a fabrication, historic narrative or creative writing. Let me know what you decide.” Yes, there is all of that in Solace.

It didn’t take a lot for me to detect some of the nonfiction and autobiography. Tim served for 18 years as the Regional Supervisor of the Allagash Region for the Bureau of Parks and Lands. And the novel is set in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

New fish hatchery draws interest but stocking problems continue

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 The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee grabbed quite a bit of my hatchery commission bill but some key issues, including problems with stocking policies, genetics of brook, brown, and rainbow trout, high costs and low catch rates, were ignored.

My bill, sponsored by Rep. Russell Black, would have created a Hatchery Commission to:


Examine the costs of production, the numbers and species of fish stocked, and the return on stocked fish, both in Maine and in other states;

Fighting Eagles Get Tangled – and Rescued

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 Here’s an amazing story, received this afternoon from Mark Latti at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. I can’t write this any better than Mark did, so I’m giving you his report and photos just as I received them. Astonishing photos! And lots of praise to all involved, including the good folks at Avian Haven.

Mark Latti’s Report

While their jobs may be very different, many times IFW biologists and game wardens work together to help Maine’s wildlife. Quite often, they work with Maine citizens who also share an equal passion for wildlife as well.

Recently, a homeowner on the outskirts of Millinocket received a big surprise when two eagles crash landed in his front yard.

New Chef Steve Sicinski has created an awesome menu at the Sea Glass Restaurant

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Cape Elizabeth
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                Preparations for a busy season ahead were well underway when we visited Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth last week. Flower boxes were planted, the outdoor pool was open, and guests were already enjoying the fire pit complete with s’mores. The Inn has a great view of the ocean and a boardwalk that leads to the sandy Crescent Beach State Park.

                The Inn’s Sea Glass Restaurant changed its executive chef two months ago, and we were looking forward to checking out Chef Steve Sicinski’s new menu. His family has ties to Maine as his wife grew up here and he is delighted to be here. And after dinner, I can tell you we are delighted he is here too!

Game Wardens Nail the Bad Guys

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Game wardens are at their best when they catch the really bad guys, those who kill animals for the thrill of it, who care nothing about laws and rules, who delight in breaking them. A few years ago wardens rounded up a group of poachers in my area, utilizing a game warden from another state to infiltrate the poaching ring and collect incriminating information.

I was surprised, when it was all over, how little the leaders of the poaching ring paid in fines and how short was their stay in jail. But just this morning, I read in the news that a guy who shot and killed another hunter three years ago, and was later arrested for sexual assault, received a sentence of 15 years for the sexual assault (with all but seven years suspended), but just 2 ½ years for killing that other hunter (with that sentence served at the same time as the other). He was also ordered to pay more than $5000 to the family of the man he killed. And he lost his hunting license for 10 years, but of course, he’ll be in jail for seven of those years.

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