George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Fights over fish and game are not new!

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Common Lands, Common People, by Richard W. Judd, is a fascinating account of the origins of conservation in Northern New England. Published by Harvard University Press in 1997, Judd’s book has been an important reference for me for the last 15 years.

There are all kinds of lessons for us in this book, on contemporary issues from commercial fishing to tourism, and of course many impacting hunting and fishing. I will share these, along with passages from the book, with you from time to time over the next few months.

Let’s start with this, from a section titled “Farmers, Fish, and Tourism,” about “a sharp debate over game and fish management in the 1890s.”

A Life Lived Outdoors is a great Christmas gift

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 I’ve been getting lots of requests for signed copies of my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, to be given as Christmas gifts. The book was published this year by Islandport Press in Yarmouth. My pastor even purchased 6 of the books for presents to her family members in Idaho.

You don’t have to contact me to buy the book. It’s in most bookstores and available online at islandportpress.com and elsewhere. But if you want a signed copy, let me know and I’ll get one to you. Email your request to georgesmithmaine@gmail.com.

Nine bills proposed for 2015 legislative session

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 I'll be proposing nine bills for consideration in the 2015 legislative session and am currently seeking sponsors for the bills. Over the next month, in this news blog, I'll tell you more about each bill and give you a chance to express your opinions through my Sportsmen Say survey on my website.

But for now, here's the list, with a brief explanation of each bill.

Enjoy an African safari – without leaving home!

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 I’ve always wanted to visit South Africa to see all the amazing animals there, and I will probably never get there, but Vonne Martin’s new book, Southern Africa Safari, published by AuthorHouse, gives me an astonishing, spectacular, close-up look at the animals I’d hoped to see in person.

Martin has been an underwater photographer for 35 years, and this book represents her first photography adventure on land. It’ll be tough to top this, an over-sized limited edition account of her month in the grasslands of South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia.

“It is my hope that the images of the magnificent creatures inspire readers to fall in love with the different species and become involved in conservation efforts,” Martin said. “This was a labor of love and it added so much meaning to my life.”

My Maine - Changing Maine

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Maine has changed a lot in my 66 years here, but in many of the ways that count with me, it’s changed very little.

I was born a Maine sportsman, raised a Maine sportsman, and will die a Maine sportsman. My heritage is wild and native brook trout and white-tailed deer.

I didn’t need today’s Hooked-on-Fishing-Not-On-Drugs program offered by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. I became addicted to our colorful brook trout at an early age.

Hiking deep into the woods up and over the hill behind our Winthrop home, I’d drop a worm on a small hook into the cold free-flowing alder-choked heavily-shaded brook and pull out really nice trout, all of which came home for dinner.

Rebuilding Maine’s hunting economy is a tough challenge

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 While we were able to – again – defend Maine’s bear hunting industry, other types of hunting continue to decline, and we have no strategy to regain the state’s reputation for quality hunts that once attracted lots of nonresidents. Most Mainers don’t hire guides to hunt, so guides and sporting camps have always depended on nonresidents to sustain their businesses.

The decline in deer and moose populations has been devastating for businesses that depend on those game animals to bring hunters into their regions to hunt.

The challenge of reversing a 60 percent decline in Maine’s nonresident hunters was tossed to a Task Force in 2011 by the legislature. That Task Force issued its report with a list of thoughtful recommendations on January 23, 2013, after which the report was promptly shelved.

Best bucks: The Day-After-Thanksgiving Buck

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                 Dad introduced me to deer hunting on his old farm in North Wayne when I was just 12 years old and in 2013, we hunted there for the 53rd year. That’s where I shot the Day-After-Thanksgiving buck, my favorite deer hunting story. It happened about 20 years ago. I was sitting on a bucket in the woods, behind an old cemetery, and Dad was hunting his way up over a ridge from the farm, towards me.

                It was a very cold and icy day, the ground was frozen, and I heard the tromp, tromp, tromp of a deer coming from a long way off. I got the gun up, aimed for a small opening in the thicket of small fir trees, and when the deer – a huge buck – stepped into the opening, I shot.

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