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.

North Dakota takes hunting seriously

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 Awaiting our first afternoon of pheasant hunting in Regent, North Dakota, I am reading the state’s Conservation Guide 2014, fascinated by the strong support for hunting displayed statewide, and most especially by the state and federal government. This is especially impressive given that the state has only about half the population of Maine.

Before I get to that, let me report that it’s Sunday afternoon, and we’ll be out hunting from 4 pm to 6 pm. Yes, they can hunt on Sundays here!

Second, today’s Farm Forum newspaper reported on ballot measures of interest to farmers and others, and included news about Maine’s bear referendum and the $8 million bond issue to create an animal and plant disease and insect control facility at the University of Maine. Yes, the world is watching us on November 4.

The truth about bear hunting in other states

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Thanks to Bob Duchesne, who’s Saturday morning “Wild Maine” 92.9 radio shows on the bear referendum featured outstanding interviews with wildlife biologists Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, we now know the truth. Those are the three states that banned hunting bears with hounds and bait. Here is an excellent summary of what happened as a result, in a summary Bob sent to me a short time ago.

Common threads from all three biologists:

All three states were forced to vastly expand hunting opportunities. All three states allow Sunday hunting (and always did). Oregon and Washington start hunting August 1st, which would be the middle of Maine’s busiest tourist season. Oregon was also forced to add a spring season that starts in early to mid-April and runs through May.

Those who recreate on someone else’s land should read this study.

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In response to my series columns about landowner relations, published here earlier this year, I got quite a few inquiries about the specifics of Maine’s private land access laws and traditions.

I heard a fascinating presentation by University of Maine Professor James Acheson on this topic at the annual meeting of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine in 2006, and subsequently wrote about Acheson’s study of public access to privately owned land, published in the Maine Policy Review in 2006.

Although the study is 7 years old, it is still pertinent and should be read by all who enjoy recreation on privately owned land.

You can access Acheson’s study here.

Twenty four veterans got their moose in the 2014 special Aroostook moose hunt

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 Twenty four of the 25 disabled veterans who got moose hunting permits for the special Aroostook County moose hunt, held in August, got their moose. Last year 50 permits were issued and 31 hunters were successful in bagging a moose.

Mark Latti, Outreach and Communications staffer for the Fisheries and Wildlife Department, provided this information in response to my questions.

Guides and landowners were cut out of the hunt this year by a new rule approved by DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council.

Maine’s Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Management’s Bureau of Veterans Services assisted DIF&W in qualifying disabled veterans for the hunt.

Representative Stacey Guerin’s defense of Governor LePage was wildly inaccurate

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                 I published a column in this blog on August 4 that detailed the many promises to Maine sportsmen that  Governor Paul LePage broke over the past four years, including a major promise to provide public tax money to fund 20 percent of the budget of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

                That column is still available here if you want to read it. In response to that column, Rep. Stacey Guerin published an editorial page column in the Bangor Daily News on August 18, titled “Paul LePage is the sportsman’s (and woman’s) governor.”

If the Maine public cared about wildlife, they would help fund the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

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Don’t hold your breath waiting for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to get funding from the public. This column is a long one, but not as long as the road to DIF&W public funding – a road that turned out to be a dead end.

The Humane Society of the United States has challenged the credibility of the wildlife biologists at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, claiming they are biased toward sportsmen. I don’t think that’s true, but because the agency is entirely funded by sportsmen, they are open to that kind of challenge.

If in fact they always did what sportsmen wanted, my job at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years would have been a lot easier! In fact, I wouldn’t have had anything to do.

The best fly fishing spots in the Northeast are revealed here

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 From the stunningly beautiful photographs to the detailed access information, 50 Best Places – Fly Fishing The Northeast by Bob Mallard will be the standard guide for fly fishermen for decades to come.

Mallard is an outspoken fisheries advocate, fly shop owner, and obsessive angler. I’ve fished with him. You have to be prepared for a long day. I really don’t know anyone who brings as much passion to the sport. So he was a good choice for publisher Stonefly Press to pull this exceptional book together.

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