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.

These paintings by a young Maine artist will amaze you!

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 This is the first in a series on Maine outdoor artists, authors, and craftsmen. We are blessed with amazing talent here in our state.

 

                Wandering around the very interesting Fly Fishing Expo in Bethel on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I was amazed by huge paintings of fish. I spent a lot of time visiting with the young artist, Alex Poland of Oxford.

                Alex is a fourth generation artist who was inspired by the art of his great grandmother and encouraged by his mother to develop what he calls his “visual fascination.” He remembers his mother “covering an entire wall in my room with paper so I could draw and color a sea wall mural!”

Tourists aren't always welcomed to Maine.

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                 Western Maine, from Bethel to Greenville, has always drawn tourists with a good range of lodging, restaurants, and outdoor activities from hunting and fishing to skiing and snowmobiling. But from the get-go, we Mainers have had a love-hate relationship with people from away, whether they were here for the summer or just a week of hunting.

                 Leon Leonwood Bean offered the following advice for nonresident hunters in his book, Hunting-Fishing-Camping, republished in 2012 by Down East Books for Bean’s 100th anniversary. “When on your hunting trips do not try to belittle the back woods folk even though you are a college man and your home is in a big city,” wrote Bean.

It was a batty day at the State Capitol

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Bats and bugs took over the second floor of the Cross Building at the State Capitol today. In one room, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee tackled a bill to list the Northern long-eared bat and other species as endangered or threatened, while in another room, the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee debated responses to the expected infestation of the Spruce budworm in the northern forest. Both issues proved to be contentious.

Today we’ll take a look at the bat bill. Tomorrow I’ll post a report on the budworm issues.

Bats

Birding adventure scheduled at Claybrook Lodge in Maine’s western mountains

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It’s a combination that’s hard to beat. Claybrook Lodge, a wonderful place in the woods of western Maine, and Ron Joseph, a retired federal wildlife biologist and champion birder. Along with Greg Drummond, a Master Maine guide who owns the lodge with his wife Patrice, Joseph will spend the weekend of May 15 birding the local woods and mountains with Lodge guests.

The weekend is sponsored by Maine Audubon. The cost is $310.00 per person and covers all meals, lodging, sales tax, two nights lodging, and van transport to and from the lodge. Linda and I have been trying to get this on our schedule for two years, and finally got it done. We’ll be there for the May 15 – 17 weekend, but the Lodge offers a second weekend of birding on May 22-24.

How would you spend new revenue to benefit Maine’s fish and wildlife?

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If Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife received new revenue, how do you think it should be spent? That was the assignment that the legislature’s Appropriations Committee gave to the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee last week. The request was focused on the possibility of giving DIF&W some tax revenue, something we’ve been trying to achieve for more than 20 years, without much luck.

Some members of the Appropriations Committee also asked me to submit suggestions. The rest of this column gives you the new initiatives I’ve suggested to the committee. I am also encouraging you to join in this important discussion by emailing me your suggestions (georgesmithmaine@gmail.com), or completing the survey question I have posted in the Sportsmen Say Survey section of my website (georgesmithmaine.com). In the survey, I am looking for your most important suggestion.  Now, here are mine!

March 31 Memo to the Appropriations Committee

Driving deer to distraction - a good hunting technique

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Another in my series of hunting and fishing stories, including “best bucks” and “game mistakes”. Both are in this story.

                Sometimes small changes in hunting laws bring big benefits. My big buck one year was the result of a small law change that legalized deer driving by groups of no more than three hunters, as long as noise makers are not used.

                The deer driving statute was so strict that it prohibited even two hunters from planning and implementing a hunt in which one hunter tried to move deer toward a second hunter. Many Mainers hunt together this way, but technically they were violating the law.

Talking turkey at the Maine legislature

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                We were talking turkeys at the legislature on Thursday, when the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee hosted a hearing on LD 781, An Act to Eliminate Permits for Turkey Hunting and Expand Turkey Hunting, sponsored by Senator Tom Saviello at my request. My testimony, presented here, gives you a bit of history of these issues, along with justification for changes proposed in this bill.

Testimony

                Maine has lost about one third of its turkey hunters over the last nine years. That’s astonishing, because spring turkey hunting is an exciting experience. I’ve been hooked since my first day when Harry Vanderweide accompanied me to a field near my house and called in a large gobbler. I shot the bird at about 5 yards.

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