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.

What weaknesses do you see in Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife?

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 This is the second in a series of columns about the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. Two outstanding and experienced national consultants, Mark Duda of Responsive Management and Jodi Valenta of Mill Creek Communications, have been retained to assist the agency with this project. I plan to follow this process very closely, attend as many of the meetings and events as I can, and tell you all about it, for two reasons. First, I’ve been making recommendations to improve communications at DIF&W for many years, and this year submitted legislation to re-establish the marketing position at the agency. Sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne, the bill garnered a lot of support at its public hearing, including from sportsmen’s groups and tourism officials, and was held over to next year by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, to see how it might be used to advance this new DIF&W project. Second, this project is all about you. And I want to give you a chance to participate.

Dave O’Connor’s book will stimulate your own great hunting and fishing memories

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Checking out the newly published books recently at Islandport Press in Yarmouth, I was excited to see a book by Dave O’Connor. I’ve been enjoying Dave’s columns in the Northwoods Sporting Journal for more than 20 years. He’s an entertaining writer, for sure.

Islandport published my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, last year and I’ve been encouraging them to consider more hunting/fishing/outdoor adventure books, so it was great to see Dave’s new book on their shelves. Huntin’ and Fishin’ with the Ole Man is full of stories about Dave’s many adventures with his father, Edward “Steamer” O’Connor, and trust me, they had some funny, amazing, exciting hunting and fishing experiences.

Goodbye Salmon Hello Rainbow Trout

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“Once noted as one of the top salmon waters in Maine, it’s now rare for a salmon to survive for more than one year in Long Pond,” wrote Jason Seiders, DIF&W Regional Fisheries Biologist. I can only add, boy, did I enjoy catching big salmon at this beautiful pond, part of the Belgrade Lakes and just ten minutes from my house.

Then illegal and/or inadvertent stocking of other nonnative and invasive species, from pike to landlocked alewives, ruined the salmon fishery and crowded out other cold water species like brook trout. Today, smallmouth bass is the most popular fishery in Long Pond.

National Expert chosen to improve communications and marketing of fish and wildlife

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Mark Duda has worked on more than 1000 marketing, communications, and public relations research, plans, and projects involving fisheries and wildlife, for state agencies, universities, businesses, and all the major hunting and fishing national organizations. And now he’s coming to Maine.

Our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has launched a very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. In the Request for Proposals that the agency advertised, they noted, “In order to maintain and enhance current programs, mandates, and projects, MDIFW must continue to maintain support for its programs amongst its current constituents while generating new support from the general public who value wildlife and its associated recreational opportunities.”

My Naked Safari is not what you think!

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Peter Popieniuck is a lucky sportsman. Not just in the fish and wildlife he has harvested, but in the adventures he’s enjoyed from Maine to Africa. His autobiography is timely, given the recent unfortunate incidents with big game hunters who killed African lions. For the record, Peter killed no lions.

Peter’s book, My Naked Safari – from Maine to Africa – Adventures of an Amateur Sportsman, published by North Country Press, is a very good read.

Peter’s story is of special interest to Mainers because many of his adventures were with Maine guides, and his favorite place on earth seems to be his camp on Lower Richardson Pond, just west of Rangeley. His hunting trip to Africa is certainly an amazing story, but I most enjoyed his trips to places I’ve been myself, most especially the Leaf River in northern Quebec.

Surprising opinions expressed on outdoor issues from moose to brook trout

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Moose and private land access have been major issues this year for readers of this outdoor news column, and it’s time to share with you the views of readers on these and a few other important issues including brook trout.

The Sportsmen Say Survey on my website,, is sponsored by Moody’s Collision Centers and named for Gene Letourneau, whose Sportsmen Say column appeared in southern Maine’s daily newspapers every day for 50 years.


A series of Sportsmen Say Survey questions on moose found strong agreement on two issues. 68 percent think Maine’s moose population is in decline, while 32% do not. I want to know where those 32% are seeing moose these days!

How do you think DIF&W's increased revenue should be spent?

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 Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s funds from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, ATV registrations and the moose lottery increased this year by nearly three-quarters of a million dollars ($700,250).

Hunting and fishing combination license revenue was up 6% over last year, an increase of $222,443.  Fishing license revenue is up by 7% over last year, generating $5,591,188 in revenue. And ATV registrations continue to increase, generating a 6% increase in revenue. Overall, the department generated $22,169,289 in revenue from the sale of licenses, registrations and permits, up 3% from last years $21,469,039. DIF&W’s fiscal year ended on June 31.

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