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.

Sportsmen’s Survey May Stump Gubernatorial Candidates

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Maine’s three candidates for governor recently received their 2014 Questionnaire from the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine. SAM is the only statewide sportsman’s group that surveys the views of candidates for major offices and the legislature, issues grades, and makes endorsements. Traditionally, the group has been nonpartisan and very successful.

In the 2014 Questionnaire, the candidates for governor are given brief explanations of many of the issues, and then asked a question. In the past, candidates have often tripped on firearms questions that, if answered incorrectly, make it unlikely those candidates will get good grades or an endorsement. The most difficult question for candidates – especially at the legislative level – has been the question asking if they support trapping. Many know nothing about trapping and have a poor or no opinion about it.

Some of the more interesting – and possibly challenging questions – on this year’s survey are these.

Wildfire targets Maine’s deer and moose management

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The sharp decrease in any-deer and moose permits this year should alarm you, and certainly raise questions about the state’s research and management of these key game species.

These are the hot topics on the new episode of TV talk show Wildfire that I host with Harry Vanderweide. The show is produced and sponsored by Maine Audubon.

We invited staff members of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to be our guest on this show, but they reported that it was a very busy time of year for them and they were unable to do it.

So we tackled the issues without a guest. And you can count on us to continue to raise the important questions about moose and deer management in Maine. Our future as hunters – and the hunting industry – demand it!

Ice angler gets big surprise when he catches an otter

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                Bruce Hodgdon of Dennysville is an avid and experienced hunter, trapper, and angler. He’s my cousin Sandra’s son, and this past winter he wrote my Dad with the following fascinating story. Here it is, in Bruce’s own words.

                “I was ice fishing on Long Lake in St. Agathe, no action all morning, bitter cold, and was cooking my lunch on the fire when a flag went up. I decided to let it stay up because I was cold and hungry and didn’t want my cheeseburger to go cold.

                “After finishing the burger I went to tend the flag. I was shocked to find all the line out, about 175 to 200 feet. The tip-up bait had been set about 3 feet under the ice. I was excited!

Solutions needed for conflicts and competition for recreational use of private and public lands

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 In 2007, I created a paper titled, “A Solution to Conflicts and Competition for Recreational Access and Use of Private and Public Lands.”  It got a bit of press, but little attention otherwise.

In the opening paragraph, I reported, “We must understand what motivates each of us and drives the conflicts we’re suffering over our outdoor recreational pursuits, if we are going to figure out how to resolve those conflicts.” I still think this is critically important. And we are a long way from achieving it.

The 2007 paper was basically a list of “understandings” and “solutions.” If we could all share the common “understandings”, then the “solutions” might resolve a whole lot of problems and allow us to protect and enhance our outdoor heritage for future generations, while reducing the constant challenges and conflicts that threaten that heritage.

Dad breaks out of Veteran’s Hospice Unit to catch brook trout

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It’s no accident that much of my career was spent as an advocate for Maine sportsman, or that I am now writing outdoor news and cohosting a TV show focused on conservation and environmental issues. My Dad, Ezra Smith of Winthrop, set me on this course from birth.

In 2013 Dad and I hunted together for the 53rd year, a wonderful privilege for me. I guess we must have fished together for 60 years.

But Dad is now in the Hospice Unit at the Togus V.A., with serious health problems. He is actually thriving there, thanks to the wonderful professional staff and amazing volunteers. We’ve set up a corner of his room with his painting supplies, and he’s doing a lot of painting. His room is stuffed with his paintings and carvings, and last week he had me bring in his keyboard so he could play some music.

New products from blankets to insecticides provide tick protection

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 Sitting at my desk this morning, beginning to write this column about products that protect us from deer ticks, I felt something on my leg under my pajamas. Pulling up the right leg of the pajamas, sure enough, there was a deer tick, making his way up my leg!

Did it know I was writing about it? I carefully picked it off my leg, transported it outside, and crushed it between two rocks.

Tick removal is almost an everyday task these days. So I’ve been collecting products that promise some relief and protection from ticks.

Blankets

What the Maine legislature did do, didn’t do, and ought to have done

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                By anyone’s definition, the 2014 legislative session was ugly, partisan, and disappointing. But under the radar off the field of battle, some things were accomplished of special interest to sportsmen.

The only remarkable achievement for the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee was the extension of protection to another 235 wild and native trout waters. Eight years of contentious debate was ended with a thoughtful compromise – an especially good job done on this one by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Also interesting was the shifting of half of DIF&W’s revenue from the invasive species sticker to the DEP’s invasives program. That money was going to the Warden Service, and the loss was made up by taking money out of the DIF&W’s surplus account.

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