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.

Tick, tick, tick: Three deer ticks before lunch yesterday – and one came in the mail!

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Yesterday morning I fished on my remote secret Smallmouth bass pond. Caught lots of fish, and took all precautions against bugs including ticks.

Hiked out and when I got to my vehicle, leaned down to pull my pants legs out of my socks, only to find a deer tick crawling up my sock. Squashed him.

Got home and went to the mail box to get the day’s mail. Pulled it out and found a deer tick on one of the envelopes! Squashed him too.

Stripped to take a shower, and like I always do, grabbed a small mirror to check my body for ticks. Sure enough, there was one on my backside. Luckily I could reach him, and he had only begun to attach, so I was able to pry him off with my fingers. Washed him down the sink.

Just another beautiful morning in Maine.

State Representative Jim Dill, our state’s foremost insect expert at the University of Maine, sent me this link to UMO’s information on ticks. You will want to check it out.

Remarkable landowner relations study and recommendations ignored for last 11 years

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 In 2002, responding to a flood of complaints from private landowners about ATV riders, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine conducted a nationwide study of landowner relations issues and solutions, and issued a report and recommendations in 2003. Despite the advocacy of many groups and individuals, those recommendations were never implemented.

The Executive Summary of the report concluded with these paragraphs:

The principles behind successful landowner relations programs are the same everywhere. They increase the benefits and decrease the costs for landowners who keep their property open to public use. They reward responsible land users and make irresponsible ones pay for their mistakes. They involve the community in the solutions.

Most important of all, landowner relations programs can help people understand that these conflicts threaten more than a handful of landowners or a few recreational sports. Without public access to private land, Maine would be a cramped, cold and unneighborly place to live.

While Maine’s landowner relations program founders, Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler promise to do better.

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                For far too long, Maine has ignored the need for a comprehensive program and approach to landowner relations, and we have all paid the price in posted land and lost outdoor recreational opportunities.

                Today I’m starting a six-part series on this important issue. Each column will be accompanied by a question in my Sportsmen Say Survey, and the final column will include a report on the results of those surveys.

I encourage you to read all the columns, which you will find right here in George’s Outdoor News, and answer all the questions, which you will find in the Sportsmen Say Survey section of my website, www.georgesmithmaine.org. It will take a lot of us to fix this problem and assure that private land remains available for public recreation.

Too late for fiddleheads but there is lots more food in the Maine woods!

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 When Linda got the call from a neighbor with a back 40 that has a nice patch of fiddleheads every spring, she rushed right up. Unfortunately, the fiddleheads were almost gone by. She got one nice picking and that was it.

To overcome our disappointment, I pulled out Tom Seymour’s newly revised Wild Plants of Maine guide, published this year by Just Write Books, and we checked out our own back 40.

Wow. We’ve got lots of edibles out there!

Tom’s first guide, published in 2010, has been updated with lots of new plants and mushrooms.  Not all the plants in the book can be eaten, but those have been our focus so far since we got the book a few weeks ago.

It’s easy to use. Requires no special skills. A sharpener for dummies!

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  “It’s portable and easy to use. It requires no special skills. You just lightly run it along the blade. It’s a sharpener for dummies!”

My in-house designated-critic, wife Linda, tried out the AnySharp Edge (anysharp.com), a tool and knife sharpener, that the manufacturer sent me, and was ecstatic about it. “It’s genius,” she told me, “so easy to use that I’ll use it a lot.”

That probably tells you all you need to know about this sharpener. But I will say a bit more.

Loon story is beautifully illustrated and written

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 I once played the haunting cries of a loon at a legislative hearing, to emphasize the importance of banning lead sinkers and jigs that poison and kill this iconic bird. The good news is that the legislature did just that.

My Dad is a wood carver and his carved loons have always been his most popular. He’s carved over 100 and they are stunning. Everyone in Maine recognizes the beauty and importance of our loons.

That’s just one of the reasons I expect The Lake Where Loon Lives by Brenda Steeves Sturgis to be a bit hit. Published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, this children’s book is beautifully illustrated by Brooke Carlton. Maine Audubon hosted a special event on May 17 to launch the book. It’s getting a lot of deserved attention.

When do the turtles cross the road? Now! Don’t run over them!

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 Decades ago, whenever I saw a snapping turtle alongside or in Blake Hill Road, I’d run over it, sometimes backing up to do it again. Snappers kill too many baby ducks to deserve life. That was my thinking at the time.

Eventually I got educated about the value of all wild critters, and stopped killing snappers. And then one night, I was able to achieve a bit of redemption.

Driving home in the rain, approaching the bridge over Hopkins Stream in front of my house, I noticed a bunch of small turtles in the road. Emerging from the car, I discovered about a hundred tiny snapping turtles, apparently just hatched, and laying all over the road. Many had been run over and killed.

I searched through the lot of them and picked up the live ones, moving them to the grassy bank by the stream. It took quite a while. Actually, they were kind of cute.

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