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.

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.

Naked guy and other abuses cause landowner to post her land

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After posting three columns about the sad state of landowner relations in Maine, it’s time to start telling the stories of some long-suffering private landowners. After reading the initial columns in this series on landowner relations, Pam Wells emailed me her story.

Pam and her husband Bryan are members of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine. Pam is also a very talented photographer. I’m including a few of her recent photos with this column, to brighten up what is otherwise a very distressing story. Here it is, just as Pam sent it to me.

Pam Wells

My name is Pam Wells and my husband (Bryan) and I own around 1000 acres of forested property in the Milford/Greenfield area.  The Sunkhaze stream runs through the center of it and into Sunkhaze Meadows NWR.  As you can imagine, we have a lot of people who like to use our property.  As a rule, we allow people to hunt, walk, fish, and enjoy our property, but it becomes more difficult each year.

Political hack or professional manager – Who will Governor LePage appoint as Parks and Lands Director?

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He must have known it was the end of the road. Will Harris, the cautious and capable Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands, and one of the very few hold-overs from the Baldacci to the LePage Administration, spoke with remarkable candor and courage in late-March when questioned by legislators about the governor’s plan to harvest more timber on public lands and use the money for public heating assistance programs.

As I reported at the time, “Harris serves as the Director of Maine’s Parks and Public Lands, a gubernatorially appointed position. He can be fired without reason by the governor, making his remarks all the more astonishing. I haven’t checked this morning to see if Will is still on the job!”

Well, he did last a bit longer. But last week, Will’s retirement, effective at the end of this month, was announced. Insiders tell me he was forced out, but he must have been thinking about retirement that day in March.

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