Maine is not a target of the nation’s turkey hunters

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Bitten by the turkey bug? Here’s a cross-country tour of five favorite escapes ideal for adventurous longbeard fanatics.

That was the lead on a “Favorite Turkey Hunts” in the April edition of Bowhunting World magazine.

Despite the fact that Maine probably offers the best turkey hunt in the country, we’re on nobody’s radar, a stunning example of how much our lack of marketing and promotion is costing the state’s outdoor industry.

In January of 2012, a Task Force directed by the legislature to study the decline in the number of nonresident hunters coming to Maine, issued its report and recommendations. Among the Task Force’s findings were these:

Numbers of Maine nonresident hunters have dropped from a high in 2002 of 41,538 to 37,925 in 2005 to an all-time low of 27,898 in 2010.

Numbers of alien hunters have dropped from a high in 1995 of 1885 to 232 in 2010.

These coastal gems won’t be hidden much longer after you read The Hidden Coast of Maine

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This is your road map to Maine’s gems. The photos will inspire you to jump in the car and head there – and there’s a very helpful set of directions to each gem in the back of the book.  

What surprised me the most about The Hidden Coast of Maine, published by Tilbury House in Thomaston, is that I haven’t visited all of these places in my 65 years in Maine. Of the 83 gems in this wonderful book, I’ve been to 62. Now I’ve set my sights on the other 19. And of course, some of the gems are regulars for the weekly travel column that my wife Linda and I write.

Battle over bears focused on money – and sportsmen are holding their own

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In the end, the battle over bears will be decided by money. That’s just my opinion, but I believe it’s correct.


A total of $1,727,751.25 was raised in 2004 to successfully defend Maine’s bear hunt against a ballot measure initiated by the Humane Society of the United States. As the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, with a ton of help and generosity of many supporters inside and outside of our state, I raised the money. The campaign’s steering committee, comprised of leaders from SAM, the Maine Professional Guides Association, and the Maine Trappers Association, hired my sister, Edie Smith, to manage the campaign.

Governor can’t stop gold dredging/brook trout protection bill

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The emailed message from Maine Audubon’s lobbyist, Jennifer Burns Gray, was very good news.

“LD 1671, the bill that protects certain waters (that are special for brook trout) from motorized gold prospecting, has been enacted by both the House and Senate.  The Governor vetoed the bill and the veto was overriden by an impressive vote.  Kudos to our friend Jeff Reardon at Trout Unlimited and to his legislative allies, Sen. Tom Saviello, Sen. Jim Boyle, and Rep. Russell Black, for their outstanding work,” wrote Jenn, who has lobbied for Maine Audubon for 17 years.

The Senate over-rode the Governor’s veto unanimously, while the House did so by an outstanding vote of 119 to 23.

As I reported earlier, a battle between brook trout advocates, led by Trout Unlimited and Maine Audubon, and gold diggers, led by the Maine Gold Prospectors, ended in a great collaborative compromise amended version of the LD 1671.

Mainely Brews and the Waterville Opera House - a great Irish celebration!

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We are not Irish but some Saint Patrick Day celebrations are too good to pass up. I associate holidays with food so it’s a given that I will crave corned beef and cabbage by mid-March. When we found out that the Waterville Opera House was featuring an instrumental group from Ireland on March 14th, we figured out a very special way to celebrate Saint Patrick Day this year: dinner at Mainely Brews followed by a performance by Lunosa at the Opera House.

The restaurant had already embraced the upcoming holiday with a menu featuring several Irish dishes. Corned Beef and Cabbage, Bangers and Mash, the Duclin Burger and a Reuben were front and center. We decided to start with an appetizer, giving me more time to decide on entrees.

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Maine’s recreational fishing rules are too darned complicated

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We studied the 300-page summary provided by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and were still confused. We think we could keep up to five brookies over six inches, from brooks and streams, except those which are part of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, in which case the trout had to be over twelve inches and we could keep only two fish, of which one could be over fourteen inches, and each must have a notch in the dorsal fin, unless there were at least thirty-five orange sports on each side of the fish, except for fish in streams crossing the American Realty Road, which must have no more than twenty-five orange spots on each side.

We think we obeyed the laws. My friend Barney has hired a lawyer to review the regulations and get back to us prior to next year’s trip.

We had a great time, and I’m hopeful we didn’t inadvertently poach any brookies with too few orange sports. To be safe, we ate them before they could become evidence.

Maine sportsmen and women are very poorly informed

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I spoke a couple of week ago at a southern Maine sportsmen’s club, giving them a rundown on my current activities, focused on my outdoor news blog and new Sportsmen Say Survey. I began by asking them these questions.

“How many of you hunt grouse in the unorganized territories?” Many hands were raised. “Then you know about the new law, enacted last year that requires us to label each grouse with our name and the date we shot the bird.”

Heads shook. Nope. Didn’t know about it. I was astonished. My next question was going to be, “Did you know the grouse labeling law was repealed this year?” Of course, they didn’t know that either!

“Did you know that 25 percent of the any-deer permits will go to young hunters this year, leaving only 1/3 of the permits for resident adult hunters?” No, they didn’t. They seemed ok with it.

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