Are Maine game wardens out of control?

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 Colin Woodard is an outstanding award-winning reporter, nominated last year for a Pulitzer, and we are very lucky to have him in Maine. After more than a year of research, and a lot of frustration, his report, North Woods lawless, published on May 8 in the Maine Sunday Telegram, is outstanding, provocative, and worthy of lots of discussion, hopefully leading to significant changes in the way the Warden Service does its job.

Over the years I’ve shared Colin’s frustration with the refusal of the Warden Service to provide requested information. Last January, for example, I asked Colonel Joel Wilkinson to update me on a list of initiatives he launched when he took over as Colonel. I’m still waiting for that, although Joel did, after a couple of months, send me a description of the process that they now use to investigate complaints against game wardens. And I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that they still investigate themselves. No outside impartial person is involved.

Gobblers and Bass make a great day with my grandson

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 What a morning! My 9 year old grandson, Vishal Mellor, stayed overnight so we could get an early start on our morning turkey hunt. We didn’t get out there before sunrise, but arrived about 6:15 at Steep Hill Farm in Fayette. We walked a trail towards the roosting spot, and when we got close, V started calling with his hand held turkey box call.

He’s really good at this, and he got an answering gobble immediately. We figured the gobbler was with hens, and would be moving away from us, so we dashed up the hill and hid behind a stone wall overlooking a tote road. There was another stone wall on the other side of the road, with a forest behind it.

Every time V did his call, the gobbler answered. And he was coming towards us! But I thought he was still 100 yards down in the woods when V said, “Grampy, there he is!” And there he was, head poked up over the stonewall on the other side of the road, looking right at me.

You won’t be able to stop reading Straw Man by Gerry Boyle

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 I couldn’t wait for Gerry Boyle’s new novel, Straw Man, so I ordered up an uncorrected proof review copy, and read it in two evenings. Couldn’t put it down actually. Stayed up the first night well beyond my normal bedtime.

Gerry is one of my very favorite novelists, and this is the 10th in his Jack McMorrow mystery series. He once worked for the Morning Sentinel. He told me back then that he got up at 4 am to write his novels, before heading off to work. I’m afraid anything I wrote at 4 am wouldn’t be worth reading!

But boy, this novel is that and a lot more. It’s set in Prosperity, Maine, a place that could be any town in rural Maine. Gerry does a wonderful job with his characters and plots, and the plot in Straw Man is intense. Very intense. There’s lots of murder and mayhem, intrigue and mystery, and, as another of my favorite novelists, Paul Doiron, wrote on the back cover,”this book is lean, mean, and packed with action.” That it is.

History meets hospitality at Maine sporting camps today

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 It is not a pathway to riches; it is a lifestyle you must love. Christina Howe, Spencer Pond Camps

History meets hospitality at Maine sporting camps today. While they were once rustic and remote, today’s camps offer more comfort and convenience, but it is still the wild Maine outside the cabin door that attracts many of us. The original attraction was bountiful fish and game, and that is still true at some sporting camps, but many of today’s visitors come to enjoy outdoor activities like birding and hiking, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Some are just trying to escape the “real” world. And some of us come to eat!

Roberta Scruggs gets caught in the Wildfire!

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 Getting our TV talk show Wildfire back on the air has been a great experience. Special thanks to all of you who let us know how much you missed the show.

My cohost James Cote and I feature a single guest on each show, and focus on critical outdoor issues. But sometimes we just like to have fun. That’s what we’ll be doing in a show that we’re taping next week with Kate Krukowski Gooding, a wild game cookbook author and very entertaining speaker. That show will be taped in a kitchen, and I won’t tell you now what Kate will be cooking for us, but it’s going to be fantastic!

59% increase in any-deer permits = Happy hunters!

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 Any-deer permits will increase by 59% this year, and that’s great news for Maine’s deer hunters. “The winter of 2015-16 was of below-average severity in most of the state,” DIF&W noted, “which resulted in higher survival rates for our over-wintering deer.”

The agency is recommending that 45,755 permits be issued this year, to meet their doe quota of 5,297 animals. Last year they issued 28,700 permits. I’ll give you the numbers for last year and this year at the end of this column.

I’m disappointed by the slight increase in my district, WMD 16, which had seen a decrease of 1000 permits over the past two seasons. This year we’ll get just 110 more permits. I thought the decrease here last year was unnecessary, as we were seeing lots of deer, especially young deer. While I chose not to kill a deer last year, I saw 38 of them while hunting. And there are lots and lots of deer here now.

DIF&W Analysis

Animals clubbed to death, 1000 doves killed illegally, and a starched linen band imperils women’s fair necks

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 Yesterday I published a column of hunting stories gathered from the Maine Woods, a newspaper published in the early 1900s. Historian Adam Fisher has left out a half dozen books loaded with copies of Maine Woods, at the State Library, for me to read and write about. If you missed it, my first column on this collection was published on March 14 and is still available in this blog.

Here is the third column in this series. On my second visit, I opened one of the books at random, to the November 20, 1903 edition of Maine Woods, where I found pages 6 and 7 loaded with outdoor stories, laws, and ads. Yesterday’s column includes some of the stories from those two pages. Here are a few more stories from that same issue.

Pleasant Island Camps

The present sportsmen at the camp are A.C. Holt, of Somerville, Mass., J.A. Gammons, Providence, R.I., Harry Tuttle, New York, H.B. Higginbotham, Philadelphia, and Dr. Chase of New York.

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