State Museum and Library host evening focused on Maine sporting camps

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                 My book, titled Maine Sporting Camps, was published in May, with my hope that it will encourage readers to visit sporting camps on a regular basis for the very best outdoor experiences.

                On Wednesday night, November 16, at 6:30 pm, I’ll be talking about the book and the history of our sporting camps at the Maine State Library in Augusta, an event hosted by the Kennebec Historical Society. Beginning at 5:30 pm the state museum will be open so attendees can see their amazing exhibit of historical firearms. I do hope you can join us.


Great food and friendly staff at the Old Mill Pub in Skowhegan

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                When you enter Maine from Quebec and ask for a restaurant recommendation, you’ll be told to stop at the Old Mill Pub in Skowhegan. Yes, they are well regarded all the way to the border!

                The Dore family purchased the pub four years ago, and two brothers and their wives work here. Eric Dore is the manager and spends a lot of time going up and down the stairs, delivering the food. His wife Sarah was our very friendly and professional server. Ben Dore is the kitchen manager and his wife Christin is a server and bartender.

New Wildfire is all about trapping

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The new edition of our TV talk show Wildfire, airing for the first time tonight, is all about trapping. Our guest is Bobby Reynolds, who began trapping as a kid, and came back to it as an adult, inspired by his grandfather and father. He’s even trapping with their equipment.

Co-host James Cote is the lobbyist for the Maine Trappers Association, and for sure, trapping in Maine is being challenged like never before. A modest two-week extension of the trapping season for 2017 drew lots of negative comments, which I reported in an earlier column.

And in the past 12 years, we’ve had to defend bear trapping in two expensive ballot initiatives.

I’m hoping that this show will demonstrate the value of trapping, and its importance as part of our outdoor heritage. Bobby told us all about the latest humane trapping techniques, and had a wonderful story about a raccoon he recently found in his trap, sound asleep. He carefully released the coon, unharmed.

My favorite hunting story: One Ground Scrape, Three Deer

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                 I love to hunt ground scrapes that bucks use to mark their territory. Across Route 41 from my house, I found a line of scrapes one season made by a buck after he emerged from the nearby bog. I lugged over a seat and placed it in a fir thicket, about 50 yards from the scrape, and vowed to sit there until the buck arrived.

                On the second day of the season, I sent Dad down to sit in the blind, while I hunted down over a hill and through the bog in his direction. About 8 am I heard him shoot, and after a brief pause, shoot again. Well, a spikehorn had emerged from the bog, trotted up towards the scrape, and Dad has shot him. But before Dad could even get out of his seat, a big buck came along behind the spikehorn, and Dad took a shot at him, a clean miss.

The Besieged by Christopher W. Morin

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His dream of finding gold dashed, a huge winter blizzard threatening the collapse of his remote cabin in Alaska, his yard full of wolves which have attacked and wounded him severely, this unnamed man’s desperation to get out of the cabin for the long difficult hike to the nearest town where he hoped to find medical care is very real. Very real indeed.

Christopher Morin’s short story, The Beseiged, doesn’t take more than an evening to read, but it will stay with you for a long long time. In fact, I read it twice. It was that good.

I was particularly delighted to discover that Morin dedicated this book to his 7th grade teacher, Stephen Cowperthwaite, who he wrote: “inspired and fueled my passion for both reading and writing short stories.” Steve was indeed a fantastic teacher in our Maranacook school system, who also taught two of our kids.

My Brother’s Voice is profound and inspiring

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 Vicki Reynolds Schad has written a profound and inspiring story about her severely retarded and disabled brother. It’s a real tribute to both her brother Bobby and her entire family, encircled by friends, all of whom joined in the life-long effort to care for Bobby.

Bobby was hurt at birth, and his parents were told that he was unlikely to live more than a few months. Remarkably, he lived to be 68 years old. Bobby’s parents, Bryce and Rowena of Lubec were amazing people, focused on making Bobby’s life as good as possible.

Bobby often stood beside Ridge Road, where they lived, and watched and waved as people drove by, earning him the title, “Mayor of the Ridge.” Not everything in his life was good, including when Bryce and Rowena were convinced Bobby would be better off in a facility in southern Maine. Unfortunately, he was abused there, and they had to rescue him and return him to their loving home, where despite his disabilities he had a profound impact on his family, church, and community.

Your cuddly cat is a ferocious killer

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 Every cat lover should read Cat Wars by Peter Marra and Chris Santella. Turns out that cuddly cat of yours is a devastating killer of birds and other critters. OK, Linda and I have a cat too, so we’re with you on this.

One well-researched and professionally reviewed study reported that “cats killed between 1.3 and 4 billion birds per year, with unowned (feral) cats causing the majority of the mortality (69 percent).”

“Annual mortality for amphibians and reptiles was in the hundreds of millions,” according to that study.

Our cat seems to be killing less birds as he gets older. This summer he did quite a job on chipmunks, though. In the past he’s brought two birds into the house and released them alive. One morning Linda got up and noticed a chickadee sitting on her computer!

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