Playing God by Kate Flora

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Kate Flora is one of my favorite writers, and not just because she helped retired game warden Roger Guay with his wonderful new book, A Good Man with a Dog. While her novels are at the top of my favorites list, Kate’s 2015 true crime book, Death Dealer, is also remarkable. It’s about the search, by Maine game wardens with their dogs, for a killer in New Brunswick. You’ll be very proud of the Maine Warden Service when you read Death Dealer.

33 million fish stocked this year – in Michigan

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Michigan stocked 33,308,068 fish this year, while Maine stocked 1,211,141 fish. Interestingly, Maine’s fish weighed a total of 193 tons, while Michigan’s weighed 343 tons. Clearly, although Maine stocks a lot less fish, ours are a lot larger.

Over the years, we’ve debated more vs bigger fish. In 1935, under the leadership of Fish and Game Commissioner George Stobie, two new hatcheries were constructed. The hatchery in Gray produced 12 million legal-sized brook trout, while the world’s largest landlocked salmon hatchery at Moosehead Lake produced 2 million salmon.

Maine may produce even less fish next year, if the currently-closed Casco Hatchery is not reopened. That hatchery closed earlier this year when their water source vanished. They are still searching to find the problem and fix it. Fixing it will require a lot of money, and they’re probably searching for that too.

Suddenly Spying is an imaginative and entertaining novel

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Gin Mackey  has a tremendous imagination and she puts it all to work in her novel, Suddenly Spying. The subtitle, A Mapcap Caper, doesn’t begin to describe it.

The plot is imaginative, that’s for sure, with Nora Gallagher joining her sister as a secret agent and spy, sent to Barlanadana Island to stop a coup by a dangerous drug dealer called Tommy the Twitch. There are lots of amusing twists (ok twitches) and turns in the story, and you won’t want to stop reading.

Big challenges ahead as new big game management plans are created

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                New management plans for all of Maine’s big game animals should be ready for review and comment by sportsmen and the general public sometime in December. Draft plans prepared by wildlife biologists and representatives of various groups are nearing completion.

                Those plans will go to a larger Big Game Steering Committee, which will work with the department to complete the plans. A statewide poll, online comments, and public meetings have all been part of the process, and once the plans are completed, you will get one more chance to comment before they are officially adopted.

New episode of Wildfire focuses on deer

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State Representative Gary Hilliard (R-Belgrade) is our guest on the episode of Wildfire that begins airing tomorrow night. Much of the show focused on deer, as we questioned the sharp 60 percent increase in any-deer permits issued this year by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Gary is on a working group that is partnering with DIF&W on a new deer management plan, and we spent some time exploring the key issues, including whether high populations of deer in southern Maine should be reduced, given the growing concerns about deer ticks and Lyme disease.

We also talked about what the legislature did on outdoor issues, and didn’t do, and on Gary’s successful legislation that eliminated the age limit for hunting.

Each edition of Wildlife is aired on Time Warner cable station 9 on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 am. Each edition airs for two weeks. You can also access the show, including previous shows, online at

Creativity and commitment to community make Vittles special

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                 Vittles Restaurant is a family run gem in Pittsfield. Bob and Kathy Phelan, the owners, are parents of the talented and inspired chef Richard LeRose whose creative energy focuses on quality fresh ingredients.

                Dinners are served here on Friday and Saturday nights featuring a menu of the day. Bob wanted to get us started with the specialty appetizers of the evening - Tempura Battered Garlic Scapes and Fried Calamari. Even though it was half portions of each, out came a rectangular plate heaped with curly garlic scapes, calamari, and even some fried jalapeño.

On my way to the outhouse

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 My Dad, Ezra Smith, was a prolific writer of letters to the editor. After he died, I found every letter he’d ever written to our local newspaper, in files by decade. What a treasure!

He once wrote a letter to the editor about the outhouse at our camp on Nesowadnehunk  Lake just outside the western boundary of Baxter Park. We actually framed the letter and put it up in the outhouse. A couple of years ago, when a new outhouse was constructed, his letter was moved, so it still hangs there.

I thought you might enjoy Dad’s letter. Here it is.

To the Editor:

Although I have lived in Maine most of my life, I had never been to Baxter Park. However, my luck changed when son George purchased a camp near there and I had the good fortune of being one of the first guests.

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