Blogs

Deer Dying in the Dakotas – Is Maine Next?

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During my annual pheasant hunt in North Dakota, I usually see lots of whitetail and mule deer. But two years ago, most of our whitetail deer sightings were of dead deer. On one farm, I saw eight freshly dead deer in four days, including the biggest whitetail I’ve ever seen in North Dakota.

I learned that the deer died of HD, hemorrhagic disease. Whitetails die within 96 hours of being bitten by a midge. The virus doesn’t impact mule deer.

Dr. Dan Grove of North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department told me the virus is present throughout the United States, is especially prevalent in southern states, and flares up in North Dakota every four to seven years. That year there were HD outbreaks in many states including South Dakota, Kansas, and Montana.

“The whole (whitetail) population is at risk,” Grove told me in a telephone interview. “There can be large-scale die-offs.”

Maine's moose are in trouble - what we don't know may be killing them

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“New Hampshire’s moose population has declined by 3,100, which is more than 40 percent, since 1997. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has reduced the number of moose hunting permits by 60 percent in the last five years.”

As New Hampshire goes, so goes Maine? That could be the sobering conclusion reached after reading the troubling new report, “Nowhere To Run – Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World,” published by the National Wildlife Federation. You can read the report online on the NWF website.

While Maine’s moose biologist Lee Kantar told the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee earlier this year that he doesn’t know nearly enough about the health of our state’s moose herd, we need only look to our neighbors in New Hampshire to see the future. Kantar has launched a significant study to improve his knowledge of moose health – particularly related to ticks – but there is much more trouble on the horizon. Literally.

Thanksgiving Bucks - Got one, Lost one

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 Thanksgiving Bucks – Got one, Lost one

I’ve had some memorable hunts on Thanksgiving mornings, before gathering with family for the annual feast. Here are two of my most memorable Thanksgiving encounters with big bucks.

An Icy Morning Heats Up

Crunch, crunch, crunch. I could hear him plodding along in the frozen ground through a stand of spruce out in front of me, coming from the stream and moving to my left. But I couldn’t see him. To make that much noise with each step, I thought he must be big.

Excited by a good covering of snow that Thanksgiving morning, I’d gotten out early, driven the short distance to the landing on my neighbor’s property, canoed downstream, and hustled the 250 yards to a ground blind I’d constructed on the top of a small ridge overlooking a well-worn deer trail.

Woodbury's The Mists of Adriana is a compelling read

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Maine inspires good writing. Some writers are natives, some adopted, some write sitting in a local bar, some in a remote cabin, some write just one novel or work on nonfiction, some crank them out year after year.

While I’m a lifelong reader of all things Maine, devoted to books I can hold in my hand and to local bookstores (for both new and used books), and a trustee of my local library for 34 years, I am discovering that the new world of self-publishing is populated by some good writers.

Roger Woodbury is one of those writers. Now a full-time author of short stories and novels, Roger has an interesting background. He taught socially and economically disadvantaged children in an inner city school, sold insurance, purchased and restored antique buildings, and even acted in theater productions. Great fodder for his novels!

Mainers will never hunt on Sundays here

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                I always get a lot of inquiries in November from deer hunters asking why we can’t hunt on Sundays. Here’s my answer.       

Sunday hunting was banned in Maine on February 28, 1883, and I don’t think we’ll ever hunt on Sundays here because – well, because we haven’t since 1883.

                Only six states prohibit Sunday hunting, and in one of those, Virginia, Safari Club International recently filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, arguing that it is unconstitutional under both the U.S. Constitution and the Virginia Constitution that includes a right to hunt.

Leadership needed for brook trout, says retired biologist Roger Auclair

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“The last stronghold for the Eastern brook trout and the habitat of our remarkable watershed will require leadership.”

Those are the words of Roger Auclair, a first generation fisheries biologist for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife whose career spanned 60 years at Moosehead Lake and the North Woods. Auclair was recently honored by the Forest Society of Maine and offered comments at the FSM reception that are enlightening, sobering, and important for all who value Maine’s native brook trout.

Roger’s comments on leadership were directed at FSM’s leaders. “The Forest Society of Maine has an important role,” he said. “It works with many people to form strong, cooperative arrangements, to keep the best of what we have.”

Pickup Cafe: Farm-to-table concept at its finest

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Skowhegan
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The weekly produce pickup spot in Skowhegan's grist mill has turned into a wonderful weekend cafe.

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