Rebuilding Maine’s hunting economy is a tough challenge

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 While we were able to – again – defend Maine’s bear hunting industry, other types of hunting continue to decline, and we have no strategy to regain the state’s reputation for quality hunts that once attracted lots of nonresidents. Most Mainers don’t hire guides to hunt, so guides and sporting camps have always depended on nonresidents to sustain their businesses.

The decline in deer and moose populations has been devastating for businesses that depend on those game animals to bring hunters into their regions to hunt.

The challenge of reversing a 60 percent decline in Maine’s nonresident hunters was tossed to a Task Force in 2011 by the legislature. That Task Force issued its report with a list of thoughtful recommendations on January 23, 2013, after which the report was promptly shelved.

Federal Jack's and other favorite brewpubs

City or Town: 
Bangor
Topsham
Hallowell
Kennebunk
Waterville
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 It all started here, at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunk.

George

                Shipyard Brewery’s Export Ale is one of my favorite brews, and it was brewed first at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunk in 1992. That history drew us to Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub for dinner in April of 2013 and Linda and I loved it so much we returned the very next day for lunch.

                So it wasn’t a hard sell when I suggested that we host some of our kids and grandkids here during our August visit to Ram’s Head Farm in nearby York. Joining us for lunch at Jack’s were son Josh, daughter-in-law Kelly, and new granddaughter Ada, along with daughter Rebekah and grandsons Addison and Vishal.

Old Saco Inn and Stone Mountain Arts Center

City or Town: 
Fryeburg
Brownfield
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 A Celtic concert at Stone Mountain Arts Center and a stay at the Old Saco Inn made for a great 24-hour-hour get-a-way.

George

                She sings, she plays, she cooks, she inspires. Carol Noonan does it all. Eight years ago she turned an old barn into the best place to listen to music in Maine.

                We’ve been blessed to attend a couple of events a year at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, just below Fryeburg, and they are always spectacular. Our most recent visit in October featured an Irish band, Gaelic Storm, and they created a storm in that old barn, for sure.

Celebrating Octoberfest at the Brunswick Tavern

City or Town: 
Brunswick
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Octoberfest’s wine and beer dinner at the Brunswick Tavern brought back fond memories.

Linda

                An invitation to The Brunswick Tavern to celebrate their 3rd annual Beer vs Wine dinner was a welcome one. But the fact that this one focused on German Food and was celebrating Octoberfest made it even better for me. Fond memories of visiting Munich, Germany many years ago during Octoberfest came back.

                I love German food and now find myself craving sauerkraut. I grew lots of cabbage this year with that in mind and have preserved a gallon of this delicious stuff for the winter ahead.

Best bucks: The Day-After-Thanksgiving Buck

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                 Dad introduced me to deer hunting on his old farm in North Wayne when I was just 12 years old and in 2013, we hunted there for the 53rd year. That’s where I shot the Day-After-Thanksgiving buck, my favorite deer hunting story. It happened about 20 years ago. I was sitting on a bucket in the woods, behind an old cemetery, and Dad was hunting his way up over a ridge from the farm, towards me.

                It was a very cold and icy day, the ground was frozen, and I heard the tromp, tromp, tromp of a deer coming from a long way off. I got the gun up, aimed for a small opening in the thicket of small fir trees, and when the deer – a huge buck – stepped into the opening, I shot.

Ezra Smith was a real make-do Mainer - and he left us a few messages

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            Every day was a great day for Ezra Smith. In the Hospice Unit at the VA’s Togus facility since April, Dad thrived, thanks to the extraordinary care of the professionals there, and even in his final weeks, when he was on ever-heavier dosages of morphine and slept a lot, when he awoke, he’d exclaim, “Well, this is a great day!”

            I have no doubt, if he could speak here today, he’d tell you, this is a great day.

            Dad asked us to thank everyone who visited, called, and wrote him during his time at Togus. Every contact meant a lot to him. And the things you brought him, in addition to yourselves, delighted him. Roland Preble’s painting – Dad out in the boat fishing. Steve Cowperthwaite’s book of poetry.

Narrow victory on bear referendum indicates trouble ahead

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                 Bear hunting and trapping advocates won another narrow victory this week, 54 percent to 46 percent. Despite polls that predicted a much bigger victory, the No on 1 campaign failed to significantly increase the margin of victory we won in 2004 on the same referendum question.

                And the no vote fell about 75,000 short of the no vote in 2004, a presidential election year with a higher turnout. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, the turnout this year was 593,000, with 313,198 voting no on 1. 734,000 voters cast ballots in 2004, with 389,455 voting no on the bear referendum and 344,322 voting yes.

                Today’s two-mornings-after analysis will focus on the lessons learned from the bear referendum.

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