Closer All the Time by Jim Nichols

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This novel surprised me. Jim Nichols is a very good writer, well recognized for his short stories. But in Closer All the Time, Jim has woven together a group of his short stories and turned them into a compelling new novel. Most of the stories have been published before, but he wrote three new ones to link all of the others.

That works, allowing some characters to continue throughout the novel, but I actually read them as short stories, a few at a time. Each stands alone, and all are compelling, interesting, and very insightful. The setting is Baxter, Maine, a community near the coast, the time is shortly after World War Two, and the characters are very recognizable, from Early Blake, the clam digger, to Johnny Lundun, a veteran with serious problems.

Consider this, the first paragraph in the chapter titled “Early.”

Sportsman’s Alliance tells Governor: Stop Playing Politics

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 “If Governor LePage does not release the 2010 voter-approved Land for Maine’s Future bonds this June, he will be intentionally and single-handedly undermining targeted investments in local economies across Maine.” That was the statement of Tim Glidden, President of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, in a June 11 press release from the Land for Maine’s Future Coalition.

More than 250 organizations including sportsmen, business leaders, health organizations, conservationists, environmentalists, and others called on the Governor to honor his word and the wishes of Maine voters by releasing the bonds. The press release took us back two years with a quote from the Governor: “As a measure of good faith, I am hereby directing the State Treasurer to begin to prepare those bonds for my signature on an expedited basis.”

Deer hunting is about a lot more than killing a deer

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I saw about 30 deer last season and chose not to shoot one. I need to tell Ralph Sabin this, because in response to my last column on deer hunting and any-deer permits, Ralph wrote, “Most people work for a living and don’t have time to bag their deer every year George… once again I shake my head.”

In that column, posted here on May 18, I noted that I “got my deer” nearly every year for the past 40 years. And that is true. But it set Ralph off, so I need to set the record straight. I enjoy everything about deer hunting, and look forward to spending a lot of time in the woods in November and December every year. I especially enjoy the muzzle-loading season, mostly because there are far fewer hunters in the woods.

An angling story for the ages

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 On the porch of Claybrook Mountain Lodge in Highland Plantation are two carved “Buck Boards” listing the bucks and does that guests and guides have shot since the lodge opened in 1984.  The name of Greg Drummond, who owns the lodge with his wife Pat (a phenomenal cook) is often on the list. But the Buck Boards tell the story better than I ever could.

Here are the harvest numbers for recent years: 2009 0, 2010 0, 2011 1, 2012 1, 2013 0. For many years, the November deer season was the busiest for the Drummonds. But things have changed. “The deer herd in our area has declined to such an extent that our (deer) season is the least profitable of the year,” Greg tells me.

Solace by Tim Caverly

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Tim Caverly offers an intriguing mix of fact and fiction in his new novel, Solace. And while the fictional tale is a good one, it’s the factual parts of the book that I found most fascinating. As Tim writes in the preface, “It is up to you, the reader, to use your detective skills to determine what parts of the following text is fiction or nonfiction, autobiography or a fabrication, historic narrative or creative writing. Let me know what you decide.” Yes, there is all of that in Solace.

It didn’t take a lot for me to detect some of the nonfiction and autobiography. Tim served for 18 years as the Regional Supervisor of the Allagash Region for the Bureau of Parks and Lands. And the novel is set in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

New fish hatchery draws interest but stocking problems continue

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 The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee grabbed quite a bit of my hatchery commission bill but some key issues, including problems with stocking policies, genetics of brook, brown, and rainbow trout, high costs and low catch rates, were ignored.

My bill, sponsored by Rep. Russell Black, would have created a Hatchery Commission to:

1)     

Examine the costs of production, the numbers and species of fish stocked, and the return on stocked fish, both in Maine and in other states;

Fighting Eagles Get Tangled – and Rescued

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 Here’s an amazing story, received this afternoon from Mark Latti at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. I can’t write this any better than Mark did, so I’m giving you his report and photos just as I received them. Astonishing photos! And lots of praise to all involved, including the good folks at Avian Haven.

Mark Latti’s Report

While their jobs may be very different, many times IFW biologists and game wardens work together to help Maine’s wildlife. Quite often, they work with Maine citizens who also share an equal passion for wildlife as well.

Recently, a homeowner on the outskirts of Millinocket received a big surprise when two eagles crash landed in his front yard.

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