Oscar Cronk is a legendary sportsman

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Oscar and Edie Cronk have been important people in my life, so it was great to be there at SAM’s annual banquet for DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock’s presentation of a Lifetime Outdoor Achievement award to Oscar. Oscar is Maine’s best known trapper, a true legend, and his wife Edie is right there beside him. In fact, Edie followed me as SAM’s President in the early 1980s and later came back for more terms as President during my tenure as executive director. And Oscar was one of the founders of SAM.

From 1964 to 1978 Oscar also served as president of the Maine Trappers Association. He’s hunted bobcats with hounds for more than 65 years, and is still at it. But he’s best known for his lifelong love of trapping and his work, with Edie, in the trapping supplies business. He’s written great books on hunting and trapping, including biographies of two other trapping icons, V.E Lynch and Pete Rickard. And – of course – Oscar is in the Trappers Hall of Fame.

Has Maine changed in your lifetime?

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That’s the primary topic on the new edition of our TV Talk Show, Wildfire, cohosted by James Cote and me. Our guest is Shawn Moody, an amazing entrepreneur and business/community leader.

Moody Collision Centers is a major sponsor of Wildfire, and I have admired Shawn’s commitment to Maine since I met him during his campaign for governor 6 years ago. I’ve mentioned him often in my talks, including the fact that he is the only Mainer to serve on the Boards of both the Community Colleges and the University of Southern Maine – and he didn’t go to college. That tells you a lot about the man.

I spoke to the Portland Rotary in July, in a speech focused on how our outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing, have changed in my lifetime. We talked with Shawn about that, but expanded the topic to include a lot of other things that have changed in Maine in the last 65 years. I think you will really enjoy this show.

A gem in the "middle of nowhere"

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                Linda and I love discovering very special places like Forks in the Air in Rangeley, a casual and comfortable, yet elegant, place. Checking out online reviews of the restaurant before we arrived, I was amused by one that described it as “a gem in the middle of nowhere.” That’s not how I’d describe Rangeley!

                Owner Michael Kupstar first came here at the age of 6 with his Dad who sold boats and sporting goods. And he’s been coming to Rangeley ever since. His son took his first step here. Michael has an impressive resume in the restaurant business, from Kentucky to Florida, and including management of 1000 Long John Silver stores, plus 18 years growing Panera from 52 to 1700 stores.

Pass the Pandowdy, Please – Words by Abby Zelz, Art by Eric Zelz

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 Do you like food? How about history? As a lover of both, I found Pass The Pandowdy, Please, to be absolutely fascinating. It’s a book that will entertain both adults and children, and I can’t wait to share it with my grandsons.

The subtitle tells it well: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and Their Fabulous Foods. This book, published by Tilbury House in Thomaston, takes us on a romp through history, looking at what famous people ate, and telling us why. Abby Zelz wrote the stories while her husband Eric Zelz did the art.

Imagine dining with Cleopatra. You’ll have to be prepared to eat with your fingers, as she did. They didn’t have utensils at that time. That’s my kind of eating!

Hunting in Italy is a lot different than in Maine

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 I heard him yelling, every few minutes, as he came up the hill through the grape vines. And then, there he was, in a field below our apartment in the small family winery, Il Santo, in Greve, Italy.

He was wearing camo clothing and carrying a very long gun, which I assumed was a rifle. Halfway across the field, he called someone on his phone, who I assumed were his hunting buddies. I also assumed they were hunting wild boar, because Tuscany is overrun with them, and expanded the hunt and bag limit to reduce the population of boars this year.

As an aside, I can tell you that pappardelle pasta with wild board sauce is my favorite Italian dish.

Annabella's is a gathering place in Richmond

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                Family defines and inspires Annabella’s Bakery and Café in “downtown” Richmond. Barbara and her daughter Stacy are the owners, assisted by Barbara’s two sisters and cousin, and sometimes even her grandsons. And her husband is known to poke around in the place too.

                Lots of people in the Richmond area encouraged us to visit Annabella’s, and we are grateful to them for that advice. This a truly wonderful place, a place where you might go for breakfast and still be there for lunch! It’s a gathering place for the community, for sure. It’s also a place that serves creative and tasty food.

Oh, the hunting mistakes I’ve made!

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 When I started to build a list of all the mistakes I’ve made while hunting, well, it turns out I made a lot more mistakes than I remembered! I guess that’s the trail we take to become successful hunters. For me, the trail was long and sometimes frustrating.

I started off on the wrong foot, when, at the age of 9, I snuck up to a robin, perched on a tree in our front yard, and shot it with my BB gun. Dad explained, quickly, how wrong that was! Seems appropriate that today I am an avid birder! With binoculars, not a shotgun!

About a half century later, I was hunting woodcock with my friend Jimmy Robbins in Searsmont, when we moved into a grow-over apple orchard. Jimmy told me to stand near an old apple tree on a knoll, while he took the dog and hunted down through the thick brush off to our right. He pointed to the far end of that piece and said to watch that spot, because that’s where the woodcock would fly out.

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