George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

IFW Committee Committed to SAM's Agenda

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Most members of the legislature’s Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife joined Governor Paul LePage in endorsing the ambitious legislative agenda of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, in a candidate survey distributed by SAM’s political action committee prior to the November, 2010 election.


IFW Committee members are: Senators Thomas Martin, Dave Trahan, and John Patrick, and Representatives Paul Davis, Ralph Sarty, Dale Crafts, Eleanor Espling, Stacey Guerin, Stephen Wood, Herb Clark, Jane Eberle, Sheryl Briggs, and Michael Shaw.


Comprehensive Statewide Landowner Relations Program

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“I have hunted my whole life on someone else’s land. Why do landowners allow this?”

Bill Vail, former Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife 

Comprehensive Statewide Landowner Relations Plan

Written by George Smith, January 12, 2011

Seventy five people from the recreation and landowner communities and state agencies convened for a landowner relations conference on December 9, 2010. The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine hosted the event, with funding help from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Environmental Funders Network. Edie Smith of Maine Directions in Winthrop organized and moderated the event held at SAM’s Augusta conference center.

Sportsman's Congress and More

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No news this morning from the LePage team about a Commissioner for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Two of the six candidates interviewed by the Transition Team made it to the finals, getting an interview with Paul Lepage: Chandler Woodcock and John Boland. It’s very likely one of those will be IFW’s new commissioner. Hopefully we’ll know soon.

Big news approaches about the sale of 1 million acres of Maine forestland now owned by GMO. I’ve been asked to keep most of the information confidential at this point, but I can tell you that the privilege of access to all of this land will continue. These lands stretch all across Maine and include property in Washington, Aroostook, Penobscot, Oxford, and Franklin Counties. It is unlikely that you will notice any changes in the management of these lands or our opportunities to use them.

Updated Profiles of Fish and Wildlife Committee Members

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Senator Thomas Martin of Waterville and Representative Paul Davis of Sangerville will chair the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. Eleven members of the committee were endorsed or received grades of “A” from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine in the 2010 election. That means they have already made many commitments to sportsmen. We’ll explore those commitments in a later blog.

Eight members of the IFW Committee return from last session’s committee, although the chairs are new, thanks to a Republican take-over of the Senate and House. Rep. Herb Clark, who served as the committee’s House Chair last session, returns as the Democrat’s lead (Ranking Minority Member) on the committee this session.

You can access information about legislative committee assignments and the legislators themselves at the excellent legislative website: Biographies and other information about many legislators are available at

IFW Commissioner Decision Postponed

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Governor Paul LePage will not have chosen a Commissioner for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife by the time he’s sworn in on Wednesday.

Despite his best intentions, when he announced that he’d have all his cabinet selections by January 5 (and he told me personally that’d he’d have an IFW Commissioner by then), a more realistic date for a complete cabinet is the end of the month, according to Transition Team leader Tarren Bragdon.

The Transition Team interviewed six candidates for the IFW position on December 23, and the names of those recommended for personal interviews with LePage were submitted to him on December 27.

Those interviews have not yet been scheduled. Nor is it widely known who will be interviewed by LePage for the position that is of most interest to Maine sportsmen.

It does appear that interviews by the Transition Team are wrapping up. I believe the team has completed interviews for the Commissioner positions at the Departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Marine Resources, and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

A Deer, a Knife, and a Thumb

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My November 2010 deer hunting had been going so well. I’d seen deer nearly every day. In fact I’d seen this particular buck twice.

The first time, he chased a doe right past my tree stand, literally passing right underneath me. My rifle and scope were useless, he was moving so fast. He whipped past me in seconds. I did notice a look of panic on the doe’s face, and I don’t think it was because she saw me. She didn’t want anything to do with that buck!

The second time he came up behind me, and when I stood up to turn around, he either saw or heard me and started to run, snorting at me all the way up through the woods.

So when he appeared at 4:20 pm one mid-month afternoon, slowly walking in front of me about 100 yards away, I said to myself, “Ok, third time never fails. He must be the one I’m supposed to shoot.”

And I did. After I shot, he turned and dashed right by me, dropping dead about 50 yards behind my stand.

I climbed down and began the task of field dressing him as darkness began setting in early due to the cloudy drizzly day.

IF&W Up Next

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Finally! Six candidates for Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow (Thursday, December 23).

Last Thursday, Governor-elect Paul LePage told me he’d have an IF&W Commissioner by the end of the month, and that interviews were scheduled for this week. For these interviews, LePage has added some people who are not on the Transition Advisory Team.

Among those who will be interviewing candidates are Leo Keiffer of Caribous, former Republican State Senator and former member of IF&W’s Advisory Council who is representing the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Richard Thurston of Scarborough, a current member of DIF&W’s Advisory Council, Mike Lee of Denmark, former board member of the National Rifle Association and former President of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Jeff Zimba of Winslow, former SAM Board member and strong gun advocate.

Although Ann Robinson is in charge of the transition for the natural resource agencies, I’ve been told that Tarren Bragdon will direct tomorrow’s IF&W interviews.

The six candidates to be interviewed are:

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