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.

From deer antler restrictions to life jackets, lots of bills are ready for action

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 Nearly 1/3 of the legislature’s 1900 bills have been drafted, and there are lots of outdoor issues on the agenda for hearings in the next month or so. Here are a few of the more interesting bills for those of us who enjoy the outdoors in Maine.

LD 61, sponsored by Rep. McCrea of Fort Fairfield, An Act to Allow Bird Hunting on Sundays by Licensed Hunters Using a Shotgun. I’ve predicted that none of the Sunday hunting bills will be enacted, or even win the support of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, but the hearings and work sessions will be entertaining to put it mildly.

LD 109, sponsored by Rep. Strom of Pittsfield, An Act to Allow Sunday Hunting by Landowners and Those with Landowner Permission. The last Sunday hunting bill I testified for, when I worked for SAM, would have allowed us to hunt on Sundays on our own land. Like all other Sunday hunting bills, it was easily defeated.

Legislature considers bill to simplify fishing rules

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 My proposal to establish a commission to simplify Maine’s complicated fishing rules is scheduled for a public hearing by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday, February 14, at 1 pm in Room 206 of the Cross Building next to the Capitol.

 LD 187, sponsored by Representative Michelle Dunphy of Old Town, would organize a 10-member Commission to recommend changes that will simplify the laws and rules governing fishing.

Over the years I probably got more complaints about the complexity of fishing rules than any other issue. Along with my testimony, I’m giving the IFW Committee a column I wrote last year, as I fished through the law book for the rules governing some of my favorite waters. Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe my search.

Confused by fishing rules? Get this app!

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Great news! Ron Cote’s app for Maine’s fishing rules is now available – for free!

You can get the app here. It's available for android and an Apple version is coming soon.

 

Maine aggressively fights invasive plants but not fish and wildlife.

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Maine is aggressively fighting invasive plants and insects, but not wild animals and fish like the northern pike shown above. And I think that’s too bad.

This recent quote from Doug Denico, Director of Maine’s Forestry Bureau, got my attention: "The Maine Forest Service, Public Lands and the Natural Areas Program have joined with the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to locate and eradicate invasive plant and animal species."

Fish and Wildlife Department may get authority over turkey bag limits and seasons

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Turkey bag limits and seasons are set in law, but that may change. My turkey bill, LD 98, was amended by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife today to give the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife full authority to set bag limits and seasons, including the opportunity to schedule special hunts where turkeys are causing problems.

Currently bag limits and seasons are set in law, giving the agency no opportunity to make any changes.

The three sections of my turkey bill were removed. One called for elimination of the turkey hunting permit and fee, to encourage more hunters to try turkey hunting. The department and several IFW Committee members were skeptical that this would actually attract a lot more turkey hunters, and the committee felt that DIF&W needed the money for turkey research and other purposes.

At the legislature, landowners urge us to kill more turkeys

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 My turkey bill got plenty of support at yesterday’s public hearing before the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. And the committee will quickly get to work on the bill on Thursday.

The bill would eliminate the permit requirement and fee, allow on-line and phone tagging, and expand the bag limits to three toms in the spring season and three birds of either sex in the fall season. I tried to eliminate the permit and fee in 2014, and believe that is going to be essential if we’re going to get more hunters to hunt turkeys. Last year DIF&W sold only 16,000 turkey hunting permits and estimated that no more than 5,000 of us hunted turkeys in the fall.

Persistence Pays Off When Pursuing Deer

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 You should never assume you missed a deer without spending lots of time in persistent pursuit of it. Today I’ll tell you a few stories of mine that demonstrate this point.

Ethan Emerson triggered these memories in his column in the February, 2017 issue of The Maine Sportsman. The title of his column is “A Hunter’s Ethical Responsibility To Track Down Wounded Game” and he notes that, “The real work begins after you pull the trigger.” He tells his own story too, of a long several-days pursuit of a wounded buck by one of his friends.

About 40 years ago, the first huge buck I’d ever seen while hunting sauntered by me. I got off five shots, but was shaking so badly that I was sure I’d missed. I checked out the area where the buck was walking when I shot, saw no signs that I’d hit him, and headed home, morose.

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