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Don't Duck the Fries at Portland's Duckfat Restaurant

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Portland
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George When son Josh called to report that he and our daughter-in-law Kelly were enjoying a weekend in Portland and hoped we would join them for Sunday lunch at Duckfat Restaurant, I was pleased with the invitation but concerned about the duck. I have had two experiences with meals of duck. When I was an avid duck hunter, most of the ducks I shot were hardly edible. Some were totally inedible including merganzers and eiders. Josh remembers chomping down on a piece of buckshot in a duck once when he was growing up. That would have been the tastiest portion of the duck. On the other hand, over the years I’ve enjoyed succulent duck meals at the Belgrade Inn, famous for its long-roasting method of preparing duck. So Linda and I accepted the invitation and met Josh and Kelly at Duckfat in mid-November. A tiny place, Duckfat takes no reservations, but our wait outside on a pleasant sunny day was not long. And boy, their duck is a different critter than those ducks I used to kill and eat. Although the menu offers a bunch of interesting choices, I had to try the duck, of course. It’s a panini called duckfat confit with kimchi and sweet chili sauce.

Stetson Stories

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Most Mainers support green energy wind projects, properly sited. But this column is not about wind power. I wanted to find out if wind projects benefited local people, programs, and economies. So I headed north to Danforth, next door to First Wind’s Stetson Mountain wind towers. Here’s what I discovered.

Outdoor Kids

Imagine a bunch of teenagers up before dawn to paddle canoes around a lake before school. Fourteen years ago when David Conley started his outdoor program for the East Grand School system, he probably could not have imagined it. Now he lives it. Connelly offers what may be the most successful outdoor program for kids from 5th to 12th grades in the state. And he’s tucked into one of Maine’s most remote off-the-beaten-path places. “We’re using recreation as a tool for building confidence, team work, outdoor appreciation, and environmental awareness,” said Connelly, an avid sportsmen who takes kids into the wilderness setting of the Baskahegan year round, with winter camping one of his most popular activities.

Speaking of Deer

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Sitting in my deer stand last Saturday afternoon as the sun sank below the horizon, I knew that sun would come back up on Sunday morning. I’m not so sure about Maine’s deer herd.

Deer have disappeared from the North Woods and their numbers in central Maine are greatly diminished. The outdoor industry that depends on nonresident deer hunters has taken a terrible hit and may not recover.

In a recent WCSH TV 207 interview, I lamented Maine’s two major hunting problems: diminished deer in the northern half of the state, and diminished numbers of hunters statewide.

Where the woods were once full of 250,000 deer hunters, we’ll be lucky to see 150,000 this season.

We’ve also suffered an epidemic of posted land in southern Maine.

And Bucky Owen, the popular former Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, told me not long ago that he thinks, “deer hunting in the north woods is all over.”

When I saw Bucky last week, he was going to his Sourdahunk Lake camp – to hunt birds, not deer.

The deer harvest has plunged from 38,153 in 2002 to 28,884 in 2007 to 18,045 in 2009, a 53 percent decline in just seven years.

IFW Picks John Boland for Top Job

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After what he called a “nationwide search,” Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Dan Martin picked longtime department staff member John Boland to fill the agency’s top professional position.

Boland has worked for DIF&W for 33 years, all of it in the Fisheries Division that he has led for the past eight years. His new job makes him the top non-political staff member and puts him in charge of both the Fisheries and the Wildlife Divisions.

Boland is personable and smart and an avid hunter, so wildlife issues will not be new to him, although he has big shoes to fill.

Dr. Ken Elowe left the position earlier this year to take an important position at the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service. Elowe was well respected with a particularly good understanding of the political world in which DIF&W lives.

In his new position, Boland will manage 120 employees and a $14 million budget. Budget matters will quickly consume him.

Boland is certain to be frustrated with the small amount of time he’ll have available for the “fun stuff,” the projects and initiatives that benefit Maine’s fish and wildlife.

Mount Vernon’s Post Office Café

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Mount Vernon
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Mount Vernon’s Post Office Café: Spectacular soups, salads, sandwiches, and specials.

The Big City – Portland, Maine

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Portland
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George

The Poacher’s Son – A Great Book!

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Paul Doiron is lucky.

Yes, it took him four years to write his first novel, The Poacher’s Son. And he’s wearing himself out traveling the state promoting the book before small gatherings at libraries and other venues. And he still has to go to his regular job as editor of Downeast magazine.

But right out of the novelist’s starter’s gate, he snared a great agent, a 3-book contract with Minotaur, and an initial printing of 30,000 books.

Robyn Jackson, a newspaper features editor with 20 years experience who now writes about writing on her website, www.robynjackson.com, claims that 80 percent of Americans want to write a book.

“Anyone who has ever tried to find an agent or get a manuscript accepted by a publisher knows what a tough business writing is. Even if you do get your book published, there’s no guarantee anyone will buy it,” Jackson says.

She points to statistics about book publishing and reading on self-publishing guru Dan Poynter’s website, www.parapub.com.

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