Do we want moose or deer in the north woods?

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 That’s one of the big questions being debated as Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife prepares new big game management plans with the assistance of a Big Game Steering Committee comprised of folks representing hunting, fishing, conservation, environmental, and landowner groups.

DIF&W recognizes the importance of moose to our state, both for viewing and hunting opportunities, and is struggling to measure and figure out what to do about the large number of moose that are dying of winter ticks. More than 60 percent of moose calves are being killed by ticks.

As you might expect from DIF&W’s very capable lead moose biologist, Lee Kantar, the draft moose management plan is very detailed with solid goals, objectives and strategies. But there is still a lot we don’t know. 

Sportsmen proposing three Constitutional amendments this legislative session

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 The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine will focus a lot of attention this legislative session on bills to protect hunting, keep wildlife issues off the ballot, and change the way signatures are gathered for ballot initiatives.

SAM’s Executive Director, David Trahan, told me he hopes to pull all sportsmen together in support of the three bills, something that didn’t happen when the same bills were debated at the last legislative session.

Representative Steve Wood is sponsoring two of the Constitutional amendments. One would prohibit citizen ballot initiatives on wildlife issues. The other would establish and protect the right to hunt.

Warden Buuck shoots injured buck.

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 Two young local fellas stopped their truck beside Linda and me on Tuesday as we were out for a walk, and asked if they could park in our driveway to access nearby Hopkins Pond where they enjoy ice fishing. We said sure and told them to park beside the garage at the very end of the driveway, and continued walking.

A few minutes later they drove back and asked if we knew there was an injured deer in our wood shed. Well, no we didn’t!

They said the young buck had an injured hind leg and was in bad shape, unable to walk. So I hurried back to the house, where they joined me, and took a look. It was a good thing they’d pulled up at the end of the driveway, because we never would have seen that deer, down behind a mound of snow at the end of our driveway.

Turkey populations are out of control

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 As I write this column, a dozen turkeys are poking around in the snow on our front lawn. And some people think we are harvesting too many turkeys! I think I should have been able to go out and shoot one of them for lunch.

Ok, I’m just kidding. But the last Big Game Steering Committee meeting was an eye-opener, with more than an hour devoted to turkeys. First of all, we don’t even know how many turkeys we have in Maine. The discussion led to an objective to “develop and implement a reliable system to estimate population.”

I am very skeptical they have the staff to do this, but as Nate Webb of DIF&W’s Wildlife Division said, there is good research available from other states to help them estimate Maine’s populations. Webb’s notes from the last meeting reported the Steering Committee’s questioning of whether it makes sense to have an objective of stabilizing the turkey population when we cannot accurately estimate that population.

“Just One More Thing, Doc” by Bradford B. Brown, DVM

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After reading Brad Brown’s first book, While You’re Here, Doc, I couldn’t wait to dive into his second, Just One More Thing, Doc.

And sure enough, just like his first book, once I began reading, I couldn’t stop, racing through the non-stop astonishing stories of Brown’s career as a veterinarian, focused on farm animals.

In his first book, Brown was trampled, dragged, mauled, and more by farm animals, especially horses. And the beatings continue in book two.

“The Boston Castrato” by Colin W. Sargent

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The Boston Castrato by Colin W. Sargent is an intriguing novel, original and compelling. It really surprised me.

When I heard that the founding editor of Portland Magazine had written a novel, I expected a Maine story. But the principle character, Raffi, starts out in Italy and ends up in Boston, working at the historic Parker House Hotel.

I’ve got to say that Sargent has a vivid imagination and has filled his book with astonishing priests, shipbuilders, politicians, poets, and really really bad people. There’s plenty of humor too.

As a young boy, Raffi is focused on singing, but his Priest castrates him and he is forbidden from ever singing again. He makes his way to Boston where he mingles with all sorts of mobsters and charlatans. Honestly, this is an amazing story.

What were Maine sportsmen and women doing in 2007? A lot!

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 I’ve been going through my collection of issues of the SAM News, and was delighted to find the very first issue published in January, 1976, the year before I joined SAM. I left a collection in the SAM office when I ended my service as executive director, but also kept a collection for myself.

Believing it is always helpful to look back, especially given the challenges we face today, here’s what I learned from the SAM News published in the fall of 2007.

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