Mainely Brews. Great Pub. Great Grub.

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If Luke Duplessis could turn every Post Office location that is closing into a Mainely Brews, people would happily forget about the mail.

After several friends and readers of this column told us how much they like Mainely Brews Tavern, located in Waterville’s old post office, we scheduled a visit last week. This is a fun place with a  great pub atmosphere, superb micro-brews, and a surprising (and enticing) menu.

Favorite Maine Quotes of 2011

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 From my monthly Quotable Sportsman column in The Maine Sportsman, here are some of my favorite quotes of 2011.

 I trust the wisdom of nature, the wisdom of Creation, far more than the selfish and arrogant desires of George Smith and the extremist wing of the Maine hunting community that has gone off the deep end in its unethical and inhumane demonization, persecution and massacre of natural predators such as coyotes.

 Robert Goldman of South Portland, testifying in support of legislation requiring hound hunters and others to have permission to access private land.

 Best bets for backcountry bucks: North Maine Woods.

 Darren Warner story, Outdoor Life, November 2011.

Nothing Fine-ah than the China Dine-ah!

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The China Dine-ah will surprise you. It’s a lot more than a diner, from food to atmosphere.

And it’s a true reflection of owner Norm Elvin, who modeled some of the restaurant on his Palermo camp, and who puts his personal stamp on every aspect from service (excellent) to the menu (huge) to the restrooms (immaculate). And the food is exceptional.

Who would have thought that the longtime owner of G&E Roofing would become a foodie!

Read More.

Photo at top of column: Norm Elvin (center) shares a laugh with Linda Smith, Cate and Ed Pineau (left to right).

LePage's Christmas Gift Falls Short for Edie Smith and DIF&W

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Word is spreading that Governor Paul LePage has forced my sister, Edie Smith, out of her position as the Director of Information and Education at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, by Governor Paul LePage.

I must leave it to others to tell the story, although I will eventually have something to say. Today, I want to tell you about Edie.

Edie is highly respected – and even loved – by many people throughout the state, despite carrying the burden of being my sister. She is caring, compassionate, and professional in her work, and her decision to join the staff of DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock was widely applauded inside and outside the state’s network of sporting groups.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about LL Bean - and More!

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Many Mainers will get and/or give Christmas gifts from LL Bean this week. For a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the company and all its players, turn to James Witherell’s exceptionally comprehensive book, L.L. Bean – The Man and His Company.

Published in paperback by Tilbury House of Gardiner, Maine in June of 2011, this 533-page tome is the definitive account of the rise of the nation’s favorite outdoor store, including the many stumbles along the way.

Well, ok, maybe that’s a bit of hometown cheerleading, but it’s my favorite outdoor store and maybe yours too. The quality of Bean’s products, and the lifetime guarantee, keep me shopping there, year after year.

Best Experiences of 2011

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Our first year as the Travelin Maine(rs) delivered great experiences, fabulous hospitality, and interesting lessons. Looking back, we marvel at the number of wonderful restaurants, inns, and events our state offers – and the people responsible for them.

In the 50 columns published this year, we told you about some of them. Today, we share our favorites of 2011.

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DIF&W's Deer Task Force Hears Report

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You missed the December 8 meeting of DIF&W’s Deer Task Force, but I was there to find out what has been accomplished since Governor Paul LePage announced the Maine Game Plan for Deer last spring.

I’ve written one blog post already, a brief account of the after-meeting reactions of DIF&W staff and task force members. My post disappointed John Pratte, who led the meeting and presented most of the information.

“I think you missed one of the key messages from yesterday,” Pratte emailed. “Addressing deer numbers in the north that are lower than public expectations is a long term process and commitment.”

“There are some short term projects that we are doing now to reduce winter mortality (deer/vehicle collisions, deer feeding, coyote predation, etc.) and then there are long-term projects (habitat management).

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