Maine Outdoor Federation Falls Flat

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The Maine Outdoor Federation – launched with great expectations in April of 2010 – has quietly exited the stage.

 “I guess it was an idea whose time had not come,” Maine guide Don Kleiner told me. “I am more than a little disappointed because I clearly see the need.”

 Kleiner, the executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association, organized an April 2010 conference at Point Lookout in Northport to explore the idea of a cooperative coalition of sportsmen’s groups. The conference drew many of the state’s outdoor leaders and led to a May 11, 2010 meeting at the Maine Tourism Association’s Hallowell office to begin the organizational process.

Frank's Dockside Restaurant is Lubec's Best

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The prosperous Lubec of our childhood has vanished along with the sardine packing plants and Unobsky’s Department Store.

But an August visit encouraged us by the level of tourist activity witnessed on the town’s very busy Main Street, now dotted with good restaurants, interesting shops, and comfortable accommodations.

We’ve known for a long time that there is no prettier Maine town from a distance than Lubec. It sits on a hill, jutting into the ocean, with church steeples rising above white houses. 

Now, Lubec is pretty up close as well. Buildings are being renovated and there’s even a new inn in a former sardine packing plant.

Nothing surprised us more on this most recent trip than our amazing dinner at Frank’s Dockside Restaurant. It’s been tough in recent years to locate fine dining in our favorite coastal town. Not anymore.

223 Pages of Maine Fishing Rules Up For Comment

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While we wait for a major initiative to simplify Maine’s fishing rules in 2012, the 2011 list of fishing rule changes is now up for public comment.

But prepare yourself. The changes consume 223 pages!

First, check to see if any of your favorite waters are on the list. That’s where you can have the most impact – commenting on waters you know well.

Second, look at some of the comprehensive changes that are applied statewide, to see if you agree with the direction the Fish and Wildlife Department is taking. These are harder to determine because you have to look through the entire list to figure out what they are.

Shooting Lesson With Brad Varney Was An Amazing Experience

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After fifty years of no better than modest shooting success during our fall bird hunting seasons, I got a lesson yesterday from one of Maine’s top teachers, Brad Varney at Varney’s Clay Sports in Richmond.

It was an amazing experience.

Brad began by assessing my “dominant eye.” For years I have closed my left eye when shooting. Turns out that’s wrong. After figuring out that my two eyes were fighting for dominance, using a simple exercise in which I peered through a piece of plastic piping, Brad said, “It is amazing that you can hit anything!”

Precisely my problem.

When he said he could fix the problem, I feared surgery. But it turned out to be the simplest of solutions.

Latti Not Coming Late to Landowner Relations Issues

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On September 16, 1956, the Maine Fish and Game Association adopted a new set of bylaws listing 10 objectives. One was “to work for a better relationship between landowners and organized sportsmen.”

Fifty five years later, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries has its first full-time landowner relations specialist – better late than never, I guess.

Mark Latti was named the department’s new Recreational Access and Landowner Relations Coordinator on October 7, and is expected to be on the job by the end of the month.

Latti served in DIF&W’s Information and Education Division for nine years, much of it as the department’s spokesman, before leaving for a similar position at the Department of Transportation.

The Gems of Route 26

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Poland Spring
New Gloucester
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There are too many gems. That’s the only problem with the Gems of 26, a clever collaborative promotion of food, lodging, and attractions on a 24-mile scenic stretch of Maine’s Route 26 from Gray to South Paris.

We had hoped to see all of the seven gems on a recent Saturday but fell short by three.    For the record, the gems are: Maine Wildlife Park, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, Poland Spring Resort, Poland Spring Preservation Society, Poland Spring Preservation Park, Harvest Hill Farms & Pumpkin Land, and McLaughlin Garden.

Now is the time to schedule your visit because the gems feature a lot of fall activities (including special Halloween events and attractions), and October is the best month to be out-and-about in Maine.

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Robbins Family Good Forest Stewards

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In the early days of my career as a sportsmen’s advocate, I knew all of the principles in Maine’s forest industry. Paper companies owned most of our North Woods aand their woods managers were Mainers who were readily accessible (and accountable) to us.

That’s all changed, or course, with the most recent purchases by billionaire TV-mogul John Malone, bringing his ownership up over one million acres, only the latest example of the trend to out-of-state owners who are neither accessible nor accountable to the citizens of Maine.

Throughout it all, the Robbins family in Searsmont has maintained its key place in the state’s forest industry, demonstrating a keen sense of appreciation for our hunting and fishing heritage, good stewardship of their forestlands, and a commitment to their workers.

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