Maine sportsmen and women are very poorly informed

State House Augusta Maine 3_JPGI spoke a couple of week ago at a southern Maine sportsmen’s club, giving them a rundown on my current activities, focused on my outdoor news blog and new Sportsmen Say Survey. I began by asking them these questions.

“How many of you hunt grouse in the unorganized territories?” Many hands were raised. “Then you know about the new law, enacted last year that requires us to label each grouse with our name and the date we shot the bird.”

Heads shook. Nope. Didn’t know about it. I was astonished. My next question was going to be, “Did you know the grouse labeling law was repealed this year?” Of course, they didn’t know that either!

“Did you know that 25 percent of the any-deer permits will go to young hunters this year, leaving only 1/3 of the permits for resident adult hunters?” No, they didn’t. They seemed ok with it.

“How about this? Did you hear that, after an 8 year battle, DIF&W and the legislature just put another 235 wild trout waters on the Heritage list and protected them with a ban on stocking and the use of live fish as bait?” Didn’t know anything about it. They liked this.

“Were you alerted to the favorable vote by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on a proposal to hike your milfoil sticker fee by $5?” They weren’t happy to hear this!

“Did you hear about DIF&W’s report to the legislature on the successes and failures of the Maine Game Plan for Deer?” No.

“Did you get the moose mortality, harvest, and lottery update?” By now, they knew something was up, so I cut to my message.

Only those who read my outdoor news blog know any of this, I told them.

As the evening progressed, I talked about all the other things I’m doing, from our Wildfire TV show to my new book, A Life Lived Outdoors, published by Islandport Press this month. I even sold some books to club members.

I also told them about the legislative proposals I launched last year, including the one that expanded turkey hunting opportunities and reduced the permit fee. When one member asked why we couldn’t have a single hunting license that covered all hunting opportunities, I told him about my comprehensive license proposal that failed at the legislature this year. He – of course – hadn’t heard about it.

I closed out the talk with a strong message, telling them we hunters are a minority now, and it is up to each of us create positive relationships with private landowners and to reach out to the public to educate and inform them about our favorite outdoor activities. Of course, that means each of us must be well informed too!

“Writing this outdoor news blog is one way I am trying to help you achieve that goal,” I concluded.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.