These tall tales may be more fact than fiction

Tall Tales from the Tall PinesChris Potholm’s tall tales may be more truth than fiction. Tall Tales from the Tall Pines is a book of hunting and other outdoor stories that will be read, re-read, and put up on the shelves with outdoor books that are handed down from generation to generation. And not just because some of the stories are based on true amazing experiences that happened to author Christian Potholm – some of them with me.

“The collection grew out of some of the stories I was beginning to tell my three grandsons,” writes Chris, “about the hunting and fishing of ‘yesteryear.’ Somehow though when my beloved father-in-law, John ‘Johnnie Q” Quinland, died, I was moved, even driven, to put those stories down on paper and expand their telling. In the process, characters from the past blended with entirely imaginary characters, central characters faded, and totally new ones would wake me up at 3 a.m., insisting that their story be told.”

“In the process, the work morphed into something else and became more (and less) than simply a set of hunting and fishing tales. It became a paean to the Maine of which I have been fortunate to have been a part for the last forty years. That life in that world has been a true blessing,” concluded Chris.

Indeed it has. Originally I was supposed to write some of the stories for this book, but as Chris kept getting out of bed at 3 a.m. to write more and more feverishly, I just couldn’t keep up, so I ended up contributing ideas for the stories that Chris wrote, and I wrote the book’s introduction.

Chris PotholmChris and I have enjoyed some amazing hunting and fishing adventures and some of the best ones are here, fictionalized for sure, but offering more truth than fiction. Consider the story titled, Willimina Kicks Serious Butt, about a lady who takes her Girl Scout troop upcountry for an ice fishing adventure that was spoiled when a game warden gave her a summons for fishing in a pond that was closed to ice fishing.

Willimina is a stickler for the rules and had carefully gone over all of them before heading out to the pond to fish. In Willimina’s home county, the department lists the waters that are closed to ice fishing. All others are open. Unfortunately, in the county where Willimina and her scouts were enjoying their ice fishing outing,  the rule book lists the waters that are open to ice fishing. All others are closed. She didn’t realize this.

You may identify with Willimina when she shouts at the warden, who is particularly obnoxious, “I’ll tell you who’s to blame! It’s you damned game wardens and your damned biologists and your damned department and your damned legislators! Even a Philadelphia lawyer can’t understand all these stupid rules.”

I don’t think my relative expressed himself to the warden in just that manner, but he did get a summons for fishing with his scout troop in Piscataquis County on a water closed to ice fishing. His home county listed the waters that are open, but Piscataquis County lists the waters that are closed, and my relative didn’t know that. Not many people would. Trust me, you will be cheering for Willimina as she pursues justice in this case!

Some of my favorite stories are Duck Feathers Destroy a Friendship, The Curse of the Beaver Lady, Moose Under Water, and Blue Fish Blitz. I don’t want to give the blue fish story away, but it closely resembles something that happened to me when I raced to Harpswell one day after Chris called and said a huge bunch of Blue Fish had just chased some poggies up into his cove.

On the back cover, TV6’s Bill Green summed the book up nicely: “I laughed a lot. I learned a lot. Big Gus and Snappy Jack remind me of the characters that I hunt with.”

Chris has changed the names of the innocent (ok, we’re not all innocent), but you may be able to figure out which character is me in the book. You’ll know my Dad for sure, because Chris uses his real name, Ezra Smith. Dad is also one of those who Chris dedicates the book to, and I sure do appreciate that. Dad participated in some of the hunting adventures that Chris and I enjoyed over the years.

In one story, Chris writes, “Ezra was, and still is, one of the grand old men of the Maine out-of-doors. Last Christmas we got a card from him at age ninety. There he was, as big as life, sitting on the front of the Christmas card in hunter orange from head to toe, turkey hunting under a tree. The inscription said, ‘Heaven Can Wait. Merry Christmas. Ezra.’ What a hoot. What a grand gentleman he was. I’ve always been grateful that I had a chance to know Ezra and hunt with him, thank the Good Lord.”

Dad died last October, the day before November’s deer season opened, and I like to say that he died that day because he was so disappointed he wouldn’t be physically able to hunt on opening day. He would certainly be disappointed he didn’t get to read Chris’s book.

You won’t be disappointed when you read the book, however. And maybe some of the stories will sound familiar to you!

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,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.