From deer hunting to near-death experiences on the water, the Island Journal is fascinating

Island JournalI’ve never seen the Island Journal before, but I will make sure I don’t miss any editions in the future. This glossy magazine, published by Island Institute, is full of compelling stories and lots of interesting information that celebrates island life and culture.

This didn’t surprise me because I’ve been receiving the online version of their Working Waterfront newspaper for the last year, and always find interesting articles in it. Both the Island Journal and The Working Waterfront are edited by Tom Groening, who also writes for both.

In the current Volume 32 of Island Journal, I really loved the story by Scott Sell, “One Deer, Two Islands,” about deer hunting on Frenchboro. Here’s how it begins: “Zack Lunt’s hands are covered in blood and bile and fur. ‘The fun part is over for me,’ he says, midway through field-dressing the buck he just shot. ‘It’s all work from here on out.” Boy, he got that right!

But deer hunting on an island is very different from here in Mount Vernon, and I’ve been a bit involved in some of the hunting and deer management issues on Maine islands over the years. In Sell’s story, which notes that deer on the island became incredibly tame at one time, Zack remembers deer eating bread out of people’s hands. That changed after hunting was legalized in 2000 as part of a wildlife-management plan on several islands.

Other articles are also interesting, especially the interview with Candis Joyce of Swan’s Island, about how “Island life imbues sense of community.” Linda and I got to know Candis when we made a travel column visit to Swan’s Island two years ago and I did a book talk at the island’s beautiful library where Candis is the librarian. She’s also a stern man on a lobster boat, because on an island, you have to patch together jobs to make a living.

Courtney Naliboff gives us a great article on babies being born on the island, while Susan Stranahan writes about the challenges of getting old on an island, including safe housing and health care.

Having just written one of my Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel editorial page columns on the exciting growth of aquaculture in Maine, I read Nancy Griffin’s story, “Acquaculture’s Next Wave” with interest. And Tom Groening’s article about the 28-year-old new town manager on Vinalhaven was interesting too.

Given that my grandmother packed sardines in Lubec, I enjoyed Rob McCall’s story, “Trading sardines for lupines” about the rebirth of Eastport. And Carl Little’s story, “Widow’s Island: A Curious Tale of Quarantine and Convalescence,” was compelling, about yellow fever, mental illness, and war wounds treated on an island off North Haven.

Katie Johnson’s photos of life on Long Island in Casco Bay are wonderful, and I guarantee you will race through Eugene Atwood’s story of his three near-death experiences on the water.

There’s lots more in this edition of Island Journal, which you can obtain at the Institute’s online Archipelago store and website for $14.95 (less 10 percent member discount).

The Island Institute does incredible work on Maine’s islands, creating opportunities through education, leadership, business development, and more. And here’s some really great news: you can support that work by becoming a member. Information is available on the Institute’s website, If you join at the $100 level, you get the magazine free.

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.