Beechnuts and Bears – a Great Story

Deborah Perkins has written a great column about beechnuts and bears. Deborah was a wildlife biologist for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and one of their top bear researches, even crawling into bear dens in the winter.

“I miss crawling into bear dens,” she writes, “that feeling of being in that deep, dark hole, all alone with mama bear and her cubs, in the dead of winter. I remember it like it was yesterday, the sound of her slow heartbeat, the smell of cedar bark lining her bed, and the muffled voices of the rest of the bear crew just outside the den entrance waiting for me to hand out the cubs.

“I was in perpetual awe of the quiet miracle of hibernation, of mama bear nursing her cubs through the winter on an empty stomach.”

I’m in perpetual awe of the wildlife biologists who crawl into those deep dark bear dens!

What does this have to do with beechnuts? Well, they turn out to be critically important sources of nourishment for our black bears. And Deborah gives you advice on how to keep our beech trees healthy and producing beechnuts.

You can read all about that, and more about Deborah’s adventures with Maine bears, and also enjoy some amazing photos, here in her blog.

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.