This book will inspire you to get outside and write about it

The Naturalist’s Notebook will inspire you to get outside and write about it in a journal. Authors Nat Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich even include a 5-year calendar-journal for you to use.

When we purchased our camp in the North Woods in 1991, we started a journal, recording the wonderful things that happened there, including lots of moose and deer in our yard. We also have photo albums that record a lot of those fun things, including our hikes up Baxter Park’s mountains. Baxter Park is our camp’s back yard.

When anyone accompanied us to camp, and today when our adult kids and grandkids visit there, they jump into the journal and write about their experiences. Every year, I read through all the journals and enjoy all the photos. Fun!

Nat is a professor of natural science at Bowdoin College and Bernd is the author of more than 20 books on nature, many of which I have.

Nat and Bern offer lots of great stories and advice to get you started on your five year journal adventure. From “Being Attentive” to “Knowing Nature Where You Are” you will learn from and enjoy these chapters. They even give you good advice on the gear you’ll need including comfortable clothing.

In the chapter “A Naturalist’s Toolbox,” Nat writes, “The key is to be systematic, regular, and clear with your notes and to organize the information you gather over time.” Good advice.

I thought I knew it all but I learned quite a lot in the chapter “How to become an observant naturalist.” We can certainly learn a lot by watching birds. Nat is a deer hunter, like me, and he carries a notebook with him to record interesting things in the woods.

I do something similar, writing about those experiences at home, soon after I enjoy them in the woods. Many of those stories are told in my new book of hunting and fishing stories, A Lifetime of Hunting and Fishing, published by North Country Press in August.

Toward the end of the book, Nat and Bernd give you some great advice on “Simple Experiments as a way of learning.” Trust me, these guys are into the details.

And before you know it, you’ll be on page 96 where your journal awaits, starting with winter. Perfect timing for us Mainers, as winter approaches!

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.