A Life Lived Outdoors
A Life Lived Outdoors, was published by Islandport Press in 2014. Most of the columns and stories in the book were written for the editorial pages of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, focused on home, camp, family, faith, travel, hunting, fishing and other outdoor fun. Section One is Home, Camp, and Maine Life. Section Two is Hunting, Fishing, and Other Outdoor Fun, and Section Three is Family, Friends, and Faith.
The biggest compliment I’ve been getting from those who read the book is that the stories triggered their own wonderful memories.
Maine Sporting Camps
When Michael Steere of Down East Books contacted me to ask if I’d like to write a book about Maine sporting camps, it didn’t take long to say yes. It was a great experience. I learned a lot, visited some wonderful camps, and even got involved in key issues of concern to sporting camp owners.
One of the things I learned, from the Maine Sporting Camp Heritage Foundation is that, “In 1904 there were at least 300 sporting camps in operation in Maine. By 2007, this number had dwindled to fewer than 40.”
The book features lots of information about 85 sporting camps. I expanded the definition to include camps that simply rent cabins, and some that are just lodges. I also included a history of Maine sporting camps.
I asked the owners of Maine’s sporting camps to tell me about their challenges and boy, did I get an earful. Right at the top of the list was the loss of hunters and anglers, with the blame being cast widely to everything from coyotes to loss of habitat to poor fisheries and wildlife management. The loss of deer hunters over a five year period was particularly painful. Deer nearly disappeared in western and northern Maine after two tough winters, and our failure to protect critical deer wintering areas was a key factor.
Camp owners listed lots of challenges, including taxes and regulations, described by one camp owner as, “death by a thousand cuts.” Getting and keeping good staff (and not just at the remote camps) was a major problem. The cost and complexity of insurance was mentioned by many, as was rising food and other prices. A lack of advertising and marketing was high on many lists, one camp owner noting that “the state of Maine is focused more on the coastal areas for marketing of tourism and travel.” That’s true, but it’s caused by the fact that tourists want to visit the coast, and the state’s limited dollars must be used to let tourists know we have what they are looking for. And sadly, they are not looking to hunt and fish here.
Quite a few mentioned competition from online businesses that market private camps for rent, noting that those camp owners are not governed by the same taxes and rules. Others pointed to nearby development or logging that changed the experiences at their camps. And one camp owner blamed his problems on Democrats!
Many camp owners complained about technology. “The biggest (challenge) is technology,” one wrote. “We are a rustic sporting camp. We live in a time where most people are too caught up in their electronic devices… Here we believe that a vacation is a time to remove yourself from all of that craziness – from the things that cause stress and headaches.”
You can set aside all the stress in your life by visiting a traditional Maine sporting camp. And I’ll guarantee one thing: You won’t want to leave!
Take It From Me
In 2016, Islandport Press published Take It From Me, a Maine travel book written by my wife Linda and me.
When I started writing full time in 2010, I wanted something I could do with Linda, who was teaching first grade. After doing some research, I decided that travel writing would be fun, and central Maine’s daily newspapers, the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, liked the idea and hired us to write a weekly travel column.
It’s been a great experience, and the response from readers has been amazing. Many follow us around and try the places we write about it. And some of our best experiences have been getting to know the hard-working owners of the places we write about.
It’s particularly rewarding when we hear about the wonderful experiences our readers have had when they visit the places we’ve written about. Lots of places we write about were suggested by readers.
We write separately because we see the world differently. Linda is the food expert. She notices the ambiance, decorations, etc, while I just like to eat. But I know nothing about food. “Why do I like this?” I ask, and take notes about what she tells me.
We’ve learned a lot. If you own a restaurant or inn, it’s an all-consuming life. Summer is critical for most places, with tourists packing our inns and restaurants. Mattresses matter (and sheets). Quite a few of the places we’ve written about are closed in the winter. Weddings, including elopements are very very important to Maine inns and restaurants.
The book is divided into three sections: Getaways, Special Places, and Restaurants. And we guarantee if you visit the places we write about, you’ll have a great experience!
A Lifetime of Hunting & Fishing
My hunting and fishing heritage and experiences have been very important parts of my life, which made it very exciting this year when my book, A Lifetime of Hunting & Fishing, was published by North Country Press.
Subtitled The Ones That Got Away and the Ones That Didn’t, the front cover features a photo of me and my Dad with the last turkey we got before he passed away. There are lot of stories in the book about my days hunting and fishing with Dad.
The book is a collection of stories written over the last 30 years about my lifetime of hunting and fishing in Maine, plus hunting and fishing adventures in Labrador, Quebec, Montana, North Dakota, and Alaska.
I’ve been blessed many times over by the opportunities to enjoy my favorite pursuits, both in my free time and for work. Yes, hunting and fishing were part of my work life. Lucky me! I talked to a class at the University of Maine in Machias a couple years ago, and the first question they asked was how did I get a job that required me to hunt and fish.
You’ll walk my woodlot with me in the first section of the book, as I tell you all my hunting stories that occurred there. Section two features stories about my “best bucks (and does) and hunts.” I think you will especially enjoy section three, “Game mistakes (and other weird things).” Yup, I made lots of mistakes!
Section four features wild animal tales, including battles with the wild critters that got into our house. Section five features favorite fishing stories, and in section six you’ll get my best stories of fishing, hunting, and birding the world. The final section is three fictional stories based on true stories.