Great stories from Maine warden pilot

Gary Dumond began flying float planes when he was in high school, flying his dad’s Piper PA-11 over to Eagle Lake to visit with Maine Warden Pilot Jack McPhee. Jack encouraged Gary to train as a military pilot and then to return to Maine and seek a position as a Maine Warden pilot.

I must thank Jake Morrel for capturing so many of Gary’s great stories in the book Gary Dumond Remembers, published by Maine Authors Publishing. And as you can imagine, after flying 20,000 hours above Maine’s Northwoods, Gary has a lot of stories!

Some of the stories recounted wonderful rescues, while others tragically ended in death. There’s a lot of interesting photos at the back of the book including a number of crashed planes.

I really found it amazing at how effective Gary was at finding lost hunters and anglers. He had a real talent for that. He found over 200 of them. And of course there were times when he got stuck on some body of water overnight. Quite a few of the crashed planes are still out there in the Maine woods and waters. Some planes disappeared without a trace.

Gary also stocked fish by plane, and has some good stories about that. And how about this, about times the warden pilots saw dogs chasing deer:

“Well, technically, if they were chasing deer, you shoot them, simple as that. We’d shoot them out of the helicopter. We didn’t do it a lot; you had to be careful. Now today, I don’t know if that would fly.” Jack tells of the time they found 19 dead deer killed by 4 or 5 dogs.

Gary doesn’t tell the sad story of Jack McPhee’s tragic death in a plane crash in Baxter Park, where he was tracking Canadian lynx. Jack used to land at our camp on Sourdnahunk Lake on the edge of Baxter Park to pick up or drop off people. That’s how I first got to know him.

Later, I became good friends with his wife Josie, who still runs McCanamac Camps in the north woods, which were established by Jack.

Jake Morrel was a high school teacher in 1971 when he took his first ride in a small airplane and eventually he went to work for Dick Folsom as a bush pilot. Later he and his wife Beth rebuilt a whole set of logging camps and founded Hardscrabble Lodge, a fly-in sporting camp.

Jake wrote his own book of great stories called Hardscrabble Lodge: True Maine Bush Flying Stories. I really enjoyed Jake’s stories and wrote a review of that book last year. You can read that review in the book review section of my website,


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.