Should you be afraid in the Maine woods?

In the Maine woods, it’s kill or be killed. OK, I’m just talking about wild animals.

Coyotes eat pretty much anything that moves in the woods, from deer to rabbits. Actually rabbits get eaten by lots of other animals. I’ve received several reports from experienced outdoors people that they’ve seen coyotes that were so large they must have been wolves. But DIF&W denies that we have wolves in Maine.

Have you ever seen a bobcat chase down a grouse for lunch? Someone recently posted a video of this on Facebook. It was not pretty. And I haven’t mentioned our large population of black bears, which even eat our moose.

Unfortunately, none of these critters eat enough wild turkeys – I’m pretty sure you will agree with me on that!

Now don’t let me scare you. There is nothing in the Maine woods that you need to fear. Okay once I was charged by a cow moose, when I got between it and its calf. But I was able to dive to the side as the moose plowed by me. And there was that time the ermine ran up my leg and stopped on my chest. But I lived to tell the story.

We see lots of bears at our camp in the north woods, and they are not at all aggressive. I’ve had many close encounters with bears, none of them alarming.

One time I was walking on Baxter Park’s perimeter road, when I looked down into the woods and saw a bear coming my way. I stopped, figuring out that it would cross the road about 30 yards in front of me. As it approached the road, it turned and headed my way. I quickly figured out that it was going to cross the road right where I was standing. And it was coming fast.

It was only about 10 yards away when I hollered at it. It looked up, jumped around and headed right back into the woods. Several times I’ve been walking Baxter’s perimeter road and had bears emerge into the road, spot me, and run off. Yes bears are timid. 

So get out in the woods today.  You are perfectly safe and the woods make Maine very special.

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.