Debate gets ugly about selling wild game

wild game dinner logoMy outdoor news column about selling wild game drew a lot of reaction from the 4,000 people who read it, including a couple hundred responses to my Sportsman Say survey question. Let’s start there.

The column reported that it is illegal to sell wild game meat in Maine, or to charge people to eat wild game meat. The latter happens a lot, at clubs, churches, and elsewhere. In the column, I posed the question this way:

The bigger question is this: Is it really fair to deny commercial restaurants the opportunity to purchase and serve wild game meat, while wild game dinners are offered by nonprofits all over the state? Do we support charging people to eat wild game meat, or don’t we? And if we do, should hunters be the only ones who don’t profit from this opportunity? At the very least, I think we should change the law so that the nonprofit game dinners are legal – without any winking and nodding.

In the Sportsman Say survey question on my website (, the question was, “Should hunters be able to sell their wild game meat?” 63.96 percent of the 197 respondents said no, 31.47 percent said yes, and 4.57 percent were undecided.


Troy Frye posted my column on the Facebook page of his Allies of Traditional Maine Hunting, and almost all of those who offered comments were opposed to allowing wild game meat to be sold. No one commented on the fact that the state has chosen to ignore the law by allowing people to charge for wild game dinners.

wild game dinners Unity College 2013Jim Busque of Millinocket was one of the few who who answered yes to the question, writing on Troy’s Facebook page, “Yes, after it’s tagged its mine to do as I want.” Lots of hunters disagreed with Jim.

John Chapman noted that, “The return of the deer herd, the bison, and numerous waterfowl was accomplished, in large part, by the end of market hunting.”

After his comment, it got nasty. Deana page charged that I was just “stirring the pot.” And I don’t think she meant the pot of deer stew.

Steve Bickford called me a “frigen idiot.” That reminded me of the animal-rights folks who – in large numbers – called me an idiot for proposing that Maine have tougher laws governing exotic animals.

Don Purington jumped in with this comment: “Hell no. If you can’t eat it don’t (expletive) kill it!!!!!” Yes, he used five exclamation marks.

Don got a quick answer from Mark Spencer who wrote, “I don’t eat it but donate 100% to the needy.” He suggested that Don “might want to rephrase that.”

But that only aggravated Don more. He answered Mark this way: “No really, I am going to keep it just the way I said it!!!!! The needy get enough from road kills and poached animals. Oh ya and food stamps.”

Another Question

So, remembering that I did not write that selling wild game meat should be legal, I just asked the question, I’m going to ask a question based on what I do think should be done: make it legal for those clubs, churches, and nonprofits to charge for their wild game dinners, as long as they don’t pay for the meat.

I have posted that question in my Sportsmen Say survey which you can access here. Have at it!

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.