My friend Peter shot a deer a couple of miles in the woods and with light fading fast three of us head in to get it out. The light could have been better for filming but you get the idea. It was a great night to be in the woods with temps in the high twenties, no wind, and a sky full of bright stars..carrying on a rich tradition.
While randomly passing by somewhere today I smelled my Gramp’s old garage and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. I’m not sure how one would even describe it to someone and come close to getting it right. How do you describe a combination of fresh air, cigarette smoke, firewood, gunpowder, whiskey,chain saws, deer meat, gardening tools, work boots, and wood smoke combined and steeped in lots and lots of time. I’ve read that smell can be a strong trigger for memory, and I instantly remembered poring over old pictures, listening to stories, shooting guns, looking for deer, fishing…but most of all I remembered wanting to be here…in Maine. Exploring whats around the next bend in the river or the next rise of the trail. Jumping at the explosion of the flushing grouse. Throwing out a lure and seeing the line instantly tighten with a fish.
Centerfolds from Playboy magazine hung on the walls as did the names and dates of his friends who had passed. In those days in Maine drinking during the day was an accepted practice, and the estate caretakers and gardeners would often congregate at Gramps garage for a drink at 9 am which was morning break. I would sit with them, a child some 60 years their junior and listen to all their stories, taking everything in. Ted Donnell, Clyde Carter, David Hyde, Tony Hamor, Elmer Green, Hap Haskell, Waldo Damon, Donald Bryant, Ralph Young, and Hughie Wright were part of the crew that would visit his garage. As I sit here today I can still hear and see them in my mind. Before 9 am Gramp would say he was having “apple juice” but after 9 he would call it a snort. You can read more about Gramp here.
I’m not religious but I always had a deep respect for how our town’s minister handled funerals. When Gramp died he took the time to grieve with us and learn some of Gramps stories and special quirks. The minister knew of Gramps garage, and after the funeral quietly handed my mother a piece of paper with a quote from Frederick Buechner.
Only God is Holy, just as only people are human. God’s holiness is God’s Godness. To speak anything else as holy is to say that it has something of God’s mark upon it. Times, places, things, and people can all be holy, and when they are, they are usually not hard to recognize.
One holy place I know is a workshop attached to a barn. There is a wood-burning stove in it made out of an oil-drum. There is a workbench, dark and dented, with shallow, crammed drawers behind one of which a cat lives. There is a girlie calendar on the wall, plus various lengths of chain and rope, shovels and rakes of different sizes and shapes, some worn-out jackets and caps on pegs, an electric clock that doesn’t keep time. On the workbench are two small plug-in radios both of which have serious things wrong with them. There are several metal boxes full of wrenches and a bench saw. There are a couple of chairs with rungs missing. The place smells mainly of engine oil and smoke–both of wood smoke and pipe smoke. The windows are small, even on bright days what light there is comes through mainly in window-sized patches on the floor.
I have no idea why this place is holy, but you can tell it is the moment you set foot in it if you have an eye for that kind of thing. For reasons known only to God, it is one place God uses for sending God’s love through.
I get a lot of enjoyment out of putting out my game cam and seeing what I can catch on film. I’ll save left over food from home to put out to see what predators come in, and recently, my friend Peter had a great idea for a do it yourself long term game feeder. Like all good ideas it’s simple and easy to do. Just take a PVC pipe and cut it to a desired length – the one Peter made that I tried was about 5 feet in length and will hold a 50 pound bag of grain or more. You could increase the length to be able to add more grain and save yourself trips out to the feeder. The key is to place the bottom of the tube at ground level or just a millimeter or two above – that way the grain isn’t all over the ground in the elements, and critters can paw at the bottom to get more food taking advantage of gravity flow. It works a lot better, in my opinion, than the timed broadcast feeder I bought a number of years ago from Cabelas – with the broadcast feeder it’s spewing out food that is not being eaten and I would often arrive to fill the feeder to find the entire contents had been emptied onto the ground without being eaten. With this much simpler and cheaper method, the food stays put – dry and protected until something actually comes by to eat it. You can see in the pictures below that I attached the pipe to the tree with just a ratchet strap, you could also use duct tape or a number of other methods. You can also paint the PVC pipe if you feel so inclined. For the top you can use any number of items that can cover the hole to keep the elements out – I cut the top off a plastic whiskey bottle and put it over the top and it worked great. Peter made a few of these, and I put one out for a week – I set it up quickly with just the ratchet strap and there wasn’t a feed store open on the Sunday that I put it out, so I simply put in 10 pounds of guinea pig feed I grabbed at Wal Mart. Corn or sweet feed for horses or any type of grain will work. In a weeks time I had 69 pictures, the guinea pig feed was completely gone and the ground at the bottom of the feeder was pawed and dug up. Here are some of the best pics that I got, taken on a wildgame camera – reasonably priced as far as game cameras go, and takes good pictures -
I also wanted to add a disclaimer that feeding wildlife, especially deer over the long term is not a good idea. I have witness several deer over the years that have died from malnutrition in the winter because of “good samaritans” that thought they were helping by putting out food. There are some very good reasons listed here. It should only be done on a limited short term basis.
Back in 2003 I was fiercely into canoeing, especially racing, and noticed on a website that I checked frequently an offer of a free hat and t-shirt for any humorous story good enough to be published on-line. I thought about it for a few days and decided that I had a story. I put pen to paper and recreated a day that happened many years ago, and sent it in to the website. I was very excited when I heard back from them that they liked the story and wanted to put it up on the website, and I let them know what hat and shirt I wanted, and that was that.
After several months or maybe even a year passed I got a phone call asking for me. When I affirmed that it was me they were speaking with, the person asked if I was the one who had written the story on the website and I said that I was, wondering what on earth this person wanted. He then told me he was the person IN the story and I about fell over backwards – here we were some 12 years later and I was talking to my old friend that I had written about in the story. It turned out he had come across it on the website, and knew that it had to be the story that we had lived that fall.
That would be kind of cool – reading a random story on the web, and slowly realizing that it involved you.
And that, I thought, was that.
Then, fast forward to 2009, 6 years since the story appeared on the web, and some 20 years since it happened, and I got an email from the website saying that there was someone that wanted to get in touch with me about publishing the story in a collection of outdoor stories. I got in touch with the publisher, and the story appeared in “Never Trust A Smiling Bear” in 2010.
It’s amazing to me that this little anecdote from 20 years ago has set off the chain of events that it has – you just never know where the little things in life will take you – and that is the story of the story. I wonder where else it may lead?
This was the story as it first appeared in 2003,
We drifted slowly down the alder choked stream, occasionally having to use their branches to pull ourselves along. There were trees across the stream that had pieces cut out of them with a chainsaw with just enough of an opening for a canoe to get through. The water was tannin stained and full of weed growth, the bottom a black tangle of hundreds of years worth of leaves and twigs, with sandbars here and there that we would temporarily rest upon, before digging our paddles into the muck to get moving again.
My college roommate and I had decided to try duck hunting, and neither one of us had really ever been before, and we were headed down Sunkaze stream in Old Town, Maine, which led to a giant marsh with water channels ribboned through its length, an area we thought would be perfect for ducks. It was early November, and it had been a very cold November, and pockets of the stream that saw little daylight had a skim of ice on them. The morning was still and very cold, and as the sun began to rise mist started steaming of the water. I was in the stern, and my roommate was in the bow as we twisted and turned through the stream, trying to remember all the turns we were taking so we could make it back to the truck. The bowman announced he had to go to the bathroom and there being no solid ground around to speak of, I nosed the canoe into a large hummock that was covered with grass and a few scraggly alders. Just as he stood up there was a burst of water and noise as ducks on the other side of the hummock took to the air, it seemed as though they were everywhere.
We sat in stunned silence, mouths hanging open, neither us, nor the ducks had noticed each other until by fate, we had picked that spot to go to the bathroom. We gathered our wits, and figured with all the ducks flying around the marsh, we should be able to call one in. Paddling downstream a bit, we came to a rather wide piece of water, and we were camoflaged somewhat by tall grass on all sides. We decided this would be the place to try to call a duck, and after a few calls, we had a lone duck headed our way moving quickly. We almost had no time to react as we lifted our guns and aimed at the duck that was bearing down on us and fired.
In that next instant we were both swimming, discovering that it is in fact possible to shoot ones self right out of a canoe; bang and you’re in the drink. I had my gun in one hand, the canoe and paddle in the other. My roommate had dropped his gun, and dove for it in the frigid water. We quickly swam to where we could sink in the muck and only be up to our knees, and emptied the canoe, and started back upstream, not a word past “Are you alright?” spoken after the incident. I think paddling so hard upstream and wool pants kept me from freezing to death that day on the way back to the truck, and we put the canoe on it’s racks with clothes that were literally frozen solid. We got into the truck and cranked up the heat, and after our clothes went from ice to dripping water my companion looked at me and said “you know, we don’t need to tell anyone back at the dorm what happened today”. I laughed and agreed, wondering what that duck was telling his buddies.
You can find the book the story was published in, along with other humorous outdoor stories below;
All my life people have been telling me you shouldn’t travel alone. But it’s interesting; I’ve never been told that by anybody who’s ever done it. - Bill Mason
Years ago there was a large tract of land that I liked to hunt – I liked it in part because it was bordered on all sides by woods roads, so one could effectively never take a wrong turn, as long as you could walk in a straight line, you would eventually find your way out. It allowed me to wander rather aimlessly without having to worry about sense of direction. However, I began to notice that invariably I would walk past the same places each time I was there. Deliberately I would enter through a different location each time, and yet once my mind wandered a bit I would begin noticing the same areas once again, which taught me about funneling. There are lots of studies and evidence that says in the absence of sun, landmarks, blindfolded, or in darkness people have a tendency to walk in circles, and while that may be true (I have certainly experienced that on a boat in the fog) I believe that if you turn someone loose in a vast tract of wilderness, they tend to walk along “funnels”. And wildlife do the same thing – which is why there are typically particular “crossings” where you tend to see the most wildlife.
When I asked a friend of mine who has professionally trapped marten for much of his life how I could spot a crossing or funnel his answer was that he couldn’t describe it to me, but he could show it to me. His journals show that the landscape naturally lends itself to certain routes of travel, and that these routes have held true over many years, even if areas were logged. There is a good story that he tells; he will sometimes take out of state people out on the trapline so they can experience what it is like, and one time he had a fellow from New Jersey riding with him, who said that he wanted to chose the spot where they next put in a set. Jerry said no problem, and in short order the guest said that he wanted to stop and make a set. He asked Jerry if he thought it was a good spot, and Jerry said that it wasn’t, but the guest said he wanted to set it anyway, and they did. Jerry, with a caveat to the listener that he was just having fun with the guy at this point, drove 200 yards down the road and said “this is the spot”, and set the location. And sure enough, when checking the sets the next day, Jerry’s spot produced a double of marten, a mere 200 yards from where the guest placed his sets, and upon this discovery the guest said that never again would he ever doubt Jerry’s word. And that’s how legends are formed. It’s interesting that if you walk a certain stretch of woods each day, you begin to notice the subtle changes that happen – bent grass or perhaps a bit of fur on a branch that wasn’t there the day before. I think our ancestors were much more in tune with the world, and used the natural lay of the land for ease of travel before the days of epirbs, cell phones, gps, or even compasses. That’s why the Native American names for places were much more meaningful than those of today – such as Passadumkeag, which means above the gravel bar, and describes the section of the Penobscot River where it meets the Passadumkeag river. And wildlife know them too – I came across an otter track once in the middle of nowhere, far from any source of water. I took a couple of days and followed it in both directions, finding the water where it came from, and where it was heading too, a distance of some 10 miles apart. I think the old ways of the woodsmen are somewhat lost today – being able to extricate yourself from any sort of situation, knowing where you are, and relating that to the surrounding country around you. I enjoyed seeing the old barely discernable marks on the trees whenThe Old Man from the sand pit took me along the old hunting path – a path my Grandfather used, and his grandfather before him. In those days people knew where they were in the woods, much as people today know where they are by what road they are on. It’s just a matter of learning the subtle clues and signs of the path you are traveling.
I gently slid my hand over the photograph and stood in awe as I looked around, excited to be in the same building as my Great Uncle Felix Fernald had been during the romantic era of the Maine Northwoods Lumbermen. Ok, he was actually a time-keeper there, but to my young imagination he was a river runner, riding down the rivers on the log drives of the spring and living the high life of a Maine woodsman and he had worked in the very building I was now standing in.
I was on a Boy Scout canoeing and camping trip,it was my first time exploring the North Woods of Maine, and we were at Seboomook High Adventure Base at Pittston Farm which is now a motel, restaurant and camping area. But back then, it was my gateway to the Maine woods, and as we paddled down the west branch of the Penobscot River and went over Roll dam in just a lifejacket, the lure of Northern Maine was born in me, and that week we explored the river I was a river driver on the spring freshet.
Going over Roll Dam - West Branch Penobscot
I have explored a lot of Northern Maine since that day, and one of the things I have always enjoyed is looking for bits of it’s history, especially it’s logging history. I was fascinated with the locomotives and the tramway on the Allagash River and I especially enjoyed reading about the hermit on Chesuncook Lake, which I wrote about in The Chesuncook Lake Gun. Northern Maine is timeless history…it is the same as it always was.
What images does Northern Maine conjure up for you? Maine has always been a state of rough wilderness with people known for their self reliance, individuality, ruggedness, and a sense of independence. People come here to experience the rougher end of wilderness living. The adventures people have in Maine are chronicled in countless books and magazines. A wilderness experience is what Northern Maine is all about, and that experience for most includes some sort of “traditional use”.
When it comes to the people of Maine, you hear the words “traditional use” a lot. But what does traditional use really mean? For me, it has it’s origins from an unwritten Wilderness code of ethics among early woodsmen which basically stated that – my cabin is unlocked. Should you find yourself in need of it for the night, please use it. Replace the firewood that you use. Leave food if you can, and leave it in as good or better condition than you found it. Those were the beginnings of traditional use. And to some extent it still exists today. It’s funny, when I bought property in Greenbush, there were 9 lots that were for sale, about 40 acres each. Within a short amount of time, 7 lots had no trespassing signs on them, and two did not. Guess which lots were purchased by Mainers. My property there will, as long as I live, remain unposted, and it made me happy a few years ago to hear a brace of beagles in the cedar bog on the lower end of the property chasing a rabbit. Also, Maine still has the rather unique rule that if property is not posted, then a person has the right to access it, unless asked to leave by the landowner. Folks not from here sometimes have a problem grasping that. Traditional use also means access for hunting, fishing,trapping, and in later years snowmobiling.
The paper companies including Great Northern understood the woodsman rules and traditional access and left there land open to it. You could do pretty much whatever you wanted, as long as you stayed out of the way of the logging trucks. I have a picture somewhere of me standing under the trailer of one of the Great Northern tandem wood haulers on the Golden Road – truly a leviathan of the woods.
Lately I fear for Maine and the changes that people are trying to make here to further their own agendas. Maine has been dividing for some time across North and South boundaries….and the phrase The Two Maines is more meaningful than ever. So, if you are reading this from a place south of Bangor, and have never visited Northern Maine I challenge you to take a road trip – Visit the Allagash and St John – take the woods roads from Portage to Madawaska and see for yourself the vastness of the region. Find out for yourself that it is open for everyone to use, whether you are a hunter, or a cross country skiier.
One of the changes that has been proposed off and on since the 193o’s is a Northern Maine National Park. Northern Maine doesn’t need a National Park – why? Because they already HAVE one – it’s called The North Maine Woods Inc. Imagine! Landowners working together to allow traditional access and traditional use – biking, hiking, skiing, hunting, ITS snowmobile trails, leases for your very own cabin, fishing, trapping, or just hanging out doing what you want. THAT my friend is Democracy at it’s finest. Landowners working together for the greater good of everybody. Reasonable fees, maintained roads, boat launches. It’s almost a utopia. And it WORKS. If you haven’t been, you should visit before you ever make a decision in your mind about a National Park there. Speaking of which, think about it -would you really want the increased regulation, increased law enforcement, and closure of traditional use and access?? Why would anybody want to change to that??
The latest person to want to change that is Roxanne Quimby, who has proposed a National Park on her property abutting Baxter State Park, which most people feel, as do I, should she be successful it will be a toe hold for the 3.2 million acre park that Restore has proposed. Roxanne herself describes the approximately 60,000 acre parcel as a “seed”. And yes, I at one time sported the bumper sticker that said Restore Boston – Leave Our Maine Way of Life Alone! I think those stickers should, and probably will be making a comeback here shortly.
And, I have a little secret to share with you that most people do not know about Baxter – One of the reasons Governor Percival Baxter created Baxter State Park was to STOP IT FROM BECOMING A NATIONAL PARK. Governor Baxter had the vision to know back in the 30′s that a National Park in that region was not the right thing to do. Baxter Park is for the people of Maine. And, if you are from Maine it is FREE TO ACCESS!! Camping of course is a small fee per night. I think I would be waiting a long time at the Acadia National Park tollbooth arguing that I should get in for free because I’m local.
And you know, I probably wouldn’t have a problem if Roxanne donated her parcel to Baxter Park – in fact, I would urge her to consider it if she is intent on preserving her piece of property. Baxter is self sufficient, they do not take money from the state. And guess what – Baxter State Park understands Traditonal Use. That’s right, you are allowed to hunt in the north end of the Park. Personally, I could live with the changes that giving her parcel of land to Baxter would bring, and I would urge Roxanne to consider it, but she won’t because her goal is the 3.2 million acre National Park.
Why? To use her words; “I feel like my reason for being put on this earth will have been fulfilled because this ( a National Park in Maine) will live on after me. A park is a demonstration that there is something in America that I can love.”
That is why she wants a National Park – to be famous and to be remembered. Another George Dorr if you will. She wants a legacy which sadly will only be the division and turmoil that she has brought to the people of Maine with this issue, whether she succeeds or not.
Further – I find it extremely ironic that, to use her words, “To me, ownership and private property were the beginning of the end in this country. Once the Europeans came in, drawing lines and dividing things up, things started getting exploited and over-consumed. But a park takes away the whole issue of ownership. It’s off the table; we all own it and we all share it. It’s so democratic.”
Seriously??? No really… Seriously??? From where I’m sitting, the North Maine Woods is open to me any time I want to visit, and to do whatever I want to do by a group of landowners working together..in DEMOCRACY. The only person I see dividing lines, dividing things up, and closing access is Roxanne herself. You can see what some of her property closure looks like here, And a lot more information regarding Roxanne here.
A National Park in no way takes away the issue of ownership. It means the Federal government owns it. The Federal Government that can’t run any program successfully, that is mired in debt, and can’t even balance a budget. That’s who you want owning more land in Maine? I surely don’t.
Briefly, here are the reasons I think that another National Park in Maine is a ludicrous idea;
-first and foremost, traditional uses would be eliminated. Snowmobiling alone added 300 million + in sales tax revenue to the state. From the Bangor Daily News 11/23/11;
Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said snowmobiling in Maine is a $300 million to $350 million business responsible for 23,000 jobs statewide.
That doesn’t include the tax figures on hunting supplies and income from other traditional access. Any income generated by a National Park will go out of state to the Feds, just like in Acadia.
- The tax base. Putting that land into the hands of the Feds means taxes are going to go up for Piscataquis county, and more counties if the larger National Park is successful.
- Lost Economy from the woods industry. Personally I don’t believe Millinocket is down and out yet. In the current economy we’re all suffering, and I think an interested buyer will eventually get the mills up there running again, and profitable. (Note that since first writing this post, someone has bought the mills and put them back in operation). To use the statistics from the Maine Woods Coalition website;
Maine Department of Conservation Commissioner Ron Lovaglio stated at the Maine Woods Conservation Easement Forum that the wood products extracted from the 3.2 million acres of forestland in the Maine North Woods adds approximately $986,000,000 to the Maine economy each year through wages and sales of products and services. According to the Maine Office of Tourism, the typical overnight visitor to our region spends $85/day. To make up for the loss of productivity of locking up 3.2 million acres of forestland, a National Park would have to bring 11.6 million ADDITIONAL tourists to the region. Nothing the woods industry has ever done would have a greater impact to the rural character of Piscataquis County (population roughly 17,000) than such an increase in tourism. Commissioner Lovaglio wondered aloud how big the tollbooth would have to be in Kittery. In Greenville, we wonder how big the mound of trash will be each day at the rest area just outside of Town).
And I wonder how on earth you would get that many tourists to come to the region. Acadia attracts only 3 million per year and is one of the top visited Parks in the Nation. And lets face it, in the area Roxanne has proposed, what exactly is there that a tourist may want to see? I’ve lived a stone’s throw from Acadia National Park for most of my life, and it’s ACADIA – there are the carriage roads, vistas, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, lobsters, Bar Harbor…the tourist draw list for the region is endless. Acadia would be an attraction for tourists whether there was a Park here on not. Bar Harbor would be successful just like Camden or Rockland because of what we have here. Baxter is successful because of it’s uniqueness too – Katahdin of course being the biggest draw and the other unique mountains. What does Roxanne’s property, a working forest, have to offer that anyone would want to come see? People come there to hunt, fish and snowmobile…and use as timberland. Which a National Park would stop. In addition, Baxter Park and The Allagash have been showing a decline in users for some time now. A National Park isn’t going to stop that trend when there is nothing unusual or unique. There is certainly nothing there to compete with Baxter or Acadia.
And lets face it – any jobs brought to the area will be seasonal, just like they are here in Acadia. There are plenty of people here that struggle in the winter. Hence the old Bar Harbor joke – I landed here a number of years ago and never made enough money to leave.
In addition – the State Legislature has adopted a resolution against a feasibility study;
JOINT RESOLUTION MEMORIALIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THE UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO OPPOSE THE CREATION OF A NATIONAL PARK IN MAINE’S NORTH WOODS
WE, your Memorialists, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Legislature of the State of Maine now assembled in the First Regular Session, most respectfully present and petition the President of the United States, the United States Secretary of the Interior and the United States Congress as follows: WHEREAS, Maine residents and visitors enjoy the privilege of using large tracts of private land in the north woods for recreational uses such as snowmobiling, hunting, hiking, fishing, bird watching and other activities; and WHEREAS, the future of that private land is of great importance to the people of Maine and their outdoor heritage; and WHEREAS, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and many of the large landowners have entered or are entering into cooperative wildlife management agreements that ensure the future of deer yards and other critical wildlife habitat in the north woods; and WHEREAS, state agencies, private landowners and nonprofit organizations are cooperating in an unprecedented effort to secure permanent rights of access to the north woods and keep valuable recreational property and natural habitat undeveloped through conservation easements; and WHEREAS, federal ownership or control of the north woods would create many problems including limitations on timber supply to the forest products industry, reduced recreational access and loss of local and state control of these areas; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, oppose the creation of a national park in Maine’s north woods and request that the President of the United States and Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar deny requests to conduct a feasibility study concerning establishing a national park in Maine’s north woods; and be it further RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Honorable Barack H. Obama, President of the United States, to the Secretary of the Interior, Kenneth Salazar, to the President of the United States Senate, to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and to each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation.
And the Millinocket Town council has weighed in as well;
WHEREAS, Maine’s working forest has been the major economic force in northern Maine for over 400 years and is Maine’s leading industry; and,
WHEREAS, the creation of a national park in this part of the State would effectively eliminate a large portion of the forest products industry, cause a major collapse of the area’s economic base, and force the relocation of thousands of people needing new employment; and,
WHEREAS, Baxter State Park was created by former Governor Percival Baxter in part to thwart efforts in the 1930s to develop a national park in the area and his park has served this area well without the undue intrusion a national park and its regulations would cause; and,
WHEREAS, there are no outstanding characteristics or unique attractions outside Baxter to justify creation of a national park here; and,
WHEREAS, the private ownership of land and the public use of land is a Maine tradition and way of life worthy of preserving; and,
WHEREAS, the vast majority of people in this area clearly do not support such a national park;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Millinocket Town Council officially re-affirms the Town’s opposition to the creation of a new national park in northern Maine, and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Millinocket Town Council requests the Governor of Maine to affirm and the Members of the Maine Congressional Delegation to re-affirm their opposition to such a national park.
In my mind no means no. But this issue is not going to go away you can be sure of that, and outside interests along with outside money will be here soon to champion it.
There is a lot to the National Park proposal story that you may not have thought about – educate yourself – please. Join or at least investigate the Maine Woods Coalition – look at their links page. Think about who has made statements against a National Park and why – what are their motivations? What is Roxanne’s motivation? Why wouldn’t she consider giving the land to Baxter? Who do you think really has Maine’s best interest at heart? Certainly Governor Baxter did.
Sign up for Dont fence me in. Read about Percival Baxter’s wild and free vision and realize he had the vision to know a National Park was a bad idea. Support the idea that those who close access to their property should pay higher taxes. Don’t fall for a narcissists’ agenda, or the minions that have. Look at Roxanne’s past actions including taking her business and jobs out of state. We can and will weather this, just as we as Mainers, have since the 30′s. Seriously think about it, and think about who has Maine’s best interest in mind.
Update 11/9/11 – I’m not sure how much clearer it can get than this;
EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Voters overwhelmingly opposed a National Park Service feasibility study of Roxanne Quimby’s proposed 70,000-acre national park, voting 513-132 against the idea in unofficial totals compiled late Tuesday, Town Clerk Erica Ingalls said.
Game Cameras (Cams) come in many different choices these days, and have a big range in cost. Many excel in one area but under-perform in another. I’ve had a lot of fun with mine, and you never really know what you’ve captured on film while you were away. It’s exciting to run up to the camera to see how many pictures it’s taken and of what. There are a few things you have to think about when you’re shopping around for a camera – first being this day and age digital is the only way to go. I’ve used the old 35mm film cameras when digital was still expensive, and between the incandescent flash and the film advance you’re spooking critters left and right, some of whom won’t return. Some digital cameras have an incandescent flash so you can get color pictures at night, but I prefer the infrared (IR) flash because the creature you are taking a picture of never even knows it. It does give a more “ghosty” appearance to your images, but it looks fine, if not better, to me. Generally the faster the trigger time the higher quality (and price) of the camera. However, if you’re on a feeder or bait as I am, trigger time doesn’t matter all that much because the animal is hanging around having their picture taken. If you are interested in a game trail or security though, you’ll need a fast trigger time. The detection zone of a camera is comprised of the width and the range. Cameras vary in ranges from 30 feet to 100 feet, and widths of 5 to 90 degrees. Each camera will have their own specs, and if possible it’s best to see pictures that it’s taken at various lighting and distance to see if it will work for what you want it to, and most camera manufacturers will have pictures available to view. The other factor is recovery time – the time it takes to take and store a picture to be ready to take another. Some take only half a second, which would be good on a game trail, and some take 60 seconds or longer, which is ok if you’re on a feed station. Obviously the faster the time the more expensive the camera.
I like to set mine up over bait – typically I’ll put out something interesting (usually table scraps and leftovers) and I’ll spread it around a small area. This keeps whatever is interested hunting around for each tasty morsel, and therefore more likely to have a good picture taken. I then set up the camera within close range of the bait. You can test whether the camera will work in it’s location by turning it on and walking around the area with the bait – the camera will flash a red light when it is picking up a signal from your movement, and a small green light when the picture is actually taken. The images in this post are taken with a Wildgame camera -
For the price it’s been a great camera, and I’ve got some memorable shots with it. When combined with some enhancing software which you can do online for free at Picnik, you can get some pretty good pictures out of it. For these images, we had cooked two racks of baby back ribs over the fire, and as we were eating I was tossing the bones out into a small area of the woods in front of camp, and when we left in the morning I set up the camera overlooking them at ground level. That night this red fox appeared and stayed for almost 48 hours finding what I had thrown out there. In the second to last picture you can see him with one of them in his mouth. So, if you have a place where you’d like to know what’s visiting or what’s nearby that you can lure in, think about getting a trail cam – they’re a lot of fun.
A few years ago, while walking out of a woods road near dusk I looked up to the crest of the hill on the road and saw something glide out of the woods, stop and turn to look at me. I was very surprised at it’s size, and uttered a small oath under my breath as I struggled to identify what it was that I was looking at. As I got closer and got a better look I realized it was a huge bobcat. A few days after that I saw the local game warden and mentioned to him that if he had any cougar sightings from that town it was just a big bobcat.
The Eastern Cougar was declared officially extinct in Maine on March 2 of 2011, to the chagrin of lots of people in this state that believe that it exists here. I was lucky enough to see and hear a cougar while on a two week hiking trip in New Mexico with the Boy Scouts. I believe that Maine has the habitat that can support cougars, I have a very open mind about the possibility of their presence here, and I would love to be the person that gets irrefutable proof that they are here, but I don’t think they are, and here is why.
First is most people, including those that spend a fair amount of time in the woods of this state ever see a wild cat, and if they are lucky enough to it is only for a very brief moment. Seeing a glimpse of a creature like that often leads one to believe that it is bigger than it truly is. And bobcats in Maine get a lot bigger than people imagine they do. Pictures are worth a thousand words so take a look at the picture below;
What is it? Being honest with yourself, what would you say if you got a glimpse of this running away from you in the woods? What would you estimate that it weighs? Look at the tail – is it the distinctive bobcat tail, or is it a long tail curled between the rear legs?
Walking through the woods this creature would look huge – believe me. To answer the questions above, it is a bobcat – a 50 pound one. A lot of people think bobcats are covered with spots – here in Maine, and especially if the cat is older, such is not the case, as you can see from the picture.
Now, compare that picture to this picture;
Can you tell the difference? If you saw either one of those for the second that you do see them in the woods, would you be able to identify it?
Second – all the purported mountain lion pictures I’ve seen are magically missing the distinctive long tail. In one of the general stores in the Katahdin region someone even went to the trouble of scratching out the tail on the photo. There is one photo I have seen that has given me pause, and that can be found here looking at the game camera photo(s).
Looking at the enlarged photo, it does appear to have a long tail, but you can’t actually see it. I’ve also seen ears that appear as in the photo on bobcats. The first give away that it is a bobcat is it has belly spots. The second is when you look at the original photo and compare it to the surrounding scenery, it just isn’t anywhere near big enough or tall enough to be a cougar.
Finally, when the lynx population started dropping down into Northern Maine a few years ago we knew it because we had bodies. A car ran one over, and a trapper caught one. If you recall the lone wolf that wandered into the state 10 years ago or so was promptly shot. I believe if we had mountain lions in the state at some point we would see a dead one – either by car, rifle, or trap, and despite all the “sightings” we haven’t seen that. Also, it is still legal here in Maine to use hounds for bobcats during the winter, and I do believe that at some point if the big cats were here, someone would have had one treed by now.
That’s my two cents on the Maine Cougar issue…
If you have genuine untouched photos I’d love to see them.