Lots of opinions shared in Sportsmen Say Surveys

The opinions expressed in my Sportsmen Say Surveys are always interesting. I dedicated the survey to Gene Letourneau, whose Sportsmen Say columns appeared every day for 50 years in the newspapers of central and southern Maine. Sadly, we don’t get coverage and reporting like that anymore.

Gene was an inspiration to many of us. He often featured comments from his readers in his column. Whenever my Dad was quoted in one of Gene’s columns, it was a big day at our house! After Dad died, I found a box of letters he’d received from Gene, in response to Dad’s letters to Gene. Apparently Gene responded to every single person who wrote to him.

I can remember sitting up back in the audience at work sessions of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, when they would call on Gene for his opinion. They sure don’t do that anymore!

Here are some of the more interesting responses to my survey questions, some of which were posted more than two years ago but are still drawing responses. You can share your opinion on any of the nearly 60 questions I’ve posed in the Sportsmen Say Survey section at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

Survey Responses

Do you support a $3 million bond issue to fix problems and improve the state’s Casco and Grand Lake Stream hatcheries: Yes 73%, No 20%, Undecided 7%. The legislature recently approved a $5 million appropriation for these purposes.

Should the deer population be reduced in southern and coastal Maine to address the problems of deer ticks and Lyme Disease? Yes 57%, No 38%, Not sure 5%. This is a major issue being discussed by the Big Game Steering Committee and DIF&W as they work to create a new big game management plan.

Do you believe Maine’s DIF&W is accurately estimating moose populations? Yes 20%, No 63%, Not sure 17%. This question was posted two years ago but is still drawing responses.

Should landowner permission be required to pick edible wild crops like mushrooms and fiddleheads? Yes 52%, No 45%, Not sure 3%. My bill to do this has been heard by the Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation Committee, which will be working on it soon. It is very likely to be amended to only require permission when picking crops that you plan to sell.

Should Maine increase the benefits and decrease the costs for landowners who allow recreational use of their property? Yes 87%, No 13%

Should Maine make it legal for clubs, churches, and other nonprofits to charge for wild game dinners? Yes 72%, No 24%, Undecided 4%. My bill to repeal the law that prohibits charging money for wild game dinners will be debated this session.

Should Maine game wardens be allowed to break the law and to encourage others to break the law in order to arrest law breakers? Yes 6%, No 93%, Not sure 1%. This is one of the most definitive responses I’ve ever gotten to a survey question. And the legislature will consider a bill this session to prohibit this practice.

Should Maine spend more time and money managing self-sustaining fisheries including brook trout and bass, and less on hatcheries and stocked fish? I proposed legislation this session to create a Hatchery Commission to consider these and other issues and create recommendations for legislative consideration next year. The bill didn’t get much support at its public hearing and was strongly opposed by DIF&W, so I am not optimistic that it will win the support of the IFW Committee.

Should 8 year olds be allowed to hunt in Maine. Yes 42%, No 54%, Not sure 4%. The legislature eliminated the hunting age requirement last session, but is revisiting that issue this session, particularly as it applies to applications for hunting permits.

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, georgesmithmaine.com, 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.