Amazing stories from some of Maine’s best game wardens

Ludger Belanger, a young man who shot a big buck and hauled it out of the woods onto an old road, hopped into a car with two guys who offered to transport him and his buck out to his car. And then Ludger disappeared.

This is just one of the amazing stories in Daren Worcester’s new book, Open Season – True Stories of the Maine Warden Service, published by Down East Books. I especially enjoyed Daren’s book because I knew many of the dozen wardens featured in the stories, during my years of working for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Those wardens spent a collective total of 300 years in the Maine woods, and the 20 stories in the book are some of their best. Daren was inspired to write the book after listening to game wardens reminiscing at the retirement party for his father-in-law, warden Nat Berry. And Nat’s story about the Rolfe Brook Smelt Run is a good one, along with his story of the poacher who had just four fingers on his two hands. But the story you will really love about Nat is in the book’s introduction, where Daren discloses that wardens who worked for Nat dumped problem wild animals – from skunks to a black bear – on his property without his knowledge!

Two of my favorite wardens, Russ Dyer and Maynard Marsh, are featured in the first story about Russ’ initial assignment in Saint Pamphile. Let’s just say Russ almost got killed there. I don’t want to spoil that story for you.

One of the scariest stories involved wardens and ice anglers who got isolated on an ice flow in Sebago Lake, and came within seconds of drowning. That story had a happy ending, but not all the stories in this book did.

From Bill Allen’s urgent search for a snowmobiler who was nearly frozen when Bill found him, to a serious snowmobile accident – an attempted rescue by warden pilots Gary Dumond and Jack McPhee (a guy I admired greatly) – you will enjoy each and every story in this book. I sure did.


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.