Feathers ‘n Fins

Posted Feb. 06, 2009, at 9:37 p.m.

If I were asked to name Maine’s most outstanding outdoors writer, past or present, my immediate answer would be the late Bill Geagan. Furthermore, I’d say my opinion is shared by readers who remember the quiet and unassuming author-artist as a consummate outdoorsman and dedicated spokesman for sportsmen. From 1936 through 1947, hunters, fishermen and trappers followed Geagan’s insightful and informative columns in the BDN. Thereafter, his columns appeared in the Bangor Commercial, an evening paper of that time. Additionally, his freelance stories were featured regularly in major sporting magazines and he was the host of popular radio and television programs.

Born in Bangor on Dec. 1, 1903, Bill Geagan’s growing pains were relieved by regular exercises with rods, guns and dogs. Nevertheless, it was his incipient love of nature and wildlife that, decades later, inspired him to write and illustrate his first book, “Nature I Loved,” published in 1952. Subsequently, he wrote two more books: “The Good Trail,” and “Seed on the Wind.” In the meantime, Geagan’s knowledge of nature and proficiency at drawing cartoons of wildlife attracted the attention of Walt Disney Studios. But being first and foremost a sportsman, Geagan would have no part in producing anti-hunting films the likes of “Bambi.” Instead, he donated his time and talents to the Penobscot County Conservation Association’s annual Junior Conservation Camp held at Branch Pond in Ellsworth, where he taught youngsters about nature, wildlife and woodcraft. Moreover, he was ahead of his time in promoting catch-and-release fishing. Simply put, among his peers Bill Geagan stood like a pine among poplars. He died in Bangor on Nov. 20, 1974, and, appropriately, went to rest with a sprig of pine needles placed in his hands.

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