As the opening night of the Eastern Maine Sportsman’s Show got under way Friday, I was pleasantly surprised to see red jackets everywhere I looked.
Maine’s game wardens were in attendance, en masse.
Warden Jim Fahey explained the wardens had been summoned to Orono for a division meeting, and Lt. Pat Dorian suggested they head down to the field house complex to revive an old tradition.
Dorian told the wardens that years ago, wardens made a habit of showing up at the sportsman’s show on opening day, and spent the evening chatting about fishing and hunting with show attendees. That tradition had lapsed of late, and Dorian thought it was time to reverse that trend.
On Friday, that’s just what happened, and on Saturday Fahey said he enjoyed getting the chance to talk to so many people who are interested in Maine’s outdoor traditions.
From my vantage point at the BDN booth, the show’s visitors enjoyed the renewal of the traditional Friday night visit from the wardens just as much as the wardens did.
The red-clad wardens were rarely alone, and were often engaged in conversation with two or more outdoor enthusiasts at once.
Add the presence of the state’s wildlife biologists, who pitched in with the wardens to help staff the DIF&W’s anti-poaching “Wall of Shame” trailer all weekend long, and show visitors got plenty of opportunity to bend the ears of the state employees who serve them.
That interaction surely gave the DIF&W staffers the chance to explain plenty of complicated legal and biological matters, and was undoubtedly a great public relations move.
Hats off to Dorian for suggesting the wardens in his division make themselves so readily available, and hats off to the biologists for sharing some of their vital knowledge about the state’s wild critters.
Paper lottery deadline looms
If you’re an old-fashioned hunter who likes taking care of your permits the old-fashioned way — on paper, in person — your moose-permit lottery deadline is looming.
DIF&W is trying to get as many people as possible to enter the lottery online, and has stopped mailing out applications to previous entrants as it had in the past.
And if you want to fill out an old-fashioned, paper application, you’ve got to do so and get your application into the hands of the DIF&W before 5 p.m. on April 1.
There are a variety of ways to accomplish this:
• Print out an application from the DIF&W Web site (www.mefishwildlife.com), fill it out and mail it in.
• Visit the DIF&W office in Augusta in person and fill out an application there.
• Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Moose Permit Application Request, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 41 SHS, 284 State Street, Augusta, 04333-0041.
Or, if you’ve got access to a computer, you could save yourself all the trouble and enter on-line. In that case your deadline isn’t until 11:59 p.m. on May 15.
Oiled wildlife training set
All of us have seen the images: Oil-covered birds or animals struggling for survival after an oil spill at sea.
And all of us have likely thought something like this: “I’m glad that hasn’t happened around here.”
Unfortunately, it could … Maine’s got plenty of coastline and navigable rivers, after all, and a single spill could spoil the pristine places we all love.
In April, the International Bird Rescue Center will offer people the chance to learn what they can do to help out in case of a disaster.
DIF&W is hosting the group for a pair of sessions they’re calling “Oiled Wildlife Volunteer Training,” April 4 in Scarborough and April 5 in Bangor.
Volunteers will learn how to become involved, learn volunteer roles in a response, will be briefed on safety issues, and will be given tips for working in a crisis situation.
The Bangor session runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. The session is free.
To learn more about the sessions or to sign up, call Jordan Bailey at 941-4448 or e-mail her at Jordan.Bailey@maine.gov.
Coming up: More auction action
I had the chance to spend Tuesday at James D. Julia’s auction house in Fairfield, and learned plenty about the company and its high-end gun auctions.
For a gun-owner whose weapons are merely useful tools, and will never be considered “collectibles,” it was an eye-opening experience, as single bids topped $800,000, and a 40-piece collection of Colts drew almost $5.25 million. In two days, Julia’s firearms auction grossed nearly $11.4 million.
Not bad for an auction company in rural central Maine.
On Wednesday, I told you about the auction itself, and introduced you to a few of the bidders … but there’s far more to the story.
In Saturday’s editions I’ll tell you a bit more about Julia’s operation and how it has emerged as a major player in the international industry of collectible firearms.
Julia clearly loves what he does, and after spending some time with him, I learned he also loves talking about what he does.
The story promises to be an eye-opener, and I look forward to telling it.