On Saturday, I did what we columnists often do: I stuck my neck out. It didn’t take long before readers did what they often do in response: They lopped my head off (fortunately, only figuratively).
If you missed the column and the resulting online melee, here’s all you need to know in order to get up to speed: I wrote a piece that explained why Maine’s resident-only opening day of deer season is a bad idea. If you’re reaching for the keyboard to fire a few angry words in my direction, wait a minute. You’re too late. Your fellow readers already have flogged me sufficiently.
I suspected that there would be backlash, and in the newspaper business, that’s not a bad thing. It’s called “engaging our readers,” a fellow editor informed me last week as the mob carrying pitchforks and torches queued up outside of 491 Main.
As of writing deadline, the tally in our online poll: 83.5 percent of the 878 respondents said they don’t want nonresident hunters in the woods on the first Saturday of the season. Just 16.5 percent said they agreed with me, but a few actually took the time to send personal messages, explaining why.
You won’t read those messages today, though. I’ve had my say. Today’s space is dedicated to those who think I’m full of … well, you know.
And many said some other interesting stuff. Note to my mother: Feel free to stop reading now. The rest of this might get a little ugly.
To address a few of those accusations and suppositions, let me assure you that A) I’m a card-carrying Mainer; my family’s been here for more than 200 years; B) My head cannot go there. It’s anatomically impossible; and C) I am not related to Roxanne Quimby.
You spoke. I listened. I still disagree with many of you, but I enjoyed the chance to … what was that phrase? Oh, yes. I enjoyed the chance to “engage our readers.”
And I’m glad to share some of the more interesting responses to my (insert your own adjective here) column. I have taken the liberty of correcting some spelling errors in a few posts, so that it doesn’t seem that I’m intentionally poking fun at readers who took the time to respond.
From maineal, on the Internet: “Mr. Holyoke. I hope you understand you probably just lost a huge following!” And minutes later, from paycheck2paycheck: “He did. Just walked into the local one-stop. Three guys standing in front of the coffee were irritated as hell about this. Mr. Holyoke, you are a disgrace. Thanks for your lack of support for Maine sportsmen. Maybe your next article should be co-written by Roxanne Quimby. Go LePage! No Park for Me!”
As I said, I don’t know Ms. Quimby. The chances of her and I getting together for a writing project are slim. I do, however, need some lip balm. Perhaps she can help me out with that.
From Sleepycreek: “I say if it keeps out-of-staters from moving here, give them the Saturday. it would be a small price to pay.”
From Lisa: “First thing: Does he even hunt? If [not], then shut it. Either way, I have been around people like him that think they are all that, start a big fuss about something to prove a point, get what they think they want and regret it later. [Holyoke] keeps complaining like this, the law will be changed and he will be the first to complain about it. The old saying goes like this: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”
I’m happy to learn that Lisa thinks I have that much power. I’m sad she thinks that I think that I’m all that … whatever “that” may be. And yes, Lisa. I do hunt. Not successfully, but avidly.
From Ed: “It’s bad enough we have to host all the outtastaters for the rest of the season. The whole first week ought to be residents-only.”
From Tim_Conners: “Let them stay home, summer is over. They are just another accident coming here to happen.”
From JG: “I’m actually almost shocked that [Holyoke] actually submitted this for publication. I say make the entire first week residents-only. Or better yet, stop selling nonresident licenses altogether until the resource rebounds. And to argue that nonresident licenses are too expensive is ridiculous. They should be four or five times higher than they are now.”
And finally, from MaineIsMyHome: “I’m not a hunter. I’ve never hunted. I never will. But I can think of zero reason why we can’t do something nice for the hard-working men and women of this state. Just once, can’t the people of this state, us, let us do something nice, and good, for each? I propose that instead of taking away one of the very few things so many from Maine enjoy, maybe the first day of hunting should also be a statewide celebration: ‘Mainer Day.’ Thank you, Maine hunters. Be vocal. Occupy The Woods!”