Game wardens Rick LaFlamme (left) and Jim Fahey remove trash from the woods of Old Town during an annual Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day staged by the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Forest Service on Sept. 10, 2017. Credit: John Holyoke

All of us have had experiences afield that have left us feeling a bit steamed. Last week, we asked BDN readers to share their own pet peeves, and to tell us what annoys them most when they’re out in the woods, or on the water, or on the trail.

The hope: To get more people thinking about outdoor etiquette, and to compel a few offenders to reconsider their offensive behavior.

We learned (again) that BDN readers weren’t shy about sharing their opinions. And we found that no matter what you like to do outdoors, you’re likely to find somebody who’ll do something a bit inconsiderate.

Are most outdoors enthusiasts like that? Of course not. But a few are. And all it takes a few to ruin an otherwise perfect day.

While you’re browsing through the gripe pile that follows, do us a favor, if you would. Ask yourself: “Is this me? Do I do this?” If you find yourself feeling a bit guilty, it might be time to make a few changes. (Nobody really wants to be that annoying person, do they?)

Here are some of the dozens of responses, edited for space and clarity. And of course, feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section below the story. Just be nice to each other.

Brittany King’s gripe: “When you’ve finally found your striper spot but the other boats keep drifting way too close for comfort.”

From Heather Sorokin: “Dogs off leash on a hike. I almost fell off a cliff when a dog came running out of the woods to jump [on] me. Oh, and playing your music for all to hear.”

Another commenter shared perhaps the most common response: “Litter is the biggest irritant,” they wrote. “Followed close behind by people who ruin property owners’ roads with their trucks and ATVs when it is muddy. If you’re too lazy to walk a bit in order to protect an owner’s land, then stay home and hunt and fish on your computer.”

Several readers provided laundry lists of offenses that they’ve witnessed. “All in all I would say most people I run into are pretty decent. A few [others] come to mind: People who troll while fishing sometimes get annoying because they crowd you. But most times it’s because they are busy changing lures, baits etc.,” one wrote. “In the north woods in late November during deer season there are a lot of yahoos who think they are in the Indy 500 and conversely there are the ones who will drive right down the middle of the road on purpose to not let you by.”

And from yet another: “Where do I begin? People who don’t know where the muzzle of their rifle is pointed [tick me off]. People who tell you you can’t hunt in a place you know is open to the public. Leaving gates open. Shooting a deer within 100 feet of my house (I wasn’t home) and bragging to me about it later. Crowding me while fishing. Seeing my canoe on the water and speeding by me in a powerboat, all the while laughing. ‘Heater’ hunting, while pounding down numerous ‘libations.’ Catching or bagging over the limit on fish and game, then bragging about it. The best (or worst)…shooting a big bull moose illegally, taking a hindquarter and leaving the rest of it. Our intrepid nimrod bragged about his escapade later.”

One reader had complaints about an irresponsible ice angler. “Last winter we had ice fishermen who constructed their shack on the common lot used by our neighborhood. They fished all winter, then left the shack there, blocking anyone from getting a boat into the water. We saw a name and address on the shack, so called the sheriff — no such person, no such address. Creeps.”

Those who live closest to special places often have to bear the brunt of the abuse. One reader said the stream in their backyard has proven to be a blessing and a curse.

“I have a trout stream that runs through my backyard and then down through some pines and ledges. We mow down to it. It’s 75 feet from my place at the kitchen table and I can watch trout rise while I eat my Cheerios,” the reader wrote. “Each summer I can count on one or two strangers pulling into the yard and telling me ‘I’m going down there to fish.’ My reply is ‘Are you asking me or telling me?’ And then they get all huffy and I tell them to leave.”

That’s not always the case, however. Some guests were more polite, and were greeted in kind.

“I recall one old fellow. Ed was all I knew him as. He asked nicely, and came every summer a few times. A good guy. Over the years his legs started to limit his walking ability. Finally I told him to drive down across the lawn by the brook so he wouldn’t have to go so far. One summer, he didn’t come, and I later learned that he had died. He may have been the last polite guy who didn’t come with an entitlement attitude.”

Not everybody liked the fact that we asked the question, though. Some thought it was a way to pit outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen against each other, and suggested that keeping silent about any complaints might be the best approach to take.

“What? We are now asking people to be negative and nasty? Seriously?” one reader asked. “Guess what? We all have pet peeves. It’s OK to have them. It’s also OK to just let it go.”

In that vein, we’ll finish up with a comment from a reader who knew exactly what ticked him off the most:

“Outdoor writers who pen articles asking for comments that will inflame and turn off the public towards all sportsmen,” he wrote. “Oh, and litter bugs from all walks of life.”

There you have it.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...