As I sit in my home office this Election Day morning, drinking coffee and watching the snow fly outside my window, I realize the world is about to be consumed with even more “noise” than usual. Tonight’s results, regardless of who wins, is going to set off a firestorm of media coverage, legal wrangling and divisiveness. I work in the world of politics, so today is a busy day for me. But the tracking snow on the ground is a good reminder that as a Maine sportsman, I have a perfect way of digesting the happenings of the world, and to take time to enjoy the things that unify us. Maine’s outdoors is just that type of thing.
And whether you are a hunter or not, we all have this opportunity.
The Maine woods, and our waters, provide a perfect place and opportunity to shut down our televisions, phones and computers. I was at moose hunting camp in the north woods with good friends last week, and for four days I never once heard about a Twitter account. I didn’t see a political ad on TV, or a pop up on my web browser. But I did think about how fortunate I was to spend time in such a special place with such good people. I did think about how lucky we are as Mainers to be able to access such tremendous undeveloped landscapes. I thought about my family back at home, and counted my blessings as we near the end of such a crazy year.
As sportsmen, I think now is the perfect time to celebrate how fortunate we are. And I hope that those elected to public office today will think long and hard about how to support conservation and outdoor opportunities as they approach the beginning of a new term of public service.
I hope in the coming legislative and congressional sessions we can find ways to come together to support conservation opportunities, like a bond for the Land for Maine’s Future Program, which benefits sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike. I hope that as sportsmen we will continue our efforts to break down barriers of entry for new and returning hunters, anglers, and trappers. And most of all, I hope that policymakers will realize that supporting these objectives is a great way to bring us all together.
2020 has been an extremely unusual, and frankly exhausting, year. But if this year has taught us anything, it is that when Maine people need an outlet, they go to the woods. This is demonstrated by a recent uptick in hunting license sales, among other things. And what this tells us is that sometimes, it is just nice to get back to basics, and turn the noise off. I think it is also telling about what we as Maine people value as the more important things in life.
Today’s election is important. Those of us who care about our outdoors and natural resources need to pay attention and vote. And after we do, let’s take some time to be in the woods, to remember what is most important in life, and send a signal to our newly elected leaders that amidst all the things that divide us, they have amazing opportunities to support things that will bring us together.
The Maine outdoors unifies so many of us. Whether you vote Republican or Democrat, or both, or none of the above, when we are in the woods together we have found common ground — and that is something to celebrate.
James Cote is a government affairs consultant who successfully managed the 2014 bear referendum and has represented numerous hunting, angling, and trapping organizations in Maine and across the country. He is also a co-author of a new book, The Great Maine Moose Hunt. He is an avid hunter and angler, and lives in Farmington.