Monday, September 19, 2011

Maine Magazine Interview

The October 2011 edition of Maine Magazine ( will be featuring an interview they conducted with me a few months ago. I suppose you could say it is my guaranteed 15 minutes of fame. The entire process, meeting with the writer and then trying to act natural for the photography session was VERY interesting and a great learning opportunity. I hope that ultimately my interview, which centers on educating youth about the natural world, inspires a few more kids (and adults) to live a life a bit more “wild”.

Over the next several days, additional traffic may pass thorough the blog, as a result of the Maine Magazine interview. Because of this, I wanted to welcome new readers to my blog! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your interest and hope you will feel free to add comments when and where appropriate. If you have specific questions and wish to contact me directly, my e-mail address is:

If you are wondering, “who in heck is this guy”, access my “About Me” section as it provides a brief synopsis on who I am and what I am all about.

If you are short on time and overwhelmed by the shear volume of blather I have manage to create, since I started the blog in February of 2008. Check out my “Popular Blog Posts” and “Published Stories” section as they highlight what I consider some of my favorite and best postings.

The Inside Scoop on the Maine Magazine “Interview”:
If you can believe it, an interview isn’t half as bad as you might originally want to imagine. It was actually relatively painless and not nearly as invasive as I had feared. I suppose, I was very fortunate to have the entire session conducted by one of Maine Magazine’s skilled editorial staffers as well as freelance photographer Ben Krebs ( Both individuals possessed style, grace and class vastly superior to my own, just the type of people you want on your side to make you look good!

Provided below is the photograph chosen for the magazine interview, my top 10 suggestions for a photograph title and the extended version of the magazine interview. I hope you enjoy!

Kicking Bass and Taking Names
 My Top 10 List of Possible Photograph Titles:
   1. Photographer Ben Krebs and I wondering what the poor people are doing.
   2. Photographer Ben Krebs and I kicking bass and taking names.
   3. Photographer Ben Krebs and I doing what rednecks do best.
   4. Photographer Ben Krebs and I wondering why this fish I am holding is so damn small.
   5. Photographer Ben Krebs and I both glad I am wearing briefs and not boxers.
   6. Photographer Ben Krebs and I thinking that I might want to consider getting a gym membership.
   7. Photographer Ben Krebs and I very intoxicated and playing rock, paper, scissors to determine who drives to beer store.
   8. Photographer Ben Krebs and I hopelessly lost and hoping that someone will eventually find our bodies.
   9. Photographer Ben Krebs and I thinking we hear banjos and preparing to paddle faster.
  10. I Can Plainly See Your Nuts

Maine Magazine Q and A – Extended Version not Available in the Magazine Interview

How did you get started hunting?
For me starting to hunt was a relatively easy endeavor, having grandfathers, a father, and an uncle who were all registered Maine guides and passionate about the outdoors. From a time shortly after I began walking, they helped me take the formal and informal steps in my outdoors training that eventually led me to become interested in hunting.

What most don’t understand is that hunting, is much more then handing a young man a rifle and pointing him in the direction of the woods. A hunter is someone who has undergone years of instruction and guidance in understanding a large number of individual skills, eventually building to the mastery of a diverse tool kit of abilities.

Most importantly, before venturing forth into the wilds, to be safe and comfortable in the woods a hunter must know how to use a map and compass and what to do in a situation should they become lost or injured. A hunter should also know how to dress for the bitter north winds and blowing snow and how to start a fire in the wettest and direst of circumstances. These are fundamental skills that should be learned early and by all outdoorsmen, regardless if they someday intend to hunt.

To hunt game ethically and well one must understand the animal he is pursuing, know its tracks, behaviors and where it is likely to live and feed. A hunter must know how to accurately shoot from a variety of stances, understand the inner workings of firearms and how to clean and care for them.
To humanely kill game, a hunter must know the animal’s anatomy and where to place a shot to quickly dispatch it. A hunter must also know what to do should that bullet not be perfectly placed and an animal need to be tracked. A hunter must also understand how to field dress, butcher and properly care for a killed animal, so the meat is not wasted. Lastly, it is the best of hunters who also know how to properly cook game and prepare it for the dinner table.

Do you make an effort to get young people outside?
The education side of introducing kids and people who haven’t had a chance to get outside has really come full circle for me now that I have kids. I have a three- and a five-year-old—two little boys, and they are amazing. We started identifying animal tracks, going out in the winter and chasing rabbits through the underbrush and stuff like that. I don’t take them out hunting—I’m not killing anything in front of them because I think they’re too young to understand that. We do have a garden, though. They dig little holes and water the tomato plants and they understand that things need to be cared for and nurtured in order to grow. I think that all of those lessons are really important. They’re the basic building blocks of their understanding of the outdoors.

Do plan to take your kids hunting when they’re older?
Eventually? Definitely. If they get into hunting and fishing, that’s great. And if they don’t, well I’ve always said it’s their choice. I’d never force it on them. I will provide all of the entry points, but if they don’t want to take it up, that’s up to them.

While spending time growing things and hunting, you’re brushing up against some really important concepts. This seems to connect to your interest in teaching.
We go to a supermarket and pick something off of the shelf and we don’t think: “Where did this animal come from? Did it suffer? Was it raised in captivity?” When a hunter goes out and shoots a deer, he has a pretty good idea that that deer probably had a pretty nice life. And then we have to actually take that deer and butcher it ourselves and package it. Hunters understand what hard work it is to take an animal from the field, clean it, and put it on the dinner table. We as a society aren’t passing these things on. We’re not teaching. I don’t know what’s going on with out society, if we’re doing more inside with videogames, movies, the Internet, smart phones. I mean—we’re always connected. There are so many things pulling us out of the natural world.

Right! And it’s so easy to take up something that’s merely entertaining, but these things don’t engage any critical parts of you.
Kids aren’t bored anymore. They’re always entertained. And then you take those kids and put them in an educational setting. Unless the teacher is jumping on the desk and standing on their head and showing the kids movies everyday, they just can’t hold the students’ attention long enough to teach them anything. I think that that’s really hard.

What particularly about hunting do you feel is getting lost?
I think the first one is the connection to people. The tradition of being able to bring everyone together is really important. The second would be the connections to food and what you eat, and having respect for animals. And then—I think there’s a certain amount of tradition and heritage, too, that’s really important. I guess what I’d like to dump is the negative view of the hunter—the big fat redneck drinking a Busch and riding around on a four-wheeler killing whatever he sees and not caring if animals suffer. I like to promote the idea that that’s a small population of hunters. Hunting is only 10 percent about harvesting an animal. The remaining 90 percent is about hanging out with your family and friends, spending time afield enjoying mother nature, and the frequent quiet, self-reflective moments.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bear Hunting Pictures - Fall 2011

Tommy and 221 lb Black Bear
Father and Son w/ 180 lb (rt) and 221 lb (lt)
Father and Son w/ 341 lb Black Bear
Side View 341 lb Black Bear
Muzzle of 341 lb Black Bear

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guiding Bear Hunters With Eagle Mountain

Matt Whitegiver on Left
2011 marked my third hunting season with Eagle Mountain Guide Service. In previous years, I had volunteered my time to learn more about bear hunting, guiding clients and generally how to organize a sporting lodge. This year, however, I was fully on my own guiding clients, tracking wounded bears and ultimately guaranteeing the safety of everyone in my charge. Throughout this endeavor, I consider myself fortunate to have forged a friendship with Eagle Mountain owner/operator and guide Matt Whitegiver, as he was and continues to be an instrumental force in assisting me in becoming a better hunting guide.

Me, Tommy and 221 lb Black Bear
A large part of becoming a master guide is linked to confidence and how one carries themselves around groups of other sportsmen and the skill of maintaining a cool head under pressure and precise understanding what needs to be done in difficult situations. For guides like Matt, these skills have been finely honed through years of experiences in Maine’s woods and on its waters. For others, like myself, I have found that practice makes perfect and that becoming a great guide is ultimately about investing time guiding clients and finding a good mentor, willing to invest their time in teaching you the correct way to do things and who is not afraid to take a chance on you and be patient when you make mistakes. Throughout this learning process, I have gained considerable confidence and ultimately much more about bear hunting then would have ever been possible from any other means.

Here are a few things I learned about BEARS from this Bear Hunting season:

1.    Bears will not tolerate strange smells at a bait site
2.    Bears will tolerate strange smells at a bait site
3.    Bears LOVE strange food smells at the bait site and will run in to investigate
4.    Bears will come back to a bait site where another bear was shot
5.    Bears won’t come back to a bait site where another bear was shot
6.    Bears fear wind and heavy rain
7.    Bears love wind and heavy rain
8.    Bears still moving after shot should be shot again . . . repeat as often as necessary until bear stops moving.
9.    Bear ribs when slow cooked are freaking delicious
10.     Bears are fantastic animals to hunt. Just when you think you have them figured out they surprise you again and again. No matter what you know OR think you know about bears, sometimes when the chips are down, you just need to throw a hail Mary pass and pull a new set of tricks out of your pocket to have any chance at tagging a massive bruin!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Macro Flower Photography - Pickerelweed

Pickerelweed NOT Invasive Purple Loosestrife 
I have to admit, I am not great at identify some of the more prolific of Maine's aquatic plant species. However, the photos below are of the easy to identify Pickerelweed. The pictures were taken on a recent paddling trip on Great Pond. Pickerelweed is highly edible and the seeds taste a lot like nuts. The leaves can also be eaten raw or boiled like greens. More on properly identifying and eating Pickerelweed click HERE. For more on eating aquatics check out my post on "The Incredible Edible Cattail

Also in my recent trip to Great Pond another reminder to fishermen to remain vigilant in the removal of Milfoil and other invasive aquatic plants during the remaining boating season!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sardine Tournament of Champions - Finals

After eating what seems to be equivalent to my body weight in sardines over the last several months, as I attempt to find a winner in the sardine tournament of champions, I finally came to a conclusion on what is the best sardine in the state of Maine. While my original plan had been to offer up my final choice of champion on 9/23/11, I have decided that you as my audience have probably had just about all you could possibly take on the topic of canned fish. So without further comment here are the final results of the Sardine Tournament of Champions.

Sardine Championships Final Round
Semi Final Winners of Round 1 and 2 (Bar Harbor VS King Oscar) - A champion is crowned and it is BAR HARBOR!

A clear winner the BAR HARBOR sardines are a rich and flavorful with a pleasant smoky taste. In a recent trip to the grocery store I noted that they are additionally available in a variety of flavors including wild herring in cabernet wine sauce, wild herring fillets with cracked pepper and the classic naturally smoked wild kippers. Next time you are in the supermarket swing down the canned meat isle and give these fish treats a try!

Sardine Championships - Semi Final Round 2
Winners of Round 3 and 4 (Bar Harbor VS Polar) – Winner: Bar Harbor

Sardine Championships - Semi Final Round 1
Winners of Round 1 and 2 (Bumble Bee VS King Oscar) – Winner: King Oscar

Sardine Review – Round 4
Chicken of the Sea VS Polar - Winner: Polar

Sardine Review – Round 3
Brunswick VS Bar Harbor – Winner: Bar Harbor

Sardine Review – Round 2
King Oscar V.S. Beach Cliff – Winner: King Oscar

Sardine Review – Round 1
Crown Prince V.S. Bumblebee – Winner: Bumblebee

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Talking Turtle with Maine’s IFW

Here is the transcript of my e-mail conversation with Jonathan Mays with the Reptile, Amphibian, & Invertebrate Group at the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. It serves to provide additional information and clarification around the laws and regulations concerning the trapping of snapping turtles. A special thanks to Jonathan!


Thanks for checking in on snapping turtle trapping in Maine.  It looks like you got your information from the Maine Warden Service FAQ webpage (

Aside from prohibiting the commercial take of reptiles (including snapping turtles), personal use/take is allowed and legal in Maine (exception being any species listed Endangered/Threatened).  Since snapping turtles are not considered either endangered / threatened, game, or sport fish, there are no additional specific laws or rules as to harvest regulations, gear, season, etc.  The gray area arises when you consider potential by-catch of fish, fur-bearers, etc. that do have rules and regs associated with them.  For example, your question regarding use of a hook w/ steel leader tied to shore (i.e., fixed line) isn't covered in regard to snapping turtles but is clearly an illegal method of fishing as defined in MDIFW's Inland Fishing regulations (see the definition for "set line" on page 11 here :

So, while personal snapping turtle trapping is allowed/legal without specific permits, licenses, or regulations, you have to consider the anticipated methods and whether or not they could potentially take other species (by-catch) that do have laws/rules associated with them (sport fish, fur- bearers, game animals, etc.).  With that in mind, here's your questions one at a time with my answers in all caps:

1. Is a fishing license required to trap snapping turtles?


2. Is hook w/ steel leader, tied to shore a legal method (as used in
other states) or only box type traps?


3. What types of bait are legal (raw chicken or beef liver)? Can dead bait such as minnows be used?


4. How long can a trapped snapping turtle be kept before it must bedispatched?


5. Is there other information, I have not mentioned that will assist me in writing the story?

Thinking on your last question, I'd like to mention two other points regarding snapping turtle harvest.  The first being that just like with large predatory fish and/or bottom feeders, snapping turtles are top level predators in many/most of the waterbodies they live in.  As such it is good practice to limit consumption of snapping turtle meat (and avoid if pregnant, etc); research has shown snapping turtles carry high levels of mercury, PCB's, and other bio-accumulates.  Secondly it's worth mentioning one of the reasons Maine no longer permits commercial take of snapping turtles.  Snappers, like all turtles, are K-selected species that take many years to reach sexual maturity (18+ years for snappers), have very low nesting/hatching success, and thus need to live a long time in order to replace themselves.  While limited personal take should allow populations to persist, a targeted commercial exploitation could quickly wipe out turtle populations for the future.

Hopefully that covered most of it Steve but again don't hesitate to follow up if I missed something.  Also, I always recommend running legal interpretations on Maine Hunting/Fishing/Trapping by your local game warden cause in the end they're the ones enforcing them.

Good luck with the article and if it's not any trouble I wouldn't mind seeing a copy when it's ready.

In addition to the information provided by Jonathan's e-mail here are also a few other online resources.

Excellent Website Links:
Trapping, cleaning and eating snapping turtles:

More on Snapping turtles:

Snapping Turtle Traps:

Very Good Additional Information:

I heard this on one of the Forums and thought it was funny . . .   
How To Age Snapping Turtles: Start with prodding the turtle with your little finger. If you find he can snap it off easily he is at least 3; ring finger about 5, middle finger 8, pointer finger 12, thumb over 20.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Snapping Turtle, It’s What’s For Dinner!

Turtle meat is somewhat tough so it is best to parboil it for an hour or so before planning to incorporate it into any recipe. One of the favorite methods of preparing is including the delicate bits in a soup. In our “experiment”, the turtle parts were boiled and then allowed to cool. The bones were picked of meat and placed in a shallow casserole dish then lightly sprinkled with pineapple chunks and a small handful of diced summer sausage. The end result was predictably as described in most of the literature, I had read on eating snapping turtle, with different parts of the turtle having unique tastes. Perhaps my favorite was the white, rubbery neck meat with a texture and taste similar to lobster. Also, the dark leg meat was what you would expect were it possible to combine beef with chicken . . . Bicken perhaps? 

All in all an enjoyable eating experience, albeit a tough sell among the rest of the tribe. While everyone was willing to “try” a small morsel of the final meal, few were wiling to make the commitment to fill their plate with this delectable. It appeared that, try as I might, some of the preconceived notions and ideals about what food should look and taste like were difficult for some individuals to overcome. In the land of plenty, the snapping turtle has no worry about becoming extinct due to overharvesting.

Preserving the Turtle Shells
The shells of the two turtles we harvested were gorgeous. In order to preserve them correctly, a fair amount of work had to be done to make sure that the connective cartilage between the turtles plates did not decompose and cause the shell to crumble. Of prime importance was the removal from the shell of all flesh. This was done initially during the cleaning process and repeated in more details once the shell were allowed to dry in the sun for a few days. The beef jerky texture of the flesh that remained was easy to scrape out of the shells with a sharp knife. Next the shells were washed in soap and scrubbed with Comet cleaner to help remove the dried on algae. If we had things to do over again this step would have been done before the drying as the algae would have been easier to remove. Lastly, the shells were again set aside to dry and we dusted a good heap of Borax into each. After about a week of drying in a cool dry spot the shells were ready to begin accepting their coats of lacquer. About 8 coats provided a beautiful “wet” look to the shells and preserved them for future mounting on the wall of the man cave.

More on Preserving a Turtle Shell
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