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PFAS vs CWD: which will be more devastating?

Social media erupted and my inbox was suddenly flooded with emails about PFAS (Poly-fluoroalkyl substances).  On Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 5:22 PM, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife issued a “DO NOT eat advisory” for deer shot in my wildlife management zone.  It was 2.5 weeks after I had shot my deer and about two weeks after I had gotten it back from the butcher and started eating it.   PFAS My actual hunting property was outside of the advisory area. However, as more fields are tested, there is an impending doom that I will be in a PFAS zone.  And other hunters will be in the same situation.  When and if I am told that we are in a high PFAS zone, what should we do? Stop hunting all together? Eat the...

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Remembering George Smith

I was trying to think about what to write about for my February article in the Northwoods Sporting Journal. Something that would be timely and start a conversation.  As the topics came and went, something made me think of George Smith.  It has been one year since he has passed and I starting thinking about the topics that would have him riled up and what I have accomplished in the past twelve months. There are two topics that I would love to have heard George’s take on. The first bring the Right to Food, which was passed into the Maine Constitution when we voted in November.  It is the first of its kind in the United States and reads “that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce...

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The age of my 2021 Maine bull moose

One of the most interesting things that happens after you shoot a bear or moose, is that you are asked to remove a tooth so that the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife can age the moose shot and collect age and health data. It is a part of a decades long effort to better understand the overall health of wildlife in Maine.  For hunters, it is always interesting to find out how old the animal was.  When I knew it was available, I immediately looked up the age of my 2021 Maine bull moose. 2021's data shows moose shot between the ages of 2.5 years old to 20.5 years old. It is fascinating to think that there are moose in this state that are twenty years old. Any guesses on how old our 2021 Maine bull moose was?  Remember, he had...

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Reflecting on my 2021 grand slam

When I was drawn for my moose tag, I set the goal of going for my grand slam. I needed a bear, moose, turkey and deer between September and November.  Now, the hunting season is over and I find myself reflecting on my 2021 grand slam and the people who helped to make it happen. Mom and Hubs managed childcare/school pick ups and drop offs and sometimes full days of babysitting so that I could be in the woods. Jeremy at Fit To Hunt went to work and helped me customize a training program that would get me into shape for walking through the Maine woods to get my moose.  I would load weights into my backpack and walk for miles.  Sometimes with the kids and sometimes alone. When it came time to hike those choppin's looking for a moose, I was...

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The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund board

Last week, I went in front of the joint committee of the Environment and Natural Resources to provide testimony for my nomination to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund board.  The only other time I had done this was when I testified in favor of Judy becoming Commissioner. This time, the Governor was nominating me. One of her representatives introduced me and then I had the opportunity to say a little about me. You can watch the hearing by clicking here. Joe's introduction of me begins around the 7 minute marker.  My testimony is below. My Testimony Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  My name is Erin Merrill and I am here to say a few words about my nomination to the Maine...

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The buck that completed my grand slam

It was 21 degrees when we headed into the woods. I just needed a deer to complete my grand slam. I had a doe tag and was eager to get into my stand. The leaves were crunchy with frost but the woods were calm.  I climbed into the Sky Condo and waited for the world to awaken.  Almost immediately, animals started moving.  I sat perfectly still, my breath hidden by my green fleece balaclava.  It was almost an hour before I could see well enough into the woods to know if I was hearing deer or squirrels (it was squirrels). A deer blew from the end of the field.  Something must have spooked it.  The neighbor? I knew that if I was going to change seats, this would be the time.  Nothing had come into the field.  I grabbed my gear and walked as...

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Redemption during our 2021 Moose Hunt

It had been an emotional start for our 2021 Maine moose hunt.  But we pushed on and had three more days before the season ended.  Wayne was determined to find us a moose somewhere in Zone 2.   Thursday It was rainy and cold when we headed out.  The two bulls from the day before had not been shot so we planned to head back to that area. We met a red truck parked where we had seen the small spike bull.  We drove on to where we had seen the bigger bull.  There was a cow in the clear-cut to our right.  We parked the truck and Pat and I started walking into the woods. Dad and Wayne walked parallel to us in the road.  Moose sign was everywhere.  But the moose were not.  We left and checked multiple roads where we had previously called...

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My 2021 Maine Moose Hunt

Antlered. September. Zone 2. That is what popped up with my name as I watched the 2021 Moose Lottery.  The excitement was accompanied with an urgency to begin planning.  We would need a guide and possibly more gear. I wanted to plan to go for my grand slam and try for all of Maine's big game animals - a bear, moose, turkey and deer. The following three months flew by and before we knew it, Dad and I were making the 5 hour drive up to the Allagash, Zone 2 and Allagash Adventures to meet our guide Wayne Bernier, for our 2021 Maine moose hunt.   Monday We left at daybreak to begin searching for moose.  As we crested one hill, Wayne stopped the truck and lifted the binoculars.  There were two moose on the edge of the road ahead of...

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Bear hunting can be exhausting

I need to start by thanking my friend Staci and her husband for making this happen. They helped to get the bait site up and running.  Staci was as determined as I was to get me a bear. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a hunting partner like her!   The 2021 Bear Hunting Season kicks off! My limited view of the bait site Bear hunting season opened on Monday, August 30th, and trapping season opening on Wednesday, September 1st.  With my trapping license and Staci and John’s help, I planned to initially hunt over bait and try trapping.  The first night with the traps out, we watched as a bear tripped my trap, looked at the cable and walked away. The next afternoon, Staci and I headed out to reset the trap and sit.  We adjusted...

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