Saturday, June 20, 2015

Phippsburg, Maine Bow Hunters Made Me Proud To Be A Hunter

                I found it difficult to read the notice of a Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife public hearing scheduled for April 22, 2015 which was suggesting removing the entire town of Phippsburg, Maine from the popular Expanded Archery Season Zone.
                Seems like a couple of Phippsburg residents decided to petition the department for the change, automatically triggering the notice and scheduled a meeting. The petition read as follows:  “The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been petitioned to amend the Expanded Archery Deer Hunting  Season from the areas by updating road names and routes within a portion of Wildlife Management District 24 to remove the Town of Phippsburg from the expanded archery hunting area.”
 I called the department to ask what was happening and they said I might find the hearing very interesting.
                So, off I went the to evening meeting arriving at the Phippsburg Elementary School Gym to see several vehicles already there, thirty minutes prior to the scheduled meeting time. Upon entering the building, I noticed about 20 people lingering about, Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, a wildlife biologist, two department staffers and two department game wardens. That’s quite a department presence for such a meeting.
                People began filtering in, young, middle aged and seniors; men and women alike. I sat beside a young man and began chatting with him, not noticing the continued flow of people entering. I looked up in shock to see, maybe 50 people. I said to the young man, “looks like a good turn out” His reply, “the more the better”. Prior to the meeting beginning I estimated at least 100 people had shown up. That’s a crowd in Phippsburg. This issue had roused out folks.
                The petitioner presented his case. Basically his reason for the change was stated because the town’s deer herd couldn’t stand much more pressure from the expanded archery season.
                Supporters of the change stepped up. They were few. Opponents to the change began their testimony. With thoughtful messages, they obviously were passionate about their bow hunting and the expanded archery season in particular. The opponents just kept coming. It was obvious that the majority at the meeting didn’t want the town removed from the special archery season. Opponents mostly believed the deer herd in Phippsburg is in excellent condition.
                To a person, both sides went out of their way to make certain there were no hard feelings between the two positions. It was the most civil public hearing I ever attended and it’s been many over the years.
                So, what’s the big deal here? Why am I writing about this issue? After the meeting I said to myself, “this potentially contentious meeting made me proud to be a Maine sportsman. Two differences of opinion were civilly discussed at a calm meeting.” Good work Phippsburg.