Although this is a book review, it is not a conventional one where you simply exclaim and gush and excerpt many pithy passages, or toss about superlatives like “engaging, compelling and riveting.”

No, this is moremy recollections about the author of a new Maine book and some thoughts about this dry, witty man and what he brings to the printed word.

George Smith and I first crossed paths about 20 years ago. He was spokesman for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM). I was spokesman and information officer for the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W).

In a way we were natural adversaries: I advocated for MDIF&W policies and positions. George, an advocate for sportsmen, was a paid troublemaker. He often criticized our efforts at IF&W or vocally opposed a number of our policy priorities.

We got crossways with one another many times. A few times the guy infuriated me. My pet name for him must remain unspoken, though my secretary, who used to cringe when I used it, may not have forgotten.

Still, the guy had charm, even in those days. He was a hard guy not to like, even if he was a natural adversary. George left SAM and I left IF&W. Over the years we have trod similar ground, writing and broadcasting weekly about Maine outdoor issues.

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Although we are not intimate friends, my regard for George personally and my professional respect for the quality of his writing and thinking has grown with the passing years.

Oh, we still disagree often about important fishing, hunting and environmental issues, but the fact remains that George Smith is arguably the most visible and potent spokesman today in Maine for sportsmen. So when he asked if I would review his first book, I said that I would be happy to do so.

“A Life Lived Outdoors – Reflections of a Maine Sportsman,” is published by Islandport Press. It is a collection of George’s favorite newspaper columns written over a period of 22 years for the Kennebec Journal.

Although as George notes in his book’s introduction, he wrote frequently about politics and weighty issues, the columns he handpicked for the book are more about outdoors, family, hunting, fishing, camping and life in rural Maine.

George is one of a number of my outdoor contemporaries who have written books about the Maine outdoors published by Islandport Press. I have read them all, and in so doing made a wonderful discovery. To a person, these acquaintances in their writing divulge a remarkable personal depth and keen sensitivity about the Maine outdoors that I never discerned before in my workaday relationships with them.

In “A Life Lived Outdoors,” George Smith eclipses them all in this regard. He embroiders with surgical precision a word­tapestry that reveals and revels in that gauzy dimension we fondly call “the Maine essence.”

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Of course, the book is a wonderful read. Why wouldn’t it be? The guy is a seasoned writer and a thoughtful person who has a lot of outdoor experiences under his belt. But his book is far more than an enjoyable read. In his last chapter about the benefits of a rural church life, George talks about how a word or a slogan can get caught in your brain “where it just can’t get dislodged.”

He’s right. His book coincidentally enough leaves me brain­locked into a one­word description of its central appeal: homespun.

“A Life Lived Outdoors” is a collection of thoughtful essays that convinced me of one thing of which I was really never quite sure: George is the real deal, a true son of Maine.

If the best that is Maine runs deep within you be sure not to miss “A Life Lived Outdoors” by George Smith.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co­host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News­ Talk Network (WVOM­FM 103.9, WQVM­FM 101.3) and former information of icer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e­mail address is [email protected] He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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