Sources tell me that there are about 100 traditional rod and gun clubs left in Maine. At one time, there were considerably more.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

Over the years, a number of these clubs have invited me to serve as guest speaker, which was always an honor and an immensely enjoyable experience, for a number of reasons. The folks — men and women — who populate these organizations are salt-of-the-earth individuals who all share common values. They love the outdoors, they deeply value their hunting heritage, they are patriotic and they get pleasure from serving their community and doing for others. And they like a good laugh.

One of these standout clubs is the Bucks Mills Rod and Gun Club in Bucksport, which has been around for 75 years plus. Among other things, this club raised $4,000 for local scholarships. It supports the Pine Tree Camp and conducts fishing derbies, gun shows and oversees hunter safety courses for youngsters at the local school. For me, a lifetime member, one of the highlights, because I like to eat, is the annual Warden’s Supper. Maine Game Wardens, both active and retired, are invited from all over the state to enjoy a complimentary prime rib dinner with all the fixin’s. The sumptuous meal is topped off with special pies cooked by the club treasurer Cathy, who knows her way around a kitchen and the secrets of making a flaky pie crust.

Following dinner, there is a raffle drawing for prizes and then the Game Wardens all introduce themselves and share a few stories that always hit the lighter side. Game Warden Sgt. Alan Gillis emceed the Warden segment. Gillis related an anecdote about a woman on his office phone who was all in a panic because a bear was in her yard after getting into a trash barrel. Gillis counseled her to stay inside and stay cool. She then told him that the bear had left when she shouted at it, but she remained concerned that the critter would return to feed on the rubbish strewn about her grounds. “Perhaps you should go out and pick it all up when we finish talking,” he said. “I don’t dare to, unless you stay on the line,” she said softly.

“OK, I’ll stay on the line,” Gillis agreed. “You clean up the mess and let me know when you are finished,” he offered. It all worked out and the bear never returned. Another Warden recounted coming upon a man walking in circles on the Stud Mill Road. When confronted, the man said that he was drunk and had been left by his buddies. The man refused a lift, so the Wardens let him walk it off along the road while observing him from a distance. A few hours later, the man was picked up by his buddies. “At first, when I saw him walking in circles, he reminded me of a moose with brain worm,” said the Warden.

Former Warden Lt. Langdon Chandler remembered an incident with night hunters outside Searsmont. Chandler and his fellow Warden were on foot when they caught two night hunters in the act of jacking deer. After cuffing them, the Wardens requested that the would-be poachers permit the Wardens to drive the poachers in their own truck the 15 miles to the Searsmont jail. “No way,” refused the poachers.


So, the rest of the night, Warden Chandler and his fellow Warden walked the handcuffed poachers the long midnight trek to Searsmont.

There were many other stories that were equally amusing and drove home the point that a Game Warden never really knows what the job will expect of him or her day by day. It is not all catching poachers or issuing summons to lawbreakers. Sometimes it is finding missing persons in the woods or simply helping the public deal with a nuisance critter.

The Warden’s Supper is a special time, not just for the Wardens in attendance, but for all of us who share a meal with them. The Bucks Mills Rod and Gun Club and the folks who make it what it is are to be commended for their efforts.

The other 100 similar organizations around the state also serve their respective communities and help keep the fish and hunting heritage alive.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at

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