Story and photos by Bonnie Holding, Maine DIFW
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Lifetime Outdoor Achievement Award celebrates and honors individuals who are dedicated to the use and stewardship of Maine’s natural resources and have a passion for Maine’s rich outdoor heritage. Hunting, fishing and trapping are an important part of Maine’s heritage, and this award celebrates the achievements of an individual while sharing their experiences for the benefit of future generations.
This is the third year for this award, one of the highest honors that Inland Fisheries and Wildlife bestows on the public. In looking for nominations from the public we asked that the individual has hunted, trapped or fished in Maine for a combined total of 40 years. We also ask that candidates demonstrate a form of mentoring, teaching or instructing outdoor activities. We look for longevity in their pursuit of our traditional outdoor sports. Maine has a great history of hunting, fishing and trapping, and we want to recognize those that have spent their lives living this heritage.
The nominations we receive are amazing! We hear from people who have been best friends for 50 years, from grandchildren remembering going with a grandparent, and of course the children talking about a parent. The first year of this award we received over 100 nominations! Because it can be hard to choose just one, we decided (there is a panel of four) that we wouldn’t limit ourselves to just one winner. The first year we had two, last year three, and this year two again.
One of the amazing things about this process is that so far the winners have been chosen unanimously, a unique accomplishment considering the four different personalities voting. We all look separately through the nominations; choose our top five, then meet to see where we are at. All of us feel that reading through the nominations is very humbling.
We present the award at the Sportsman Alliance of Maine’s annual fundraising banquet. What better place to honor a sportsman or woman than at this banquet. They both received standing ovations.