Paul Fournier’s last gift to us, completed just before he died, is a wonderful set of stories. Paul’s cover photo for Birds of a Feather is just one of the astonishing things this wonderful man accomplished in his life – a life lived outdoors.
I am very grateful that he had time to finish this book, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, because it’s a testament to all he learned, loved, and lived. Paul’s previous book, Tales from Misery Ridge, was entertaining as well as award winning.
There are more tales in Birds of a Feather, but most importantly, he has also left us with a lot of wisdom – wisdom he gained as a guide, bush pilot, sporting camp owner, TV program producer, photographer, outdoor writer, and information officer for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Always, everywhere, he was outdoors, leading the life, capturing it in photos, videos, and words.
Thankfully, Paul leaves us with some important lessons. For example, he tells us about the expensive effort to overcome the illegal and unfortunate introduction of bait fish in Big Reed Pond, to restore Arctic char in one of the few remaining places these fish could still be found.
Some chapters offer insight and information on our favorite outdoor critters. I loved the chapter on “Superior Scents: The mysterious gift of smell in the animal kingdom.” You won’t believe it!
Paul also tackles controversial topics, such as the presence of cougars in our state. One of his stories shocked me, about a western Maine sporting camp that, back in the day, refused to accept Jews as clients. I’ve been at that camp!
He also spills the real – and sad – story of that young mother wearing and waving white gloves, who was shot and killed in the woods behind her house by a hunter in Penobscot County who thought he was seeing the white tail of a fleeing deer. After that hunter was acquitted of the charges, the legislature changed the law to make it clear that a hunter must see the entire deer before shooting.
Paul’s tribute to Landlocked salmon reminded me of how special – and often unappreciated – this native cold water fish is today in Maine. Anglers seem content to catch 12 to 14 inch hatchery salmon, a sad commentary on our diminished expectations.
Having taken more than a few members of the news media into the woods and on the waters for their outdoor stories, I really enjoyed “Frenzy in the Woods: The Media Goes Hunting.” In my experience, taking a reporter on a hunt guarantees you’ll see nothing. In fact, I took a news reporter turkey hunting yesterday for a radio news story. And you guessed it. We didn’t see any turkeys! It was the first time this month that we didn’t find them.
The final section of this book is titled, “For the Love of God’s Country.” Paul’s love of our state is lasting, humbling, exhilarating, and something – thanks to Birds of a Feather – we will appreciate for many many years to come.