Author Archives: Craig Bailey

Follow Your Bliss

It has been a VERY long time since last I posted (July of 2017).

As a catch-up, I had been more than totally consumed leading a client’s program to launch their medical device company in 11 European countries (simultaneously) on July 1, 2018. I’m pleased to say that we (the client’s outstanding team, their external business partners and I) completed this extremely complex initiative on time! A good thing, as failure was simply NOT an option ๐Ÿ™‚

To ensure success I decided it would be necessary for me to live in London (the client’s EU headquarters) from April through July of 2018. Without going into the nauseating details, I can simply say that this was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life (both professionally and personally).

While in London, in the heat of the project, I decided that once this one was complete I would go on sabbatical and do something TOTALLY different.

Quick background: When I was but a young lad I wanted to be a Forest Ranger, so that I could work in the woods of Maine. On getting older I forgot about this ambition and pursued a career in technology. That said, during a high percentage of my nights, weekends and vacations I would find myself on adventures in the woods: mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, fishing and camping with family and friends.

During the summer of 2013 I hired a Registered Maine Guide to take 2 of my boys and I on a trip on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (an absolutely outstanding northwoods adventure). It was at this time that a seed was planted: wouldn’t it be cool to be a Registered Maine Guide.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

~ Joseph Campbell

My decision in London was to become a Registered Maine Guide. This being something I could do “in addition to” continuing to operate my consulting business.

As stated on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website:

Registered Maine Guides are outdoor professionals who are licensed and permitted to accept any form of remuneration for their services in accompanying or assisting any person in the fields, forests or on the waters or ice within the jurisdiction of the State while hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling, using an all-terrain vehicle or camping at a primitive camping area.

For many years, a Maine Guide was not required to submit to any standardized testing. Interested parties simply had to pass muster with the local game warden. If the game warden considered them qualified and fit to guide in the outdoors, they were licensed as a Registered Maine Guide. In 1975, a standardized test and procedure was established for licensing.

I’m happy to report that as of January 29, 2019 I passed the test and have received my Specialized Recreational guide license. This means I’ve met the qualifications to guide watercraft, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiling and camping activities in the State of Maine.

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After receiving my license and guide patch (above) I learned that 60% of applicants fail. Wow!

Fortunately, to prepare for testing I felt it was important to hone my skills and fill in any gaps by attending training with Captain John Rogers of Maine’s Outdoor Learning Center. Based on the outcome of the test I’d suggest this training is highly recommended for anyone considering becoming a Registered Maine Guide.

As stated on Capt. John’s website:

The process of becoming a Licensed Registered Maine Guide is the most difficult in the country, which is why Maine Guides are held in such high regard.

Testing involved a 100 question written test and oral exam including topics such as: first-aid, survival, dealing with clients, wildlife identification, ethics, boating laws, lost person / catastrophic scenario, as well as demonstrating proficiency with map and compass. The latter few items are a pass or fail. That is, if you cannot effectively use a map and compass (with extreme accuracy) or deal with a lost person / catastrophic situation, deep in the woods of Maine, they don’t want you taking people out there for fear you won’t get them back again…

Now that a major goal of my sabbatical is complete I am putting my businessman’s hat back on to prepare to launch a guide business. Building on that, I’m currently planning an Allagash Wilderness Waterway adventure as an inaugural trip for the business, early in June. I’m happy to say that all (canoe) seats are taken for this initial trip ๐Ÿ™‚

And, to confirm, if the right opportunity comes up “perhaps” I’ll take on a consulting gig or 2 between now and this year’s prime adventure season…

In closing,ย Iโ€™ve spent many years guiding my business clients to the successful completion of their mission critical projects. Now, Iโ€™ll โ€œalsoโ€ be guiding my adventurous clientele into the woods and waters of Maine. This is especially important, given an article I recently read in the Bangor Daily News, where it was mentioned:

As people spend more time in front of screens and children grow up with what author Richard Louv calls โ€œnature deficit disorder,โ€ the role of the Registered Maine Guide may be more important than ever.

If youโ€™d like to experience a guided adventure into the woods or waters of Maine, please let me know. Iโ€™d be happy to discuss this with you and put together a trip to match your ambitions.

Hope to see you out there! And, stay tuned…

Ever Been Pecked by a Ruffed Grouse?

Last evening I decided to go for a walk. I started through the woods in our back yard which connects to a nearby dirt road. Continuing down the road, I ended up in a clearing where the boys and I often shoot our guns. As I was standing there admiring nature I heard a noise similar to that of foraging squirrels.

But wait, it seemed more substantial than that.

As I patiently waited, out of the thicket emerged a ruffed grouse. How did I know it was a ruffed grouse? I’ll explain that shortly. For now, let’s focus on this particular encounter.

As I stood there almost motionless, except for the occasional swatting of flies, it walked right up to me, constantly pecking the ground for food.

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I was a bit concerned what it might do, with its hawk-like beak, if it thought my toe was a worm. Fortunately, it was only interested in seeds and the like ๐Ÿ™‚

After it circled me several times I decided to squat down for a closer look and to snap a picture.

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I then put my hand out and it didn’t back up.ย This bird was simply NOT afraid! So, to test things I put my hand within striking distance and it did just that: it pecked me. Not enough to draw blood, but a good peck just the same!

OK, so you want to get aggressive?

I stood up and moved towards it and it still didn’t back down! Instead, it jumped in the air with wings fully spread in an attempt to look more fearsome and scare off its opposition.

A bit startled, I repeated this cycle of moving towards it, putting my foot out, etc. and it simply repeated its defensive posture of leaping, wings spread wide and making a pecking motion in mid air.

The reality is that, if necessary (and we needed dinner), I could have grabbed it by the neck or dropped a rock on its head and it would be all over.

Instead, I decided to walk away and let it live another day.

However, this thing seemed to be quite territorial as it kept circling me in what appeared to be an attempt to escort me from its turf. In fact, as I got back onto the dirt road it was still following me in the pucker brush, until it felt I was no longer in its space.

Now, how did I know that it was a ruffed grouse?

Earlier in the summer we had several encounters along our dirt road with a yet to be identified game-bird. A good name for it would have been a chicken, in that it would play chicken with our vehicle. Really!

We’d be driving down the road and this bird would dart out of the bushes and stop right in front of our vehicle. Slamming on the brakes (we weren’t going that fast as it is a bumpy dirt road) we’d stop to see if it emerged from either side of the vehicle. Nothing. So, we continued on our way.

This happened several times to Cindy, Evan, Ian and myself.

Cindy made several attempts to photograph it, but it is heavily camouflaged and difficult to see in the bush. My initial thought was that it was a partridge, although a dumb one…

Finally, we were able to get a better glimpse of it as it stood on the side of the road. And, Ian was able to snap a picture. Once we had that picture we went online.

Turns out it was a ruffed grouse.

Over the following weeks we saw it less and less, until no recent sightings had been made. We thought that it likely met its demise on the underside of a vehicle.

Well, last evening proves we still have a ruffed grouse in the neighborhood. Although, if this species isn’t careful it will go the way of the dodo bird.

That’s it for now!

Cindy and I are going for a walk to get the mail. It’s been a couple of days. You KNOW we are going to see if we can have another ruffed grouse encounter!

Circle of Life

As I began writing this post a deer walked within 30 feet of our deck, while Evan and I were sitting outside enjoying the view. This has pretty much become a daily occurrence. In fact, while I was on a recent business trip Evan was able to snap a photo capturing 2 unique members of the animal kingdom at once.

In the picture below you’ll see a great blue heron to the left of our kayaks, near the water’s edge and a deer at the bottom right, eating the neighbor’s blueberries ๐Ÿ™‚

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The great blue heron lives in the waterfowl protection area which is adjacent to our property. We see him coming and going frequently through-out the day. Over the 4th Ian took a video of this giant bird catching a sizable fish! After seizing its prey he flew off with the fish still flapping around trying to escape its captor.

Speaking of catching fish…Until recently, I had to shamefully confess that, after spending a number of vacations on Sebago Lake and living here for over 18 months, I had never pulled a fish from these waters. Thankfully, that changed a few days ago when I was casting a lure off our dock. After several casts I’m proud to say that a fish struck and I brought him in. It was a good-sized white perch! Had we been camping he would have quickly been gutted and readied for dinner. Instead, I released him for another day…

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I can now sleep peacefully ๐Ÿ™‚

Speaking of sleeping peacefully…Last night something pretty violent occurred on our dock! I was awakened just after midnight by the shrieks of what sounded like a young girl being dismembered. Upon hearing the sound I got up from bed, peered out the window and could just barely make out a dark object with hunched back, about the size of a raccoon, walking from the end of the dock towards land. After doing some research I have pretty much confirmed that it was a fishercat. These are vicious creatures that make a blood curdling sound upon taking their prey. He probably nabbed a duckling or merganser chick, as they often sleep on the end of our dock. Click here to check out a YouTube video sharing a recording of a fishercat.

Another woodland creature that gives off a similar high-pitched sound, which we’ve often heard at night, is a red fox. It could easily be mistaken for a fishercat, however, fishercats have a more gurgling sound, while a fox sounds like a lady screaming. Click here to listen to the sound of a red fox.

If you’ve never stayed in the woods or heard these 2 creatures sound off you probably will not sleep well after your first experience hearing them, as you wonder what could possibly be going on in the wilderness around you. Especially, if you’ve been whiling away the hours reading a Stephen King horror novel…

On a lighter note, completing the circle of life, several of us witnessed 2 fish mating on the 4th of July. For a few days prior we had seen a clear circular spot at the bottom of the lake just off of our dock, as a single fish swam around within. Perhaps a female nesting, waiting for her mate? Then, to our surprise, another fish had entered the circle and they were performing their act of procreation. I won’t share the video here to ensure this site maintains its PG status ๐Ÿ™‚

In closing, it is truly amazing what you are able to witness in nature, when you are simply paying attention.

All the best!