An Outdoorsman and Writer
Who Likes To Shake Things UP
By Christine Force
Stu Bristol, a columnist for the Northwoods Sporting Journal since its inception, openly laments the rise of what he calles "the Augusta area sportsmen's cabal, where a few outdoor politicos like SAM spokesman George Smith speak for the Maine outdoorsman. Bristol claims that now at outdoor hearings legislators hear testimony from only a few like Smith whereas years ago, legislators would face a large group of vocal outdoorsman, who Bristol says could be a bit scary. "The legislature needs more frightening looking sportsman who can speak for themselves," quips Bristol.
Bristol, who has freelanced as an outdoor writer since 1968, and has been published in dozens of outdoor, lifestyle, and travel publications, says that he "writes to educate and sometimes to incite." Bristol is a man who does not shy away from "personal causes" such as his involvement with the early attempts to restore Atlantic Salmon to the Saco River. Bristol lists pollution as the number one reason for the loss of wild Salmon in Maine rivers. When the DEP refused to fine Saco river polluters, Bristol explains that he and others flushed 500 dye tablets down all the toilets in a polluting mill along the Saco to get the DEP to pay attention to the problem. Eventually the polluter was forced to clean up.
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Bristol wishes that more people were motivated to take action on important political issues. He says "it takes a lot to motivate a sportsman to do something" adding, "the average sportsmen are blind sheep." Bristol thinks that today sportsmen raise money at banquets, but "rod and gun clubs just don't question the politics of fish and game."
Bristol, who says that he was born an "outdoor person," grew up in a family of 17 children that hunted and fished for sustenance, learning to eat every part of fish and game that is edible. He lived in Vermont in a "big old farm house" and half of what all his siblings earned was dedicated to the family finances. Bristol, who is obviously proud of his humble heritage, says that all of his siblings eventually either owned their own business or worked in a supervisory position. He thinks that such success is a result of learning at a young age to be self sufficient.
As a youth Bristol says he was fortunate to mow the lawn of a bank president who encouraged him to write. Hel was taught by the likes of legendary "Flying Fisherman" Vernon "Gaddabout" Gaddis and Mutual of Omaha's Lowell Thomas. Bristol, who first fished with worms and crawlers, received fishing tips and information from these men. As a high school senior, he headed up one of the largest sportsman's clubs in Vermont. He testified to the Vermont legislature to help legalize the compound bow.
Bristol, served as a game warden in Vermont in the 60s and was involved in the initial release of wild turkeys from the Adirondacks in New York. Descendents from these flocks were relocated to other parts of Vermont and New England. Bristol was one of the first members of the National Wild Turkey Federation and has a passion for turkey hunting that drives him to hunt turkeys in five states. He has written two books on wild turkey hunting and restoration. He also holds turkey hunting clinics in April.
He joined the NE Outdoor Writers Association in 1973 and served 17 years as a member of the Board of Directors and two years as president. He is currently honored as a life member. He is also a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
In 1979, Bristol moved to Maine when he took over a printing business. Since that time he has become a Registered Maine Hunting Guide, a Registered Maine Fishing Guide, and a Registered Maine Tidewater Guide. He has held Saltwater Fishing Camps for students age 10 to 16 through the former Southern Maine Technical School, and now does Land and Sea navigation workshops using the GPS navigation system.
A soft spoken and thoughtful man, who looks younger than his years, Bristol is passionate about hunting and fishing and the management of wildlife and its habitat. His philosophy is "to hunt for sport and to kill for food." Aside from hunting and fishing Bristol also admits he has two other passions: guiding and teaching. He takes great pleasure in "finding someone who has never hunted or fished before" and introducing them to the outdoor life. Bristol says he loves to write articles for non- game magazines about hiking and introduce the readers to a "fishing experience" that will tug on their curiosity and get them to give it a try.
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