So What Is a Registered Maine Guide?

The State of Maine is one of the only states in the nation to require that wilderness guides meet certain standards of competency. Any person who is paid to guide clients in the outdoors (whether to canoe, kayak, hunt, fish, or whitewater raft) must pass a rigorous series of examinations, both oral and written, and be registered with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. It's in imperfect process, but it does enforce a certain degree of quality control since, for example, all Registered Maine Guides must complete first aid training before they can be certified. Nothing takes the place of years of experience in the field, but I shudder at the thought of a family embarking on a dangerous trip into the wild with a "guide" who's just been hired off the street and who has never heard the word "declination." This article from Wikipedia provides some more details on the testing process, as does the State of Maine's own Web site.

"Fly Rod" CrosbyFun fact: Maine's first Registered Maine Guide was a woman, Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby (1854-1946), who also has the dubious distinction of being the last person in the state to legally shoot a woodland caribou. While there are scattered populations of caribou on the Gaspe peninsula in Quebec, just north of the Maine border, the animal has been extirpated in the state for about a century now.