What hunter or angler doesn’t want more access to good-quality hunting and fishing? Finding great places to fish, hunt, and camp is one of our biggest challenges, and the problem is only getting worse. Every day we lose more ground to development or through folks making ground off limits that was previously open to hunters. All sportsmen and women have a part to play in tackling this problem, and here at MeatEater, we’ve jumped into the fray with our Land Access Initiative.

Better Hunting and Fishing for All
Our land access program is pretty simple: We’re looking for properties that, with a little bit of work or fresh thinking, could provide a lot more access for regular folks to hunt and fish. In the fall of 2019, we launched the Rinella-Putelis 2020 Campaign to fund our efforts. OK, maybe it’s a long-shot that Steven Rinella will be our next president. However, the real payoff is that the profits from all shirts, stickers, and other Rinella-Putelis Campaign merchandise will help us secure a property that significantly increases access for a community.

A Grassroots Game
We reached out to all of you for suggestions of properties where we could help out. No situation was too small or too big, and no area too urban or too rural. From boat ramps to campsites, trailheads to subdivision footpaths, we want to improve outdoor recreation for everyone. As long as the project provides more access, we considered it for our initiative. The truth is, the access issue can’t be fixed with one big solution. It’s a grassroots, piecemeal effort that involves local communities, conservation organizations, and folks working together.

The Process
We carefully considered and researched the properties and projects submitted by our audience, including an in-person, on-the-ground vetting by our Director of Conservation, Ryan Callaghan, and we think we’ve found the perfect place.

We are extremely happy to introduce you to Shiloh Pond, Maine, a 215 acre property consisting of 68.2 acres of wetlands, a smaller 1.98-acre pond, and the namesake 20-acre Shiloh Pond. Shiloh is home to a population of naturally reproducing Eastern brook trout, as well as loons, shorebirds, moose, black bears, whitetail deer, and ruffed grouse that visit the property.

Currently accessible via a short walk on a decommissioned road, Shiloh Pond itself is open to fly-fishing and represents 1/5 of the surface water in Kingfield Township. If our project is successful, Shiloh will be Kingfield’s first publicly-owned land.

Why Shiloh?
Kingfield sits on the edge of the iconic Northwoods, an area long considered valuable to both resident and transient outdoors people. Fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and hiking (the area borders the Appalachian Trail) bring a steady stream of recreators to this area from Boston, New York, and cities across the Northeast.

Maine is 90% private land. The bulk of the land that people hike, hunt, and fish on is in fact private. Maine operates under de facto public access, meaning that if a private landowner does not post their property, the public has the right of legal trespass. Just like their  tradition of big woods style deer stalking, Mainers take pride in the fact that big landowners such as timber companies have traditionally not posted their properties, sometimes for generations. Now, however, this is starting to change as new owners move in, and more and more private property is being posted. All of a sudden, Maine’s 90% private land composition has a whole new meaning.

The Goal
We want to use our Land Access Initiative funds to keep Shiloh open to the public forever, making sure that folks in the region have a great place to fish, hunt, and recreate for generations to come. We’re working with a local nonprofit, the High Peaks Alliance, who have enlisted the national nonprofit, the Trust For Public Lands, to make that happen.

We Need You
How can you help? Well, we’re more than halfway t there, but we’re still a few bucks short, so we’re launching an auction to close the gap and get this deal done. All proceeds will go directly to the High Peaks Alliance for the purchase of Shiloh Pond and its maintenance.

The Boat Auction (And More)
In order to make this fundraiser extra special, MeatEater has provided several one-of-a-kind items for auction, including the original Alumacraft from Season One of the “Das Boat” series, Steven Rinella’s own left-handed rifle, as well as personal gear from Janis and Cal, like packs and chainsaws. The auction starts Monday, August 10th, at 8 a.m. right here on themeateater.com. Get your garage or gun safe ready, get some amazing gear for the season. Don’t feel like finding a spot for the original Das Boat in your yard or clearing space on the hat rack for Janis’ smelly old Stormy Kromer? Don’t worry, direct donations can be made here. Either way, you come out ahead when you help us raise the 32K we need to  provide more hunting and fishing for America.

Photo: Laura and Adam Casey