Guide Resources

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Guide Resource List

The following materials can be used as study guides in becoming a registered Maine Guide. These materials should be used as reference materials only. You can obtain these materials at any MDIF&W Headquarters and at most Outdoor Activities retail stores and online at:

Laws, Rules and Other Study Materials

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* Available at the MDIF&W office in Augusta (207) 287-8000
** Available at the Safety Office in Augusta (207) 287-5220

Tidewater and Sea Kayak applicants may request additional information from the Augusta office.

The Oral exam process will start with the examiners testing your map and compass skills. You will be required to provide bearings and distances derived from a map which will be provided for the exam.

In the Catastrophic event portion of the exam you will be asked to explain to the board what steps you should take to keep your guests comfortable and safe. You may also be asked to explain to the board the steps you would take if you were to have a lost client or clients on any given trip for the classification in which you are being tested.

The oral exam will cover General client care issues, weather related questions, first aid, safety, ethics, legal business practices, behavior of clients, aquatic vegetation, clothing, sanitation, watercraft, snowmobile and ATV laws and regulations, map & compass, GPS, ammunition identification, fishing fly identification, mammal identification, fish identification,  personal floatation device and waterfowl identification.

After successful completion of the oral exam, you will be scheduled for the written exam in the following categories based on the type of guiding you intend to do. A minimum score of 70 is required to pass each classification. A candidate must take a written exam for each classification desired. Keeping in mind this is only an overview of potential questions.

Recreation – Safety, Map & Compass, GPS, Canoeing, Recreation, Watercraft, Snowmobile and ATV Laws & Regulations, Related equipment, Wildlife facts & Camping.

Fishing – Safety, Map & Compass, GPS, Fishing regulations, Bag limits, Watercraft, Snowmobile and ATV Laws & Regulations, Fishing Equipment, Fish habitat and Aquatic vegetation, Wildlife facts & Camping.

Hunting – Safety, Map & Compass, GPS, Mammal habitat, Firearms, Hunting regulations, Hunting equipment, Trapping regulations, Watercraft, Snowmobile and ATV Laws & Regulations, bag limits, Wildlife facts and Camping

Questions and or demonstrations will be asked in reference to safety, outdoor cooking, handling of canoes, watercraft terminology, rescue techniques, aids to navigation and navigation law, snowmobile, ATV, personal watercraft rules and regulations.

Your personal experiences and acquired knowledge in the woods and waters are essential in the preparation for becoming a Maine Guide.

Books, brochures, videos, and various other resources exist that will assist you in preparation for the Maine Guide exam. Although there are too many to mention, we can suggest a few publications and other materials that may be of some benefit to you:

  • Peterson Field Guides
  • National Audubon Pocket Guides
  • LeMaster Method of Waterfowl Identification
  • Birds of North America
  • Fishes of Maine
  • Mammal Identification Posters - IF&W
  • A Field Guide to Invasive Aquatic Plants - DEP
  • River Rescue by Les Betchel and Slim Ray
  • AMC River Guide
  • Heads Up The American Canoe Association
  • LL Bean Guide to Canoeing - Ken Stone
  • Master Guide Handbook - Outdoor Adventure Trips - Gil Gilpatrick
  • Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook - Jeff Isac/Peter Goth
  • The NOLS Cookery - National Outdoor Leadership School
  • Beyond the Paddle - Garret Conover
  • ACA Instructions Manual - Laurie Gullion
  • Be an Expert with Map & Compass - Bjorn Kjellstrom
  • US Coast Guard Advanced Navigation and Rules - USCG Auxiliary
  • Visual Distress Signals - USCG Auxiliary
  • Hypothermia, The Chill That Need Not Kill

Additional Information:

Guide Preparation Courses:

Alice's Awesome Adventures
Alice Bean Andrenyak
17 Webb Field Road
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 729-6333
Maine Maritime Academy
Continuing Ed/Castine Kayak
Castine, ME
(207) 326-2211
Ardvark Outfitters
Farmington, ME
(207) 778-3330
Maine's Outdoor Learning Center
Belfast, ME
(207) 290-1496
Biddeford Recreation Department
Biddeford, ME
(207) 283-0841 Ext 105
Maine Sports Outfitters
Rockport, ME
(207) 236-8797
Caribou Adult Ed
Caribou, ME
(207) 493-4272
Maine Wilderness Guides Organization
Greenville, ME
(207) 882-7323
Castine Kayak Adventure
Castine and Orono, ME
(207) 866-3506
National Park Outdoor
Mt. Desert, ME
(207) 288-0007
Cedar Ridge
Jackman, ME
(207) 668-4169
Northeast Whitewater Lodge & Guide Service
155 Greenville Road
Shirley Mills, ME 04485
(207) 695-0151
Coastal Kayaking
Bar Harbor, ME
(207) 288-8118
Northern M.O.S.S.
Maine Outdoor School
25 Church Hill Rd
Augusta , ME
(207) 626-9260
Coastal Maine Kayak
Kennebunk, ME
(207) 468-3550
Old Quarry Ocean Adventure
Stonington, ME
(207) 367-8977
Finns and Antlers Guide Service and Outdoor Courses
Fritz Todenhagen
12 Aroostook Road
Molunkus, ME 04459
(207) 765-2955
Outdoor Leaders Trainers of America
Durham, ME
(207) 720-0257
Fins & Furs Adventures
Skowhegan, ME
(207) 474-5430
Pinniped Kayak, LLC
Ellsworth, ME
(207) 669-2174
Lincoln Canoe & Kayak
Freeport, ME
(207) 865-0455
Southern Maine Guide Service
Parsonsfield, ME
(207) 793-2652
LL Bean
Freeport, ME
(207) 865-4100
Tidal Transit Kayak
18 Granary Way
Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538
(207) 633-7140
Maine Guided Hunts
PO Box 487
North Berwick, ME 03906
United Tec Center
Bangor, ME
(207) 942-5296
Maine Kayak
113 Huddle Road
New Harbor, ME 04554
(207) 677-3455
Washington County Community College
1 College Drive
Calais, Me 04619
(207) 454-1031

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Lost Person Scenario

You Have A Lost Person!
Gil Gilpatrick

         Probably the most worrisome thing for a guide is the prospect of having a person that is his or her responsibility lost in the vastness of the Maine woods. I personally experienced this once in my 35+ years of guiding so I can tell you that it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach when it became apparent that someone was lost. It is imperative, however, that the guide overcome the very natural panicky feeling, and think rationally with a plan. The plan should not be made entirely on the spot, but should be carefully pre-conceived, deciding on what the reaction will be in a variety of circumstances. Of course it would be impossible to predict every situation and thing that can happen, but a lot can be thought through in advance.
         Planning for a lost person can be broken down into five major headings. Considering and planning around these headings ahead of time will allow you, the guide, to have a method in place to prevent anyone from getting lost in the first place, and to find the lost person should prevention fail.
The five major headings are as follows:
         Prevention or Pre-Briefing,
         Quick or Hasty Search,
         Taking care of (securing) the rest of the party,
         Notification of authorities
         Diligent search.
         It is important to realize that these five steps may not necessarily be done in the order given. Common sense and circumstances will dictate the order of the steps. It is possible that you may find the LP early on, thus eliminating the need for some of the steps.
         Prevention or Pre-Briefing: This is all done before the trip/outing starts and here is where the you can save a lot of work and worry, because here is where you make every effort to ensure that no one gets lost in the first place. Start out by explaining to the guests the dangers of wandering away from the group and how easy it is to become turned around and lost in the Maine woods. Explain that extensive cutting in the Maine woods has created a confusing system of woods roads that look inviting for a walk in the woods, but may go for miles without coming to anything. And, once on the road it is difficult to find exactly where you entered in order to find the way back.
         You should learn everything possible about your guest's health and physical condition. This is knowledge you should have anyway, but it can become critical information if someone with a health problem becomes lost. An example would be a diabetic who may not have the insulin with him or her that is required one or more times daily. This situation might trigger a response by the guide of calling in help far sooner than might otherwise be the case.
         You should familiarize the guests with the area that will be traveled and at the same time determine how familiar the guests are with map and compass. If members of the party are completely unfamiliar with map and compass some instruction by you will be necessary. Most everyone can learn the basics of using a compass in a short time. Boundaries and major features on topographic maps are easily understood. If your's is the type of trip where you will be using topographic map and compass, then it would be a good idea for the guests to carry them. However, if after giving instructions, you are convinced that the person or persons are completely incompetent in regards to map and compass it may not be a good idea to give them false courage by handing out those items.
         Your pre-briefing should also include making sure your guests have the clothing and equipment needed for the area and season you are dealing with. In addition, the following list of items should be supplied, or the guest required have. The most critical items are the first three listed (in italics). The entire list will require something like a fanny pack. A fanny pack can easily be forgotten and left behind. Therefore, insist that the knife, whistle, fire starter and map & compass (if issued) be carried separately around the neck and in pockets where they are unlikely to be left behind.
         Waterproof matches and/or a disposable lighter
         Map (Depending on qualifications)
         Compass (Depending on qualifications)
         Spare ammunition (if a hunting trip)
         Personal medicine and glasses
         Emergency food
         Water and/or water purification tablets
         MDIF&W booklet, You Alone in the Maine Woods
You can either require people to bring these items with them or you may want to furnish them. You can also add to this list depending on the situation. Clothing your guests wear and take along should be adequate for the worst weather possible for the season. This is something that should not be taken lightly by you because your guests may have no experience to draw upon regarding the climate in your area. Talk to them about it, and as diplomatically as possible, get them to describe what they have with them. If you are dealing with young people it is a good idea to have a look at the items.
         There are some items that you, the guide, should have available in addition to the same items carried by the guests. . Put together a kit to include, at a minimum, the items in the following list: I assume an outdoor leader would always have a knife and matches or lighter on his/her person. If that is not the case for you then add them to the list. (And, get in the habit of carrying them all the time.)
         Flashlight with extra bulb and batteries,
         Rescue blanket,
         Basic first aid kit
         Plastic marking tape
         A topographic map of the area
         A compass
         A global positioning system receiver - a GPS
         A whistle
         Extra ammunition (if a hunting trip)
         A pencil and notebook
         Emergency food
         Water and/or water purification tablets
Have these items in a pack that you can quickly pick up and commence your search, should it become necessary. You should also have the phone numbers of people and agencies that you may have to call in an emergency.
         The whistle, of course, is for signaling and a system of signals should be established prior to the outing. The universal signal for a lost person is three shots spaced close together. So, you might have the lost guest use three blasts on the whistle to by answered by two blasts by you. It is important also to establish a separate signal for the rest of the party to use from the campsite, truck or wherever they have been secured. If the lost person is a hunter with a firearm then signal shots will be heard from a greater distance than a whistle. However, signal shots are of little help during daylight hours when other hunters may be shooting. Instruct them to use the whistle during daylight hours and the shots after dark.
         Finally impress the guests with the fact that if they find themselves in a situation where they do not know where they are or how to get back to their starting point, that they are lost and should stay put. Tell them that you will find them. Impress upon them the fact that if they stop moving as soon as they realize they are lost they are not likely to be far away and you will find them sooner. Be aware that the waiting will be difficult for the LP so tell them to find an opening, (visible from the air) if possible, and to get to work gathering firewood, build a fire and keep adding to the wood supply. This will keep them busy, the fire will have a calming effect and the smoke can be seen from a great distance.
         A final consideration should be the tact you use in dealing with guests. Ordering children to tell you everywhere they plan to go is one thing –they're used to it. But, ordering adults about in a like manner just doesn't work in most cases. They have to be made to understand that letting you know where they are is in their best interest, and the reason why. Many times they have more confidence in their ability than their own experience warrants, but telling them that in so many words does not promote good relations or repeat customers.
         Quick or Hasty Search: As soon as you know or suspect that someone may be missing (lost) you should immediately initiate a hasty search. Very often the result of this is that the person is within earshot and spending some quiet time alone. Making noise is the best way to establish contact so you should continually be yelling and using the whistle. Question other members of the party to try to establish the place last seen (PLS). If a PLS can be established, mark it with flagging, mark it on your map and enter it on the GPS. Make a quick search of the area looking for tracks and other clues. If tracks are found make a note with a compass azimuth of the direction traveled. This will be a starting place if a more extensive search is necessary.
         If the hasty search fails to turn up the missing person then you must make plans for a more extensive search. Circumstances will dictate the various things to be considered, but some of them would be weather, time of day, terrain and health and physical condition of the LP. Before doing anything else though, meet with the rest of the party and discuss the situation.
         Securing the Rest of the Party: Very often the LP will be the loved one of someone else in the party. It is only natural for the people close to the LP to want to help with the search. It is imperative that you convince them that they can do the most good by staying in place and signaling according to the plan previously discussed. No rule should be written in stone, but it should be a pretty strict rule against allowing others to join in the search. However, there can be circumstances that require breaking, or bending, almost any of the rules. Here is just one example: I don't hear too well. I would probably take a young person along with me to use her or his ears. However, I would keep them close to me at all times and never leave them by themselves. So, if something unexpected comes up that goes against one of your rules, think it through, and if necessary, bend the rule to meet the circumstances.
         It is important that you insist that the guests follow your instructions. Impress on them that this is how they can help the most. Make them as comfortable as possible and give them something to do – this is important. They can gather wood for the fire, prepare meals and continue signaling. They should signal and listen for signals on a regular basis. The LP may wander close enough to camp that he hears their signals and returns on his/her own. Convince them that you will find the LP, but that you may be away for an extended period of time.
         Diligent Search: Before setting out on a search you should sit down with your map and make a plan. Look at the roads, trails and streams in the area because most people will stay on a road or trail unless they are panicked or have some good reason for straying off into unmarked territory. Use common sense to try to figure out where the LP might be. You have a much better chance of finding someone by figuring out where she/he is than by traveling miles and miles through the woods trying to chase them down. If footprints were discovered during the hasty search then you have a starting point. Plot that direction on your map and look for trails and roads that the LP may have taken. You must prepare to search into darkness, so be sure your flashlight with spare bulb and batteries are in good working order. Be prepared to make notes on paper, on your map and on your GPS. These will be valuable to you, and especially important if you call in help and need to inform others as to what you have done.
         Throughout your search you should be signaling with whistle, voice and, if appropriate, with a firearm. Anything that is discovered during your search should be noted and marked on the ground with flagging and on your map and GPS. Clues that might be found include footprints, articles of clothing, candy bar wrappers, and anything else that does not occur naturally in the area. Articles of discarded possessions and clothing may be an indication the LP is in panic and might prompt you to call for outside help sooner than you might ordinarily do so.
         Make a note of the direction of any footprints that are found and immediately check the map for indications of where that direction may have taken the LP. Be sure to mark them on the ground, map and GPS. For example, if a fork in the trail is somewhere up ahead it means you have two choices to check out. A wet area on one choice with no footprints might cause you to give up that choice and quickly move on to the other.
         As the search continues into the night it may become apparent to you that you need some help. It may be time for you to notify the Warden Service of your problem. If you carry a cell phone or a satellite phone you may want to call earlier just to give the warden a heads-up. That way the warden will know you have a lost person and may need help at some point in the future.
         Notification of Authorities: You should have the necessary phone numbers with you to contact the Warden Service. The most direct contact is through the nearest State Police Barracks. Deciding when to call the Warden Service should not be a problem if you have cell or satellite phone contact. As soon as your hasty search is over and you know you must make a more extensive search, it is a good time to notify the Warden Service. It is not necessary to ask for help this early in the search, but it is an opportunity for you to give them a heads-up. You should have the following information available at this time to pass along to your contact:
Lost person information:
         LP name and description
         Approximate age, health and physical condition.
         Clothing the LP is wearing including footwear
         Gear the LP should be carrying
         LP's outdoor experience
         Location of your camp, truck, etc. Use UTM map coordinates.
         Location of PLS
         Coordinates of where you will meet help (if needed)
Trip plan:
         The purpose of the trip (hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, etc.)
         No matter whether your call was for a heads-up or a call for assistance you should continue the search through day and night, and continue as long as you are physically able to do so.
         You may find yourself without phone service of any kind. The nearest phone is probably miles, and hours, away. In this situation you would put off calling as long as possible, because to leave the search area for several hours is just not a good idea. The LP could wander miles further away in that time, making the search that much more difficult. Probably the best plan would be to search as long as you are physically able before giving up and going out to call for help. Of course, the distance and time involved in getting to the phone will have a bearing on your decision.
In conclusion:
         There is no way that you can plan every move ahead of time, but you can plan on the steps you will take and the decisions you will have to make. It is important that you do the advance "what-if" thinking because at the time of a lost person crisis the importance of a clear head is paramount. Your knowledge of the terrain can be your most valuable tool. However, some kinds of outings make it impossible to know the surrounding woods. An example of this would be a river canoe trip or a hiking trip. No one, regardless of how experienced he or she may be, could have detailed knowledge of the miles and miles of woods that would border the river or a hiking trail. In these situations you will have to depend upon good map, compass and GPS skills to evaluate the situation and make the best use of your time and energy in the search.
         Plan ahead, and like the Boy Scout motto says: Be Prepared.

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