To the list of never-ending regional disputes — just after whether New England clam chowder is better than Manhattan clam chowder — add this: Which state’s celebrity game wardens are the real “North Woods Law” crew?
While those questions may never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction, conservation law officers from Maine and New Hampshire will do battle for state bragging rights next month in a charity softball game being organized by Operation Game Thief.
The game is being called the “North Woods Throwdown,” and will be staged on Saturday, Aug. 3, at Portland’s Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Class AA minor-league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Gates will open at 4 p.m., and the game starts at 6 p.m.
Maine’s game wardens were featured on the Animal Planet TV show “North Woods Law” from 2012 until 2016, at which point the show transitioned to featuring New Hampshire conservation officers. Both versions of the show are still available on the network.
Maine game warden Josh Beal said there’s been some good-natured chirping between the agencies during the lead-up to the softball game.
“We’ve kind of joked with [New Hampshire wardens], saying, we’re going to settle who the real North Woods Law is,” Beal said.
The show has been particularly popular with young viewers, Beal said, and those fans will have a chance to spend some time with some of their favorite wardens before and after the game.
“There will be game wardens in uniform, and game wardens playing in the field as well,” Beal said. “There will be a little bit of time for meet and greet before the game with the uniformed wardens.”
And after the game, kids will be given baseballs that they can have signed by all of the wardens.
Beal said the idea for the softball game developed after Maine game wardens staged three successful games against Belfast High School senior baseball and softball players in recent years. The first was for fun. The second raised $7,000. And the third, which was held in May, raised another $17,000, with proceeds split between Operation Game Thief and Make-A-Wish Maine. The upcoming game will add in New Hampshire’s Operation Game Thief as a beneficiary.
“I think [Operation Game Thief] saw the potential, [saying] ‘If we can do this simply with the Belfast community, why don’t we have a little fun with this thing,’” Beal said. “‘And if we’re going to do it, we might as well go big and do it at Hadlock Field.’”
Tickets to the game are available at porttix.com, and cost $9 for adults, $5 for children 10 and younger. Tickets will also be sold at the gate on game day, but those who pre-purchase online will also receive two free raffle tickets per ticket. Among the prizes up for grabs in those raffles: Two kayaks donated by Cabela’s and a whitewater rafting trip provided by Northern Outdoors.
More information and photos are available at the event’s Facebook page.
And while he knows the game won’t settle any regional squabbles, Beal knows what he hears when he’s patrolling his district.
“We actually get a lot of comments about how much people enjoy Maine ‘North Woods Law’ more than New Hampshire ‘North Woods Law.’” he said. “That might be just because we’re in Maine.”