The first week of the split season opened Monday.

ASHLAND (AP) – Eugene Bates knew he had shot a big moose on Monday’s opening of the hunting season, but he didn’t expect it to weigh in at 992 pounds dressed.

“He was surprised. He didn’t believe it would be that big,” said Bates’ wife, Joan. “We were surprised – all of us.”

Bates, who is 78, registered his moose at Mac’s Trading Post in Houlton, which had tagged nine moose – all bulls – by mid-afternoon.

“It’s been a beautiful day,” said Rebecca Cox, owner of Mac’s, adding that temperatures hit the 70s and a slight breeze had picked up. The National Weather Service predicted cloudy weather with a chance of evening showers Tuesday.

Hunters wasted little time early Monday before finding their moose as Maine’s split, two-week season got under way.

Wendy Gosselin of Eddington was among the first who found early success as she bagged a bull moose at 6:10 a.m., said Dennis Beaulier, owner of Gateway Variety, which serves as a tagging station in Ashland.

The second moose to be tagged at Gateway was shot two minutes later, said Beaulier.

In Fort Kent, hunters faced fog as dawn broke, but permit holders nevertheless found their trophies early in the day, said Gerry Lavigne, a state wildlife biologist who operates a check station at First and Last Variety.

As the first week of the split season opened, 435 moose permit holders were ready to head into selected districts in northern and eastern parts of the state to search for their trophies.

The second, six-day portion of the season begins Monday, Oct. 13, in the northern two-thirds of Maine. State game officials have awarded another 2,150 permits for that part of the hunt.

Maine’s total moose population is estimated at 29,000.



On the Net:

2003 Moose hunting districts: http://www.state.me.us/ifw/hunttrap/moose%20map%202003.htm

Moose: http://www.state.me.us

AP-ES-09-22-03 1534EDT



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