When it comes to putting wild meat in the freezer, the Maine’s annual moose hunt has no match. Last fall’s hunt was a big success.With a total of 3,725 permits allocated by the state, hunters bagged 2,895 moose across the state for a total success rate of 78 percent. That is a 12 percent increase from the 2011 success rate. (The weather conditions did not cooperate in 2011).

Traditional moose hunting areas saw a success rate of 81 percent, while the Wildlife Management Districts that comprise the southern Maine moose hunting area (15, 16, 22, 23, 25 and 26) had an 18-percent success rate. According to Maine’s moose biologist Lee Kantar, overall 11 bulls, all taken in the far north, weighed in at more than 1,000 pounds, including one that sported antlers measuring 66 inches. A total of 17 bulls recorded antler spreads in excess of 60 inches.

The average age for a harvested moose was 4.5 years old for males and 5.5 for females. But the harvest is biased because of hunter selection of animals, i.e., mature bulls.The oldest bull taken was 13.5 years old and a cow was 16.5!

This year, thanks to aerial surveys of moose that produce more reliable moose population data, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is comfortable increasing the allocated moose hunting permits from 3,725 to 4,155 this year. Ninety percent of these will be awarded to Maine residents; the remaining 10 percent will be issued to nonresidents.

Time is running out for prospective moose hunters to get their names entered in the spring moose lottery drawing that will be held this year in Greenville on June 16th. If you plan to apply for a moose permit with a paper application in the mail, you have until April 1. Online applicants have until May 14 at midnight to submit their moose permit applications.

This year Maine residents are limited to one chance in the lottery. The fee is $15. If you get lucky, the actual moose-hunting permit will cost you $52.

Nonresidents, which this year are allocated just 10 percent of the issued moose-hunting permits, may purchase as many chances as their pocketbooks will allow. One chance in the moose lottery is $15 for a nonresident. After that, it’s three for $25, six for $35, 10  for $55 and so on. If a nonresident is drawn, the actual moose-hunting permit costs him $585.

The moose seasons next fall take place Sept. 23-28, Oct. 14-19, Nov. 4-9 and Nov. 4-30.  Most of the permits are evenly distributed among the first three seasons, with the first season limited to bulls. (A detailed breakdown is available in the paper applications for the moose lottery or on the Fish and Wildlife Department website: www.mefishwildlife.com.) The third season, Nov. 4-9, is strictly a cow hunt and the permits are issued in eight Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs).

From the standpoint of “process,” the moose lottery itself in Maine has been an interesting evolution. Often the subject of derision by Mainers who suspected an unfair system, the lottery has been refined, especially for Maine residents. It is an important, if not a critical source of revenue for a Fish and Wildlife Department hard pressed for cash. Along with managing our remarkable moose population, the other big challenge for state policymakers is to make sure that politics and money don’t trump wildlife science and good biology.

When June 16th rolls around, thousands of prospective moose hunters will be watching the “throw of the dice” in Greenville with fingers crossed. Good luck, but don’t forget: your name won’t be in the lottery computer if you don’t submit an application!

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He isalso a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM  101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected] and his new book is “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook.”

 


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