Once again the annual Maine Moose Lottery is over. Like Power Ball or any of a dozen other games of chance, there are winners and losers. Fortunately, for the moose, there are far more of the latter than the former. This year 2,140 moose permits were drawn. This is 675 fewer tags than last year. When fall rolls around, moose will be fair game in five of Maine’s Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) during a staggered hunt-week schedule.

How did you do? As a former lucky recipient of a Maine moose tag quite a few years ago, I still get excited for those whose names appear on IF&W’s moose lottery website. Neither my name, nor my wife’s name, were anywhere to be found there on the 2016 list, but that’s OK. To have had one Maine moose hunting permit in any sportsman’s lifetime is to be blessed.

Moose meat, when properly cared for in the field and cooked for the table, is the best there is. And there is lots of it!

If you drew a permit, or if you are a subpermittee, or if you are just a relative or friend who is going to share the fall moose hunt, some thoughts for your consideration, especially if this is your first moose hunt:

1. Don’t wait until a week before the hunt. Spend some advance time scouting bogs and clear cuts in your designated hunt zone. Get to know the terrain. Moose, like deer, are creatures of habit.

2. Make sure that you have a scoped, flat-shooting rifle that’s big enough caliber for the job. Buy quality ammunition and use the larger grain bullets when you can. Join a rifle and pistol club and spend some time at the range shooting at different distances. Take it from me, just because your scope was zeroed in last fall doesn’t mean it will automatically be there next fall.

3. Have an advance plan to get your critter out of the woods and get it cooled down as quickly as possible. The moose retrieval methods that I have witnessed over the years tend to be varied, innovative and, in few cases, downright ingenious. Conjure up your own system. That’s part of the challenge! Know that these are big animals that look even bigger after they are tagged. Yes, the real work begins when the animal is down. A chain saw winch, which is not cheap, is a marvelous tool for moose hunters with weak backs. My chain saw winch has performed small moose retrieval miracles on a number of moose hunts that I have been a part of.

4. Depending upon the individual hunter and his or her level of experience, much can be said for hiring a licensed Maine guide for your once-in-a-lifetime moose hunt. Moose appear to be more wary than they were in the early days of the moose hunt. Guides who know their stuff will increase your odds for success exponentially. They also have a leg up on the most critical aspect of your hunt: care of the meat. For some ideas on possible Maine moose guides, check out the ads in the Northwoods Sporting Journal or visit online the site of the Maine Professional Guides Association (MPGA).

Again, if you have in your possession a 2016 Maine moose permit,count your blessing, especially if you are a Maine resident. This critter is a gift. My favorite contemporary outdoor hunting writer, Montana rancher Dan Aaadland, underscores the point in reflecting on his first Montana moose: ” I sit twenty paces from where my moose lies….To have come to this valley with my horses, to camp by a clear river and hunt moose is a great privilege. Sitting leaning back against the tree, I know I am a very lucky man.”

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also 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] . He has three books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook”, “Backtrack.” And his latest “The Maine Angler’s Logbook.” .Online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com..

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