Rangeley pulling out the stops for moose lottery weekend

Over the years, Mainers have flocked to the annual moose-permit lottery, where they’d sit on folding chairs, listen to the monotonous recitation of names, and hope that theirs would be among the lucky winners.

In time, towns and civic organizations began vying for the privilege of hosting the event. And as each new town welcomed the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife traveling road show, organizers took steps to put on a better, more interesting event than the one before it.

Two years ago, the lottery got even more attention when retailer L.L. Bean served as the host in Freeport. Last year, Cabela’s in Scarborough took the reins, the lottery was scheduled to take place on a weekend, and a mini-festival was born.

This year, continuing that trend — a desire to give more attendees more reasons to show up in person — the lottery will be held in the Rangeley region. The actual drawing will take place at Oquossoc Marine on Saturday, June 23.

But this year, those who show up on the day of the lottery and leave before the names are all drawn will have missed a grand opportunity.

That’s because a one-day moose lottery wasn’t enough for the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association. Instead of a one-day lottery, members decided to expand, staging a three-day celebration of their region’s outdoor heritage.

The result: The Rangeley Lakes Region Moose Lottery Festival, which will be held June 22-24.

Cabela’s, after their 2011 moose lottery successes, has signed on as a sponsor for four different events and other sponsors have been lined up for other activities. The agenda is ambitious, and should provide something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

So, what’s on tap? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a partial list:

  • A weekend-long fishing derby, with more than $6,000 in prizes up for grabs.
  • The World Invitational Moose Calling Contest, with a $1,000 first prize.
  • A Moose Stash Geocache.
  • A golf contest during which golfers will take aim at a moose target. Proceeds will benefit the RRGSA Junior Guides Program.
  • A guided ATV ride.
  • A turkey shoot.
  • A fun trap-shooting tourney.
  • A 3D archery contest.
  • A fly casting competition.
  • A canoe and kayak race.
  • A sailing regatta.
  • Children’s story time.
  • A family fitness program.
  • A nature photography seminar.
  • A shoreline hunting dog water fowling demonstration.
As you can see, there will be plenty of activities to choose from. And if you’re still looking for a reason to head to Rangeley, read on.
Earlier this week the DIF&W sent out a press release with a downright giddy first sentence.
“The odds of winning a moose hunting permit get better every year!” the press release gushed.
It’s important to note that the actual number of applicants in the moose permit lottery has dropped over the years, and the DIF&W is trying to drum up some support (cash) by enticing you to enter the drawing.
No complaint here. The lottery is a huge money-maker, and the DIF&W needs money.
But the DIF&W is correct: Your chances of winning are getting better.
Figure: Back in 1994, when the number of applicants peaked at 94,543, those aspiring moose hunters were competing for one of 1,200 permits. Last year, just 49,889 applicants vied for 3,862 permits.
That means that back in 1994, you had a 1 in 79 shot at a permit. Last year? It was 1 in 13.
And after some legislative tinkering (if a major overhaul of a system can be called tinkering), this year’s lottery will further improve the odds for a decidedly disgruntled subset of applicants — those who haven’t won, but have been entering for several years.
In the old system, unsuccessful applicants received one “bonus permit,” or extra chance, for every year that they had unsuccessfully entered the lottery. Now they’ll get one extra point for each of their first five years without being drawn, two points for years 6 to 10, three for 11-15 and 10 extra points for each year after 15.
As the bonus system began in 1998, the most points any moose hunter can have accumulated for this year’s drawing is 27. All Maine applicants are limited to purchasing one chance this year.
According to the DIF&W, about 3,500 people have applied for the lottery each year since 1998 and not had their names drawn. According to DIF&W estimates, under the new system, nearly all of those folks will win a permit within the next five years.
If, that is, they continue to enter.
You can enter the lottery at mefishwildlife.com. The paper application deadline, for those who send in a printed form, is April 2. Those entering on the website have until May 14.


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.