Maine moose hunt kicks off Monday

Looking for a moose? If so — and if you’re among the lucky hunters who won a coveted permit during June’s permit lottery — chances are good you’ll be heading north when the state’s first six-day moose hunting sessions opens a half hour before sunrise on Monday.

In all, a modern record 4,110 hunters earned the privilege to embark on moose hunts this year; they’ll take part in one of four different sessions, including one that lasts nearly the entire month of November.

First up, however, are 950 hunters who’ll be heading to eight northern and eastern Wildlife Management Districts for the Sept. 23-28 season.

Lee Kantar, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s head moose biologist, said veteran hunters may notice that more permit-holders have been assigned to the northern tier this year. And that’s by design.

“We’re trying to place more of an emphasis on the big woods, behind the checkpoints [of North Maine Woods Inc.],” Kantar explained. “In Zone 1 [in the extreme northwestern part of the state] we had 100 percent increase in permits, so we’ve got 600 there. And 800 permits in Zone 4.”

Kantar said that while the state has approved more moose permits this year than in any other year since Maine adopted a yearly hunt in 1982, those permits can only be issued in a few of the state’s Wildlife Management Districts.

“Zone 1, 2 and 4 are three of the only zones in the entire state that are above population objectives at this point,” Kantar said. “And we’ve already lowered the population, statewide.”

Over the course of the entire moose season, 2,700 of the 4,110 available permits entitle the holder to hunt in either WMD 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Two years ago, state biologists estimated that 76,000 moose roamed the Maine woods. Now, Kantar said, the moose population is likely lower than 70,000. And most of those animals live in the industrial forest, where access is controlled by North Maine Woods Inc.

North Maine Woods allows access to that land, but Kantar said that hunters should strive to be good neighbors when they visit.

“I think we really need to send a message out that folks really need to be aware of what the rules and regulations are in the North Maine Woods,” Kantar said. “I think that’s very critical, to realize that it’s private logging roads, to give logging trucks the right of way, that there are a limited number of campsites, and that people really need to do their homework before heading into the North Maine Woods.”

Especially important, Kantar said, is for a hunting party to expect that they’ll need to be self-sufficient and carry along any supplies they need. Getting the downed moose out of the woods quickly and cooling down the carcass should also be a top priority, he said.

Many hunters opt to take their moose out whole, after field dressing. But that needn’t be the case, Kantar said.

“I’ve always encouraged people to learn about quartering the moose up,” Kantar said. “On our website, in the main page of the moose hunting [section], we’ve provided a link to Alaska Fish and Game, which has an awesome video about moose hunting and about their techniq

Sheri Valley, 21, of Brewer, shows off the 900-pound moose she shot during the 2012 Maine moose season. The moose sported antlers with a 54-inch spread. Photo courtesy of Tony Valley.

ue for field-dressing a moose. I would encourage everybody, whether they use that technique or not, to take a look at that video.”

A breakdown of this year’s moose-hunting seasons:

  • Sept. 23-28, 950 bull permits in eight WMDs.
  • Oct. 14-19, 1,890 permits (1,460 bull, 430 antlerless) in 19 WMDs.
  • Nov. 4-9, 1,140 antlerless permits in eight WMDs.
  • Nov. 2 (Maine residents, Nov. 4-30 (all hunters), 130 any-moose permits in six zones.
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.