Things move fast when your name is drawn in Maine’s moose lottery

By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News Staff

There is no time to revel in success after your name is drawn in Maine’s annual moose permit lottery, which was held Saturday in Fort Kent.

My name was drawn for the first time. I attended the lottery event Saturday, which also was a first for me. There is nothing like the thrill you feel when your name is spoken as one of the lucky ones. I have been consistently pursuing a permit for about 10 years, not as long as some.

Now that I have one, there are so many decisions. Do you want to keep it or allow it to go to an alternate? Do you want to trade permits with another successful lottery winner? Are you going to scout the woods to find your own moose? Where will you have it butchered? Are you going to hire a guide? Where will you stay? What do you do with your dogs? 

Bangor Daily News photo/Julie Harris
MOOSE LOTTERY — Hundreds of people sat for about 3.5 hours Saturday, June 15, in Fort Kent to hear the names of the 4,105 people who won moose permits in the state’s annual lottery.

I was drawn for the bull week in October for Zone 1, which is the northwesternmost region of the state. It is a heavily wooded and remote wild country. The decision was easy. If we were going to pursue this hunt, it would not be on our own.

We looked into trading our permit for one a little closer to home, but there were no immediate takers. We had to move fast to secure a guide and lodging.

Fortunately, I chose wisely for a subpermittee who is an avid hunter in general, but most importantly, an experienced moose hunter. He immediately began calling around for availability of guides and lodging, which ranged in price from $4,500 to nearly $10,000. He said many of them were already booked solid by Sunday afternoon. 

Some people had made loose arrangements with lodges and guides before the drawing. Social media was abuzz Sunday with people looking for guides and places to stay to fulfill their moose adventures.

My subpermittee found a father-son team that fit us perfectly at Wicked North Outdoors LLC in Allagash. A deposit is down and we are booked. Now we are working on finding a butcher. 

The more expensive lodges and guide services included meals for the week. We will have our own lodge with facilities to prepare food ourselves.

We also will be able to take our bird dogs so that we can hunt with them. It will be October, in prime upland bird hunting season. Our first priority is a moose, of course, but if we get one in the first part of the week, there will be time for upland bird hunting.

And I am waiting for official notification from the state so that I can pay the $52 fee for the permit, which will be mailed to me about two weeks before the hunt dates.

The moose herd is healthy, according to state biologist Lee Kantar, who attended Saturday’s event and was one of the dozen or so people who read the names of permit winners.

Winter ticks were not as severe and last year’s moose calves the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife tagged had a 92 percent survival rate, the best in 11 years, he said. The department tagged 72 calves. The survival rate in 2022 was 13 percent and in 2023, it was 72 percent.

There should be plenty of yearlings around this summer, and hunters should see more moose, Kantar said.

I saw a big and healthy cow moose in Eagle Lake on my way to Fort Kent Saturday. When she crossed Route 11 in front of me, I took it as a sign of things to come.

It has not even been 48 hours since my name was announced, but it is clear to me that moose hunting in Maine is unique and really an adventure, not just another hunt. Guides can be expensive, but I see it as paying for their knowledge and experience, and increasing my chances of success. They also help you get the dead moose out of the woods.

A moose hunt can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After all, there’s no guarantee in a lottery.

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