3,015 hunters win chance to bag a moose

Posted June 18, 2009, at 4:50 p.m.

A complete list of moose lottery winners can be found here, and at the bottom of the page.

FORT KENT, Maine — Shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin stepped to the podium and told a large University of Maine at Fort Kent audience what they wanted to hear — and what they dreaded.

“Some people are going to walk away happy tonight and some people are not,” Martin said. “It is what it is.”

What it is — or was — is this: The annual state-run lottery that determines who will get the chance to hunt moose this year (the happy ones) and who won’t.

In all, 3,015 people were chosen to take part in this season’s three hunting sessions. Several of them were from the St. John Valley. Each time one of those was announced, many in the crowd of more than 500 cheered, whether the permit-winner was present or not.

More than 500 people packed UMFK’s Sports Center for the drawing. Maine’s modern moose hunt began in 1980 on a one-year experimental basis. It returned as a permanent hunt in 1982 and has been held every year since.

After 20 minutes of preliminary speeches and introductions (and after 29 years of waiting in vain for his name to be drawn in the moose lottery), Magella Bouchard became one of the happy ones right off the bat, the second name out of the computer hopper.

The 59-year-old Fort Kent man said he’s been applying for the lottery since 1980 and had never attended the lottery before. This time, however, he was in attendance — and he finally got lucky.

Some lucky lottery attendees run around after their names are called. Others yell. Bouchard, who was in the middle of a group of people in the crowded bleachers, didn’t have the opportunity to burn many calories.

“I was stuck, but I was jumping,” Bouchard said.

In all, 56,611 people applied for the drawing. Of those, 40,959 were Mainers and 15,652 were nonresidents. No more than 10 percent of the permits are allowed to be given to nonresidents.

That applicant pool was about 12 percent lower than the roughly 64,000 applicants of a year ago. Mark Ostermann, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife computer expert who does the technical work that makes the lottery a success, said he attributes that decline to the lagging economy.

A single chance in the lottery cost Maine residents $7, while three chances cost $12 and six chances $22. Nonresidents could buy a single chance for $15, three for $25, six for $35 or blocks of 10 chances for $55.

“[It] isn’t too bad. I was expecting it to be lower than that. The Maine Megabucks, the regular lottery, it’s down over 10 percent also,” Ostermann said. “And when you win the moose lottery, you pay us money. So with the economy down I was expecting a bigger hit.”

The 3,015 permits drawn on Thursday are in addition to 10 that were auctioned off for a total of $94,843 to raise money for conservation camp scholarships. An additional 100 hunters will take part in a special controlled hunt in Aroostook County designed to reduce the moose herd in places where car-moose accidents are prevalent or where moose are damaging crops. Those permits were allotted earlier this month to guides and landowners.

Thursday’s drawing allotted permits that will allow hunters to take part in one of two six-day sessions or a longer November season. A total of 1,139 hunters received permits for Sept. 28-Oct. 3. Another 1,741 will hunt Oct. 12-17, and an additional 135 will hunt in November.

Many moose hunters in Thursday’s drawing have accumulated “preference points,” which allow them a free chance for every year they’ve been unsuccessful in the lottery since 1998. Therefore, some Maine residents had their name in the computer hopper as many as 17 times, as residents can buy as many as six chances apiece.

According to Ostermann, those Mainers who had accumulated 11 preference points had a 12.2 percent chance of getting a permit. Those Mainers with no preference points had a 3.3 percent shot at a moose permit.

Nonresident hunters without preference points had a 1.3 percent chance. Those who had accumulated 11 points had a 3.1 percent chance. The success average of Maine residents is different from out-of-state applicants because nonresidents can buy as many chances in the lottery as they want in blocks of 10 chances while Main-ers are limited to six.

At some past lotteries, many attendees have shown up just before the names are drawn. Increasingly though, organizers have packaged the lottery differently and offered prospective hunters more reasons to show up early and stay late.

In Fort Kent, the doors opened four hours before the lottery began, and a steady stream of guests browsed vendor booths, bought something to eat, and shared tall tales from the woods.

Local businesswoman Darlene Kelly Dumond, who owns Bee-Jay’s Tavern in town and was at the lottery promoting the Allagash Trading Company and Tylor Kelly Camps, said she was pleased that the lottery finally made it to the St. John Valley. Previously, the farthest north the event had been staged was in Presque Isle.

“The town is busy. There’s a buzz around town. I hear people saying, ‘Finally, the moose lottery’s being drawn where the moose are,”’ Dumond said. “So it’s coming home to the area where, I believe, most of the moose — or some of the largest moose — are: in Aroostook County.”

Dumond said the lottery provided a welcome recreational diversion after a long winter.

“This time of year, here in northern Maine, in Fort Kent, is a slow time,” she said. “Our snowmobile season is just finished up, our university is closed for the summer, and a lot of people spend time on the lakes, so it’s a great event to have downtown.”

As the 6 p.m. start of the lottery drew near, a sizable throng had made its way into the Sports Center. Most were casually dressed. One, however, drew a crowd.

An unnamed moose — OK, a person in a furry moose suit — milled through the crowd, drawing more than a few comments on the severely bent rifle that he toted and used as a walking stick.

The moose was the mascot of OMM Outfitters and Eagle Lake Sporting Camps. Margaret Cote and Nathan Theriault shepherded the popular moose around and chatted about the outfitting business.

“It took a lot of convincing and some very good food [to coerce the costume-wearer into posing as a moose on a hot day], but what better setting for a moose mascot than the Maine moose drawing,” Theriault said.

Moose Lottery Results

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