Early Monday morning as many as 1,070 prospective moose hunters — along with their appointed “sub-permittees” — will head into the woods in pursuit of the state’s largest game animal.
Some will be looking for a moose with trophy antlers. Others will settle for a freezer full of meat. And most will end up with memories that will last a lifetime.
This year’s split-session hunt will be the 30th since Maine reintroduced its modern moose hunt on an experimental basis in 1980. No moose season was held in 1981 but the hunt returned as an annual event in 1982.
Monday marks the opening day of the first six-day session and hunters will be spread out in assigned zones in the northern and eastern sections of the state. Another 1,480 hunters will have the opportunity to hunt — with more Wildlife Management Districts open —Oct. 11-16. More limited hunts in specified districts will send 455 hunters into the woods Nov. 1-6, while 135 hunters earned a chance to fill any-moose tags in more southern zones through the month of November.
Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife handed out 3,140 permits for this year’s hunt during a June lottery that was held in Freeport.
Tagging stations are spread across the hunting zones and spectators often flock to those venues to watch and listen to hunting stories as the moose are tagged and weighed.
If you’re looking to visit a tagging station and are looking for some guaranteed action, Gateway Variety in Ashland is your best bet: The store sits on the edge of some of the best moose territory open during the first week and it’s the first accessible tagging station for hunters coming out of the eastern segment of the North Maine Woods.
And if you do head to Ashland, I’ll see you there. Our coverage plans have me and a photographer heading north early Monday morning to survey the scene and gather a few tales to share with you in Tuesday morning’s paper.
Maine Game Warden Jim Fahey checked in on Thursday with a few reminders for hunters who might be heading into the woods this week.
Moose season starts Monday, but moose-hunting isn’t the only game in town, Fahey reminds us. Waterfowl season in the state’s northern zone also begins Monday, while the regular archery season on deer begins Thursday. In addition, bird hunters will be out looking for partridge and woodcock beginning Friday.
“Hunters need to be mindful that they need to wear at least one piece of orange, whether that’s a hat or a vest or a jacket,” Fahey reminded. “That will be particularly important for nonmoose hunters, such as grouse or upland game hunters, at the end of the week. [Moose] season runs from Sept. 27 through Oct. 2, so people out there on the first or second [of October] looking for partridge will have to wear orange if they’re hunting in a zone open to moose hunting.”
On another topic, Fahey sounded a familiar alarm that wardens have been focusing on for the past few years. It’s important for deer hunters to realize that some stores sell products that are not legal to use during hunting seasons in Maine, he said.
“Although you may see some products on the shelves of some of the larger box stores in the area, you can’t place things to entice deer,” Fahey said.
Deer attractants are promoted in many hunting magazines and sold in Maine stores, but the products, whether salt, mineral or food-based, are not allowed as hunting aids in the state.
“If it’s naturally occurring or it’s planted and growing on its own, that’s one thing,” Fahey said. “People can’t place attractants.”
Fahey also reminded people to pay particular attention to the season dates listed in the state’s hunting law booklet.
“There’s two [pages] of season dates for 2009 and 2010,” Fahey said. “[Hunters] should make sure they’re on page 12.”
Fahey also urged hunters to keep their eyes open for unlawful activity and encouraged those who see something suspicious to call Operation Game Thief at 800-ALERT-US.
And the veteran warden said that those of us who hunt on privately owned land should take special care to make sure that they still have permission to hunt in their traditional spots.
“If they’re hunting in organized towns they do need to have landowner permission before they put up even a portable stand,” Fahey said. “I would encourage people to develop that relationship [with the landowner], even if the permission has been granted in years past. Freshen it up, don’t let the permission get stale.”
Fahey said assuming that you still have permission to hunt a parcel of land can be costly.
“With a change in landownership or even a change in a landowner’s wishes, it never hurts to touch base yearly to express thanks and appreciation and at the same time to make sure that people are still in good standing with the owner of the land that they’re recreating on,” Fahey said.