The applications have all been sent in, the online registration closed weeks ago, and the waiting is nearly over: On Saturday, prospective moose hunters will flock to Cabela’s in Scarborough for the state’s annual moose permit lottery, during which a record 3,862 permits will be handed out.
Many of the winners have hunted moose before. Others have been waiting since 1980 for the chance to participate in a hunt for the state’s largest game animal.
“Twenty-six years I’ve tried to get a tag. I have not been drawn,” said Greg Sirpis, the event’s host as Cabela’s retail events coordinator. “And I have to tell you, if I’m drawn this year there’s going to be an awful lot of ribbing going on about it because it’s being held here. But I can promise you that it’s only by chance.”
While recent moose permit lotteries have been staged on Thursday evenings, Cabela’s lobbied the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which conducts the lottery, for a Saturday event that would be more easily targeted toward families and those who would travel to the event. Activities will begin at 10 a.m. this year and continue throughout the day. The actual drawing will begin at 4 p.m.
Prospective moose hunters looking to find out whether their names have been drawn in the lottery will not be able to see the list on the Internet before names are read aloud in Scarborough. The DIF&W will embargo the release of the list until 8 p.m., according to a news release.
At that point folks can go to www.mefishwildlife.com to find out their status. Or, they can go to www.bangordailynews.com, where we’ll also have the complete list. Additionally, at the BDN website we’ll provide a nifty map that will show where all 3,862 winners are from.
Sirpis said he has been planning the lottery for 14 months and is eager to unveil his company’s vision for an event that has become a Maine outdoor tradition.
“I think the single biggest thing that will set us apart from the ones that I’ve been to in the past is that we have a huge program put together for kids,” Sirpis said. “I did that intentionally because I’ve noticed in the last three or four drawings that I’ve been at there was really nothing there for the youth.”
This year’s event will be the 31st moose permit lottery. Maine’s modern moose hunt was held on an experimental basis in 1980. After a one-year hiatus, the hunt has been staged annually since 1982.
And after the Legislature approved a plan to increase the number of permits that will be allotted for this year’s hunt, the largest-ever crop of hunters will head afield during the 2011 hunting sessions.
The addition of 657 permits over the original plan brought this year’s total to 3,862. A year ago a then-record 3,140 permits were allotted. In 2009 and again in 2008 the state allotted 3,015 permits through the lottery system. The vast majority of those permits go to Maine residents: According to state law no more than 10 percent of allotted permit may be claimed by nonresidents.
Sirpis said focusing on young attendees was a natural. Happy kids make for happy parents. Bored kids lead to parents leaving the festivities early — if they attend at all. And Sirpis said introducing youths to outdoor activities is a personal priority.
“I’ve had a theory for a lot of years that kids that hunt and fish don’t mug old ladies,” Sirpis said. “So I think it’s important to get them interested in [the outdoors]. I also believe it makes them better citizens.”
Kid-centered activities on tap include face-painting and a booth where kids can make personalized moose place mats. Cotton candy and popcorn will be served. The Maine Bowhunters Association and the National Rifle Association will run youth programming throughout the day. In addition, ATV Maine will be on hand to stage a riding and safety rodeo, during which kids will get the chance take rides — safely, of course — on real ATVs.
About 35 vendors will staff tents at the lottery, which will itself be held in a large tent outside the Cabela’s store. Sirpis said the seating capacity in the lottery tent will be about 500.
A variety of regional and national outdoor personalities will be on hand for the festivities. A crew from Cabela’s Television will capture footage that will be used on a national outdoor channel. In addition, a barbecue competition is scheduled, and Sirpis said the crew from “Grill Seekers,” a NESN TV series, will be in Scarborough to cover that facet of the lottery.
Bangor hosted the first moose permit lottery back in 1980, when about 60 people gathered for the drawing. In recent years the lottery has turned into a traveling road show with communities and businesses vying for the chance to be host of the event.
Last year’s drawing was held at L.L. Bean in Freeport. Before that it was held at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Kittery Trading Post, and at sites in Phippsburg, Rumford, Presque Isle, Bucksport, Old Town, Boothbay Harbor and Millinocket. After Saturday, Scarborough will have held the lottery three times.
And if you aren’t going to have Internet access, you can still rely on the BDN for your results. On Monday, as we always have, we’ll print the complete list of names. Even if you already know your name’s on the list, you might want to buy a copy of the paper to stick in your scrapbook.