FORT KENT, Maine — About 12 hours after the start of Maine’s annual moose hunt season, Shapleigh guide Chris Kessler bagged himself a trophy Monday.
On Tuesday, Kessler was at the tagging station behind the Fort Kent Blockhouse run by Quigley’s Outdoors where his 1,010-pound bull was the center of attention from a dozen or so fellow hunters.
Kessler, who operates Sebec River Guide Service and works for Outdoor Adventure Company in Sebec, said the bull was not the animal that first caught his attention Monday evening as he hunted in Zone 3 to the east of Route 11.
“We were driving down this road, and we saw a cow [moose] in the road,” Kessler said Tuesday afternoon. “We loaded up and next thing we knew, this massive bull jumped right out, so I just put the lead to it.”
The bull, with an antler spread of just over 60 inches was among several 1,000-plus-pound animals tagged at the Fort Kent station since Monday.
In all, 63 moose came through as of 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Among the successful hunters was Chad Fenton of Harrington, who was hunting in the Allagash area with his fellow crew members of the lobster boat the Dallas E, a craft Fenton described as, “a hell of a boat.”
“I just missed a moose yesterday and another one this morning,” Fenton said as his bull moose was prepared for weighing and tagging in Fort Kent Tuesday afternoon. “We were going down this long road and [the moose] was standing way up ahead of us in the middle of the road.”
Fenton said his first thought was to pass on the smallish looking bull moose.
“There was this truckload of hunters behind us, and I offered it to them,” he said. “But they had already gotten their moose, and then this one turned sideways, and I thought, ‘this is a good one.’”
Fenton and his group ended up tracking the moose “over hill and dale,” according to one of his friends, ending up in a bog before finally taking down the 676-pound animal.
“He’s my best friend,” Dallas E’s Captain Stephen Berry said of Fenton. “He asked me to come, [and] he made sure we had every aspect of a moose hunt and then some. It’s been two days of nonstop moose.”
Lobsterman Seamus McFlanagan may not have gotten the animal, but he came away from the hunt $90 richer thanks to correctly guessing the weight of Fenton’s moose.
“I was right on the money,” McFlanagan said. “We all put in $10 betting on the weight.”
Fenton said he had tried several times for a permit, and this was his first year obtaining one in the lottery.
This was Kessler’s first time hunting with his own permit, though he said he has guided or been a sub-permittee on 27 other moose hunts.
A second member of his group shot a 900-pound bull on Monday, called in by fellow guide Chris Deschambault.
“Chris is the one who taught me how to call in moose,” Deschambault said Tuesday.
“Yeah, he picked up his cell phone and made that call,” joked Charlie Plante of Springville, Kessler’s sub-permittee. “He called out over the phone and that moose came right out.”
A record 4,110 hunters received permits this year in a season spread over four sessions between now and the end of November.
The first week from Sept. 23-28 was open to 950 of those permit holders covering the far northeast region of the state.