CARIBOU, Maine — In some years past, the state’s annual moose permit lottery has been staged in some spots you wouldn’t expect to find many moose.
Kittery? Scarborough? Phippsburg? All are wonderful places, but none are downright moose-y.
On Saturday, June 17, the lottery heads north to Caribou, one of the state’s moosiest spots, and organizers are ready to welcome prospective moose hunters to town.
“We have lots of hunters up here in Aroostook County. It’s a great place to come to hunt, and we really wanted people to come and visit us and see what we have to offer,” Christina Kane-Gibson, who handles events and marketing for the city of Caribou, said. “We have really great guide services up here and camps. For anybody who hasn’t been to Aroostook County, this is a good opportunity for us to bring them up.”
According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 47,448 people applied for moose-hunting permits this year. On Saturday, 2,080 will be awarded permits through the lottery.
Caribou’s moose permit lottery and associated events will be held at the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center at 55 Bennett Drive. An outdoor expo will begin at 9:30 a.m. The drawing itself will start at 2 p.m.
For those who won’t be able to make it to Caribou for the drawing, the BDN will have you covered. Outdoor reporter Aislinn Sarnacki will be on hand to write about the event, and by 6 p.m. Saturday, you can search for your name when we go live with the official results at bangordailynews.com.
So what can you expect to find on lottery day?
“We have 40 vendors, mostly sportsman-type,” Kane-Gibson said. “We have some guide services, some sporting camps. We have a pretty good variety. We have some crafts, and we’re going to have a food tent set up with some food trucks.”
Across the street from the recreation center, children will want to visit the inflatable playland. And throughout the day, families may want to take a ride in Moose Maine-iah, a moose-themed monster truck with seats in the back.
“We also have the Wildlife Encounters group coming in from New Hampshire,” Kane-Gibson said. “They’re a live animal show. The animals are going to be a surprise. We’re not really sure what they’re bringing, but they’re going to do two shows: one at 10 a.m. and one at [noon].”
In addition, organizers will announce the winner of their moose scavenger hunt, which has been running for several weeks and involves 10 wooden moose that have been painted by local artists.
Maine’s modern moose hunt began in 1980, when it was held on a one-year, experimental basis. After taking a hiatus in 1981 as the data were studied, the hunt was staged again in 1982 and has been held annually since.
This year’s hunting opportunities will be spread over three one-week seasons and one session that lasts a month. The breakdown:
— Sept. 25-30 in Wildlife Management Districts 1-6, 11 and 19, with 720 permits allotted.
— Oct. 9-14 in WMDs 1-14, 17-19, 27, and 28, with 1,095 permits allotted.
— Oct. 23-28 in WMDs 1-4, with 220 permits allotted.
— Oct. 30-Nov. 25 in WMDs 15 and 16, with 45 permits allotted.
Those who win permits are assigned to a specific Wildlife Management District during a specific season and are told whether they’re hunting for a bull, a cow, or whether they can shoot a moose of either gender.
Of the 2,080 permits, 10 percent, or 200, will go to non-resident hunters. Among this year’s applicants, 34,156 were Maine residents and 13,292 were non-residents.
According to the DIF&W, if any given resident applicant was willing to accept any available permit, their odds of having their randomly pulled number being a winner is 1 in 93. For non-residents, those odds drop to 1 in 1,300.
Complicating the actual odds, hunters can and do opt out of seasons, districts or moose genders they’re not interested in hunting. Also, for every consecutive year a hunter has not had their name drawn to hunt, they accumulate one “preference point,” which earns them more chances in the lottery. The longer a person has been unsuccessful, the more chances each point is worth.