Last year the moose lottery was hosted at Cabelas in Scarborough. It was a one day event, where eager sportsman gathered around to hear their name announced as a lucky winner in the lottery. It’s been done this way since 1999, at various locations around the state. This year Rangeley, Maine is trying something different.
Hosted by the Rangeley Region Guides & Sportsmen’s Association (RRGSA), this years event spans three days, starting Friday, June 22nd , and ending Sunday, June 24th. Officially named the ‘Moose Lottery Festival’ it is a bold undertaking to promote the Rangeley region, and show families just how much Rangeley has to offer.
In addition to the moose lottery held by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on Saturday, the weekend includes a free-to-enter fishing derby, finals of the World Moose Calling Competition, an onsite moose mount, geocache searches, ATV rides, a bounce house, golf, bowling, outdoor demonstrations, competitions, and more. There will also be forty-one vendors there with booths, including Cabelas, DeLorme, and Fly Fishing in Maine.
“We’ve planned the weekend with fun activities the whole family can enjoy”, explains Sheri Oldham, RRGSA member and co-chair of the event. “We’re excited to show people the Rangeley region”.
The fishing derby is one highlight, spanning all three days of the lottery, and taking place on Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic lakes. These lakes are not stocked, containing only native fish, so local guides and sportsman will catch fish prior to the derby, tag, and release them. Oldham assured me that anyone entering the derby is eligible for free raffle prizes, including lifetime hunting and fishing licenses for kids under 16.
Another event that will draw a crowd is the World Moose Calling Contest. Competitors have passed a number of preliminary rounds to make it to the finals, and will compete in front of a panel of judges. The judges score a maximum of 100 points in four categories: showmanship, bull calls, cow calls, and other (creative) attraction techniques.
Witnessing a qualifying competition in Augusta on June 2nd, Oldham confirmed, “It’s very entertaining, and if you close your eyes you wouldn’t know it wasn’t a moose”
Speaking of Moose, taxidermist Steve Gilboe of Jackman will be working on a moose shoulder mount.
Gilboe assured me that “We do the dirty work before we get there.”
Gilboe has been doing this for a few years at various shows around the state. Starting with the pelt, antlers, and basic materials, the mount will almost be completed by Sunday. Volunteers are welcome, and questions are encouraged.
“It’s a lot of fun. People usually have questions and I enjoy teaching them about the trade“ explained Gilboe.
Historically Rangeley has been the quintessential image of Maine. Mountainous, heavily forested, with lakes, rivers, and streams, Rangeley was on the bucket list of most outdoor enthusiasts. Over time this image has faded.
“We’ve been promoting the event at shows around the state, and it’s a shame to hear some Mainers don’t know where Rangeley is.”, explained Oldham.
Oldham and other Rangeley residents want to change this, and the lottery is the first step. When asked if they’d host the event again next year Oldman replied,“I hope so. We’ll see how it goes this year, but we’re expecting it to be a lot of fun”.
So regardless of whether you’ve been to Rangeley before, the Moose Lottery Festival is a good time to visit.
Bring the family, and a fishing pole if there is room!
For more information on the festival check out http://www.rangeleyoutdoors.com/2012-moose-lottery-festival/
Aron Semle is owner of www.youhuntandfish.com, a website for finding local hunting and fishing information.