700 hunters take to the woods today hoping to kill a moose

Seven hundred of this year’s 2,080 hunters who were very lucky to win a moose permit will be in the woods hoping to kill a moose this week, starting today. I’ll be joining friends for a moose hunt the week of October 9, but I do want to wish good luck to those who are hunting this week.

Without a doubt, due to the number of moose being killed in the winter by ticks, the moose hunt is getting harder. I’ve been writing about the moose crisis for a while now, hoping DIF&W could come up with a way to save our moose. So far, no luck.

Moose permits have been cut in half since this problem surfaced, and it looks to me like the number of permits will continue to decline.

Moose used to be all around our camp on Sourdnahunk Lake, on the edge of Baxter Park, but I’ve only seen one in the last three years. In August, the small bogs and ponds would be full of moose eating plants. Not anymore.

So all I can say to those 700 hunters out there this week is Good Luck!

Here is DIF&W’s press release on this week’s moose hunt.

AUGUSTA, Maine — On Monday, September 25th, over 700 moose hunters will enter the Maine woods seeking Maine’s most majestic mammal. This is the 37th year of Maine’s modern moose hunt, a hunt which resumed in 1980 after being closed since 1936.

While Monday marks the first day of moose season in northern and eastern Maine, the moose season continues through the fall and is divided into four segments which also includes the weeks of October 9-14 in the northern two thirds of the state, October 23-28 in northern and eastern Maine, and October 28 – November 25 in central Maine. In all, 2,080 permits were issued to hunt moose in Maine this year.

Regulated hunting seasons are how the department manages Maine’s moose population. The number of permits issued for each moose hunting district varies depending on moose population density in the district and publicly derived population objectives, such as managing for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety (reducing moose-vehicle collisions) or a combination of both.

“Everyone enjoys Maine’s moose ” said Lee Kantar, IFW’s moose biologist. “By adjusting the number of moose permits in different areas of the state we can manage the population and provide opportunities for both hunting and viewing.”

Last year, 1,609 hunters, or 75% of the permitted hunters, harvested a moose. The 75% success rate is in stark contrast to bear, turkey or deer hunting, where success rates range historically from 18 to 30 percent. Moose hunting in Maine continues to be extremely popular, with 53,919 hunters applying to the moose lottery for a chance to hunt moose.

All successful moose hunters are required to register their moose at the nearest tagging station. At these stations, IFW wildlife biologists collect data that provides insight into moose population health.  A tooth is removed in order to determine the age of the moose. Antler beam width and diameter are measured. Ticks are counted on four different areas of the moose to compare numbers to years past. In later weeks, moose hunters who shoot a female moose are required to bring the ovaries, which are later microscopically examined to determine reproductive success.

This biological data is combined with data from the ongoing moose GPS collar study, as well as the aerial moose population and composition surveys to give biologists a clearer picture of the health and status of Maine’s moose herd.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.