Maine Moose Permit Lottery opens: Here are 5 tips for your first hunt

bull-moose-sparring1550265_960_720The chance for a hunt of a lifetime is once again upon us. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has announced the opening of the 2017 Maine Moose Lottery application process. This year the proposed allocation of 2,140 tags break down like this – 1,815 Bull-only, 220 Antlerless-only and 105 Any-moose permits.  Here are some tips to help make it your lucky year.

Where to apply to hunt

With 1,560 of the 2,140 permits allocated in Wildlife Management Districts 1-8, selecting from these districts will greatly enhance your chance of hearing your name read aloud in Caribou on June 17. These areas are also where the majority of trophy class bulls are.

If the crown of Maine is too far for you to manage, WMD’s 9-11 and 19 offer you the next best opportunity.

Consider hiring a Registered Guide

MaineGuideUnlike the firearm season on deer which lasts roughly a month long, moose seasons come and go in a flash. Having the ability to quickly locate moose is the biggest challenge of a five day hunt.  This is especially important if hunting in a district you are not familiar with. Having the assistance and knowledge of a local guide can greatly increase your ability to fill your tag.

While guide services come in all varieties, from full blown sporting lodges to one-man bands, the thing they all have in common is the desire and ability to put clients in a position to make a shot. You can find them in The Northwoods Sporting Journal, The Maine Sportsman and at the Maine Professional Guides Association website. A call to the local game tagging station where you plan to hunt is also a great source for a local guide.

Put a hunt plan together

If you decide to hire a guide, a lot of the hunt plan details will probably be arranged for you. If you decide to do it yourself, try to start formulating a hunt plan as early as possible. Aside from designating a subpermittee and alternate, you’ll need to answer some questions.

Will you be commuting to your hunt site every day or do you plan on lodging for the week? Do you have the proper equipment for your hunt? If so, is it serviceable?

Lodging facilities can fill up quick during the moose hunt. Also, the wrong time to find out your rifle has a bad firing pin is when you pull the trigger on a bull moose with a 48 inch spread!

Do you have any medical needs that need to be addressed before your hunt? Do you know where the nearest medical facility is located near your hunt location?

Make sure you are physically able to hunt. If you are a disabled hunter, make sure those of your party understand your limitations and how to assist you when needed. Having a spare prescription for any medicine needed is a good idea too.

Know how to get help if you need it. Find out where the nearest hospital and law enforcement agency is located and keep the phone numbers for the nearest Game Warden and State Police dispatch office handy.

Do you have maps of the area and a functioning compass? Do you know how to use them? GPS units and smartphones are great tools, but they are electronic devices that can fail. Knowing the cardinal directions and basic terrain features can go a long way in keeping on track.

Leaving an itinerary with a family member or friend detailing where you plan to hunt, how long you plan on being in the field every day and who to contact in case of an emergency is important. Also, having a hunt roster of everyone in the party with emergency contact information and any known medical issues is a big plus if the unforeseen arises.

Know the laws & rules

huntlawbookcover_2016In addition to general hunting laws, make sure to get familiar with additional rules for moose hunting. Common infractions hunters make include shooting from a roadway, discharging a firearm within 100 yards of a building (without permission) and keeping a loaded firearm in/on a vehicle.

A common method used in moose hunting is ‘road hunting’ in search of bulls. Be aware, you must be 10 feet off of a bituminous or concrete treated roadway to legally shoot. Farm buildings and structures have the same restrictions as a residence under the 100 yard rule. Keeping a loaded magazine separate from a semi-automatic rifle in a vehicle is okay, but leaning a loaded rifle against an ATV is not.

New for this year during the Oct 23-28 antlerless moose hunt season, hunters in WMD’s 1-4 and 19 “must present the ovaries and/or reproductive tract at the first open registration station. The milk sack (udder) shall be left attached to the carcass.”

One article of hunter orange clothing must be worn until the season overlaps with deer firearm season, when two articles (hat and clothing) must be worn.

Be prepared for the post hunt

Congratulations! You have a 900 lb. bull moose on the ground and a lifetime of memories are being made at this very moment. Don’t let one of them be your inability to get that moose out of the woods.

The method you use or the plan you have to get your moose out of the field and home doesn’t matter too much…as long as you have a plan. I’ve seen all kinds of methods employed, from swing out engine hoists to trailers with come-alongs. My favorite though is the old pickup truck bed liner trick.

Another consideration is the difference in the field care/dressing of moose as opposed to deer. The weather is typically warmer during the Moose hunt and this means you’ll need to move quickly and efficiently to keep your moose meat from spoiling.

Having pre-assigned tasks within the hunting party will make the process go more smoothly.

It’s a good idea to have a taxidermist ready for you beforehand if you are planning a mount and if not preparing the moose yourself, having a game processor lined up is solid planning.

The deadline to submit an online moose permit application is May 15. The drawing for the 2017 Maine Moose permit lottery at Caribou Parks and Recreation is June 17.

Good luck!

John Floyd

About John Floyd

John is a freelance writer and lives on a small homestead in northeast Maine. His passion for the outdoors and love of country are the influences behind his columns and blogs.