Our Maine Moose Hunt – Scouting in the North Maine Woods

Our Maine Moose Hunt – Scouting in the North Maine Woods

Our Maine Moose Hunt

A Maine moose hunt is something hunters from all over hope for, wait for, dream of, apply for, and one that few of us get. More than 50,000 people entered the lottery in 2018 and around 2,500 of us were drawn. It’s one thing to have your name drawn and something else to have an opening available in your zone and gender choices. I’d been applying for bull or cow, either, just please give me a permit. This year I chose bull only. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime hunt for me. We know people who get permits often and families who get two and three permits a year in the household. We are not those folks. Knowing I’ll probably never get to do this again, I opted for a bull permit this year. I got my permit. Zone 9 (WMD, wildlife management district is the same as zone). Zone 9 came pre-packaged with sympathy. “That’s too bad.” “Maybe you can swap.” It wasn’t first or last choice, it was sixth. For me, there are worse zones, worse hunts. First folks drawn get their first choices. If your first choice is full when your name is called you go to second, third…sixth…ninth choice. If I hadn’t been willing to hunt in 9 I wouldn’t have put it on my list.

Determination. Make it work. Do our best. We got this. Or did we? Could we? This is our hunt, not mine alone. Steve put in a lot of work. He lost a lot of sleep. He chased moose and drove backwoods roads in his dreams when he did sleep.

Sights in the North Maine Woods

dead moose, yearling moose, north Maine woods
We. came upon a long-dead yearling moose
cow moose, lobster lake camps, scouting moose, maine moose hunt
This young cow moose watched me as I took pictures at Lobster Lake Camps.
moose signs, moose hunting, scouting for moose, saplings
Moose eat the leaves from saplings. It’s usually done earlier in the year while the leaves are still fairly tender. These stems have been dry for a long time.
partridge, ruffed grouse, grouse, fall colors, North Maine Woods
A partridge on the side of a road in the North Maine Woods
tailgating, tailgate, breakfast, scouting moose, maine moose hunt
Steve cooks on the tailgate when we’re out riding.
black bear cub, north maine woods, black bear
Black bear cub in the North Maine Woods
bull moose, Chesuncook Lake, North Maine Woods
Bull moose beside Chesuncook Lake. He wasn’t in 9 but close enough to know he’s there more often than not.

We made four trips to Zone 9 to scout (look for moose and moose signs). We saw a few moose, tailgated our meals, saw a lot of beautiful scenery, and learned our way around the Chesuncook Lake area of Zone 9. Chesuncook and 9 are on opposite sides of The Golden Road.

The last of the scouting done on Saturday, October 6, two days before the season opened. I went three for three in partridge hunting at the end of the day. The second bird was a long shot, not a quick death. I bushwhacked and shot through brush to make the kill. A wing shot, not enough to kill it instantly but give it a prolonged death because it could no longer fly. I don’t shoot through brush. Remember that. I don’t make a shot unless it’s 100% clear. I lack the confidence to do so. This time I had to because letting the bird suffer was never an option, and I was within ten feet.

partridge hunting, grouse hunting, ruffed grouse
Three for three in partridge hunting.

We didn’t see a moose until a few minutes before the end of legal hunting time. It was overcast and getting dark quickly. I spotted a cow on the high side of the mountain. Peter called her and she paid him little attention, but the bull to her left, 50 feet away, must have thought he better claim her before this new “bull” moved in. We didn’t know he was there until he started crashing through the trees to get to her. We let them be and moved on, and we were fortunate to see three more moose in the next half-mile. Were they responding to Peter’s call? Maybe.

We had one more day left to scout and I was concerned. I’d hoped to see several bulls. The bull with the cow was so far in we could see antlers but no idea of how big his body is, and the second bull was a young spike horn only a year old. Even one more bull would have made me feel better about my chances.

7 thoughts on “Our Maine Moose Hunt – Scouting in the North Maine Woods

  1. Enjoyed this post, its always a challenge and a change each time we go out hunting, sometimes its fast, sometimes its a miss.. sometimes its a meet in the middle but its always out in the bush and that is a grand thing 🙂

  2. Great Read! Not meant to be negative but rather reasoning, why would you be shooting partridge and discharging a gun when you are trying to scout for moose and get an upper hand on them during season? Would you not scare them away from gun shots?

    1. Not negative at all. It’s a great question and I’m sure others wonder as well. Traffic was heavy with bird and moose hunters by 2 pm. There are a lot of partridge and a lot of hunters. I shot my three in about 20 minutes.

      1. It has been my experience that gun fire does not scare the wild life away. Remember you are in there living room/kitchen and they are not about to leave.

  3. This gave me chills, man.

    A lot smaller game, but the rifle hunt for deer opens up this weekend. I’ve been using new scouting methods and I can’t wait to go out and try to make them pay off.
    I’m pulling for you – can’t wait to see the results of what you came out with in zone 9.
    Best of luck.

  4. I had a question for you about the moose lottery(which I think you referenced in a post last year or years back) and then I read up on how the lottery works – you say that this will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime hunt for you – do you plan to enter the lottery again in the coming years with the expectation that you won’t be pulled or do you plan not to enter the lottery again?
    Also, why did you previously enter for cow or bull, but this year only bull? Did you know there would be more bulls?
    Sorry for so many questions but I think this is so interesting!! I grew up in Southern California and moved to Kansas as an adult and learned about hunting for population control(most of what I have learned is centered around deer) after living here for a couple of years, so reading about Maine through your blog posts has been so interesting!

    1. Hi Mallory,

      I will enter the lottery again as soon as allowed. It was such a great experience that I’m eager to do it again and fill the freezer. It took more than two decades for me to be drawn. I can’t enter for the next three years. After waiting so long I doubt I’ll be drawn again.

      I’ve called for other hunters but hadn’t been able to hunt until this year. I wanted it so much that I was willing to take any permit the state would give me. A terrible accident changed the way I think about hunting. If I was ever going to have the experience of a bull I had to do it sooner than later. I’ve also gotten softer as I age. I certainly could and would shoot a cow but it feels a little sentimental to me now. If I only get to do this once I wanted a bull.
      No need to apologize for questions! I enjoy them a lot. The difference in deer hunting between Kansas and Maine is staggering, isn’t it? I’d love to get out there for that experience once. I hope you’re enjoying life here!

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