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
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.
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.