The basic fact remains that it’s harder (or more expensive) to get a moose permit in a northeastern state than it is to get your trophy — though that may be getting more difficult, too, as we’ll see in a moment. The beauty of hunting in New England is that the hunting is easily accessible on vast tracts of public or privately-owned timberlands open to public hunting, there are no borders to cross, and you can do it on your own terms. That means anything from a complete do-it-yourself adventure you can pay for with pocket change to a first-class guided luxury hunt. Or anything in between. A true trophy animal is a real possibility — though of course not guaranteed. The Northeastern US is also the only place you can hunt eastern Canada moose with your choice of rifle, bow or handgun. Handgun hunting is forbidden in Canada.
Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all have moose hunts with permits given out by lottery drawings and auctions. In each state the rules and opportunities are different. Here’s what you need to know:
Maine: Maine’s moose seasons have grown increasingly more complex in recent years with split seasons, resident-only seasons and special hunt seasons, all varying by zone. Then there are bull-only permits, cow-only permits and either-sex permits. The only sure way to know what your options are is to go to their web site at www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/lotteries/moose/index.htm#applicationinformation after the 2010 information is posted in early January. Typically, you have until May 15 to apply for the lottery drawing. As a side note, it’s impossible to calculate odds of winning, since there are bonus points involved and nonresidents can purchase unlimited chances. To apply for the lottery permits, call 207-287-8000 or go to www5.informe.org/online/moose.
Applicants must indicate season and Wildlife Management District preferences in descending order. If you are drawn, you get a permit in the zone that is highest on your list and still has permits available. A table on the application shows you the number of permits issued for each district and the success rate in each. Any of the Districts 1-11 offer outstanding moose hunt opportunities. Generally speaking, success rates decline as you travel south. My advice is to simply play by the numbers, unless you have a specific reason (an outfitter or access to a camp, for example) to place one zone ahead of the others.
Maine also gives out 10 permits a year by sealed auction bid. The deadline is February 15, 2010, which is earlier than in previous years. Information is available at the same address and phone number listed above. In 2009, winning bids ranged from $10,313 to $9,111, which is slightly lower than previous years. The web page www.informe.org/ifw/moosepermit.html should answer most of your questions...