For an hour and a half, Tom Cole sat under a tent at L.L. Bean on Thursday, hoping for a reason to celebrate.
Cole wasn’t alone, of course. More than 500 prospective hunters had headed to Freeport hoping for the same thing. Each wanted to hear his or her name called during the annual moose-permit lottery.
When his name was called, Cole let out a loud bellow, as did his buddy, Herb Melanson of Orono. The two high-fived, grinned, and started planning their autumn hunt.
Just a few minutes later, it was Melanson’s turn to celebrate. His name was called, too. And this time, neither could believe their luck.
As it turns out, it took a few minutes for each to find out exactly how lucky they’d been.
“Him and I have been hunting buddies since we were young, and grew up together in the Calais area,” said Cole, who now calls Bangor home. “It was awesome.”
The permit is the second for Cole, who also cashed in at the lottery 10 years ago. It was the first after 20 years of applying for Melanson.
“This is pretty exciting to come down and actually hear your name. That’s good,” Melanson said. “That’s crazy or something.
Want to hear crazy? Try this, for starters: Both men listed each other as the second shooter on their applications, so as soon as one man was drawn, both were going moose hunting.
Melanson was plenty happy just to hear his friend’s name drawn.
“I’m going either way,” Melanson said.
But when both were drawn, Cole was left shaking his head.
“We’re best buds, so it’s awesome. I can’t wait. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Cole said. “I’m pumped. This is unbelievable. I don’t know where I’m at.
There was, however, a potential problem.
Yes, both men had their names drawn in the lottery. But what if each had been drawn for a different season, or worse, for the same season in Wildlife Management Districts that were far from each other?
And if either had earned an October permit, Melanson had some explaining to do: A family vacation in Florida had already been planned.
“My wife’s gonna kill me,” Melanson said after a few minutes of consideration. “If it’s in October, it’s going to be close getting to Florida.”
After a quick consultation with DIF&W officials, however, it became apparent that the duo were not simply lucky. They were very lucky.
Both men had been drawn to receive permits for WMD 19 … for bull moose … in September.
The Florida vacation was safe. The friends were going hunting. Together. For bull moose. In the same zone, where, not coincidentally, Cole has a camp.
“Same week! Same area!” Melanson exclaimed, as the celebration began anew.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Cole replied.
“I’ve got bulls coming into my pond every day,” he said. “OK, I’m kidding. But I see a lot of tracks.”
And come September, the longtime pals will be out there following those tracks, and embarking on what will surely become the hunt of a lifetime.
Salmon still arriving
Oliver Cox, a biologist with the Department of Marine Resources Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries & Habitat has checked in with another Atlantic salmon report, and the news is good for conservationists.
Cox’s bureau (formerly known as the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission) handles the fish that return to the fish trap at the Veazie Dam, and every couple of weeks he checks in via e-mail.
Here’s what he had to say:
“Today we captured our 1,000th salmon of the season for a total of 1,009,” Cox wrote. “You can see from the figures that this year’s run is on pace with 2008 and 2009.”
A year ago, the June 19 total of returning salmon was 978. In 2008, the total on the same date was 1,047. Those three totals are the highest for that date on record at the trap, which has been in operation since 1978.
Cox tempered his report with a cautionary note, however.
“In the last few days we have seen a reduction in the numbers of salmon in the trap,” Cox wrote. “Last week we averaged about 50 new salmon per day. In the last three days that has decreased to 13 per day.”
Cox said the Penobscot River’s water temperature has returned to a normal level for this time of year — about 66 degrees.
Last year a total of 1,858 salmon returned to the Penobscot. The record since record-keeping began in 1978 is the 4,137 that returned in 1986.