A cow moose stands in a road during the first week of moose hunting season. Unfortunately for hunters Larry and Libby Gardner, their permit only allowed them to shoot bull moose. Credit: Pete Warner

With two sessions of moose hunted completed, hunters have been enjoying above-average success thus far, with 1,508 of 2005 permit holders — 75.4 percent — filling their tags according to preliminary data.

Lee Kantar, moose biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said that during the first six-day session of moose hunting, which stretched from Sept. 24 until Sept. 29, 658 of 835 permit-holders — 79 percent — shot a moose.

The second six-day season, held Oct. 8-13, featured similar success, with 850 of 1,170 hunters (73 percent) filling their tags.

“[It] looks like both seasons there was an increase over last year,” Kantar said in an email.

In 2017, hunters had a 78 percent success rate during September and a 69 percent success rate during the first October week, according to Kantar. But the September totals can’t really be directly correlated, year to year, because moose hunting was added in four Wildlife Management Districts during this year’s September hunt.

“As in the past, hunting success is in large part due to weather and hunter preparation for changing weather patterns,” Kantar said. “Timing of the moose hunt in September corresponds to increased moose activity associated with the rut [or mating season]. The October season corresponds with moose activity associated with the tail end of the rut.”

Kantar said the first two days of the September season were nearly perfect for hunting, with cold, crisp mornings and moose that were very receptive to calling. The opening day of the first October season featured good weather, but temperatures climbed over the next two days before falling again.

Kantar was able to provide real-time data on the moose hunt because of the implementation of an internet-based registration system that the DIF&W is using this year for the first time. Previously, it took biologists months to receive paper registration books from far-flung tagging stations, and data wasn’t released until all of those books were sent to Augusta and logged.

In all, 2,500 moose permits were issued to prospective moose hunters this year.

Two more moose-hunting seasons remain for 2018:
— Oct. 22-27, with 450 cow-only permits issued in six northern Wildlife Management Districts.

— Oct. 29-Nov. 24, with 45 any-moose permits issued in two WMDs farther south.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...