Commemorative T-shirts hang near a moose head at the Skowhegan Moose Festival on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Credit: John Holyoke

You’ve been waiting anxiously since last June (or, in some cases, much longer than that) to find out if this is, finally, the year you’ll be drawn to go on the hunt of a lifetime. And today, you’ll find out.

The state’s annual moose permit lottery will kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and a total of 3,135 hunters will have their names drawn via computer, then read aloud over a YouTube feed that can be watched around the world.

[Watch the 2020 Maine moose permit lottery live]

That’s a big difference from past years, when the lottery drawing has become a popular event that cities and towns compete to host. Most years, several hundred prospective moose hunters flock to the lottery location to check out the action, visit with other moose hunters, and dream about how their own hunt will go, should they be lucky enough to win a permit.

So, what are your chances of winning a permit this year? It all depends on how picky you were when you filled out your application — hunters can opt to accept only specific zones, seasons, or genders of moose — and how many consecutive years you’ve been entering unsuccessfully.

That’s because entrants receive a “bonus point,” or extra chance in the lottery, for each of their first five unsuccessful years of entering. For years six through 10, they get two extra chances per year. Years 11 through 15 are worth three bonus chances, and those who’ve entered unsuccessfully for 16 years or more get 10 points per year for all those years greater than 15.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the overall odds for a single resident “chance” to be drawn, should they be willing to accept any season and any type of permit, are 1 in 72. The more chances you have in the drawing, the better your odds get. By statute, only 10 percent of the permits each year go to nonresident hunters, so their odds are much worse — 1 in 1,388 for each chance.

Maine’s modern moose hunt began in 1980, when 700 permits were allotted for a one-year experimental hunt. After a one-year hiatus to study the hunt, it returned in 1982 and has been held annually ever since.

This year’s moose seasons:

— Sept. 28-Oct. 3, with 955 bull permits allotted in 12 Wildlife Management Districts.

— Oct. 12-17, with 1,395 bull permits allotted in 19 WMDs.

— Oct. 26-31, with 745 cow permits allotted in 6 WMDs.

— Nov. 2-28 (including Oct. 31 for residents), with 40 any-moose permits allotted in 2 WMDs.

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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...