The waiting is the hardest part.
You definitely don’t need to point out that adage to some longtime — and long-suffering — applicants for Maine’s moose permit lottery.
With the Jackman Region Moose Lottery Festival scheduled for Saturday, including the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s announcement of the 2022 permit winners, I couldn’t help but wonder how long some folks have been applying without getting one.
This is the 42nd edition of Maine’s modern moose hunt, which was established in 1980 and has been held every year since 1982.
During the first 41 years, the state received a whopping 2,807,952 moose permit applications, an average of 68,487 per year.
Out of that vast number of applications, 89,800 permits have been issued to moose hunters.
Saturday’s permit lottery announcements begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Jackman Town Office grounds. If you can’t attend in person, the Bangor Daily News will publish the full results here sometime after 5 p.m.
It can take a long time to get a permit. Some of that has to do with the odds, but often hunters who limit their choice of weeks or Wildlife Management Districts and choose only bulls, rather than either gender, further reduce their chances.
Members of the Maine Moose Hunting (Original) and Maine Moose Hunting Facebook groups were happy to share some of their stories in regard to how long they have waited.
Lance Downs of Brooks said it took 35 years to be drawn. Among the respondents, it wasn’t uncommon for people to wait more than 30 years to get selected.
“Maine Guide living in Maine, 77, never been drawn. The end,” summed up Carlton Deslauriers of Bridgton, who has guided some successful moose hunts.
Holly Hardwick of Eagle Lake said her husband has participated in the lottery for 35 years, to no avail. Dan Daigle of Madawaska said it was a 35-year wait to draw his first permit in 2017.
“Took my father 28 years and myself it’s been 24, still nothing,” said Registered Maine Guide Jonathan Rogers of Casco.
Through it all, hunters try to maintain a sense of humor as they wait to see their name on the list of hunters.
Joe Boyd of Mars Hill is a three-time permit winner. He jokingly said he has figured out the key to being drawn.
“Each time I did get drawn, I had put my name in the last day to sign up,” he said.
For the record, DIF&W will assure you that the timing of your application has nothing to do with potential success.
Angie Lowell is convinced being pregnant must somehow play a role in getting a moose permit.
“The funny part is that each of my permits, I was pregnant,” she said. “When I got pregnant with my last kiddo, everyone joked about how I would get a permit. Sure enough, I did.”
And there are those few people who seem to be just plain lucky. Take Mainer Charlie Oeser, for example.
“I love to share my tale of woe, but unfortunately I’ve been drawn four times,” he said, noting that on three of those hunts he allowed family members, serving as sub-permittees, to shoot the moose.
Persistence and patience, it seems, do eventually pay off, even if only indirectly.
James Briggs of South Portland said he put in for 20 straight years with the maximum number of chances and wasn’t chosen (Maine residents are now limited to one chance per year).
“In 2012 I put my wife in the drawing with once chance only, and she drew a September bull tag in Zone 2,” Briggs said. “She wins everything from lotteries to radio contests and I never win [crap] (except for her).”
Nonresident hunters face much tougher odds and can usually expect a significant wait to hunt moose in Maine. That doesn’t stop many of them from applying every year.
“It took my father 29 years to get picked,” said Mark Parichuk of Belvidere, New Jersey. “I’m at 26 years and waiting. Good luck to everyone!”
Some who finally do get chosen consider it the thrill of a lifetime. Mark Lajoie of Southington, Connecticut, applied for 31 years before his name was pulled.
“Took a cow 11 minutes into opening day,” he said. “Hunt with my dad and oldest son. What an awesome time. It was totally worth the wait!”
Ed O’Sullivan of Jamestown, Tennessee, said he has entered every year as a nonresident and has accumulated the maximum number of bonus points.
“Hoping this will be the year I am drawn,” he said, pointing out that family members have been much more fortunate, claiming four permits since 2004.
Last year O’Sullivan entered his nephew’s son, who received a bull permit.
“Thinking I’ll have to retire and move to Maine to get one of those senior citizen guaranteed tags based on bonus points,” O’Sullivan said.
He was referring to the rule that provides a permit to an eligible Mainer who is 65 years old and has accumulated 30 bonus points.
The waiting and frustration notwithstanding, many prospective moose hunters remain hopeful.
“This is my 30th year applying,” said Chuck Lombaerde. “The way I look at it, you gotta be in it to win it. This will be my year, I hope.”
Kevin Theriault Jr. of Hollis Center has been trying for 10 years and can’t wait for Saturday’s drawing.
“No tag yet. Still get all the jitters of excitement like a kid the week leading up to Christmas,” he said.