Gil Reed of Strong will finally participate in the annual Maine moose hunt this year after a 42-year wait. He had his permit deferred last year after he suffered a broken ankle and was unable to hunt. Credit: Courtesy of Joan Reed

Gil Reed has applied for a moose permit every year since the inception of the lottery in 1980.

But not this year.

Instead, the 69-year-old retired heavy equipment salesperson from Strong plans to kick back, put his feet up and wait patiently to see whether any of his family members or friends will be among the 4,080 hunters selected Saturday to pursue Maine’s largest game animal in the fall.

There’s no suspense for Reed, who is among a select few Mainers who already know they’ll be participating in the 2022 moose hunt.

How is that possible, you ask, since the lottery hasn’t even been held yet?

After waiting 41 years for the chance, Reed finally was drawn for a permit last year. There was only one problem.

“September 9th, I was in the woods working — I’m retired, but I do a lot of boundary lines and stuff — and I fell down over a bank and broke my ankle,” Reed said.

Obviously, he wasn’t going to be an effective hunter. He couldn’t even bear weight on his right leg for eight weeks.

“That was the toughest eight weeks of my life,” said Reed, who has always been active outdoors and continues to do some part-time work that keeps him outside.

Richard Carrier of Strong, Reed’s son-in-law and his sub-permittee, initially offered to do whatever he could to help him participate in the hunt.

“He said, ‘look, I can get you close and, if I have to, maybe I can drag you in a sled,’” Reed said.

“I said, I can’t stand up to take a leak, how am I going to go?” he joked.

Reed feared he might lose out on the opportunity but learned from a friend who works for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife that it is possible to request deferment on the permit because of circumstances where the permit holder has a significant medical illness.

His request was approved by DIF&W Commissioner Judy Camuso.

“Thank God I got to defer,” Reed said.

DIF&W spokesperson Mark Latti said the commissioner grants dozens of deferrals each year.

“We review each request individually on a case-by-case basis, and nearly all the deferrals are either a medical issue, or a military assignment.  We do ask for supporting documentation to support the request,” Latti said.

Reed will be hunting an antlerless moose in October, in Wildlife Management District 4A, as part of the state’s adaptive unit hunt. It’s an effort to significantly reduce the moose population in a specific area to determine whether that might reduce the mortality of the animals caused by winter ticks.

“It didn’t excite me quite as much, but I thought well, hey, I may never get another chance, so we better just take it,” he said of applying for the special hunt.

With a permit guaranteed, Reed will nonetheless be eager to search for the names of family members on the permit list when it is released.

On Saturday, many of them will gather at Gil and Joan Reed’s house for a barbecue. The group features a handful of other hunters, including four of their 13 grandchildren.

The family had hoped to watch a livestream of the drawing on YouTube, but DIF&W opted to discontinue the practice it had implemented the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I understand. They don’t want to detract from the people going to Jackman,” Reed said.

Rather than tune in for that kind of three-hour session, they’ll have dinner and then do a computer search of the winners’ names once they are available.

Reed figures the best possible outcome will be for one of the grandkids to get a permit, so they’ll have the chance to enjoy the experience together.

“I’m more excited that one of the boys might get one,” he said.

He got a taste of that on Youth Deer Day last October when three of them harvested a deer.

“Everybody goes, so now it’s your turn. No, I’ve got all the fun I need right now. That was a blast,” he said, admitting he has done his fair share of hunting throughout his life.

“I think I was shooting a rifle before I was riding a bicycle,” Reed said.

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Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...