AUGUSTA — To many, hunting a moose is called “the hunt of a lifetime.” 

But for those who attended the Moose Permit Lottery in Augusta on Saturday, most have been chosen at least once and have already embarked on the life-changing hunt, while others have waited years to have their name called. 

“A moose hunt is a different experience,” said Roger Lambert, a Master Guide with the Maine Guide Service. “It is phenomenal. Families, and friends, get involved. It’s like a festival atmosphere.”  

Lambert explained that it can take many people to help with the hunt — people need to scope out the spots, butcher the meat and someone has to have a cooler for the nearly 300 lbs. of meat from the moose. 

Lambert still remembers his first moose — almost forty years ago. He isn’t in the lottery anymore but remains hopeful for those that are. The Maine Guide Service can be hired to help the lucky ones who have their name called in the Moose Permit Lottery — only around 5%, or 4,106 yearly, are eligible to get a moose. 

Emily MacCabe, who does communications and digital marketing for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said getting a moose permit is a “big deal.”


Irving McKay, left, of Kenduskeag and others clap for children trying moose calls Saturday during the state’s annual moose permit lottery at Augusta’s Mill Park. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It’s a really big deal to get a moose permit,” she said. “To get a chance to go on the hunt, to a lot of people, it’s a once and a lifetime thing.”

The 4,106 names were called at the Augusta Moose Festival, a yearly event that attracts thousands of people anxiously waiting for their name to be called.  

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said this year had the “highest number” of people enter their name in the lottery since 2003 at nearly 73,000 people from Maine and afar. People from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Nevada and Tennessee won permits.  

The only way to hunt for a moose legally in Maine is to win a moose permit through the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife where they will be assigned to hunt in a “zone” that splits the state up by 29. In order to be eligible, the hunter must at least be 10 years old, have a hunting license and comply with the hunter safety law. If someone wins one year, they cannot enter to win for the next three years.

Troy and Ashlee McCormick traveled from Wilton with their dog, Chaos, to have the opportunity to have their names called. Both are lifelong hunters and Ashlee McCormick had her name called three years ago.  Together, they each have entered their names for around 13 years. 

“It was indescribable,” Ashlee McCormick said of her experience getting a moose and her husband said he “feels lucky” this time around to have his name called.  


Also from Wilton were Kathy and Jerry Woodman, a pair that has been married for 50 years and has hunted their whole lives. Two years ago, Kathy Woodman won a permit in Zone 7, the Straton area, and came out lucky with a 786-pound moose. The couple went together and hired a Maine guide that helped them find their moose by demonstrating a moose call that had the moose “come running.”

Kathy Woodman only hunts moose, but Jerry Woodman hunts everything and calls moose hunting “different” than hunting bears and deer — they both enjoy hunting Moose the best.

Not every person that wins a permit will get a moose, but the moose harvest is a way to control the moose population, especially with winter ticks rampant, said Lee Kantar, a moose biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Around 2,500 moose are harvested each year. 

Janie Barabe, left, Melissa Rivard and Bob Willey sit in chairs Saturday overlooking the Moose Hunting Permit Drawing in Augusta’s Mill Park. The group from Topsham said they set up along Canal Street at 9:30 a.m. for the 2 p.m. draw to see if Rivard and other relatives got a permit this year. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“People think hunting is one thing, but it’s conservative to the species,” Kantar said. 

The Moose Permit Lottery was at Mill Park and hosted around 20 vendors and eight food trucks. Vendors ranged from hunting outfitter Cabela’s, which sold meat grinders, and The Maine Sportsmanship Magazine, to lodges, like the Rustic Retreat owned by Terri and Jason Williams.  

The Williams are both Maine Professional Guides and use their skills to help people that stay at their retreat, in Zones 2, 3, 5 and 6, to catch a moose. They have visitors from Georgia, Pennsylvania, and of course, Maine.  


Terri Williams has been chosen twice and last year, got a bull moose in the last hour of her slotted time. She and her husband have hunted their whole lives and call it second nature and “all they know.” Jason Williams has yet to get a moose but helped Terri on her hunt — having a hunting partner is allowed with the moose permit.

“Hunting is just as much about the experience as it is the education,” Terri Williams said, who mentioned that it’s a way to learn about conservation and the Maine environment. Additionally, Williams said leftover meat can be donated by calling a Maine Warden. 

Event organizers estimated just over 1,000 people attended Augusta’s event on Saturday. 

Earl Kingsbury, community services director for Augusta, said having the lottery drawing in the city is “great for the community.” To prepare for the event, the city created a whole day of activities for families, with 22 vendors, nine food trucks, a corn hole tournament and the Pat Colwell Band. There was also a beer garden. 

“It’s grown into a huge event and people know exactly what weekend it is, every year,” he said. “People plan vacations around it and it will be a full event. The downtown and shops (of Augusta) will get a lot of activity. It’s just great for the community.”

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