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By Misty Edgecomb, Of the NEWS Staff e-mail Misty
Last updated: Saturday, September 25, 2004
Moose hunting season gets under way Monday

Beginning Monday, hundreds of permit holders will take to the woods for the 2004 moose hunting season.The number of eligible hunters is up 310 from last year for a total of 2,895 with permission to stalk one of Maine's estimated 30,000 moose this fall.

While still down from an all-time high of 3,000 hunters, the increase in permit holders this year stemmed from public demand after a number of fatal moose accidents in Aroostook County last year. The increase in permits was targeted at the more populated areas of the county.

Businesses in the heart of moose country, such as Gateway Variety in Ashland - the state's biggest tagging station, are stocking a few extra supplies, taking on seasonal employees and readying for 100-hour workweeks.

"This is my busy season," said Dennis Beaulier, Gateway's owner and a former hunter who hasn't had the time to participate since he bought the business 11 years ago.

In recent years, the station has tagged as many as 370 moose during the season, he said.

During the first week of the hunt, Sept. 27-Oct. 2, 929 hunters have been granted permits to hunt in far northern and eastern Maine, an area that includes most of Aroostook and portions of Penobscot and Washington counties.

The second week, Oct. 11-16, will include another 1,966 hunters, scattered through a larger area, stretching from Greenville to Fort Kent to Eastport, throughout the northern two-thirds of the state.

According to the state's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 73,713 people applied to hunt moose in Maine this season. Of the total, 53,101 applicants were Maine residents and 20,612 were nonresidents.

Last season, moose hunters had an 80 percent success rate. Out of 2,593 permits issued, 2,075 hunters came home with a moose.

This is the fourth year that Maine has split its moose season, in hopes of offering hunters the best of both worlds. Some prefer the early fall, the very beginning of the annual mating period or rut, when moose are larger and more responsive to calling.

Others argue that the early seasons' warmer weather can drive moose far into the deep woods, making them difficult to hunt and harder to haul out when shot. Meat can spoil quickly in warm weather, say fans of a later hunt.

This year, hunters can expect slightly warm, but seasonal temperatures, with nights hitting lows of 45 to 55 and days reaching 60 to 70 degrees, said Dan Cobb, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Caribou.

There is a slight chance that the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne could bring rain to New England later in the week, but most climate models are predicting a clear week, he said.

Maine's moose hunt has a good safety record, but to keep the hunt safe, hunters are required to wear at least one item of fluorescent orange clothing. The state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recommends that hikers and woods workers who venture into the forest during moose season do the same.

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