The carnival and celebration that is the Maine moose lottery is not something you see every day. It is a special occasion.

I know, having gone to several around the state, from Old Town, Phippsburg and Bucksport to Scarborough and now Freeport.

There is still the whooping when a winner who is present gets called. And now there are booths, events, and some years there are wild game samples, like the buffet spread at the Phippsburg Sportsmen’s Association that made the 2007 lottery my all-time favorite.

That’s right, I’m a meat eater and hunter. The practice done right means something deep, something old and timeless.

So it was that I ran back into my house on the afternoon of June 17 to change from regular field clothes into dress slacks.

This year I got to call the names of some of the 3,140 winners in the Maine moose lottery. And for the first time ever, I felt famous.

Because I do not know how you could feel more famous in Maine.

And I knew chances were good at least one in my group would be in attendance to hear their name.

Believe it or not, there is more community and common good within the moose lottery and among these hunters than you’d think. The entire nature of the hunt is a group effort, often a family outing.

And that evening under a tent at L.L. Bean, several hundred people wanted for themselves, but also for those around them. It was obvious.

Take Barry Hammond of Livermore, who has put in for 30 years and never gotten one. He wished his luck to someone else before the lottery started, a 9-year-old girl from Whiting.

“Her grandmother e-mailed me and asked if I heard anything to call them,” Hammond said.

So yeah, I got dressed up for this.

For those who attended the 30th Maine moose lottery, this was a special day, one some will remember the rest of their lives.

Even for those who won a permit before and won again, it was special. That was the case for my guy, the one hunter I announced who was there.

And as David Pottle from West Gardiner began to hoot at the sound of his name, I saw a flash of green in the audience that was this soft-spoken, T-shirt-clad 64-year-old man.

When I rushed into the audience afterward to find him among the other hunters, they cleared the way for me. One even gave up the seat next to Pottle.

My guy was quiet, even shy, but his eyes were large with excitement, and I was able to share that because I called his name.

He had been on a moose hunt in 2005 but did not go to the lottery that year. At the Freeport lottery he never expected to hear his name called. And I was thrilled for him.

Have I ever hunted a moose, or even put in for a permit to do so? No.

But I’m glad we have the hunt to keep roadways safe.

Moose here have no natural predators outside of hunters other than automobiles. And automobiles that take down moose have people inside.

Since 1991 in Maine there have been on average 600 traffic accidents involving moose annually.

In the past 10 years, there were 22 people who died from automobile collisions with moose here.

There were 121 left with permanent incapacitating injuries, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

The moose population if left unchecked would make roadways deadly. This is why another week was recently added to the hunt in Aroostook County, where moose roam through towns.

I love moose and would love to see more in southern Maine. But I also make note of how those who live in moose country feel about it.

Like former longtime state fisheries biologist Forrest Bonney, who told me when he retired last fall he wouldn’t miss all the “white-knuckle” drives on Route 201 from Jackman.

So I’m happy hunters help to keep moose numbers in check. I delighted in seeing Pottle’s eyes light up after I called his name.

And I’m glad I dressed up for this.

 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]