Strolling along on a crisp, clear September afternoon, we paused on a rocky outcrop. I slowly took in the scene while my guide bawled out a nasal moan through a sawed-off traffic cone. I knew where I was and why, but it didn’t really sink in until I heard the first bull grunt. At long last I was actually moose hunting.

I’ve been applying — unsuccessfully — for a Maine moose permit for 22 years. I believed it when they said my odds would increase dramatically with the bonus point system. But I’ve accrued as many bonus points as one possibly can, to no avail. They say the odds will be even better with another new system next year. I decided to take a more pro-active approach and look over the border.

With a few emails, Tourism Quebec connected me with folks from the Outaouais region in southwestern Quebec. They, in turn, put me in touch with Frank Poirier, who operates Poirier Fish and Game Territory. Poirier has exclusive fishing and hunting rights on 124 miles in Provincial Zone 12. Roughly 150 miles north of Ottawa and 200 miles northwest of Montreal, his territory is within a day’s drive of anywhere in New England. It is roughly the same latitude, and therefore has the same climate and habitat, as Aroostook County.

And unlike many other areas of Quebec, most folks in the Outaouais region speak English fluently.

The best part is that moose permits are available over the counter. You want to hunt moose; you go buy a license. They allow one moose per two hunters. However, you need not declare which two hunters until a moose is taken.

Poirier uses a slightly more restrictive system. Each of his hunting parties books an exclusive territory for its five-day hunt. The group may consist of two, three or even four hunters. The rate is the same regardless of the number of hunters. All four may hunt, but only one moose may be killed per territory. “I used to allow each pair to take a moose, two moose per territory,” said Poirier, “but even the hunters felt that was too much. Most groups are happy to go home with just one moose.”

Groups of three or four are advisable for this largely do-it-yourself endeavor. Hunts are unguided, though guides are available on request, and hunters are responsible for their own meals and handling of meat and trophies. You are free to roam, ride, still-hunt and paddle throughout your territory, though most hunters call from stationary locations.

Hunters stay at either the main lodge or an outpost camp, depending on which territory they choose or are given. Most of Poirier’s clients are return customers and get first dibs on their favorite territories. While there I met hunters from several different groups who had been coming for more than two decades.

While most territories are accessible by truck, Poirier suggests using an ATV. That’s another refreshing difference. The land within Poirier’s territory is owned by the province, but hunters, fishermen and recreational riders are permitted to ride just about anywhere as long as they are not abusive, and they are not. This makes getting to and from remote areas — and getting your moose out of the woods — a lot easier. It’s also a huge financial boom to the regional economy.

The season begins around mid-September and runs four weeks. Hunt prices generally range from $1,550 to $1,700 for up to four hunters, except for the first week, which is $2,500. But each group has a larger special territory made up of three or four regular territories spanning 12 to 16 miles.

I wish I could tell you that I slayed the mightiest bull in the forest, but for various reasons it was not meant to be on this trip. Though licenses are there for the asking, moose are not. You have to hunt and hunt hard. It also helps to have good weather and good luck, the latter two I was without. But I was finally able to hunt moose. And could again next year and the year after, if I chose to.

For more information visit Tourism Outaouais, www.tourisme-outaouais.ca, or Poirier Fish and Game Territory, www.pourvoiriepoirier.com/anglais.htm, P.O. Box 294, Maniwaki, Quebec J9E 3C9, telephone (819) 449-3032.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine Guide who lives in Pownal. He can be contacted at: [email protected]