June 1, 2013

Moose: Ever a Maine attraction

No time is better for spotting the big beasts than during the birthing season, when yearlings are sent off.

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

GREENVILLE - Call it the Greenville guarantee.

click image to enlarge

Young moose like this one molting at a water hole near Lily Bay Road can be a common sight if you know where to look, and even if you don't you can always seek the expertise of a guide.

Robert Hamer photo

A LOTTERY, A FESTIVAL, AND TONS OF FUN

The Maine Moose Lottery and Moose Festival will be June 14 to 16 in Greenville. The lottery will be held at 8 p.m. June 15, with the World Invitational Moose Calling Championships held immediately beforehand.

The three-day festival will include outdoor events such as a turkey shoot, historic tours of the Katahdin steamboat on Moosehead Lake, a triathlon, and a townwide yard sale. For more information, go to www.mooseheadlake.org

TOP FIVE PLACES

TO SEE A MOOSE

IN THE REGION

1. The Department of Transportation garage on Route 15, just south of Greenville.

2. Lily Bay Road, between Greenville and Kokadjo.

3. Lazy Tom Bog, just past Kokadjo, off the Lily Bay Road, north of Greenville.

4. Katahdin Iron Works Road to Gulf Hagus, east of downtown Greenville, just beyond East Road.

5. Routes 6 and 15, heading north of Greenville toward Jackman, just north of Brassua Lake, around Long Pond Township.

-- Source: Moosehead Lake

Chamber of Commerce

Or maybe the Moosehead Lake money shot.

Four hours was the window of opportunity and Bob Hamer delivered.

The Greenville resident and former Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce director had just four hours to show the most recent moose fan in Greenville a live moose in the wild.

Hamer claims that this time of year, the birthing season for the cow moose, is the best to see moose all around town.

And doesn't that coincide nicely with the state's annual moose lottery, which will be held June 15 in Greenville?

So it made sense to this moose fan to see if visitors to the region -- who could number more than 4,000 in a weekend, as they did for last year's moose permit lottery in Oquossoc -- would be able to go on a short, simple scenic ride ... and see moose.

Well after a six-hour round-trip drive to Greenville to find out: Count on it.

Hamer took this moose fan to five different locations, and in just under four hours I saw four moose. Not to mention one in the first 40 minutes.

Not to mention Thursday, the day of our casual moose safari, was less than ideal.

"Of course, it's one of the hottest days of the year!" Hamer boomed as we drove out of town.

But he wasn't worried.

Hamer then launched into several moose stories, like the moose that often wander across his front lawn off Route 15 in Greenville.

"I have 87 acres, you'd think they'd be out somewhere in the woods. But they prefer to walk across the lawn beside our deck," Hamer said with a shrug.

It's easy to believe, considering how quickly Moose No. 1 came upon us.

In 38 minutes of driving north, between Greenville and Jackman, we saw it along Route 15 on the Brassau Lake Road.

"This time of year when the cows are birthing, the yearlings get kicked out. It's kind of sad. Their world just got turned upside down. That was probably one we saw," Hamer mused.

With a good two hours left and our mission successful, we decided not to stop. The moose tour continued to four more moose haunts on the east side of Moosehead Lake, a wild land and working forest so rich in wildlife that locals are used to moose there.

"The locals are kind of blase about it," Hamer shrugged.

He continued with moose story after big-dumb-mammal story, pointing out every creek, inlet and bog known to draw in moose during the buggie season, which is right about now; or during the heat of the summer, when moose look to cool down.

A photo hobbyist, fisherman and avid outdoorsman, Hamer has tracked moose for visitors and visiting photographers before.

"There was one man who came from Japan -- Japan! All he wanted was to get a photo of a moose. Then he didn't want to pay $150 for a personal guided tour to find one!" Hamer said of some of the half-dozen moose safari guides found on the Chamber of Commerce website.

And then, after two more hours of fruitless searching, just as the moose tour seemed to end, Hamer dropped me at my car in Greenville and said with promise:

"I'll follow you to the DOT."

The DOT would be the transportation garage just south of town ... where salt is kept.

And moose, as any good Mainer knows, love salt.

There just south of Greenville four cars were lined up on the side of the road.

I wondered if someone had hit a moose, and considered what a coincidence that would be,since I had come to this wild land to see moose.

(Continued on page 2)

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