March 9, 2013

Deirdre Fleming: Sometimes even moose will answer the call of a champion caller

Each year the Alaska State Fair holds a moose calling contest, dubbed the "Moose Calling & Tall Tail Contest." But across the Lower 48 states, nowhere but Maine appears to hold an annual moose calling contest.


Regional qualifying will be held at the following locations:

Eastern Maine Sportsman's Show, noon on March 10 in Orono

Augusta Sportsman's Show, 2 p.m. on March 30 in Augusta

Presque Isle Sportsman's Show, 1 p.m. on April 6, Presque Isle

Cabela's, 10 a.m. on April 20 in Scarborough

Bald Mountain Camps, on May 25 in Oquossoc

To learn more, go to


The Registered Maine Guides who run the calling contest here call it the "World Championship Invitational," but then, there is a lot of moose love here in Vacationland, home to more than 70,000 moose.

"We have more moose than anyone in the Lower 48, and Maine guides carry that recognition nationally. And the fact is, it really does work. It's amazing how well (our calling techniques) works," said Don Kleiner, the executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association.

The 2013 calling championship will be held in conjunction with the moose permit lottery on June 14 in Greenville. Five regional qualifying events will be held the months before, starting at the Eastern Maine Sportsman's Show today.

At the championship in June, first place is worth $500, second place is $300 and third place is $200.

These kinds of moose calling events are geared toward spectators, Maine's moose fans, and most especially the new students to moose mania.

"Showmanship is huge. The best caller doesn't necessarily win. We all talked amongst ourselves last year and agreed, the best sounding caller did not win," Kleiner said.

The Alaskan Office of Tourism bills their state calling championship as a spectacle unparalleled in outdoor circles.

"To the untrained ear, the grunts and rhythmic humming could be dismissed as an a capella singing competition gone terribly wrong," the tourism board boasts.

In Maine, the second-annual statewide moose calling championship is just as quirky.

More than 700 packed into an Oquossoc Marine hanger last spring to see the calling championship. And six contestants quieted the large crowd with their stories of moose hunts and varied techniques for drawing in a moose.

In the end, it was Kevin Deschaine of Madawaska who told no stories at all. He mimicked what he does in the wild to lure in a moose and, in a surprise ending, had his 5-year-old, camo-dressed daughter step on stage and shoot the moose her father pretended to be, bringing down the house in raucous applause.

But Kleiner assured, all the performances that make the final are ones that work in the wild.

A fishing guide, Kleiner tells the story of how he had two customers out in September on a pond up north when the brush rustled. Sensing a big bull, he showed his guests how to talk moose, and to his surprise drew a swimming bull toward the boat.

"I called once. I don't know what I said. But he came right into the pond and swam at us for all he was worth. And I said, 'Oh, this is not good,' " Kleiner said.

Raising a paddle and shouting, Kleiner showed the moose it was off course, and not heading toward a cow.

"But for 25 seconds I was scared to death," he said.

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

Twitter: Flemingpph


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