The calendar says fall begins within the early morning hours of Saturday. Moose hunters in Maine hope the change of seasons additionally ushers in additional autumn-like temperatures.
Cooler climate can be most welcome among the many greater than 1,000 hunters and their sub-permittees who will hit the bottom on Monday for the primary week of the 2023 moose season.
Hunters can be focusing on bulls solely Sept. 25-30 and can fan out throughout 12 totally different Wildlife Administration Districts in the hunt for Maine’s largest big-game animal.
The search to place some scrumptious meat on the desk, and perhaps a set of antlers above the mantle, has confirmed tougher lately.
Final yr, in the course of the conventional portion of the moose season — not together with the state’s particular adaptive hunt focusing on antlerless moose — hunters had probably the most tough time within the historical past of the trendy hunt, which started in 1980.
Sixty-two % of hunters (2,199 of three,530) efficiently killed a moose, in accordance with knowledge launched by the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The earlier low of 65.3 % occurred in 2014.
The harvest got here on the heels of a 2021 season when 68 % of hunters have been profitable, which at the moment ranked because the third lowest. It’s a part of an ongoing decline in moose searching success. Fewer than 70 % of hunters killed a moose, which was the third time that occurred within the final 4 years.
DIF&W moose biologist Lee Kantar, the state’s knowledgeable on the animals, stated qualifying harvest numbers has develop into more and more tough.
“We’ve modified so many issues because the starting of the moose hunt that it’s not likely comparable over time,” Kantar stated in evaluating the 2022 season.
There haven’t solely been fewer moose on the panorama, largely because of the mortality attributable to winter tick infestations, however frequent modifications to season dates, quotas, climate and even hunter methods have occurred over time.
Hotter climate, throughout each the September and October bull seasons, is among the many key components suppressing harvest numbers. Warmth in the course of the daytime hours reduces moose motion and causes them to stay in cooler, shadier areas quite than spending day trip within the open below the solar.
Subsequent week’s forecast for Ashland is looking for temperatures starting from 62 levels on Monday to 72 on Thursday and Friday, averaging practically 69 levels. And nighttime temperatures are anticipated to get down solely into the 40s.
Whereas moose can be lively as a result of they’re effectively into their mating season, they could once more be tougher to seek out.
Kantar beforehand stated the unfamiliarity of many hunters with moose habitat and conduct, coupled with a reliance on an outdated perception system from the Nineteen Eighties — when clearcuts have been extra frequent, the animals have been extra seen and success charges larger — can’t be ignored.
“The success half is as much as hunter conduct,” Kantar stated. “There’s a whole lot of homework there. There’s a whole lot of floor to cowl.”
He additionally stated the character of moose searching is such that, even with adequate preparation, generally a hunt merely doesn’t come collectively.
Greater than 64 % of the state’s obtainable moose permits (2,645) are issued for the primary two bull-only weeks, Sept. 25-30 and Oct. 9-14. There are one other 910 antlerless permits on the desk for the week of Oct. 23-28.
As well as, the 550 adaptive hunt permits are unfold out throughout 4 weeks: Oct. 16-21, Oct. 23-28, Oct. 30-Nov. 4 and Nov. 6-11.