American veterans who served their country richly deserve our appreciation, no matter where, when or how they served. If they wore a U.S. military uniform, they were in the freedom preservation business. Next to those who made the ultimate sacrifice stands another very special American serviceman or woman – the disabled vet.
With all of this in mind, it is notable and praiseworthy that within Maine’s outdoor community there are a large number of patriotic and compassionate hunting and fishing guides, as well as sporting camp operators who are donating their time and energy showing disabled vets a memorable time in the woods and on the waters of Maine.
One such program is the Disabled Veterans Controlled Moose Hunt, held annually on farmland specified by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IF&W). The Maine Bureau of Veterans Services (MBVS) is now accepting applications for the 2019 moose hunt.
Since the program’s inception in 2010, MBVS has partnered with IF&W and Smoldering Lake Outfitters to issue hunting permits and essential equipment to participating veterans. This year, IF&W has allocated moose hunting permits for disabled veterans who are residents of Maine — and a small group of nonresident disabled veterans — to participate in the disabled veterans controlled moose hunt.
This hunt is not the same as the regular IF&W moose lottery, as it requires each hunter to team up with a registered Maine Guide who has specific training for the controlled moose hunt and is open only to veterans with a disability rating of at least 50 percent. If a veteran has ever tagged a moose through the disabled veterans controlled moose hunt, that veteran is ineligible to hunt again. This year, there will be three hunts in August and two in September.
The hunt, which is entirely free for selected veterans, costs $50,000 to administer and is funded entirely through donations and sponsorships from local businesses, organizations and individuals. In order to continue providing this program for veterans at no cost, the public is encouraged to donate or sponsor the program. All funds raised go toward covering costs associated with the hunt, including hunting guide services, essential adaptive equipment, meat processing and travel and lodging for participants. For related questions, contact Sarah Sherman at [email protected] or 430-5816.
“I can’t overstate how valuable this program is to our veterans,” said David Richmond, acting director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services. “Every year, veterans tell us just how much this experience impacts them. It’s more than just a fun memory; for many, it can be rehabilitating, getting to share an experience with other veterans and the fellowship that it brings.”
Roger Line, a Navy and Gulf War veteran, participated in the program in 2017 and shares his experience here:
“Shortly after arriving at Smoldering Lake Outfitters, owner Dave Hentosh told us ‘the moose is the excuse,’ and I was certainly excited to have an opportunity to bring one home. As the sun set on that Sunday, I kept thinking about ‘the excuse.’ We sat that evening in the great room sharing our military experiences and it did not take me long to figure out what exactly Dave meant. Our service spanned Vietnam to the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. We were five brothers-in-arms, brought together through a man’s vision with an excuse to relax and have the hunt of a lifetime.”
Applications must be submitted by mail or email to the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, 117 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 or [email protected] by 4 p.m. on Friday, May 3, 2019. Application forms can be downloaded from the bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/veterans. Results of the lottery will be posted no earlier than Friday, May 24, 2019.
For more information on the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services and the disabled veterans controlled moose hunt, visit http://maine.gov/veterans/ or call 430-6035.