Warden Service works with landowners to give veterans early moose hunt

Only a select group of people were fortunate enough to take part in the first moose hunt of the year. How do farmers protect their crops from hungry wildlife? In Aroostook County, they work with the Maine Warden Service to create a special hunting event for veterans. Warden Megan Orchard says the hunt helps reduce the number of moose dining on produce raised for market.

When it was first conceived, the early moose hunt was restricted to farmers whose land was affected by wildlife. Five years ago a change went into effect, allowing only combat and wounded veterans to hunt. Orchard says this was done as a way to give back for all they've done for their country. Twenty of the 22 hunters - from Maine and elsewhere - got moose this year. 11 got bulls and nine got cows.

The Warden Service teamed up with area growers, as well as Smoldering Lake Outfitters of Bridgewater who guided the hunters. They also worked with Veteran Affairs to make the hunt possible for veterans who might otherwise not be able to experience such an event.

The veterans' hunt is held in about 10 communities in Aroostook. Orchard says it's a very specific and well-maintained hunt. Guides are required at all times, and hunting isn't allowed where fields have been harvested.

Orchard says it's the camaraderie she'll remember most from this year's hunt.