By V. Paul Reynolds
Of course, each WMA (Wildlife Management Area) has its own unique terrain and habitat, but there are common denominators: bogs and dead waters are always a good bet, as well as small ponds with lily pads and other aquatic vegetation. Time of day is also key when shopping around for a look at Maine’s largest and most majestic wild animal.
Among its other distinctions, the Maine wilderness is home to more moose per square mile than any other state in the lower 48. The state’s moose population is estimated to be between 52,000 and 72,000. Summertime is prime time for tourists and residents alike, who take great delight in watching a cow moose and her calf, or a big bull, chewing on aquatic vegetation in a bog or dead water. Cameras click and binoculars are grabbed out of day packs. Watching a Maine moose closeup or from afar is always a thrill for kids and old folks alike.
Where is the best place to spot a summering moose in Maine?
The Northwoods Sporting Journal put that question to Maine’s state wildlife biologists, who look after critters like moose in their respective Wildlife Management Areas. Below is a summary of the suggestions from these biologists on where to go to increase your odds of spotting a Maine moose. Of course, each WMA has its own unique terrain and habitat, but there are common denominators: bogs and dead waters are always a good bet, as well as small ponds with lily pads and other aquatic vegetation. Time of day is also key when shopping around for a look at Maine’s largest and most majestic wild animal.
According to Paul Strong in his book Wild Moose Country, “Moose have several cycles of activity over the course of the day. Moose are typically inactive during darkness. They become active at first light, then are relatively inactive for several hours before another peak of activity. Most moose are bedded during the hottest part of the afternoon. Moose feed in the late afternoon and may feed again just before dark.”
Most of the moose hot spots listed below can be located using a DeLorme Gazetteer or a topographical map.
The Rockland Bog in Rockland seems to hold a few moose throughout the year. And then I am scratching my head for other good (moose sighting) locations in mid-coast Maine. Send them north.
Keel Kemper, Region B state wildlife biologist
Some good areas are the Third and Fourth Machias Lake areas, Amazon road near Grand Lake Stream through to route 6 in Topsfield, Studmill road from Princeton to the Machias River. The other good area would be Waite, Lambert Lake along the St. Croix River. These are all industrial forests and those looking for moose should look to water as that’s where they’ll be in the summer months.
District Game Warden
Grand Lake Stream
Route 27 from Eustis to Coburn Gore. Route 16 fromEustis to Rangeley. Route 16 from Rangeley to Wilson’s Mills. Better closer to Rangeley.
Charles Hulsey, Region D state wildlife biologist
1.) This time of year moose really hit the wetlands near roads that have collected salt from the winter. Stretches of road that can be good include: Route 15/6 from Greenville to Jackman; Lilly Bay or Greenville Road on the east side of the lake from Lily Bay to Kokadjo..and of course the MDOT maintenance shed in Shirley on the west side of Route 15/6 is a very popular viewing spot.
2.) Some of our ponds that have aquatic plants can be great spots to see moose as well especially in July and August. Some examples would include: Second West Branch Pond (Shawtown Township), Tomhegan Pond (Soldiertown/West Middlesex Canal Grant), Kidney Pond (East Middlesex Canal Grant), Poland Pond (T7R14 WELS)….this is just a handful of many in the Region that could have moose in them in July and August.
Doug Kane, Region E state wildlife biologist
Baxter State Park has several ponds and locations. Francis Dunn Wildlife Management Area (WMA) also known as Sawtelle Deadwater ( T6 R7 WELS). Suggest small boats and canoes. Other good spots include River Pond and Compass Pond on Golden Road (T2 R9 WELS). Also the entire Golden Road and associated road systems, as well as the Greater Katahdin Region and the Debsconneag Lakes have good water access for moose sightings.
Mark Caron, Region F state wildlife biologist
I am not aware of the state developing any road-side moose viewing areas liker Vermont did in their Nulhegan Basin. In fact, we deliberately filled a roadside wallow at Soucy Hill on Route 11, although moose still frequent that area. The moose crossing signs are all placed where they are for a reason like the one on Route 161 by Madawaska Lake. Off the pavement, from there over to Van Buren on Sullivan Road or Beaver Brook Rd from Portage to Perham. There’s a good mix of choppings and wetlands south of Oxbow and east of Grand Lake Seboeis. Best bet is to get into a paddle boat anywhere quiet in the morning or evening and go for a good paddle. Seems like just about every time I get into a kayak or canoe I see a moose.
Shawn Haskell, Region G state wildlife biologist
Moose viewing tips from Lee Kantar, state moose research biologist:
You can’t drive 60 mph down these roads and hope to see one at 1 p.m. on a sunny afternoon. Just around sunrise and before sunset remain the best times. Slow down looking in wet areas along the roads where there is muddy water and salt runoff is a good bet in June. Take any logging road in the area, then take another logging road by foot and look for moose sign (pellet groups/browsing) and bring your binoculars. Moose viewing has to be looked at more like birding. That is slowing down, getting off the beaten track, looking for sign. Moose feed heavily in recent cuts but spend a lot of time bedding down in the shade chewing their cud. Early June tend to see bulls and lone cows in waterways, then as July goes in to August cows with calves at heel work wet areas pretty well as the calves begin the weaning process. As much as moose use watering holes they still spend plenty of time in the woods.
For more outdoor and hunting/fishing articles, be sure to subscribe to our monthly magazine the Northwoods Sporting Journal.
To access past copies of the Northwoods Sporting Journal in digital format at no charge, click here.