Explaining Maine’s Moose Lottery – Or Not
According to Maine state government’s moose-hunting website, one of the things you have to know before you can get a permit to shoot a moose is this:
“What is a WMD?”
I admit I had no idea you could kill moose using weapons of mass destruction. Hardly seems sporting to go after Maine’s official state animal with militarized anthrax or a dirty bomb. Sure, such armaments would probably do the trick in short order, but think about the after effects. Who’s going to butcher an animal that contains bodily parts infected with a fatal illness or glowing with odd bits of plutonium? Who’s going to eat it? Are there even any recipes for moose in a reduced antibiotic sauce? Where can you buy lead plates? And disposing of the bones isn’t going to be cheap, involving as it does shipping them to sites licensed for bio-hazards or low-level radioactive waste.
On the positive side, the moose head mounted over the fireplace will glow in the dark, saving the need for a night light, and can be rigged to cough on people you don’t like, transmitting genetically modified germs for which there is no cure.
I should add here that after writing all that, I’ve discovered that when discussing moose hunting, WMD doesn’t actually stand for weapons of mass destruction. It’s short for “wildlife management district,” which is the area you’re allowed to hunt in. You’d think they could have come up with a name with initials that would be less likely to get confused with something else, such as Moose Eradication and Reduction District Establishment or Moose Permit Backcountry Nodule.
Those would be distinctive acronyms.
Still, I’ve got to admit, moose hunting is a lot more complicated than I thought. Just getting a permit requires an advanced degree in statistical analysis. And the recent revision in the rules to give people who’ve never won a better chance makes things even more confusing.
According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (motto: Please Don’t Point Your Rocket-Propelled Grenades At Us), here’s how you win a moose permit if you’ve never had one before.
Fill out an application. Write a check for the required fee. Insert both in the department’s computer. Wait while it assigns you a random number. Wait some more while it decides if you’re eligible for bonus points. Wait a little longer until it assigns random numbers to your bonus points. Now, you’re ready. Except the computer still has to decide whether you get to hunt a cow or bull moose. And it has to pick a WMD for you, almost certainly nowhere near where you live and quite possibly in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Uh oh, the computer just noticed that your application doesn’t match up with what it wants you to do, so better luck next year. Or you could opt for a squirrel hunting permit, instead. Fortunately, for every year you don’t get picked to hunt moose, you earn additional bonus points, which are delicious when sautéed with a little white wine, some garlic and a clove. Or you could apply them to future drawings to improve your odds. If you do, be sure to declare these points on form 193LF(a), page six, line eleven, seat four. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties administered by game wardens equipped with WMDs. The bad kind.
Anyway, good luck with your hunt if you’re not too old to pick up a gun by the time you get a permit.
Speaking of old, in 1866, Canal Bank commissioned an elaborate wooden carving of a phoenix to display outside its Portland headquarters. The sculpture was symbolic of Portland’s rise from the ashes of one of the fires that periodically destroyed it until somebody had the good sense to clean the chimney and upgrade the wiring. The mythical phoenix, which is reborn from flame, was meant to evoke the city’s resilience in the face of massive fire-safety violations. Also, the tendency of its criminals to engage in arson at rates greater than the national average.
Anyway, some time between 1930 and 2004, the phoenix disappeared. I don’t supposed you can account for your time during that period. Very suspicious. It would be best if you didn’t leave town.
The bird wasn’t the only thing to vanish. So did Canal Bank, swallowed up in a series of mergers that at one point made it a wholly owned subsidiary of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (motto: Open An Account, Get A Moose Permit). Eventually, Canal was absorbed by Key Bank, which moved the phoenix to its branch in Monument Square.
Except that some time after that happened, somebody noticed that the sculpture looked like it had been carved with a chain saw by someone who had gotten drunk to drown his sorrow because he’d again lost the moose lottery. Also, this phoenix was made of fiberglass, which strongly indicated it wasn’t the 1866 original, since fiberglass wasn’t invented until 1938. Also it wasn’t a phoenix, it was a pigeon.
It’s a mystery. The kind in which Sherlock Holmes notices the dog didn’t bark. The kind in which the seemingly helpful stranger rips off the rubber mask he’s been wearing to reveal to Scooby-Doo and his friends that’s he’s really Old Man Tucker, who wanted the sculpture all for himself. The kind in which we can be reasonably sure the butler didn’t do it, because who can afford a butler in this day and age, what with workers’ comp, unemployment tax, immigration checks and the upkeep on the Bat Cave.
If you spot the phoenix, do not approach it, as it could be armed and dangerous. Or just preparing for a moose hunt. Instead, call the police. Somehow, convince them you’re not crazy. You might mention my name. Or perhaps not.
By the way, there’s a reward. Whoever finds the bird gets a bonus point for the next moose lottery.
Al Diamon has never won a moose permit, even though he buys a Megabucks ticket every week. Explain to him why life isn’t fair by emailing email@example.com.