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The sound has been described as a humpback whale on land or a cross between a cow’s moo and a seal’s bark, but no description can quite capture the eerie sound a moose makes during mating season.

The odd call is set to be replicated by humans this Friday, 22 June, as the first World Invitational Moose Calling Championship kicks off in Rangeley, Maine. The northwestern Maine town was chosen to host the state moose lottery, where 50,000 applicants hope to be picked for one of the 3,725 hunting permits to be issued in the state of Maine this year.

Though the annual lottery has traditionally been a one-day event where eager hunters sit around on folding chairs listening for their name to be called from the drawing, Rangeley has turned it into a three-day festival, complete with chocolate mousse specials at local restaurants, a moose stash geocache contest  and of course, the moose calling competition. 

All moose call finalists had to prequalify in smaller events held around the state, and will be judged by an overall score in four categories: bull call (a male moose), cow call (female moose), overall sportsmanship and presentation, and other attraction techniques (such as the classic shoelace through a tight hole in a coffee can, which when pulled slowly sounds surprisingly like a female moose call, or when pulled in short bursts sounds like a moose grunt). The winner receives $1,000, and finalists receive prize packages with hunting and outdoor equipment. Though the winner does not automatically win a hunting permit, the permit lottery is held immediately following for those who want to put their moose-calling skills to work during the hunting season, September through November.  

Champion or not, all are invited at the end of the evening for a baked bean supper, a Maine tradition almost as old as moose calling itself.

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