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A 5,000-Mile Hunting Odyssey

Hawaii Man Earns Long-Distance Honor in N.H. Moose Lottery

A steady rain fails to deter a bull moose as it feeds  in Anchorage, Alaska. (Anchorage Daily News - Erik Hill)

A steady rain fails to deter a bull moose as it feeds in Anchorage, Alaska. (Anchorage Daily News - Erik Hill)

Dwayne Yasui loves to hunt. He’s been doing it all his life. But he’s never hunted moose before, though he certainly would like to.

You see, moose don’t live on Dwayne’s island. Where Yasui comes from, they hunt deer, goats and hogs. So, for the past six or seven years Yasui and his friends have been participating in the New Hampshire Moose Lottery.

The wildly popular lottery draws some 13,000 applications from hunters across the nation, and — sometimes — across the ocean. That’s where Dwayne comes in. He’s a continent and half an ocean away. This year, he is the farthest away of all those who either were offered a permit or an alternate slot for October’s nine-day hunt.

How far away? Kahului, Hawaii — on the island of Maui, to be exact —where he works for the colony of Molokai. It’s about 5,000 miles from the Granite State.

Yasui and friends have been applying for a moose permit for the past six or seven years without hearing any of their names called.

Not until Monday afternoon, when I reached the 48-year-old Yasui and told him he was an alternate — which means he wasn’t offered a permit, but will be if someone who receives an offer declines.

“We’ve been sending in every year, but never got one. It’s great to hear,” he said. “I didn’t check this year to find out. I’ll wait now for (New Hampshire Fish & Game) to send me a card and inform me.”

This year, hunters from 20 states — including the six New England states — were represented: Hunters from Washington state and California, to Minnesota and Ohio in the Midwest, to Florida and Georgia down south, and Virginia and New York on the east coast.

And then there’s Dwayne Yasui.

“We get people from all over (applying for a permit),” says Linda Verville, wildlife program specialist at Fish & Game. “We’ve had some applications from Europe, from Alaska. ... Hawaii? No. I can’t remember one from Hawaii.”

In all, 275 hunters have been offered a permit following the June drawing. Another 110, 70 resident and 40 nonresident hunters — like Yasui — have made the cut.

“I’ve hunted deer with friends in Ohio, and we’ve hunted elk before, too. But never moose,” said Yasui, who is a bowhunter and will stay with the archery if he gets his moose permit. “If I get called, I’ll contact a guide in the area where I’m drawn,” he added.

“I just put in for the top five areas ... all on the upper north side (of the state).”

Those who have been offered a permit for the Oct. 19-27 hunt have until July 31 to either accept or decline. Depending whether they are a resident or a nonresident, the opening will then go to the next alternate on the list.

In Yasui’s case, he is No. 13 on the list.

“We’ll start updating the list the first week of August and start offering open spots to the alternates,” said Verville. “At 13, I’d say he has a pretty good chance.”

New Hampshire has had an annual moose hunt since 1988. That year, 75 permits were issued for a three-day hunt in the North Country. According to the Fish & Game, the moose population, which was only approximately 50 animals in 1950, had grown to more than 4,000 by 1988. In recent years, the state’s moose population is estimated at 4,500.

In statistics released by Fish & Game, the heaviest moose taken in last year’s hunt was an 810-pound bull shot in Millsfield by Paul Freeman, of Strafford. The average dressed weight of all yearling bulls taken last year was 410 pounds. The average dressed weight of all bulls aged 51/2 years and older was 700 pounds.
At this point, all Yasui can do now is wait to hear from Fish & Game. His fate is in the hands of others some 5,000 miles away. “I’ll just have to hope for the best,” Yasui said.

And if he gets a permit and is fortunate enough to take a moose ...?

“One of my friends from Ohio is a taxidermist,” Yasui said. “I’ll have him take care of it.”

With a large rack to go along with a mammoth head, the trophy could take up quite a lot of space on the plane back to Hawaii. Maybe even need an extra seat.

“I don’t know about that,” Yasui said with a chuckle. “That might cost a little too much.”

Don Mahler can be reached at dmahler@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.