Maine Black Bear Hunt Raffle to Help Students

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When bake sales failed to bring enough cake to pay for 200 music students to travel to New York City, Noble High School boosters cooked up Plan B: a raffle for a six-day black bear hunt.

"We tried the cupcake sales," said Rick Varnery, a North Berwick police officer and the Noble school resource officer.

Black bear hunt raffle tickets can be purchased by contacting Rick Varney at noblesro@sad60.k12.me.us.

But the sale of baked goods wasn't enough to pay the $100,000 tab for the school's music students to travel to the Big Apple for a music festival and "cultural enrichment."

Grandfather of a choral student in the school music department and a Master Maine Guide, Varney figured the sale of $10 tickets for a chance to hunt at one of his son's 50 "bear sites" might up the ante.

And so far, so good.

The winner gets lodging and meals for two at one of the family's bear camps in northwestern Maine for the first week of the 2008 bear-hunting season. Hot and cold running water, "a flush toilet," bedding and meals — including a lobster bake and "trash can turkey" dinner — are included. A Ragged Lake Guide Service guide is part of the prize and winners are warned their cell phones won't work at the remote camp.

Winners who don't want to hunt can photograph bears and other wildlife in the remote area between Mt. Katahdin and the Canadian border, said Varney, or take $1,000 cash. Noble choral teacher Erin Lowell and band teacher Mark Mumme volunteered to take the 200 students to the big city and aren't letting money stop them. Costs include the bus trip both ways, lodging and meals.

"It's been a difficult winter up here in Maine with heating costs, and I don't want any kid left home because of money," said Lowell. "Failure is not an option."

To date, $11,000 has been raised, but payment for the trip is due Feb. 15.

"It's going to be tough to meet the deadline," said Lowell.

In spite of that, tickets will be sold until April 30 and the winner drawn May 1. Rod and gun clubs are getting out the word and Noble music boosters will be selling tickets at the Kittery Trading Post on Feb. 2.