Once in a lifetime
Earlier this year I was on my way home from work when I received a phone call from my wife. She had just finished looking at our credit card statement and was not very happy. You see, months before, after my Dutton Archery Elk tag came to a very unsuccessful end, I had told my wife that next year I would only put in for bonus points and hunt the general season deer hunt. This was all due to her frustration of me being gone so much during that Elk hunt. She was left to take care of the home front, all six of our kids, and everything that goes along with it. The worst part was that I was only able to take a couple of my kids for only a day or so up with me during that hunt.
While finding out why my wife was a little irritated on the phone, I soon realized I had drawn a Bull Moose tag that I thought I would never draw. After convincing my wife that I truly did not think I would draw this tag, I began to plan my hunt. The goal at the top of my list was to involve my family more than I was able to on the elk hunt last year.
My first scouting trip was in July. I took my 14 year old daughter, 13 year old son and picked up my 16 year old nephew on the way up. We met my buddy Bruce, who had encouraged me to put in for the unit because he was very familiar with the area. Bruce told me that he had seen some bulls while he had been up there working this summer. He told me of two bulls that he had seen that were running together and one sounded like a good bull. We spent a day and a half trying to get familiarized with the land and find a moose for my two kids who had never seen one before.
Over the next couple of days we saw cows, cows with their calves, and a small bull. My kids and nephew were so excited to be able to see moose and especially the cute calves. We never found the big bull Bruce had told us about, but I left there with great excitement knowing that as long as there were cows, the bulls would show up. Due to a busy schedule and having surgery on my knee, that was the last scouting trip we were able to take. Fortunately, we still had Bruce and his family keeping an eye on the moose for us.
Finally, the day came and we were headed up north. I could only take my oldest daughter because all the other kids had sports and dance obligations. Needless to say, there was some very disappointed kids. My daughter and I arrived at our location and were greeted by a very early winter storm and a thin layer of snow. Because of the bad weather we did not see much that first night.
The morning of the second day started off great and was the most exciting day for my daughter. While I had slowly walked through a hillside of thick trees, following some fresh moose tracks, I came across a cow moose that was feeding. I moved within 20 yards of her, took a picture and quickly noticed her calf stand up. I got nervous being so close to a mother moose with her baby, so I headed back down the hill to where Bruce and my daughter were waiting in my Yamaha Rhino. The moose seemed really curious and proceeded to follow me out of the trees and right up the road, passing within ten yards of us. She then stopped, turned and took a couple of steps closer towards us, as if her curiosity was killing her, to see exactly what we were. I quickly started my Rhino up in case we needed a quick getaway. This noise startled her, as if it woke her out of her trance and she ambled back off into the trees, taking her little baby with her. My daughter was using her phone to record the entire encounter. She turned to me after all was gone, with the biggest smile ever and said, "Dad that was awesome! I never thought I would be so close to a baby moose!" That morning made her whole hunt.
That evening we had glassed up a bull moose that was hanging out with a cow. They were feeding in a very thick batch of trees. Bruce and I had made a plan to try and have me sneak within shooting range and see if we could harvest the bull. To my dismay, when I reached my hill top that looked down within 100 yards of the bull, I quickly realized that the trees and foliage were too dense to see where they were. I proceeded to sneak into the trees to try and catch a glimpse of them, thinking maybe I would be able to pop a shot off at the bull. I must have made too much noise trying to get through the thick vegetation because I soon heard them bounding off through the trees.
The next morning, while feeling very optimistic, Bruce and I started out on a ridge that overlooked the same bowl of trees that we had seen the moose earlier. It was a chilly 30 degrees. We sat there for a while glassing and talking. It wasn't until about 9 am when all the critters started to move and make noise. We were hearing a bull elk bugle off to our left, about a half mile away. Bruce was glassing in that direction when he saw the rear end of a moose go into a group of trees. He pointed out that since he only saw the rear end of it, he wasn’t 100% sure that it was a bull. We decided to hurry over to the little hill where the moose was last seen. Fortunately there was a road that we could use to get really close on the backside of the hill without spooking the moose away. We would atleast be able to see if it was a bull or a cow.
As we approached the target area we parked the Rhino and proceeded to close the distance on foot. Bruce and I had only been walking maybe two or three minutes up the little hill when, as we rounded a little outcropping, we came upon a big, dark shadow that was standing in our way. It was a big bull. Bruce whispered to me as we stood 40 yards away, "He is the big one that I have been seeing." I quickly shouldered my rifle and placed the crosshairs on the bull's chest as he stood square to Bruce and me. My bullet stuck him right where I had hoped and that big animal jumped and ran off with wobbly legs, falling to the ground, only 50 yards from where he stood previously.
It was over. The giant beast had fallen and all my excitement was boiling over. The only thing hurting this moment was that my daughter was not here. That morning she had came down with the flu and was resting back at camp. I couldn’t wait to get back to tell her about it.
After taking an hour to clean out the moose, we hurried back and excitedly told Makenzie. We high fived and were off again to take pictures and load up the moose. Finally, after getting it on our trailer we headed off the mountain. We took it back to Bruce's house and quartered it up. Five hours later I had finished and had all the meat taken care of so we could transport it home easier.
One of the best parts of the whole hunt was when my daughter and I were traveling home and getting all the crazy looks and laughs from people passing by, due to our moose head tied down on the roof of our Rhino. It was the only place we had room to put it since the meat took up all the space in our trailer. Also, putting the head in our Ford Excursion was out of the question since my wife made me promise that I would not put any dead animal heads in the back of it.
We got back home late that night and early the next day the rest of my family were able to see the moose. My younger kids were all interested in touching the nose, horns, tongue and heart (we saved the heart for my daughters biology class to dissect). They were also very interested in the butchering process. I was able to show my oldest son how to carve all the meat. My wife jumped in and helped package and clean the meat, along with my two youngest daughters. It was awesome to see my whole family so interested in this hunt from start to finish.
I soon realized that there was a great difference from this hunt and the last years elk hunt. Yes, I was successful in harvesting a moose, but having my family involved made it that much better. I think that is the true trophy. I would like to tell them all thanks so much for making it a very memorable hunt and can't wait to share more of these kinds of experiences with them. by: Brandon White