I always have a heavy blanket across my ATV seat and when calling, it is folded and placed on my dry-box located on the back rack. This provides me with a solid rest for my rifle and 360 degree for shooting. This day I had brought my comfortable lawn chair and a copy of the SCI Magazine to read, while awaiting a love-sick bull moose to come to the call. After waiting the 15 – 20 minutes for things to return to normal after the noisy ATV engine shut down, I started calling. After an hour or so, I looked down the pipeline and a large bull was heading my way (wide rack, but was still 500 yards out, so couldn’t get a good read on his points). When he got to about 450 yards, he stopped in his tracks and turned and retraced his steps and went into the bush. At that time I noticed my vision had deteriorated somewhat (dimmed - distance and clarity). Next thing I heard a couple of ATV’s in the distance (this explained why the bull had returned to the bush) and heading my way. It was a couple of my hunting buddies (Jimmy and his son Bruce) and I told them what had happened and also about my vision. I finished hunting, as I felt good and upon returning to Camp decided that I had better get myself checked out. So, the next day I was driven to Fort Nelson (300 kms from Camp) to the ER.
Now, we shall take a break from my mundane medical problems and address the Hunt - Just as we were departing Camp in my truck, the young couple came screaming back into Camp on their STV’s with news they had knocked down a good bull. As we were headed out, all we heard from them as they prepared to go out and recover the bull, was they had gone early that morning to the “Woman’s Lookout” and when they had started calling there had been four, yes four bulls respond!!! The largest was well out of rifle range and both these young Hunters would never try to take it at that distance in case of wounding it and not being able to recover it. They selected the second largest bull and determined he was legal and well within their shooting capabilities. Being the true gentleman, Chance allowed his wife Meg the opportunity to take the shot. Now, this girl is a seasoned hunter with several deer and a Mountain Goat to her credit. She hit the bull in the front shoulder and they watched him go into some cover and lay down. Elated, they returned to Camp for assistance in the recovery. Well, we would have to wait until our return to Camp that evening, that is if I was able to return. We congratulated them on their success and headed out for Fort Nelson. Fortunately, the dirt road out was only covered in a skiff of snow and once we hit the pavement, it was an easy, straight-forward drive.
We reached the ER and I was checked in and led down to the Nurse on duty. I profusely apologized for my unkempt self, as I explained I was hunting in the bush and her answer was, Sir, please do not worry, as I have just come out of the bush from moose hunting for over a week.” Well, this relaxed me and I knew I was in good hands. My blood pressure was 207\109 and they lowered it via medication. Had a shower and then explained to the doctor that when I looked at her left eye, I could not see her right eye?? She had thought my vision problem was a result of my high blood pressure, but now thought it might be brain related? She made arrangements for a cat scan in Fort St John (250 kms south from Camp) the following day. I was driven there and had that procedure done and asked for a copy of the results to be forwarded to my doctor here in Lytton. I phoned his office to give them a “heads-up” and said I would phone the doctor the next morning. Well, he confirmed I had suffered a mild stroke, which had affected my vision. I told him my vision was improving and he said that meant the vessel was healing. It could take up to 9 months for the full vision to return. My main concern was whether it was okay to continue hunting and he said, “Sure.”
So. I headed to the field that afternoon and Bruce accompanied me (safety in numbers). We returned to the exact same location I was calling from when I had my medical issue. I set up the same way, as I had on that day. After the normal wait, I told Bruce to start calling with cow calls. He was very reluctant, as he had never called before. I reassured him and stated that moose were much like humans and all voices were different. After about ten more minutes he started calling and it was very realistic. After about ten minutes I told him to follow with several bull grunts, but he didn’t want to. So, I let about 6 – 8 bull grunts out and immediately he pointed into the bush and said, "There is a bull is grunting back.” Bruce was comfortable cow calling and continued with his enticing calling. After a while I let out some more bull grunts and then all went quiet for about ten minutes. Had my grunts scared him away?? Soon Bruce pointed into the bush and signalled he had started grunting once again. Bruce gave some more cow calls and the bull seemed to be moving our way, albeit slowly. I thought I might be able to hastening him along, so gave some bull grunts and with my call, I raked the brush to imitate another bull getting agitated and wanting to scrap. Now the bull went completely silent and we did not hear anything for nearly one half hour, but once again Bruce signalled he was grunting again. Now, it must be mentioned, I was not hearing any of this action and was solely dependent upon the play-by-play commentary provided by Bruce. This little escapade was going on for over an hour and he just did not seem to be getting any closer to our location.
I leaned over to Bruce’s ear and whispered, “Don’t worry, they will always come out into the open to have a look for the cow.” Bruce did not seem convinced, but in my years of hunting moose, this was always the outcome. So, the game of ‘cat n’ mouse’ continued, until Bruce indicated that he was on his way to us once more. Bruce renewed his alluring cow calling and this finally seemed to place the bull at ease. Bruce pointed toward the bush and placed his binos to his ‘little eagle eyes’. He looked over at me and said, “He’s legal.” All I could see were the tips of his antlers and had no clear shot whatsoever through the tangle of brush. Now, if this had been Africa, I could have possibly threaded a solid through the bush into the animal, but definitely not soft-points. Soon the bull backed off and was moving from our left to right. Bruce moved a slight distance to my left for a better view of the bull. Now this was the first time I heard anything during this whole event. The bull started running from his right to his left and when he turned in the bush, he whacked his antler against a tree and a person who was even ‘stone’ deaf could have heard that resounding crack. Bruce looked at me with a bit of horror in his eyes and said, "He saw me move and I have spooked him.” My reply was, "Cow call him once again, as I have said before he won’t leave until he has come out in the open to see everything that is here.” Although I am somewhat deaf, I have had bulls step out anywhere from ten to fifty yards from my calling position and just stand there and look in my direction and I was sure this bull was not going to be the exception to that rule.
What seemed like another twenty minutes, but in reality was no more than five, Bruce said, “There he is.” and pointed down the pipeline and there stood the bull, broadside and just 'staring holes' in our direction. Previously, I had told Bruce to cover his ears, as I have a muzzle-brake on all of my large caliber rifles. I leaned in behind the Leupold scope, set on 3.5X, on my Browning X-Bolt in 338 Win Mag and as I brought the cross-hairs slowly up his front leg, I had to remind myself that the rifle was sighted in about 6” high at 100 yards and dead-on at 250 yards. I ensured the round would hit him high in the shoulder, as it is my experience that this shot will fold a moose on the spot. Now, I said ‘fold’ - they are still quite alive and require a finishing shot. Well my aim was true and as the Swift A-Frame 275 grain bullet hit him with that resounding whack, he folded in place. Bruce looked at me and said, “Nice shot, guess I didn’t need to back you up?” I hurried the 165 yards from where I had fired the shot, to the downed moose and placed another shot at the base of his skull.
Bruce returned to our ATV’s and headed down the trail to get his Dad, for the chore of breaking down the bull for transport back to Camp. He was only gone for a couple of minutes, as his Dad had heard the shots and was on his way. Jimmy and Bruce worked hard to get the bull quartered and on the three ATV’s for the long drive back to Camp. I was the “go & get” boy, as I cannot do any of the heavy lifting anymore. We finished about one half hour after dark (we usually like to get done in the daylight, as this is “big time” Grizzly Bear country. We had a bit of a problem getting the drive started, as we had a mud-hole and two of the three ATV’s got stuck. Once on solid or what one would call ‘fairly’ solid ground, the drive went without a hitch. We were about one hour into the drive when we saw headlights ahead of us and coming our way. The rest of our Group was coming out to either assist getting us unstuck or quartering a moose. That is what it is all about folks - the comradery of a Hunting Camp.
Three Hapy Hunters