Well, where does the time go??? It was now time to head into northern British Columbia for our annual three week Moose Hunt. It seemed like we just returned a few weeks ago - smile. There would be a total of seven (7) adults and two children for at least one of the weeks. We have all hunted together over the years and all share the same passion for the Great Outdoors. My hunting buddies, Jimmy and his son Bruce would head up on the 26th of September and I would follow close behind on the 27th (due to a Council Meeting, which I couldn’t miss). The others would join us around the 6th of October. This article has a bit of an unnerving twist to it, as one will see as it unravels.
Jimmy and Bruce would set up our Camp Tent and Jimmy had spent a week there in the simmer building a wooden floor for the tent, while Steve built a mini-cabin with shower stall included. This was going to be the best accommodations we had enjoyed in years. I was going to depart home after midnight on the 28th and try to arrive at Camp around suppertime the next day. It is an approximate drive of 15 hours from door to door. For some reason I was restless during the afternoon of the 27th, so hit the highway around 5 pm with the intent of pulling over and cat-napping on the way. For some reason I couldn’t sleep when I pulled over, so continued on my merry way and arrived in Camp at 7 am. Bruce helped me unpack the truck and get my bed set up and organize my gear inside and the gas cans and my ATV outside. Jimmy and Bruce had fallen several dead trees and had bucked them up and split the rounds into sizeable ones for the stove - it is always nice to come back after a long day of hunting to a nice warm tent.
Well, I had arrived in time for the afternoon hunt and once ‘squared’ away in my ‘digs’, I changed clothes and headed out to have a look around. Jimmy and Bruce had been too busy getting Camp set-up and organized to get out for a tour of the hunting area. Jimmy always made sure there was enough wood cut and stacked to last the two to three weeks we would be there. I take enough fuel in 5 gallon cans (plastic jugs) to last 22 days and then limit myself as to how far I will hunt from Camp. It was nice to be back in familiar land and the weather was very nice, as it was above freezing. The only trouble with the weather was it was difficult to tell if the moose were in fact moving as the road surface was hard, hence no tracks could be left by moose using the roads to travel on.
Well, things changed, as we had snow falling within five days of my arrival and the temperature dropped somewhat, but not so as to be uncomfortable, at least during the day-time. Animals seldom move after a fresh snow, as they seem to sense that leaving tracks in the new snow makes them vulnerable to predators. Speaking of predators, with new snow on the ground, it soon became abundantly clear there were a “ton” of wolves working the area and this along with the Grizzly Bear sign, led one to believe we would be hard pressed to find a moose. The area we hunt is called a “Trophy Moose Area” and only bulls with ten points on one side or at least three points on the palm are legal to harvest. Immature bulls are also legal, two points or less on one side. I have been hunting for over 50 years now and have only shot one immature bull and he was the only one I have ever seen during hunting season.
The next day we started seeing moose tracks in the snow and to our surprise there were quite a number of moose inhabiting the area (40 square miles plus). Jimmy had luck right away as he an Bruce called in a five point bull, not legal, but this showed the bulls were positively reacting to the call. Next day they called in a large 9 X 9 who showed the signs of losing a fight with a larger bull. He had a bleeding wound on his rump and when the loser turns tail to run the winner usually will help him on his way with a jab in the backside with his antler. Two days and two bulls coming in, now this was encouraging. The fresh snow was gone in two days and we were back to not really knowing where the moose were moving.
The other members of our Group arrived a day early, so there was work to do helping them settle in and that evening the UFC 229 was on PPV TV and Bruce had been invited down to a friend’s cabin to watch it. I was out in my favourite spot and came back a bit early (you would think I would have learned after all the previous encounters??). Upon arriving back in Camp, I noticed my truck still parked there and Bruce was supposed to use it to get to his friend’s place. Next I saw Bruce had changed into hunting clothes and carrying his rifle and a huge smile on his face. There was a bit of bustle around Camp and that happens for only one reason - moose down!! I asked him and he smiled and told me he had shot a huge bull while on his way down the mountain. He described the location and I headed down ahead of him and the rest of the crew, as I do not drive very fast. My timing was impeccable, as we all arrived at the same time. It seems that when he was driving down the hill he looked down the pipeline and thought he saw a bull in the fog, about 800 – 900 yards away. He continued his drive down the hill (about a mile plus long) and crossed the bridge over a creek and then turned left on to another road leading to a Pumping Station. He knew this area well and drove within 100 yards of where the pipeline crossed the road. He ducked into the bush and made his way to within 40 yards of the creek. At this time he did not see the bull and decided to give some grunts to see if the bull was still around. As soon as he completed a couple of deep throated grunts, he was rewarded by an answer close by and the bull stepped out of the bush and crossed the creek and headed his way. Bruce bided his time and when the bull was about 15 yards out, it turned broad-side and Bruce shot him through the lungs. He racked another round into his Browning A-Bolt 7 mm Rem Mag and sent another 160 grain Barnes bullet into the bull’s boiler room. The bull slowly walked into the bush across the pipeline from where Bruce stood and then crashed to the ground dead. He made his way to where the bull lay and was pleasantly surprised to see there were five points on one brow and three on the other. He departed the area and headed back to Camp for help. Within two hours we had the bull quartered and hanging from the meat pole in Camp. It is always a great feeling to have the first moose on the pole. It seems the pressure is off as there will be some meat in the freezer for the long winter months.
Bruce’s bull where it toppled Bruce’s bull ready to be loaded
We woke up to fresh snow once again and I was up and gone at first light. I drove approximately 35 kms to an area where I liked to hunt and had taken bulls before. It was daylight when I arrived at the hunting place and I waited for 15 minutes for things to settle down before I started calling. I called for about two hours and since I had not seen a track on the long drive out, I decided to abandon my spot and drive until I found fresh sign. I drove approximately 800 yards and turned into a pumping station (natural gas). I had only travelled 200 yards when I came to fresh bull tracks which were heading toward where I had just left. I guess I forgot the old saying, Patience is a Virtue.” I turned the ATV around and headed back to the area I had just left and continued several hundred yards past where I had been previously calling. I waited 20 minutes and began, but never saw that moose.
There is a “standing joke” in Moose Camp about my hearing ability - actually I am almost deaf - smile. I have been on stand with Bruce and calling and Bruce would look at me and say, “Can’t you hear that bull raking the brush?” I couldn’t and it has been a downfall of mine on several occasions. I can remember once calling from what is named the “Woman’s Lookout” because it is about 400 yards above a huge meadow. A couple of years ago I was calling there after another fresh snowfall, but had no action, so decided to go in a bit early to the warm tent. I was up early and back out there at first light. When daylight gained its full power, I looked below me and saw moose tracks in the snow directly below me and I was sure they were not there the day before. I quietly cursed my lack of patience and when I stood up I noticed large bull tracks right beside the bench I was sitting on!!! I was able to call him back in that afternoon, but he would not come in close enough for a shot. In fact to add injury to insult he bedded about 600 yards away and no amount of calling would get him to his feet. On another occasion I was calling in my favourite area, again after a fresh snow and it was slow, so I decided to move to a different location. I retraced my trail and to my surprise, a bull had crossed the pipeline no more than 150 yards from where I had been calling!! I quickly turned the ATV around and drove about 1000 yards further down the pipeline, waited for a sufficient amount of time and started calling again. Within 10 minutes this bull steps out of the bush about 35 yards in front of me and I had not heard a thing?? He was a nice 8 X 6, so not legal and lived to breed another day.
Getting back to the present - I met the young hunters from our Camp and told them about the bull which seemed to have been coming into my call. They went out to that area and spent the afternoon calling, but to no avail. I decided to return to that area the next morning early, so was up and on my way just as dawn was breaking. There was no fresh sign in the snow on the long drive out, but when I crossed the main creek in the area and gained some elevation on the road, I saw where a cow had walked since I had been here the day before and her tracks were also in the tire imprints of the couple who were here after I was. I drove another mile or so and when I came to the place from where I had been calling the day before, to my surprise there was two large sets of bull tracks around the area. These were much larger than the ones, which I had seen the previous day. Things were looking up?? I continued to the junction of two pipelines and saw where the couple, from the preceding day, had been calling and there were a different set of tracks leading to that place. This was always a known place for bulls to congregate and it seemed they had finally showed up. Now all that was in order was to call one into shooting range with the legal amount of head gear.