mountain man adventuresAlberta
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I am 42 years old and have grown up hunting in the Midwest...although just Whitetail, turkey and waterfowl I would consider myself somewhat experienced. Hunting is in my blood, I love to hunt, as many of you do. I was very careful when choosing a moose outfitter due to the cost - these hunts arent cheap. I wanted to make sure I chose a small outfit that personally cares about your success vs just another guy trying to cash flow a business and cash hunters checks. $9500 is a ton of money for me, so wanted to make sure I chose properly. After several conversations with outfitters, I finally had one with Tom. Best I can explain Tom is - the dudes a killer. He knows the terrain and has hunted it all his life. So...after a ton of research, I pulled the trigger for an Oct rut hunt with Tom in the fall of 2014. I flew out of O'Hare thus had to spend the night at my inlaws in Chi for my super early flight the next day. I remember staying up that night showing them vidoes of Moose hunts Tom filmed, I was super stoked...telling them "this is the place I'm flying to tomorrow morning" - they just looked at me like I was weird but thats a different topic. So off I went. When I arrived in camp there was one other hunter - Richard from California. So then it begins...the hunt I've waited my whole life for. It was myself, Richard (other hunter), Tom, and Guide Randal. Long story short it was incredible...on day #3 Richard tagged a giant 50" bill with huge fronts and awesome paddels. Randal and I helped track it and I remember being in aw when we walked up on it....being from the Midwest I had never seen anything like that before. It was was an awesome experience. So Richard tags a giant and leaves a couple days afterwards. I still had my tag and suspense was running high. I rememember on day #6, on my 35th birthday my luck had changed. After hunting all morning Tom had a hunch to "try" this one spot...we came around the corner and there he was. A fully mature drop tine beauty with awesome paddles....Immediatly Tom and Randal screamed "SHOOTER!!", it all happened so fast. My browning 300 barked 3 times at ~75 yards and the next thing I knew I was standing over my incredible bull - a dream had come true for me. Tom, Randal and I spent the balance of the day packing my bull out of the bush. We enjoyed a fresh dinner of moose liver and onions that evening (at my request) and talked about my bull moose and the Sow and grizz cubs we had seen earlier in the day. It simply was an experience I will never forget. So fastforward a couple of years later and I had saved up enough for my second hunt with Tom, my next hunt was in the fall of 2017. Another rut hunt in awesome country. Again we hunted hard, hiking thru the bush, calling , waiting, calling, waiting....then on day #3...it was about 11 am and we crawled up on this nob overlooking a stream in the middle of nowhere....Tom lets a cow call rip - all of the sudden we hear a grunt, then another, then another....this bull was CLOSE!!! I remember looking at Tom, caught up in the moment..."Tom, should I put a cartridge in the chamber"...he said "yes"...so I quietly pulled the bolt back to put a cartridge in the champer. This bull was close, and he was coming, trees snapping, grunting...it sounded like a bull dozer coming thru the woods. We were above him looking down on the river...We finally see him at 75 yards, coming directly at us, and he's coming fast. He gets to maybe 40 yards, still below us, and he turns breadside. This bull is a freaking giant - much larger than my previous bull from a couple years back. I remember looking thru the scope, the bull standing breadside below me, I remember putting the crosshairs on the heart and saying ok move it 10" above the heart and SQUEEEEEEEEZE...i squeezed the trigger and my trigger wouldnt move. I squeezed again, and nothing...I tried to mess with the safety but that wouldnt budge either. I tried to quietly eject that round and champer another - problem was the bull heard me and took off. It was one of the most dissappointed moments of my life. We had both worked our butts off for a crack at the giant bull and I screwed it up. The only thing I can make sense of, is that when I chambered the first round I tried to be so quiet I failed to close the bolt all the way. I had just screwed up on the largest bull moose I have ever seen. This still haunts me, I think about it most everyday. But, at the end of the day thats why they call it hunting. How many times have you heard someone say "its doesnt matter so much the caliber of what your shooting, but how comfortable u are with it". I found myself as being "that guy". I had purchased the latest and greatest new rifle for this big hunt - and it had cost me the bull of a lifetime. i should have taken my old trusty abolt. Regardless, we finished out the hunt seeing a few smaller bulls but I couldnt pull the trigger after having the encounter with a true B&C bull I had screwed up on early in the hunt. All that said, the hunt was incredible, what we all dream about. I can't wait to get back up there soon, really hoping I can get back up there in the fall of 2020.
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