Morning was as glorious as ever, as yet
again we waited a few kilometers up river on the high bank for first light to appear
before moving high up into the mountain to take advantage of hunting with the
binoculars. Fresh Moose tracks riddled the ground more so than any other day or
anywhere else we had covered.
High on top of the mountain we settled in
with the binoculars and spotting scope, working over every viewable bit of land
in sight. It wasnt long and Byron was glassing the first bull in some heavy
timber that I photographed yesterday up behind a small lake. I then picked up
on two other bulls, one traveling the middle of the river and an impressive
bull at that, the other a young bull trailing some cows.
The light switch was turned on. Elusive as
they are, the rut calls their instinct and here they were out doing their thing
chasing the girls. Then another two bulls appeared chasing the same cows as the
bull Byron was watching, both young bulls satelliting around the action.
Before racing off we kept glassing,
monitoring each bull and what they were doing or heading towards. After much
glassing, the bull above the little lake that Byron was watching looked to be
an absolute cracker. He was definitely the biggest bull we were watching. These
were very exciting times and the days of hiking looking and searching for big Moose
were now paying off.
Descend the mountain onto the mammoth.
This was a great big bull Moose and the
icing for what has already been a remarkable adventure. We needed to hike
back down the mountain and cross a large draw before moving into the thick
forest towards the big bulls last position, which was in a high timbered ridge.
Our best idea was to find the small lake
inside the forest, which would make finding the bulls position easier. The bull
was some two kilometers away and at his level, impossible to see due to the
heavily timbered forest. No doubt in the thick of it all, the land would look
We finished our descent and checked the
wind a number of times by dropping dry moss grinded between our fingertips. It
wasnt the best wind for our approach, but being so close to the draw and the
streams, the wind would be stirring a bit. Wed continually check the wind
while entering the bulls realm.
We crossed the draw looking both ways deep
up into the mountains and wide out down onto the river. I thought this is a
great moment in time, my time. We weaved our way into the thick forest carpeted
with dense moss and checked the wind again, still not great but better than out
on the draw as it cut across the side of our faces.
With the current wind we headed out wide
from where we imagined the bull was positioned, it was around 1pm now. We last
saw the bull over an hour ago from up on the mountain, the bull looked as
though he was all rutted out for the morning at that point, so we hope he was
going to stay put as they can cover a serious amount of ground in little time.
The little lake appeared out in front of us
and we slowed to a sly sneak from there. You could imagine the bull popping out
at any minute, the grounds were just beautiful. We snuck forward step by step,
glassing in all directions and then I froze and motioned behind my back for
Byron to stop still. There through the poplar trees and small pines I could
make out an antler, a Moose antler.
At first I wasnt game enough to lift my
binoculars up to my eye, I could just make out it wasnt alert or looking. I
lift the binoculars up and focused them between the trees on the Moose, it was
one of the satellite bulls laying down that had earlier been chased off by the
big bull when it tried to get near the cows. The satellite bull blocked our
route to where we believed the prize bull was laid up.
Ever so quietly we snuck around out wide
avoiding the satellite bull, which would mean wed have to cross the waters of
the lake. As we got to the lake I glassed back at the satellite bull, which
looked to be fast asleep with one antler jammed into the ground and the other
antler sticking straight up into the air, it looked quite odd.
Our first footsteps into the water, as
quiet as I thought they were, had the Moose sitting up and listening. We were
fearful hed spook back towards the other Moose and spook the big bull. Staring
in our direction, I grabbed the decoy antler from Byrons backpack and slowly
waved it back and forth. The young bull stood up and headed straight for us
around the side of the lake, the bull was happy but coming straight at us
All we could do now was bring him close
enough and spook him back away from the other Moose that were still somewhere
in front of us. It worked brilliantly; the satellite bull came right in and
slowly moved around behind us before getting wind and running off away from the
On the far side of the lake we got into
position and started to call. I was on edge waiting for the big bull to show up
at any second waving its antlers back and forth and grunting, but it never
happened. We moved forward again, stalking along quietly just expecting the
bull to be anywhere here now. We got into position again, positive that the
bull and his cows were within a hundred meters of where we last saw them from
Byron called out but there were no replies.
Its now been two and a half hours since we left the mountain and left the view
of the Moose. We kept covering ground and calling for the big bull, a now
swirling wind gave us some doubt that the harem was now nowhere near our
position at all.
Wed stalked and called a massive area with
no luck and doubt was building, but we kept at it despite a wind turning for
the worse. We sat down and discussed a new game plan and listened for a while.
All we could do was keep a little higher than we were and stalk and call our
way back to the mountain. We would glass back down to where we were and maybe
make another plan for the late afternoon or morning.
But then while sitting quietly, a grunt
sounded out from above us in the thickest of timber, followed by another grunt,
we both looked at each other, "Its him!" we whisper at the same time.
The wind was settled on our face, but it
hadnt been lasting long and fearful of its change, there was no time to waste.
Byron said, "Lets go at him," as he grabbed the scraping paddle and started
trashing a tree with it. I led the way some ten or so meters in front of Byron
as we both walked in a motion of a bull moose on the defense. Byron kept scraping
trees as we moved up on where we had heard the bull grunt.
The bull started up grunting again and it
got more and more aggressive and loud. I moved out to the side a little to
hopefully get the desired broadside shot, that being if this is even the big
bull I was after. Byron stopped moving as you could now hear the bull clearly
and felt its magnificent grunt thump right through you.
I struggled to find a lightly timbered
clear shooting lane past a few meters, but it was too late to move anywhere. The
bull, by the sounds of it, was right on top of me, and within a moment there it
was. The Mammoth, the Elephant with antlers, big mother antlers. I quickly
looked at all possible spots to shoot, just one little shooting lane and just
six meters in length. Beyond that there was no clear spot for a shot.
I held the bow on the spot as the massive
antlers towered over the small trees that otherwise blocked all my view of the
bull. It looked like he was going to trudge over me as the timber got darker
and darker as the bull approached. He turned slightly and was now slightly
front on, but would become broadside in passing my position. I eased back on the
string and held at full draw. The bull was no further than six meters, then
five meters and still coming to Byrons scraping shoulder blade.
The bull stepped into the gap between the
trees at four meters, which made it feel like its left antler was a bone
umbrella over my head. I watched the head move past the gap with antlers moving
side to side, eyes staring and drool hanging from the mouth, much like my own.
The massive neck came into view followed by the front leg as it stepped through
the gap. The front of the shoulder, molded by muscle, moved past and the back
of the shoulder crease could be clearly seen.
Whack! I clipped off the arrow and the
beast exploded as the orange vanes were instantly stuck into the side of the
bull. The bull blurred past me at some ridiculous, exciting and unsafe
distance, something like a meter away. The first thought in my head was that I
had never been so sure of a beautiful shot.
Byron, despite both of us being split in
half by a steaming train said, "What happened?" My reply was, "I just smashed
an Elephant with antlers, thats what happened."
I explained the arrow placement to Byron
and that Ive never been so sure of a sweet shot. We both go ballistic with
joy, a super effort both physically and mentally.
The look on Byrons face said it all, he
had full appreciation for bowhunting at this point.
My hands were shaking, my legs were trembling
and despite my confidence in the shot, we were going to sit down for an hour
before following up the trail. I thought of all the finer details, one of that
to shoot the bull in the lower vitals I had to aim at my head height on the
bull, so at four meters I had to shoot up, which I believe was a great shot on
Just a few meters from the shot was a small
spray of blood and the fletched end of the shaft, we waited for the longest
hour of my life then followed up the trail, which had very little blood due to
the shoulder muscles closing up the wound as the bull ran. But the deep prints
and damaged trees told the story of a Moose in trouble.
Moose dont hit trees on the run only when
wounded. When we did find the blood it was on trees at my head height and at
this point we wondered if I had hit it a little high. With our heads down
following the trail I wondered about my shot and thought back to first
impressions, which were of an arrow placed deadly into the right spot.
I lift my head and there lay my mammoth
Moose, an absolute beast of a beast. I fell flat on my back, flattened at such
a sight, one that this bowhunter has been dreaming of for a long time. I
couldnt get over the size of its body or antlers, a truly remarkable animal
that Ive been thankful and privileged to have taken with the bow and arrow.
The Mammoth Moose had antlers up around
sixty inches wide with big supporting fronts and plenty of length, a real head
turner and trophy. Truly a remarkable animal and one that seems like its from
another time, much the same as the land that the Moose roams.
The real work started as we raced the sun
to recover as much meat as possible before returning in the morning to recover
the remaining. It was good times as I started on the caping and Byron on the
meat recovery. We had run out of food today and while base camp had offered to
do a food drop from the plane, we declined as we now had 800 pounds of hard
earned Moose meat, so we removed the sirloins and fat lining around the stomach
for back at camp.
We found a suitable area for the helicopter
to land and packed a full side of boned out meat before heading back to camp.
It was celebration time in camp, so we had a camp fire and sat around eating Moose
meat and fat on some sticks cooked over the fire and a few cups of hot
chocolate. In the morning wed pack up camp and head back out into the forest
over the draw and finish off the moose before getting a helicopter lift
ourselves to where we might see some more Caribou.