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Old 10-16-2021, 06:30 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Default Moose Hunt

After talking for a couple of years about a moose hunt with Bob, in 2021 I decided to cash in 18 years of priority and drew a license for bull moose. A horse-assisted hunt was the only practical way to access the deep and remote basins of the mountains, where Bob’s experience with the area and his horses really shone. Mark was recruited and eagerly joined us as a friend, hunting partner and moose caller. Our plan was for a 7 day hunt.

What follows is a brief story of this fantastic trip.

—-
Dave



“The trails of the world be countless,
And most of the trails be tried;

You tread on the heels of many,
Till you come where the ways divide;

And one lies safe in the sunlight,
And the other is dreary and wan;

But you look aslant and the Lone Trail,
And the Lone Trail lures you on.”

-Robert W. Service


The Crew:

Bob – horseman and chef
Mark – rock collector and moose talker
Dave – greenhorn and itchy trigger



Day 1:

We meet at Bob’s acreage to load cart, horses and gear into two trucks with horse trailers. After a quick tutorial by Bob on how to saddle and load horses, I am forced to put my fear of large animals aside and trust Strawberry, my transportation for the week. Leaving the trailhead at around 2pm, we make good time and meet the staggering views of a high mountain pass by 6pm, our spirits lifted by the sight of 5 snowy-white mountain goats at the pass. Darkness envelops us for the last hour of our 35km ride and we reach camp in the snowy blackness of night.













To be continued…
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2021, 06:41 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Day 2:

Sore butts, but eager to put on some miles to stretch the legs. Mark and I hike the slope behind camp in hopes of viewing the valley between the parallel mountain ranges from an elevated position.





Snow flies and visibility falters so we make a fire to warm up, then peel off the mountain to regroup at camp, only to make another push up the hill in the afternoon in better conditions.



Enthusiasm and energy brimming, we take time to drink in the views. No animals seen.

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Old 10-16-2021, 08:11 PM
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Stinky Buffalo Stinky Buffalo is online now
 
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Some terrific pictures, and loving your story style... Looks like a really good adventure!

Looking forward to how it plays out.
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Old 10-16-2021, 10:14 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Day 3:

We wake up to fresh snow. Saddling and packing the horses, we make a morning push toward the Northwest.



Within 10 minutes of leaving camp, we spot an unexpected sight: a forkhorn mule deer running along the creek like the devil is giving chase. His mouth open and panting, he spots us and bounds out of the creek and through the shin tangle willows of the valley bottom. Moments later, a lone wolf materializes -the reason that the deer was running for its life.



Later on, we spot a set of hours-old moose tracks. Our first moose sign has us calling shortly after. Tons of moose country, but no moose willing to show themselves. We stop for lunch at the and enjoy conversation with a father and his three young sons out for a pack trip and hunting for sheep. We meet another sheep hunter, solo and on foot while pushing a fat bike. He tells us of big bull that he saw rutting hard 7 days ago just up the valley. We cover plenty of ground on horseback and are getting pretty good at finding where the moose aren’t.

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Old 10-16-2021, 10:23 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Day 4:

A double-breakfast (oatmeal, then perogies, sausage, eggs and toast) in our bellies, I think that I may gain weight on this trip rather than lose. What a chef Bob is! We saddle horses and a low ceiling of clouds has us riding Southeast along the valley.





We call in a beautiful old burn overlooking a series of sloughs in valley bottom. No moose willing to play ball.



On the ride back, we cut a track: a lone bull. I leave Mark, Bob and the horses, and track it on foot for the better part of 90 minutes.



The bull never stops to feed and never beds. He covers ground at a steady walk, and I lose the tracks as they head up into the alpine basins and hanging valleys. We ride quietly back to camp, each with our own thoughts to digest.



It is beautiful how after a few days in nature the pace of thoughts in your mind slows from a sprint to a run to a walk. I take time to revel in this peace of mind.
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Old 10-16-2021, 11:34 PM
Patrickn Patrickn is offline
 
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Beautiful pictures Dave. I’m enjoying the story so much I kind of wish I didn’t know the ending already.
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Old 10-16-2021, 11:47 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Day 5:

Blue skies greet us in the morning for the first time. Mark and I hatch a plan to hike into the high basins in hopes of intercepting yesterday’s moose in the alpine. We hike, bushwhack, and generally struggle to gain, lose, and gain elevation again.





Our plan to find the bull’s tracks works all too well: we find his day-old sign. Evidence that he has already moved through the high basin. His tracks appear to go further up, so we make the decision that so shall we.



Hiking past moose country, we find ourselves in alpine heaven. Views of the rocky summits in our face, and snow beneath our feet, with bump herds of sheep in the high meadows and scree fields. I (temporarily!) take my mind off moose as I dream of finding a ram in the high country.



Mark changes focus from hunter to rock hound as he spots an elusive natural arch in the cliffs above. He unsuccessfully tries to sway my focus from animal to mineral, although I have to admit that a few of the rocks were pretty cool. On the way back to camp, we find the bull’s tracks again as he heads down toward our camp in the main valley. Could this be a good sign for tomorrow?
As darkness envelops camp that evening, I am out calling in the meadow below. I imagine moose moving like ghosts through the fading light and catch myself dreaming of the thrill of seeing one in the flesh.
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Old 10-16-2021, 11:56 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Day 6:

After a fitful sleep I wake up in the pre-dawn hours and boil water for oatmeal. The plan is for Bob and Mark to saddle horses while I hike up the ridge and take an hour to spot the valley before joining the group for a day’s ride up valley to a high pass. Typically optimistic, my spirit today is neither high nor low, but just is. I leave camp at 7:45am, and within 100 yards, I cut the overnight tracks in the snow of the moose that we now have 3 days of history with. He is headed Northwest and will likely keep walking until he either finds a cow, or else falls off the edge of the Earth.



Climbing higher on the slope behind camp, I turn to give a quick look with my optics to the open basin behind me.



With a fortuitous glance, my binoculars land on the brown-black shape of a cow moose in the meadows far below. Scrambling for my spotter, the tripod is quickly set up to scan the forest behind the cow. My heart leaps in my throat as I swallow hard at the massive sight of a bull moose just inside the forest edge. And just like that, the hunt is on!



To be continued.
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Old 10-17-2021, 01:06 AM
fishnguy fishnguy is offline
 
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I wasn’t going to post before the end, but can’t myself, lol. What a hunt, man! And 18 years of priority!

I will wait for the rest of the story.
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  #10  
Old 10-17-2021, 02:59 AM
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Go get’em....
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  #11  
Old 10-17-2021, 09:31 AM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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I take the time to range (1560 yards) the moose, and triangulate its position in my mind. Gear is packed back into my bag, and I positively run down the mountain to tell Mark and Bob. It appeared to me that the bull was ready to bed for the day, so we plan to close the distance between us and him. Gearing up with only the necessities (rifle, binoculars, ski poles and hope), we work the wind and within an hour are positioned at 650 yards from where I last saw the bull. Mark and I take the time to discuss the pros and cons of calling and getting him to stand up versus waiting in position to ambush him when he gets up from his daytime bed, likely late in the afternoon. It is 9:30am and neither of us likes the idea of waiting all day for a bull that may never materialize to come into the meadow on his own accord.
We decide to play the heavy hand – we will first stalk within the closest practical shooting distance and then call to the bull in hopes of getting him to show himself or (unlikely) leave his cow to come after us. By 10:15am we have cut the distance to about 450 yards from where we expect him to be. We are now in the middle of the willow basin, and set up in the only open position where the views of the bull’s side of the basin are fully unobstructed.
I jam my ski pole tips into the soft ground, make a A-frame with the grips and set my rifle upon it. I remove my elevation turret cover, dial my turret to 425 yards and set my binoculars and rangefinder next to me. Unless the moose comes to us, this will be as close as we get. On my signal, “Moosetalker” Mark rakes the willows with a stick, and purposely cracks branches.



Thirty seconds pass until I see the unmistakable shape of moose antlers moving through the forest, a little to the left of where I’d expected them. “I see him” I half whisper – half hiss to Mark who is hidden behind me. The bull stops at the threshold of meadow and forest, facing us. My heart races.
Ranging the bull, he is now 410 yards and seems in no mood to leave his bedded lady friend to come closer to what he believes is another bull. For the better part of 10? 5? who knows? minutes he stands facing us. I’m ready to shoot but need to wait for him to step broadside. Behind me, Mark breaks another couple sticks. The bull takes a step forward which opens his right flank to a 45 degree quartering position. I steady myself, gauge the wind and hold 12” right and set a copper bullet to flight. The report signals a hit, but it takes me a moment to cycle the bolt and find the bull again in the reticle. The bull is down but his head is still up, so a second shot lays him down for good.



Having been composed and meticulous for so long, emotion and disbelief get the better of me. Mark makes a valiant attempt at self-control, but his eyes seem pretty glassy to me!

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Old 10-17-2021, 09:51 AM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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We make our way to the bull, give Thanks and take pictures. We breathe in the enormity of the experience.







Having heard the loud voice of my 30.06 from camp, Bob rides out to meet us and we share the story with him over the sight of a fallen giant. It is now 11:30am. It takes us 3 trips over the next 7 hours to get the animal processed and back to camp with much help from the restless horses.







Over a meal of marinated moose heart and mamma McDonald’s beef stew, we slowly let our minds drift down from the high clouds of exhilaration. That night, like a true man of the mountains, I drink my Coke straight. Bob and Mark choose to water it down with a hefty dose of whiskey. Stories are told, laughs are shared. Moonless night envelops the mountains.

More to come…
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Old 10-17-2021, 10:00 AM
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Stinky Buffalo Stinky Buffalo is online now
 
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What an experience. Congratulations on a fantastic bull!

Thank you for sharing your eloquent story and photos. Being trapped behind a desk for the weekend, I can at least have a virtual look over your shoulder on this hunt. Thank you!
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Old 10-17-2021, 10:09 AM
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pheww if you missed I had him.....awesome hunt!
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  #15  
Old 10-17-2021, 10:19 AM
325home 325home is offline
 
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What a great write-up of an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing and above all congrats!
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Old 10-17-2021, 10:35 AM
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Moo Snukkle Moo Snukkle is offline
 
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What a Sunday morning read.
THANK YOU!!!!
Just epic Dave.
Standing ovation on not just your hunt, but also your story writing with well laid out pictures.
Congrats to all involved. I’m sure your family is thrilled!
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Old 10-17-2021, 10:40 AM
Lost Arrow Lost Arrow is offline
 
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Default Congrats!

What an awesome post and thank you for sharing your hunt with us. The photos are spectacular and I felt kind of like I was right there with you.
What a rush! A great hunt ending in a very nice bull, time well spent with some great friends, making unforgettable memories- it just doesn't get better than that!
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Old 10-17-2021, 11:18 AM
sage 13 sage 13 is offline
 
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wow congrats on a great hunt and a beauty of a moose
beautiful country as well.
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Old 10-17-2021, 11:20 AM
Big Grey Wolf Big Grey Wolf is offline
 
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Default moose hunt

Excellent post on classic moose hunt. Well done, it does not get much better.
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Old 10-17-2021, 11:26 AM
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Phil McCracken Phil McCracken is online now
 
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All I have to say is:

- Excellent writing...

- Excellent shared pictures.

And of course, a perfect ending of a hunt you will remember for the rest of your life.

Congrats!

TYVM for sharing sir...
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  #21  
Old 10-17-2021, 11:58 AM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Day 7:

Sore and tired but fulfilled, we pack camp and load a trailer full of moose and gear behind the literal workhorse Percherons.





During the 7 hour ride back to the staging area we ride mainly in quiet reflection, rewinding the events and experience of the past week. Strawberry my trail horse bucks and kicks eagerly at any horse within 3 feet of his rear. In a way that only horses can do, he calls my bluff and not ONCE listens or heeds my commands (more like polite requests, perhaps?) on the long ride home. I feel like I have come full circle from greenhorn to horseman and back to greenhorn over the past week, and am content with it.



A very sincere thanks to Bob and Mark for having shared this trip with me. Bob’s effort and experience made the trip possible, and I owe him a heavy dose of gratitude. Also to the women and families in our lives that allowed husbands and dads to take a week to play in the mountains.


Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this. If you liked it, post a reply. Better yet, post your own story with pictures.


To end off, here are my boys scoring the antlers:

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Old 10-17-2021, 12:09 PM
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7magtime 7magtime is offline
 
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Fantastic write-up, pictures and a dandy moose Dave! What a great location and strategy of using horses with good friends to use up 18 years of priority, congrats!!
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  #23  
Old 10-17-2021, 12:11 PM
Desert Eagle Desert Eagle is online now
 
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Incredible writing and story. Super glad you shared this! Congratulations on the adventure and scoring on a great moose.
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Old 10-17-2021, 12:33 PM
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Just epic. Great work!
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Old 10-17-2021, 12:54 PM
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Amazing story there - we all enjoyed it.

Great Bull. Congrats.
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Old 10-17-2021, 12:55 PM
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huntinstuff huntinstuff is offline
 
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Exactly what this forum is for!

Loved the story and pics. Very well done!

18 years priority. Omg you are more patient than me lol
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Old 10-17-2021, 01:05 PM
sage 13 sage 13 is offline
 
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Cant zoom the picture in enough what did the boys come up with for a score.
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  #28  
Old 10-17-2021, 01:07 PM
dave99 dave99 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sage 13 View Post
Cant zoom the picture in enough what did the boys come up with for a score.
They came up with 180.
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  #29  
Old 10-17-2021, 01:48 PM
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AB2506 AB2506 is offline
 
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Congrats!
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Old 10-17-2021, 02:30 PM
Prairiekid Prairiekid is offline
 
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What a tank! Congrats. Now just another 18 years.
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