Mathews Inc.
This happened to me
Contributors to this thread:
DonVathome 10-Oct-09
JJJ 10-Oct-09
Jaquomo_feral 10-Oct-09
Norseman 10-Oct-09
hoytshooter 10-Oct-09
TD 10-Oct-09
city hunter 10-Oct-09
Dirty D 10-Oct-09
danshunt 10-Oct-09
BB 10-Oct-09
WapitiBob 10-Oct-09
thrasher 10-Oct-09
Acoupstick 10-Oct-09
Gerald Martin 10-Oct-09
DonVathome 10-Oct-09
midwest 11-Oct-09
Fisher 11-Oct-09
mrelite 11-Oct-09
Bowboy 11-Oct-09
c3 11-Oct-09
DonVathome 11-Oct-09
Hoosier Daddy 11-Oct-09
glacial21(work) 11-Oct-09
Ole Coyote 11-Oct-09
DonVathome 11-Oct-09
aussie 11-Oct-09
Rob 11-Oct-09
hobbes 11-Oct-09
Forager 12-Oct-09
Scoot 12-Oct-09
ToddT 12-Oct-09
Dick H 12-Oct-09
glacial21(work) 12-Oct-09
DonVathome 12-Oct-09
KHunter 12-Oct-09
vinemaple savage 12-Oct-09
Z Barebow 12-Oct-09
Hornseeker 12-Oct-09
>>>---WW----> 12-Oct-09
DonVathome 13-Oct-09
LostInTheWoods 13-Oct-09
bohuntr 13-Oct-09
Dink Shooter 13-Oct-09
carbomask 14-Oct-09
Fulldraw 14-Oct-09
jcastinado 14-Oct-09
gil_wy@work 14-Oct-09
No Bark 14-Oct-09
Steve Jo @ Work 14-Oct-09
J@ckrabbit 14-Oct-09
Razorback 15-Oct-09
bill v 20-Oct-09
twojump 20-Oct-09
bill v 23-Nov-09
gus_hoyt 23-Nov-09
DonVathome 24-Nov-09
JohnMC 19-Nov-19
GF 19-Nov-19
Franklin 19-Nov-19
GF 19-Nov-19
IdyllwildArcher 19-Nov-19
billygoat 20-Nov-19
bigswivle 20-Nov-19
Jethro 20-Nov-19
12yards 20-Nov-19
Beav 20-Nov-19
Inshart 20-Nov-19
Rut Nut 20-Nov-19
drycreek 20-Nov-19
DonVathome 20-Nov-19
SteveB 20-Nov-19
drycreek 20-Nov-19
DonVathome 20-Nov-19
Rut Nut 20-Nov-19
Beendare 20-Nov-19
DonVathome 20-Nov-19
sticksender 20-Nov-19
Norseman 20-Nov-19
Big John 21-Nov-19
GregE 21-Nov-19
DonVathome 23-Nov-19
smarba 23-Nov-19
huntnmuleys 23-Nov-19
From: DonVathome
I post this here since this is where I post the most and most of my western hunts are for elk. In no way did I leave any detail out, or exaggerate in any way. As god as my witness and I will swear to everything typed below it is the way it happened, as best as I can remember. I was very scared at times.

I was rifle hunting this year; in fact I took my first rifle elk this year. This particular event took place as I hunted for deer with my first ever deer tag in WY.

I spent all summer trying to decide where to use my region "H" deer tag. I planned to try to hunt deer and scout for elk for a future general elk tag.

I finally decided on an area, after changing my mind many times. My first goal was to be remote and alone. I want to hunt hard and high so I tried to keep my pack weight low. For this reason I took less food, and less gear, the weather was good so this was going to be my first hunt with a bivy sack.

At this point I want to say, I have no reason to make this story up or embellish, and I have not. If you read further you understand I am spilling my guts as to what happened. I normally take the high road when attacked or insulted but given the events that transpired I am not in the best mood towards those who fill the need to debate my choices, attack me or make ANY SARACASTIC COMMENTS AT ALL. This means you. There is 1 person in particular I am expecting some BS response with a bunch of ........ please do not read further.

If you feel you cannot read this story and, regardless of what you read refrain from a rude comment then stop now.

I debated sending this story in to several magazines but, frankly I doubt they would believe me, and either way, I have been fortunate and I really do not need $200 in gear so decided to not try and share my story, with you, telling it as best I can remember.

Enough bs.

I arrived at the TH (trailhead) at 8AM Friday morning 9/25/09. Happily I was nearly alone. Rifle deer season was in full swing and rifle elk opened the very next morning (Saturday) I expected to encounter tons of elk hunters heading in with camp.

I hikes a long ways, it was down a trail but I learned that, although I was in great shape overall, dropping the hikes with heavy packs paid a toll, my legs were not as ready as I wanted. I hiked, hard, from about 9:30 until 3:00. At this point I was about 4-5 miles in, and 2,000 feet above my truck. Not bad but I had 1,500 feet to go - but only 1 mile. Short but steep! I was traveling up a steep drainage, and since I had left the bottom there had been exactly 0 water. My legs were beat and I dropped my pack my a landmark (I always try to pick a major landmark so I can find camp in almost any situation). There was a spot 15 feet away that I could spend some time to dig the dirt to "level" enough to spend 1 night. I wanted to hunt that evening and had a long climb ahead.

My plan was to drop my pack, continue on with my daypack and look for water while heading up to glass. I was beat. I walked exactly 20 steps (with one leg) before I was beat. Break. 20 more steps. It took my 2 hours to get high enough to really "hunt" which meant glass what turned out to be cover upwind of me.

The good news was I found water 500 feet higher then my main pack. Not at the "top" but only 500 feet below my ideal camp location. I glassed a little draw downwind and saw zip so I decided to glass while heading back down. I found some mulie does, and scoped them out (literally) and then turned to see two moose about 500-700 yards out. A bull! Neat! Cow was clearly in heat, or very very close - the bull was right behind her and my 8x binos did not show but I was sure he was lip curling and 3-4 times I thought he would mount her. A quick turn of the head revealed mountain goats in the shale in front of me.

Sweet, with a turn of my head I could see moose, mnt goats or mule deer. As a buddy said "You are not going to see that in Ohio!".

I got 1 liter more water and dropped into where my pack was. I have never been so tired in my life. I had to FORCE myself to eat my mnt house (which I Love).

I always take 2 Tylenol PM in each day’s food. I take them after eating - about 1-2 hours later I sleep well, for a few hours at least. I had eaten and taken them and was laying WIDE awake in my sleeping bag in my bivy sack looking up at the sky and watching planes fly over. I like to think about the people in the cabin (I do the same when flying). You think a cheap seat in plain is not "comfy" try bivy hunting! Ha! I thanked god for being able to lay there and see the stars, miss my kids, and know I was alone in a great place.

My only mistake was I did not camp tucked into cover as I normally do. The reason is, imagine a herd of elk stumbling into your camp at 3am. One winds you and they panic and run. Right over you in your 1 man tent. Ouch.

There was no where near my main pack to camp in the trees. I am sure 1/4 mile away there was but I was BEAT and not moving camp in the dark. I feel this (camping in the open) was my only mistake, AND 50% bivy hunters do not even bother to do this.

You get the drift.........

This was my first rifle bivy, skies were clear and no rain forecasted for days so I, literally at the last second, set my rifle right next to me. Also, I my rifle magazine was in need of adjustment and would not load shells, thus I had a live round in the chamber. IMO (in my opinion) not a good idea but I had no choice. Setting a rifle next to you, in the dark, with ammo somewhere else in hopes of "loading it": if needed, in the dark seemed pointless.

This likely saved my life.

I was at the very edge of griz country and I dispose of all unused food/garbage by putting it back into my Ziploc bag to cut down on scent. Black bears are hunted hard hear and I even debated getting a tag.

As I laid awake looking at the stars and (literally) thanking God I am able to be hear at all I hear smaller animals scamper by. No worries, I hear this a lot, scary when you are right on the ground but alone, at night, in the noisy dry woods a chipmunk sounds like a Trex.

About 45 minutes after lying down I hear a large animal walking close by. To close. For a loan city boy!

I yell something like, go away! It never ceases to amaze me how you have to "debate" what to yell at threatening animals in the wilds.

I hear pounding "hooves" I say hooves because I assumed it was a mulie doe I spotted 1/4 mile away uphill. It clearly was something bigger because I clearly heard it bound off.

About 1-2 minutes later I again hear something large close by. I twist around in my sleeping bag/bivy sac (it was still warm out so I am not "bundled"). I clearly see what I think is a bear broadside at 15-20 feet. Not a big deal, I know darn well as soon as it hears a human voice it will run. I look at it and yell "go away". No response. Nothing. NOW I get a little nervous. WOW I think, I slightly aggressive bear, I guess mnt house lasagna smell pretty good.

At this point I am not 100% sure of what happened exactly when so I will write what I am sure of or by best guess.

I got a little nervous and (I think) picked up my rifle. I got "taller" into kneeling position and turned to directly face the "bear". I yelled LOUND AND DEEPLY


With authority and LOUD.


Realize at this point I mearly heard footsteps and turned to see "something" broadside a 15-20 feet. I never saw it move. It is well after dark and the moon is out, a ridge blocks the moon from my valley but my night vision is good and I can see ok.

There is a loooooong pause as I call myself a pusssy for being scared of a dark "shadow" that I am now sure is some bushes I did not notice before.

Then it charges.

Let me be crystal clear here. The large black object I saw above me at 15-20 feet charges ME. Nor runs towards me, not scampers a few feet. IT FREAKIN barrels downhill right at me. After repeating to myself about 100 times "this does not happen" I am still trying to access the situation. I am quickly being forced to shoot. I do not like this.

Forget self protection, fear etc. I DO NOT want to fire a high powered rifle at a dark figured bearing down on me.

Even as I type this I lean over the key board and get emotional. This is tough.

This 1 second is burned into my brain like seeing my wife for the first time and watching my kids be born.

I am VERY unhappy that I am being forced into a situation where I am going to possibly have to shoot my rifle into the night at "something".

As it bears down on me I desperately search for answers. Answers that never come. What is it? Should I shoot? I have only 1 bullet, when? Why? What the FUYFHUFBUIUSANOAIHFIUAHIGIG is going on?

Above all I do NOT want to shoot. I do not have enough information to shoot my rifle in the dark. My brain is desperately trying to sort out this situation. There is no way I am going to have to shoot, at this black thing, in the dark? Or am I?

As it closes to 5 feet I get a weird flash, literally I think "What if this is some local joker trying to "scare me" and I am about to kill him???? In my mind I see my gun going off and a guy with his arms outstretched saying booo.

Not likely.

When it reaches what I think is 5 feet I squeeze (ok YANK) the trigger.

Believe it or not but I have had to pause, a lot, just to type this. In my mind it is crystal clear what happened.

As my gun goes off there is a very very fast flash, like a camera but not as bright and much faster. I remember thinking back that I never though a gunshot could produce enough light too see ANYTHING.

It does.

As the gun goes of I CLREALY see the head of shiras moose, at FULL CHARGE at 5 feet. At the shot it veers off and runs by at 3 feet. At some point I thrown myself back (I know only because I crushed my next day’s bag of food). I see the black object hurling downhill, just past me and hear hoof beats for a couple seconds.

I am stunned.

I repeated to myself dozens of times "That did not just Fin happen" over and over.

At this point I have been very longwinded - and emotional - although you cannot see it.

In summary in figured out what happened that night and confirmed it with tracks in the morning.

This first things to bound away was the cow moose. The second things I "shot" was the bull, who by UNREAL coincidence, popped about mere feet away so see this TINY dumb moron from Ohio yelling at him - with his true love on the other side of me, and having the uphill advantage he decide I was WAY TO FREAKIN SMALL to interrupt his x rated plan.

I found his tracks and eventually found 3 drops of dark blood about 40 yards away, funny because up until that point I wondered if it really happened. I had to check my gun to be sure is was fired! I thought maybe I imagined it!

I had to know if I really held off as long as I could. I followed his tracks on my hands and knees until I found hair EXACTLY the length of my rifle from my sleeping pad, his next bound also was clear and had a tiny bit of hair, he passed my sleeping pad at under 2-1/2 feet.

The image of him at full charge as my gun fired, is forever burned into my brain. I ended my deer hunt and hiked out Saturday and went through great pains to report it. This was tough since I LIVE for my western hunts and I know, if convicted likely they are done, for 10 years, every where.

I will go into more details later about what happened after. This story is 100% true to the best I can recall. I am NOT to proud to admit that, the next day, hiking out I thought about my wife and kids and broke down crying realizing I likely almost never saw them again.

I am very likely to be able to tell you this story. Thank You God, thank you Brandie (my wife) and thank you Brooke and Bree (my 2 girls) I love you more then you will ever know and am lucky to be able to hold you again.

Your friend Don.

PS My kids can already say "BAD MOOSE"

From: JJJ

Don, this is a great story. I was on the edge of the chair the whole read.

You did what you did from the heart. Whatever happens after that is pretty much out of your control. It took the right heart to go out and report it. It took some stones for you to come on here and tell it.

Anyone who would judge you for your choice should probably look in the mirror and ask what they would have done.

From: Norseman
did you kill it? did you find it?

glad you are ok.

From: hoytshooter
glad you are ok.....keep us posted

From: TD

That was a situation. I've read moose kill more people than bears do, not sure of that but it's what I've heard. Makes em dangerous in my book. Bear, moose, Joker, whatever, it should have heeded a warning. The mountains never have been and never will be any place for screwing around. Life and death goes on up there.

Glad you're OK. Hanging on here for 'the rest of the story".


From: city hunter
glad you are ok ,,i was right in grizz country this sept , i never thought about it , your mind can be your worst enemy...

From: Dirty D
Freaky story Don, glad to hear your alright. I think it sucks we've been so conditioned to obey the law that put in a situation like that you have to rationalize what's the "right" thing to do. Glad you did what you did.

From: danshunt
Your lucky to have the presence of mind to pull the trigger when you did,hopefully the authorities see it for what it is Self Defense.Glad your ok.

From: BB

BB's embedded Photo
BB's embedded Photo
Don you are fortunate indeed and if one is in the wilds much around moose, most will have a tail to tell, albeit not quite as drastic as yours.

I spend a lot of time out doors and although I really haven't spent a great deal of time in griz country, I have in black bear country and I have had some very close encounters with bears, and although I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, I do not fear them.

I can't say the same thing about moose. My closet calls in the wilds have always come from moose, both bulls and cows.

Many years ago a buddy and I stopped to talk with a Wyoming Game and Fish biologist at the Dubois fish hatchery. We were trying to find a good place to hunt elk and during our talk he related to us about a fisherman being killed that year, by a cow moose, while fishing on Wiggins Fork. He said the cow stomped him into the ground and only his clothes held him together.

So moose at times can be very dangerous. I personally fear them more than any animal that roam the mountains in which I hunt.

Here's a picture of a bull moose that charged me several years ago when I moved in too close to take his photo. I turned to run as he charged me from less than 15 yards, but slipped and fell in the wet snow and by the grace of God he stopped just 2 or 3 yards from me. You can bet that was the last photo I took of that bull. Had he done to me, what the moose did to you, he would have had me.

A man never has to apologize for defending himself, his family or his friends!!! That is a pretty simple fundamental right, be it a moose,bear or a man.

I am glad you are okay and hope you have many more great bowhunts. BB

From: WapitiBob
Glad you're OK.

From: thrasher
Thanks for sharing. I know that whole thing took very little time and it is absolutly amazing how fast the mind can work when it really needs to. Glad your here to type this. I too am more scared of moose than any other critter.

From: Acoupstick
We are ALL glad you're ok. For your sake, for the sake of your family, and for our own sakes.

Don, I'm glad you're safe. There's nothing to be ashamed of in your story. If it were me I can assure you I'd have probably had to burn my shorts after that happened.

I have a very healthy respect for moose.

From: DonVathome
Ah yes, I found 3 small drops of dark blood along about 200 yards of trail. My conclusions based on experiance, sign and common sense tell me I grazed the moose in the leg. Quite frankly I was shooting from a kneeling position with my gun at my waste, heck I still had my bikini scope covers on, no aiming. I was thinking bear (although looking back the body in front of me was obviously WAY to big and not the shape of a bear.

TO hit a moose in the body at 4 feet would have required me aiming up at 45 degrees. While I was to busy soiling myself to be sure, I am fairly sure I was aiming at most 2 feet of the ground.

Funny - for 1-2 days I did not care one bit if the moose died, it is one thing to surpise a mom griz and and get between her and her cubs it is quite another to yell TWICE at a moose and still get charged. However after a few days to calm down (which I am still doing) I hope the moose is ok and wish him no harm unless he pulls that stunt again. Let someone lucky enough to pull a tag shoot him, not someone who would much rather be at home snuggling with his wife then getting charged.

I was very very worried about reporting it, short of the obvious that had I done something wrong why would I report it there was not a lot going for me unless one went to the sight. There it was obvious that unless I had planned one heck of a stunt AND luckily got the moose to pass by within 3 feet of the only flat spot to lay down, I was telling the truth.

The warden went over the story with me twice, and I gave him the exact location, there was a landmark that you could find in the dark with a lighter, and GPS coordinates. He said he might go back in and check it out. He was worried about a moose being wasted. I am willing to get if that moose does/did die it was not anywhere where we were going to find it.

And like I told him, I was NOT going to into the bush (thikc willows) alone after a wounded bull that charged me once already, with a .280 (not bull stopping stuff) that only held one the chamber. With a sleep deprived wide eyed guy at the trigger.

My guess is I grazed his leg.

There is little doubt in my mind pulling the trigger saved me. It was very clear at the time the shot caused the moose to angle and just miss me. The noise, buller, flash, who knows and, I do not care - it worked.

At one point I actually checked to see if I soiled myself. I kept thinking I dreamed it and wondered if I was really half asleep or suffering from dehydration.

I had on a white tshirt and was in a black bivy sack. I wonder if I looked like a moose with his head down (palms) willing to fight for the cow and a buddy said maybe I looked like a blcak bear (white 'v' on chest).

Who knows.

I had a PLB and had I survived the intitial blunt tramma of getting hit head on in the chest by a full charge, downhill, bull moose I still doubt I would have made it out alive. I remember looking at my watch and thinking I had something like 10 hours to go before daylight. 10 hours to imagine every twig snapping was another bull hot on the trail of the cow moose.

I do plan to call the warden to see if he checked it out or ever heard anything, which I doubt he will. It was a good hike in but on a small trail so someone might stubmle on something. I was also worried about some other hunter getting charged, but what are the odds.

I know moose are the most dangerous, especially during the rut but getting charged at night enver occured to me.

I really did not think I would make my bivy elk hunt (fear) but I did and even had tons of moose pooh around my tent and saw moose 1/4 mile away every day! aarrgghh.

I know this will not happen again but I am still looking over my shoulder much more nowadays. Heck that night I was scared sleeping in the back of my truck down by the road near a ranch!

I have the empty bullet to remind me to always be prepared, be careful, and each day with my kids is truely a gift from God I almost did not get.

From: midwest
Awesome story, Don! Glad you're okay. You did the right thing and I can understand your hesitation to shoot when you are not sure of your target. Luckily, basic human instinct took over and you defended your life.

Read the book "One With the Wilderness" by Mike Mitten. One of his hunting partners barely survived a moose attack in Alaska. It is a fantastic story.

From: Fisher
glad u survived to tell about it. u did the right thing.

having been in a few truly life -death wilderness situations u rely on all skills and judgment. good job and now relaxe about it.

best wishes. fisher

From: mrelite
Can you imagine if you only had a bow! What an experiance! It will be a story you will be telling your grandkids and then they will tell their kids and so on.

From: Bowboy

Bowboy's embedded Photo
Bowboy's embedded Photo

I'm glad your ok! You'll never forget this incident.

In 2000 I was hunting moose in Wyoming and met a older gentleman from AZ who was also hunting moose by himself. Well I got my moose and was elk hunting about 4 miles from his camp and on my way back one night stop by to check on him. He was all exicted and stated he shot a big bull moose but couldn't find it. I told him I'd come back in the morning and help him look for it. We froded a river and went back in about three miles to the spot where he shot the moose. He told me the moose ran to the north but it was pretty open. I asked him where the first blood was at and he showed me. You could see the animal racks and he went south not north. I tracked it about 400yds and found a bed with a little blood next to a small pond. I went around a conifer tree and I was eye to eye (10ft) with his bull that was still alive. It saw me and got up and charged I dropped my bow and ran like my life depended on it, which it did. The bull was right on me but I jumped behind a tree and thank goodness he went by. The guy from AZ and myself laughed a couple minutes later, but it wasn't funny at the time (To bad we didn't have a video camera). He'd only hit the moose in one lung. We waited about 15 minutes since I figured the moose would lay down again since he wasn't feeling to good. We went about 100yds and I spotted him bedded. The guy from AZ snuck in and put a killing shot in both lungs.

From: c3
I got treed by a cow moose with her calf this year up in Wyoming. I was frozen stiff in the tree and finally had to get down about an hour after dark. When I switched on my headlamp she circled my tree and barked about as loud as any animal I've ever heard in the woods. I ran from tree to tree for cover and made out of there safe and sound but I was crapping myself to say the least.

I had a buddy who shot his Utah moose out by Flaming Gorge a couple of years ago and had another bull that would charge us every time we chopped on the downed critter to quarter it. I guess that chopping sounded like horns clacking together or something. We were right next to a dead tree that had tipped over recently and made a big hole by the root ball that we would dive into before he would whiz by. One of the craziest nights I've ever had in the woods. We finally got part of his bull out to the trailhead at 2:30am with his horses.

I have to ask one question though Don. Where was your headlamp and flashlight? I have two of each in my day pack for those just in case situations so I can always see out there to 20 yards or more no matter where I am from my bivy camp.

Glad to hear you're safe and sound. You'll have to get back on that horse as soon as you can. All the best stories are from the epic adventures. As I always like to say, "fondly remembered, but not so fondly done" Hehehehehehehehehe!!!

Cheers, Pete

From: DonVathome
More good stories.

My headlamp, hhmmm that was another error. I was so beat I dropped my daypack well uphill hunting that night (to save carrying it back up the next AM along with my camp) and forgot to grab flashlite and/or headlamp out of it. This left me with only my backup mini light.

Glad to hear that you're ok, you absolutely did the right thing, I would've shot sooner that you did!


Wow, just thinking about your story will cut down on the amount of sleep I'll get next time I'm alone in a bivy sack! Very scary.

Though not quite as close, I did come within about 5' of getting trampled and gored by a full grown bison bull on my elk hunt this year. Barely beat him into the timber or it would have been ugly. I can relate to that "I almost just got killed" feeling!

From: Ole Coyote
Awesome, simply awesome!! Can you imagine how many people in the world never spend a single night alone in the woods or even their backyard if they have one, lol! I seriously believe you have not lived till you have spent time alone, really alone, it tells you what you are made of!

Stay well!!

From: DonVathome
Yikes a bison is twice as big! When I reported my encounter the warden had been dealing with a hunter who bagged a WY bison (I did not even know there was a hunt other then migration out of YS). Walked up to downed bull which then got up and proceeded to mess him up pretty good.

Sam where were you?

One thing I have been debating is if a light would help. Another warden realated a story like mine, dark guy rounds a bend face to face with a moose, he yells several times and waves him arms, moose charges he kills it in self defense.

I suspect I will use my bivy again much later, but I do think being in a tent would have prevented it. For 2 pounds more tents are looking better and better.

Jake told me a story about his bison. He said after he shot it it looked for him. Yikes.

From: aussie
top story don, some scary stuff happens when we least expect it . I think you did well. i heard of one guy here who got stomped by a camel in the dark. lucky he had a buddy or he would have been a goner. Bull camels can be very nasty.

From: Rob
Glad you made it out Don. That was one wild night and it didn't even involve alcohol.

What would it have done if you had laid there and not moved or made any sound? Would it have charged anyway or was it charging the movement or sound? I've never seen one in person so I know nothing about them except everyone says they are good eating.

Glad you're OK, Rob

From: hobbes
Wow!!!!! Glad your ok. In my book you have nothing at all to be ahsamed of. I don't think anyone that hasn't experienced that could say for sure what they would have done. But, I can't imagine doing anything much different.

From: Forager
Wow Don!

I'm a really glad you are OK. I'm no expert on moose, but I once accidentally found myself between a hidden leering bull and his cow in September while backpacking on Isle Royale. That was creepy. What you just went through, on the other hand was CRAZY.

The way I hear it, Moose kill more canoeists each year in Canada than water does. Given those facts and you going out of your way to rat on yourself, I suspect that you'll be keeping your hunting license. If for some reason you don't..... well, bro, you are in good company. The only difference between you and the most other hunters (myself included) is that the rest of us wouldn't have waited quite so long before defending ourselves.... ;-)

From: Scoot
"The only difference between you and the most other hunters (myself included) is that the rest of us wouldn't have waited quite so long before defending ourselves.... "

I have to be honest- I'm with Forager on this one. I'm not sure I could have held off that long. However, it's pretty easy for us out here in cyberland to say I would have done this or that- stuff happens in the heat of the moment, in the dark, by yourself. I'd have filled my shorts either way...

I'm not sure I could have/would have told my wife- she might not ever let me go back into the woods/mountain again!

Glad you're ok- I'm sure it was very scary.

P.S. I'm not sure who you're referring to regarding making fun of you with this story, but it'd take a first class J/A to mock you about this. Nothing funny about it.

From: ToddT
"I'm not sure I could have/would have told my wife- she might not ever let me go back into the woods/mountain again!" Really Scoot,,,, my wife would have probably asked when I could line up another trip,,,,,, to that area.

I think Don did the right thing,,, all I would have done differently was,,,, shoot sooner,,, and then not told anyone - then again, Don is more honorable than I.

From: Dick H
Ditto on the shoot sooner and not tell!!

Don, I ran into the bison here in South Dakota (Custer State Park).

I imagine your first night solo out in the woods next time is going to be a little rough. You're going to need to have a little stronger sleeping pill!

From: DonVathome
I went solo later that trip. Jerked awake dozens of times to ...........was that footsteps in the snow nearby...........was that a moose it was just my stomach growling from dinner.

Seriously I did get scared dozens of times from my tummy growling.

As for shooting sooner, frankily it makes me seem "brave" but realistically I think the only reason I made it last second was 1. I had exactly one and only one shot and B. it happened so fast I really only likely paused long engouh to shoot :)

I did spend the time as I said crawling until I found hair because I really never believed I waited that long. Maybe I forgot pulling the trigger 14x only to realize the safety was on the flicked safety and shot!

I spent the whole way out and then a couple hours calling friends to see what they thought I should do (report it?).

Evidence there made it very hard to argue I was honest, unless I got two moose to run by the only flat spot around to sleep (amazing coincidence) after one was shot (or as one was shot). Anyone with any brain would look at evidence and never try to charge me. It was still very tough and even after making the calls and waiting to hear back I wished I had not. It was Saturday and offices were closed, I called tons of people and finally a warden elsewhere I had a home number to spent a great deal of his time getting me to the right person. He was a big help.

From: KHunter
Wow Don. Quite the experience to go through. No one knows what they would do when in your shoes till it happens.

You'll get your moose revenge when your moose points pay off in the coming years.



I believe every word of your story. At age 10 in 1952 I think went to yellowstone with family and had a lecture from older park ranger. He told us the usual do not feed bears and added in all his yrs the only time he ever had to climb trees was cow moose.

I was scouting for shiras with my son in law 5 yrs ago as he drew a once in lifetime tag. in wa. I was armed only with a sweadish army knife that lacked a blade for moose.

Ihiked a couple miles in behind a closed gate gruntin into likely places. Coming back into wind increased volume as was going into wind,came around sharp corner and a bull was standing in opening on my right.

He was broud side at about 20 yds sraring at me. In my younger yrs. had taken a couple bulls in bc. After watching each other and wondering what he was thinking decided to scare em off.

Dont wave your arms and yell!, as he profiled and aproached me at a walk. It was steep on both sides of road with no trees. He walked me backwards 5o ft. at a time and would stop this seemed to go on forever as I tryed to reason with him.

I finaly decided during one of these short breaks to take backpack off unzip side pouch ,get camera and flash him to see if that would work. I was reaching in for cam when heard cruching on gravel. Felt for rock as looked up to see him coming. with rock in hand started the game again... As he walked OVER my pack he stoped put his nose up and caught enough of my scent to whirl and leave.

Let Jim Shokey wave canoe paddles, this is not a good way to check out your heart.


Don, glad you are OK. Don't let that situation scare you away from what you enjoy. Learn from it. learn how to avoid it in the future. Kinda like riding a bike. The first wreck is scary, but you get right back on and try again.

I can relate too. Here is what happened to me a few weeks ago. I only had a bow and a can of pepper spray.

This happened while attempting to hunt a bear bait in Idaho

I set my bow and bait pail down then walk over about 5 yards to start putting my stand up.

Suddenly I hear brush breaking coming at me like a freight train. I look through the brush and see a bull moose charging in, grunting the entire time.

At 20 yards I yell at him. He turns off at a 45 degree angle.

So I think he is gone and proceed to put my stand up. After the stand was up I need to put new bait out and get my bow. I leave my bow laying where it was while I put the bait out.

Suddenly the train is on his way back in. I put a tree between us and pull my pepper spray. At 20 yards I yell again, he doesn't care this time.

He keeps coming. At 15 feet, I yell again thinking to myself if he does not stop I am spraying him. (I have no idea if it will work on a moose or not)Luckly he stops and stares at me. Finally he walks off and almost steps on my backpack. He hesitates as he passes my bow and smells it. Literally his nose is touching my bow.

Finally he is gone. So I go pick my bow up, hang it on the string and put my pack on. Suddenly the train is coming back and this time he looks mad.

Up the tree I climb as fast as I could. At 5 ft he turned off and left for good. I was 10-12 feet up the tree. :)

He was DOWN wind almost the entire time.

From: Z Barebow
I do not know Don personally. Don, you may have trouble sleeping in a bivy camp for a long time. But it sure sounds like you can sleep well at home, taking the steps you did under the circumstances. Your actions after the shot demonstrate you are a man of character.

You could have let this incident die with the echo from the shot, and likely no one would have been the wiser.

Someone taught me a very important lesson recently.

It is much easier to defend your actions and what you did in the situation, versus your inaction and what you should have done.

Kudos to you for taking the high road. Glad your back to tell your story.

From: Hornseeker
Dang... I'm just glad it wasn't a bear...cause I still get nervous about Griz and if you would have been charged by a griz in your sleeping bag it would have only made the situation worse for me!!

A feller on another site hit a bull...went in to get him and the bull charged at 10 yards. He was ready with a rifle and dropped him... I've also had bulls and cows run me around a bit...usually provoked as Im trying to call and photo them... MUST be careful...

Glad you are OK Don... you did nothing wrong!

It might have been a bad situation... but you ended up with a great story and you did an excellent job of telling it.

I'm glad you're okay!

Glad you made it OK Don. I think I'd of been a little quicker on the trigger. But that is something no one knows until they are in a situation.

Anyhow, I'm glad God was on your side this time. I'm sure nothing will ever come of it as far as the law is concerned. You have a right to protect yourself and honestly, your story is plenty believeable.

From: DonVathome
Good stuff guys, not sure if isaid but another warden told me about a guy waiving his arms and yelling and still having to shoot a bull charging.

Not sure what to do next time?

Close range, spot a moose while hiking. Bull, rut, obvisouly staring at you. Excluding climbing trees etc. Stay still? Yell? Yelling still seems good although I am thinking not loud deep yells (mistake for a bull moose sound)?

Maybe the high piercing little girl screams. Likely to come naturally in such a situation anyway:)

Waing arms so far appears out, maybe they mistake them for palms? I have seen guys with paddles etc challenging moose. Looked dumb at the time. Looks 100x times dumber now. Can I take life insurance out on them with me as the beneficiary? Seems like a good investment.

I am starting to think to avoid moose charge just act meek and back away? No waiving, puffing up, yelling?

I realize this likely will never ever happen to me again but I still need a mental plan to comfort me. I did hunt in and saw many more moose in my elk area, and was ok, in that I hunted and packed in. Was not happy with tons of moose droppings in my cmap location. Including lots of droppings inside my vestibule. I know likely I will never ever have a problem again.

I think I will carry bear spray with me while bowhunting. Pain but piece of mind.


Mike the Cheesehead's embedded Photo
Mike the Cheesehead's embedded Photo
Not to take away from your story Don, but this year while hunting NM I was sitting under the limbs of a spruce tree to stay dry during a little rainstorm. I decided to do some cow calls while sitting there. After a few minutes I thought to myself that I should stand up because I really couldn't see much sitting down in the thick cover. Just as I stood up I saw these 2 characters bounding toward me. They stopped at 21 yards and I took several photos of them before they decided I wasn't going to be lunch and turned and left. I'm glad I stood up when I did...

Holy crap! Situations like this is the reason I always have my 10mm with me at ALL times while in the woods. While bivy hunting or any time I have to sleep outside, I have my headlamp and pistol (with a round in the chamber) on my pack next to my head.

I hope that you don't catch any flack for "poaching", I've heard some stories that would make me hesitate turning in any self defense shootings for the fear of having my license yanked.

You did the right thing by far. What would have happened if you would have hesitated in shooting and been trampled? You have a wife and kids to think about.

The comment you made about "being a pussy" is way unwarrented. The first time I bivyed out, was not on a hunting trip but a scouting/gold prospecting trip. I spent the night 100 "vertical" feet above a large Huckleberry patch on a very steep mountain face, because like you, I was dead beat tired and it was the only "flat" spot I could find.

Well, since it was Grizz country I was on pins and needles for the first few hours of the night. I'm embarrassed to say that after waking up several times with my heart in my throat and hearing "something", I finally lost my nerve......unzipped my tent, stuck my pistol outside and capped off two or three shots while yelling at the top of my lungs "leave me alone!!!"

About 30 minutes later, after I realized that I was being completely irrational and stupid, somehow got back to sleep.......only to be woken up by a curious/freaked out mule deer who didn't like my tent and finally charged! I think this was the longest and most nerve wracking night of my life, but they've all gotten progressively better since then. And no, I do not shoot from my tent, in the dead of the night anymore!

Sorry for the long winded hi-jack, I'm just glad you are ok. You should submit this story because it is a good one that someone can possibly learn from. Good luck on your future adventures!

From: bohuntr
Glad you are ok Don. No question you did the right thing.

From: Dink Shooter

Dink Shooter's embedded Photo
Dink Shooter's embedded Photo
I took this picture of this dude in July.

Last Wednesday I walked by the area 2 times in the dark. He was on my mind.

The only critters that have ever chased me were a small bull moose and a cow moose.

From: carbomask
Its a great story, and Its good to hear your ok. I have these comments. mostly about the reporting of the incident.. the hindsite tradgedy of the story is that while you needed to share your expereince with someone, can anyone post about the necessity to "report" it to the game warden, as though you had just been in a domestic incident, and filing a police report? to me this is a de-evolution of our heritage as sovereign beings, and tip-toeing about some-ones approval, or your being cleared of wrong doing. You did what you did, and your alive. If your that far in the wilderness, and you kill a moose inself defense, it is incomprehensible that you should report it and clear yourself as though you committed manslaughter.. I cant grasp it. somebody help me here. Sounds to me like the soverignity is assigned to the dam ungelids, and the law (dow) is too self exalting as to assumedly preside over and judge justice through some overbearing big brother nanny state. 100 years ago, a man would not hesitate, now, your guilty before innocent, what a bunch of soft pink helpless creatures we have become- my hats off to you for pulling the trigger, but I'm perplexed by detail of the story about the "responsibility" you felt to go and report it. (again not that it was wrong to report it, or not that your license wasn't at stake- im hip with that).. very difficult to explain, hope im not taken the wrong way... soon we will have to fill out a report for every bullet we discharge, even in practice (sighting in). anyway, im sure your glad to be alive, and im sure your family is glad as well.

From: Fulldraw
Great story, glad your O.K. But, I have to say, when you metioned your wife and daughter, it broke my heart! The thought of not seeing my kids (your kids) and wife, is somewhat earth shattering.

Go hug them girls again Don.


From: jcastinado
I am also glad you are okay, thanks for sharing. It helps us newbies to realize that nature commands respect and that preparedness and awareness is a full time responsibility while we are out in the wild.

From: gil_wy@work
Wow!! That's all I got... Wow!

For the record, I would have soiled myself!

From: No Bark
Dang Don, glad it worked out as it did!

I soiled myself just READING IT!

Dude, I'm glad you're okay, but if there is any advice I can offer it is this; "sleep easy"

You've been tested, you're a man of action. If a situation arises that CAN be handled, you will handle it.

To simulatneously puke and crap your pants afterwards is just part of being mortal :)

From: J@ckrabbit
It sounds like both you and Bullwinkle dodged a bullet that night!

One thing to consider is getting a an electric fence from High Country Enterprises in Alaska. I have the backpacker model and it has detered several invasion attempts by night time visitors. It wouldn't stop a charging moose, but it if he stopped to sniff it he would most likely run the other way.

An interesting side note to this is that these were tested against Grizzly bears using dead moose as 'bait' then putting the fence around it. For me hearing that little click, click, click during the night gives me peace of mind.

Here is the link:

Again, Glad you're OK.


From: Razorback
I thought this was going to be another saquatch story.

Certainly glad you're OK.

From: bill v
Holy Smokes Don, glad your alright, WOW!! Billv

From: twojump
I'm glad you're ok... I've never had a moose come by, but I did have a momma black bear and her cubs come by once about midnight... I was in a bivy tent..(very small 1man tent) I had my min flash light and my knife handy, but needless to say I didn't sleep anymore that night... had bear poop just 20 feet from my little camp... I try to camp in small pockets of trees or behind downed logs. Cougars are my biggest fear really... I don't like the thought of those things walking around my area. great true story....

From: bill v
Don, any word from the game dept or is this a dead issue now? Bill v

From: gus_hoyt
Moose are intimidating. I work as an engine captain for the BLM, we sleep under the stars alot each summer, I've never really had any problems until this year. I was sleeping and I felt something stand on my arm and sniff in my ear like a cat, I woke up literally face to face with a skunk! I rolled as quick as I could the other way knowing full well I was going to get sprayed, I unfortunatly rolled in one of my crew members who freaked the hell out, and for the rest of the season accused me of being scared of the dark and trying to cuddle with him.

From: DonVathome
Never heard anything else, ended while I was there when he bascially said ok hopefully moose was ok. No investigation that I know of, I do want to call him just to see if he ever hiked in or anyone saw a wounded/dead moose. I hope not.

My guess is he is fine.

From: JohnMC
Hope the moose is still out there!

From: GF
Is the deer season REALLY that slow?

From: Franklin
You made a decision of action based on your best judgement at the time. You can`t be faulted for that. You don`t have the luxury of asking questions in that situation. You made the decision and are man enough to accept any responsibility and consequence....otherwise you could of gone a different way, which you didn`t.

Better to be tried by 12 than carried by did what you had to do. You did the right thing....period.

From: GF
“you did what you had to do. You did the right thing....period.”

Yup. Ten years ago....

The battery on my phone would die before I could get back 10 years...

From: billygoat
Time to dig up the " got a possum" sorty by hunny bunter!

From: bigswivle
Holy crap

From: Jethro
I'm glad this thread resurfaced. I had never seen it. I don't think I started following BS till 2010. Great story.

From: 12yards
Sheesh! I soiled myself reading this! Glad it turned out good for you.

From: Beav
It was great to read this story again!

From: Inshart
Yeah, just ask Lou about the friendly de-MEAN-er of a Moose. (At least I think it was Lou who was put down into a creek by a moose??)

From: Rut Nut
WOW! Never saw this til now. Bowsiters have the BEST stories! ;-)

I'd like to hear Lou's moose encounter story! I've seen it referenced many times, but have yet to hear the actual story................................

From: drycreek
It’s an interesting story, and as I’ve only been here since ‘12 or ‘13 I’d never read it before. I was struck with all the handles that I had never seen though. Seems that we come and go......

From: DonVathome

DonVathome's embedded Photo
DonVathome's embedded Photo
Haha I just found this again and thought it was some else's story and almost did not open it. I had another really close call in 2018 in Colorado. I got back in my truck after this twice trying to get out. Terrifying. It was much worse in person and I would have likely died if it went over. I swear I felt it wobble. I actually got out then right back in worse. $3,000 tow.

From: SteveB
I’ve been here since the beginning of Bowsite and still missed this! Great story and one you can tell forever. All’s well that ends well.

From: drycreek
Damn Don, that truck hanging off the road would have scared me more than a moose attack. At least the other happened so fast you didn’t have much time to think about it !

From: DonVathome
Drycreek true. Each time I got back in the truck in an attempt to free it I had my PLB in my pocket (no cell signal_ and left the door open hoping to bail if it went over. I give it a 50/50 chance of me getting out with that hairbrain plan.

From: Rut Nut
DANG Don! You REALLY live life on the EDGE, don’t ya?! ;-)

From: Beendare
Yeah, I missed this the first time posted. Thats nuts.

Charged by a moose......well that explains why you were camping in the back of that small rental hatchback in AZ back in 2013! It didn't look very comfortable.....but makes sense now.....

From: DonVathome
haha! This story hangs in my trophy room.

From: sticksender
I remember this story well, it’s unforgettable. And it’s amazing how fast 10 years fly by.

From: Norseman
10 yeas and still no response from Kyle? Lol. I kid, I kid.

Stay hungry

From: Big John
I've learned a lot over the years just by listening to what people have to say...I have learned something new today. Thanks for posting Don, glad you are alright!!!

From: GregE
Another missed this.........

Exciting read


From: DonVathome

DonVathome's embedded Photo
DonVathome's embedded Photo
It just occurred to me I got lucky and got a little payback in Alaska a couple months ago. Time has taken away my fear in the back country. I am careful now but not afraid of moose. I took this bull 100 miles outside Bethel, solo.

From: smarba
Whoa, great moose Don! I never heard about your redemption bull - congrats!

From: huntnmuleys
I’ve never seen this one before either, but what a hell of an ordeal. Moose can be dangerous for sure.

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