Looking forward to following along, Eric!
I get to Edmonton only to find out that Air Canada somehow dropped the ball and my bow doesn't arrive. I'm assured by the fellow at Baggage Services that its on the next flight and should be here around 4:30. Long story short, it wasn't, the tracking app they gave me showed it being on a flight the next morning that arrived at 10am but all along the Baggage Service agent was partial right and it was in town at 9pm on the day I arrive. I found this out the next day when I'm beating the door down at 10am sharp. I missed the first morning of the hunt but it is what it is.
The first night at the lodge was awesome! Everyone was in good spirits (except me, lol), we had a meeting to discuss camp rules, shot placement, recovery protocol and met our guides. I was paired up with Jesse. He was the youngest guide and Ryk's logic was that putting the youngest hunter with the younger guide made sense. He said Jesse liked to move and that after coming off a Goat hunt I'd be able to keep up. I agreed! Ryk is a very well seasoned bow hunter. He had nothing but great things to say about Jesse and I was super hyped to be paired with him. That night Robin cooked a feast fit for Kings! Steak, stuffed potatoes, salad, cakes, cookies and pie. I was in heaven!!! At no point was the ever a shortage of great food at the lodge.
The next am Jesse and I head to Edmonton to get my bow that had been sitting at Baggage Services all night. We headed over to his place to ensure my rig was still dialed. After slinging a few we put on our business clothes and hit the Moose woods! It was around 12:30pm.
Up until this exact moment I was under the impression that Moose hunting was a cake walk. These soft ass YouTube video's had me thinking that you picked a spot, called for 10 minutes and you had bulls in your lap...........NOT TRUE!!!!!
Our half day of hunting put 8 miles on my Kenetrek's. The country we were hunting was magnificent!! Every inch of this place looks like a postcard.
C’mon, Eric! Gut it out and type faster! ;-)
The weather seemed to dictate every aspect of this hunt. For me, especially coming off a wet, cold mountain in Alaska, it was great. For moose, not so much. Highs in the 70’s most days with lows in the high 40’s in the morning. We didn’t see any moose on the first day.
Today was the 26th and the locals all had been predicting that the 29th is when the rut would break loose. When listening to folks predict animal movement one word always comes to mind: DON’T. The only certainty I’ve ever known to be true in hunting is that animals are consistently inconsistent and I leave it at that.
Our days consisted of calling from set ups in the early morning, spot and stalk during the mid day and calling from sets in the early to late evening. The evening of our 5th day Jesse ended the calling session with grunts and raking bushes. Off in the distance it sounded like a freight train coming through the bush! You could just hear how massive this animal was. It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever heard in the woods.
The “call, stalk, call” routine repeated till the 6th day.
Today I was paired with Darryl. Jesse had work obligations so Darryl was filling in. Darryl and Jesse have very different hunting styles. The first 2 places we hit were stands set up on known travel corridors. He’d call a bit, we’d wait, then headed to the next stand. After more calling from the second stand we moved to a long, open slew and set the decoy. The plan was to pull in a bull cruising the slew while waiting for the wind to pick back up. After another slow start to the day with calling and ambushing not producing results we moved out. The walking here is tough going. Chest high bushes and the soft, thick grass with deadfall hidden in it made the walking arduous. We pushed back another mile or so, set up shop and started another calling session. It was about 2:30pm and it was warm again. The evening wasn’t looking promising.
Darryl starts to tear the set down and I gather my things up. We're moving on. Once we're both squared away he lays the new plan on me. "We're going to the island. It's as far back as I ever go" he says. Sounds solid! He's not been back there all season and the locals don't push back that far. We're off. About a mile and a half and 2 hours later we're at the spot. It's ~4pm and the temps are cooling a bit. The wind is coming in from our left to right and Darryl has a spot in mind. I get tucked into a semi-clear area and start clearing branches for shooting lanes, nock an arrow and take a knee. Darryl heads to the back of the funnel and sets up the decoy. Here we go again.
Darryl starts whispering sweet nothings and we get no response. 10 minutes later, the same thing.....nada. 2 more calling sessions and still nothing. With the lack of sightings all week, the warm weather and lack of moose willing to respond I start rebooking the hunt in my head. Things are looking bleak. A few more minutes pass and I see Darryl breaking camp. At this point it's getting close to 5pm and we're gonna start heading back to the truck, stopping to call at decent spots. I start packing up my gear and heading over to Darryl.
I get about 10 yards from Darryl and I hear a faint bull grunt. To my ears it sounded like it was 400 yards away. Darryl was bent over tucking the decoy into his backpack and lifts his head up looking back behind me where I had just come from. "He's 70 yard's away and coming right at us" he says!!!! I slowly turn my head and see what looks like King Kong walking at me. He was doing that stiff-legged, head swaying walk like I've seen in 1 million YouTube video's while grunting with every lumbering step. I immediately go for the quiver and whisper "range him, range him" to Darryl. 65, 60, 55, 50. I spin my sight to 45, clip my release on and in one motion draw and turn.
The motion stops the bull in his tracks. Unlike my goat hunt I'm very conscience of my form once I'm at full draw. The moose is facing me full-on frontal. My pin settles on the center of his chest, the bubble is level, my elbow starts moving and the release breaks clean. I see the glow of the lighted nock disappear in the middle of his chest without the slightest bit of resistance. The moose bolts back the way he came and I drop to my knees like Dafoe in Vietnam.
I'd just killed that monster moose!!!! Apparently the guys hunting a mile away heard my mild excitement in the moments after. lol. Darryl didn't see the shot. He said he was focused on the shoulder and just caught the blur of the nock. I assured him that moose has hit hard. I went to find first blood and we gave him about 30 minutes and what a painfully long 30 minutes it was. After what felt like and eternity I take him to first blood and we pick up the trail. According to Darryl moose don't bleed much on frontal shots but this wasn't the case. The blood trail was visible from 10 feet away and it made for easy walking........for a whole 80 yards!! We cut the corner and this tank of an animal was on his side. Darryl was clearly shocked. He was expecting a much, much longer track job.
This might have been the best archery shot I've ever made. If I was aiming at a shirt button I would have center punched it. The sight picture of a moose at 45 yards looked like a deer at 20. I felt super comfortable letting that arrow go. The arrow went the entire length of the moose and stopped on his pelvis. The damage the Rage head did to him was catastrophic.
I fully expect flak for my shot choice and that's totally OK.
Thanks for the writeup
Hunt of a Lifetime.
The next day Darryl and I hit town to get my COVID testing done, buy totes for my cape and meat as well as pool noodles for my antler tips. After dropping off totes at the butcher we went back to the lodge and I rinsed the dried blood off of the antlers. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sunshine with a glass of bourbon admiring my bull's rack as it dried in the sun. Once the sun and bourbon were gone I started getting the rack shored up for the flight home. Pool noodles over the tips, cardboard wrapped around the paddles and secured with gorilla tape and all of it held together with a healthy dose of heavy duty saran wrap type stuff. The skull cap was wrapped in a construction grade trash bag with more gorilla tape holding it down and another generous helping of saran wrap. I thought it came out really well and it didn't sustain any damage on the ride home.
My flight left at 7am and with the airlines asking you to show up 3 hours early I had to be out of the door by 3am. Ryk was there to get me that morning and before heading to the airport we had to swing by and pick up the meat. Both the butcher and Gerald did a fantastic job with all of the "after the shot" care. I couldn't have been more pleased. The butcher packed all the totes to right at 50lbs. After that we headed to the airport, exchanged a hand shake and I was off.
Checking in wasn't too much of a hassle considering I had 7 bags to check with one of them clearly being moose antlers. It was a slow process but it got done and I was left with a hour and a half to slow down and look back through my camera roll and relive the hunt. I was (and still am) in shock that in 12 days time I had taken my dream animal in the mountain goat along with an ancient Canadian bull moose. The day was all smooth until I landed at Dulles to find they had misplaced my bow AGAIN, along with two totes of meat. I ran down an Air Canada agent and she assured me that my bags were on the next flight into Dulles and it was scheduled to land in 2 hours. That was enough time to get home, unpack, wrangle up the family and head out for a steak dinner. I got a call from the Air Canada agent saying the flight got delayed slightly and was showing up 30 minutes later. The plane landed and I was able to collect my bags without any more issues. The meat was still frozen and my bow wasn't damaged so this story has a happy ending!
Nice shot by the way.
Congratulations on a highly successful Season so far!
That picture of Ryk brought a big smile! Have had some great times hanging out with him over the years at Pope and Young…