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Canadian Shiras Hunt
Even with shiras moose points in the mid-teens in several states, the chance of drawing a tag is still very unlikely. So with some personal hunting goals that I'm hoping to accomplish before I'm too old to enjoy them, I decided to cash in my remaining stash of Cabelas points towards a shiras hunt north of the border. W.T.A now owns what used to be Cabelas Outdoor Adventures, I researched the outfitter that they book for and everything looked good. I would be hunting South West Alberta, around 80 miles from the Montana border. I figured they should still genetically the same animal as in Northern Montana. In the spring of 2019 I booked for late September 2021....what could possibly go wrong in that amount of time...??
I checked in with outfitter a couple times to see if I would still be on for 2021 if the border opened in time or if he needed to move me to 2022. As we got closer to the date and the border looked like it was going to open, it was locked in that I would keep my original dates as scheduled.
24 hours before I was to head to Canada , he called and there had been a positive covid test within his operation, he was scrambling for options to keep the hunt on scheduled, but for a few hours it was on hold with the possibility of pushing the dates back a week. A couple hours later I got a message that he had a plan in place and to continue as scheduled.
I drove across the border to fly from Toronto, figuring if there were any covid type issues it would be easier to handle them in my vehicle then it would be in an airport somewhere. The border crossing was a non-issue, I had all the required paper work and information on the app, I was at the border booth less than 3 minutes. Everything is back on track...I'm going moose hunting.
Best of luck with you. Have a safe hunt.
After landing and finally collecting my bags after a half hour delay getting them to the baggage carousel, Mark picked my up and we headed south. I was going to be hunting and staying with his nephew Jason, since Mark's place was locked down. Mark had just returned from guiding in the Yukon 2 days before, so he had stayed distanced from everybody else at his ranch, so he wasn't required to quarantine.
As we drove towards where I would be hunting the terrain turned from flat to more rolling then finally to typical Rocky Mountain foothills with a lot of aspen and willow brush with some spruce trees on the higher ridges. This definitely wasn't going to be a swamp type moose hunt, looked more like elk terrain than moose.
Awesome & good luck. Never hunted them but have seen a few in Colorado when Elk hunting.. Yep, Elk country is where I always saw them.. Enjoy the adventure.
After unloading my stuff, unpacking, meeting Jason and his family, we headed out for a drive and some glassing for the remaining couple hours of daylight. We checked a more mountainous area then back out to the foothills. We ended up seeing two smaller bulls and one cow, good sign heading into day 1.
Day 1, we are back where we saw the smaller bull and cow hoping maybe a bigger bull would be around too. We did some calling, glassing, hiking through the morning, seeing some deer and one cow a mile away. Then as we are walking a section of spruce trees and doing some calling we see a cow laying in front of us, then a bull stands up next her. Most likely the bull from the night before, he goes into full tough guy mode , grunting and swaying his head, coming under 20 yards from us for a few minutes, putting on a great show before they decided to head out , he was definitely in full run mode.
We finished out the morning hunt and headed back to Jason's for the mid day, it was very warm.
Towards evening we went to a different spot, still warm not much moved until the sun started down, then whitetails and mule deer started popping out. We made our way towards a big willow patch calling on the way. As we dropped over a rise we spotted a bull in the brush a couple hundred yards away. The bull was definitely bigger than this morning, but probably still not a day 1 shooter. Jason started calling and this bull also ended up under 20 yards, doing his tough guy act, taking out his aggression on some trees and bushes on the way. The action with this bull took us till dark and ended day 1.
Day 2 we go to a different spot again, bigger canyon type terrain. We spent the morning hiking, glassing and calling, but only spot one cow a couple ridges over. Later in the day we relocate closer to where the cow was hoping there would be a bull with her that we hadn't seen. We ended up finding a single cow, then a few minutes later walked onto a cow with a small bull with her. We had pretty well covered that area and still had some daylight left, so it was decided to go back to the truck and drive to a new spot to glass until dark. On our way we make a turn at an intersection in the main road and Jason spots a bull on his side of the truck running in the open. We turn around and drive towards where he is heading and he stops under 50 yards from us looking at the truck. He was a very nice bull, but there was nothing we could do under the circumstances except watch where he went and try to make a plan for the next morning.
The next morning we are in the area the big bull from the night before went to. We got up high to glass down in the brush, but after a few hours we weren't able to find him.
We went back to Jason's and gathered up some gear for an overnight trip into the bigger mountains. Jason had gotten a tip from some cowboys that were gathering cattle about a couple bulls in 2 different drainages. We had permission to stay in the cowboy cabin that was in one of the drainages. We got there early afternoon, the cabin was a bit "rustic" but it would work for the night. After unloading our stuff, we headed up the closest drainage. Glassing and calling. This area had alot more pine and spruce trees, so glassing wasn't going to be as effective. About an hour before dark the wind started blowing very hard, so with that we headed back to the cabin for the night.
The next morning day 4, we headed out of the cabin towards the next drainage, after a couple hours of hiking we are getting pretty high on the mountain, we spot a cow and calf, unfortunately no bull with them. After another 100 yards we spot another cow and calf, certainly there has to be a bull somewhere... we get to the top of the mountain and are calling down the other side and Jason gets a bull to answer. It doesn't take long and the bull is covering ground towards us, I get in front a little bit and set up. It is thick pine trees, the bull is going to be close before I will be able see him and judge him. He is coming steadily, arrow nocked ready to go....at 30 yards I get the first look at him...he was just a little bigger than the bull from day one, another pass.
We finished out the morning and looped back to the cabin to gather out stuff and head back to the foothills. That evening the wind blew very hard again, the only moose we saw was a small bull over a mile away. We did see over 200 elk with alot of buggleing and chasing going on.
Another great hunt to follow on Bowsite!
Following very patiently........
Killer pics! Keep 'em coming!!!
The morning of day 5 was cool and calm, perfect weather for moose calling. We went to another new area, it looked like perfect moose area. We called and glassed around the several draws that came off the mountain that we were on. After several hours all we had turned up was 4 single cows scattered through the area...at least there was some bull bait around. We decided since we had gained a fair amount of elevation and there was still some more area to check that we would spend the warm part of the day lounging on the mountain, instead of going down then back up in the afternoon. From about 11:00 - 4:00 we relaxed in under some aspen trees. The area in the picture was below us and that was one of the spots we planned to check in the evening.
After our break we headed into the trees in the picture above. We planned to go in quietly then call when we got in close. About half way through the aspens we jumped some whitetails, the were blowing and prancing, doing whitetail stuff. Jason started moose calling to try to make all the noise sound more moosey incase there was a moose close. Sometime during the whitetail noise, we both thought we heard a small twig snap up hill in the spruce trees. After the deer left we went in the spruce trees about 10 yards and Jason started some soft moose calling. About 30 seconds into his calling I caught some movement up the hill in the same patch of trees that we were in.
The movement turned into a moose, bull moose. I had a little better view than Jason, I asked if he thought this one was a shooter, then answered my own question before he could. I was starting to get down on time and this bull was looking good as he started towards us. He wasn't quite as "goofy" as the smaller bulls we called in. He was being a little more cautious, he stopped at about 60 yards to look things over then started towards us again only to stop again at 35 yards. There were too many trees, no clear shot. The bull was looking hard for the other moose he couldn't see. Then I see out of the corner of my eye, Jason pulls his moose antler out and is flashing it beside my head. That convinced the bull he starts grunting more and posturing towards us. I had ranged what I thought would be the first broad side shot I would get. I set my pin for 20 yards and brought the bow up in front of me to be ready to draw when his head went behind the last tree between us....then he stopped facing me at about 25 yards....
On the edge of my seat! And????
Please tell me you throttled him on a frontal.
Earlier in the week Jason had mentioned that he had luck stopping bulls for a shot if they turned to run. With nothing between us but air and his nose working overtime sniffing every ounce of air he could, the situation had potential to go bad quickly. Jason whispered you better draw now.
The bow was already up, so I pulled as straight and smoothly as I could. I hit anchor and got settled in and the bull hadn't moved. I made sure to notice his body angle wasn't quite straight at me. I settled the pin to the his left side of center a bit and held just a little high for the extra distance. The bow went off and the arrow went to the fletch in his chest and immediately it was like turning a garden hose on. The bull lunged the direction he was pointing, which was directly down hill at us. I side stepped a few steps behind some small trees as the bull went by less than 10 yards away, running over small aspen trees on his way. He veered out of the spruce trees into the more open aspens. After 50 yards he started to wobble pretty good, he went with the hill another 50 yards or so before he fell and rolled a couple times, never leaving our sight and spraying an incredible amount of blood.
Refresh,,,refresh! You’re killing any productivity here at work!!!
You were typing! Awesome!!!!
Great bull! Congratulations!
Great job, executing the frontal shot !
Congrats on a dandy bull!
Saweet! Congrats on a great bull!
Congrats! Thanks for sharing!
Awesome!!!! Congrats on a fine bull!!!
Great Bull!! Thanks for sharing
That is awesome! Great story and great bull!
Yes! Congratulations on a fine bull. Awesome!
Fantastic Gene. Way to go…congrats.
Awesome, Gene! Congrats on putting another checkmark on your “goals” list, with a nice bull. Sounds like perfect placement on the shot, as well!
Very good, awesome hunt. Like we were there beside you. Congrats on a great bull!
Thank you very much and a big congrats to you as well!
Nice Shiras....congrats on the bull and for making it happen rather than relying on luck of the lower 48 draws!
Congrats, very nice bull.
Congrats! Who was the outfitter? Just curious
Very awesome.. i love moose hunting..
Thanks for all the comments.
After the pictures were taken it was time to come up with a plan to get the moose out. This isn't a super remote type hunt, so there were a few options, horses, sxs, even getting fairly close with a truck. The land owner was called to let him know there was going to be moose retrieval going on, on his property. During the call he made the comment that as he has gotten older, he doesn't get involved in much excitement anymore. He offered up himself and his jeep wrangler TJ to help retrieve. After moving a fair number of deadfall aspen trees and some careful navigation he had the jeep at the kill sight. We were able to pull the whole moose out to where Jason was able to get his full size truck with hydraulic bail lifter bed on it and load the moose whole.
Mike, it was Anchor Bar Outfitters.
We then hauled the moose to Mark's shop and was able to hang it whole for butchering.
WoW!! Crazy nice
We skinned the moose and let it hang over night. I decided that I would rent a car and drive home to be able to bring a bunch of meat and the antlers/skull for a euro mount with me to avoid shipping it. I have done this a few times in the past from various locations, fly one way then rent a car one way for the return. I don't mind driving and it adds a little more adventure to the trip.
We went to the nearest town to get coolers the next morning and like alot of things today, there was a shortage of coolers....after several stores I was able to finally find multiple smaller coolers, but never did find any big ones.
We cut and vacuum sealed the meat that I would be taking home and put it in the freezer overnight. Cleaned and wrapped the skull for hopefully simple border crossing when the time came.
Because of the covid restrictions I had to stay in Canada the whole way vs dropping into the US then back into Canada to get my vehicle in Toronto. I traveled from Calgary to Toronto all across Canada. It was long but still nice to see the country and the lack of traffic vs traveling across the US. In just a little under 48 hours with a couple naps on the way, I was back to my home in PA putting moose meat in my freezer.
I've had a couple questions about it being a shiras , but being in Canada. While BC / PnY draw the line at the US/Canada border separating shiras/Canada moose. SCI and GSCO recognize a small area of SW Alberta and SE BC as shiras. After being there and seeing the terrain and habitat, it is much more typical elk habitat vs swampy moose type and the body structure of the moose that I killed, along with the fact that it was 75 miles from the MT border, I'm happy calling my moose a shiras. I will keep playing the tag lottery in the US and maybe someday get lucky or possibly use my points in one of the states to draw a cow tag to be able hunt a US shiras someday.
My equipment was my normal set up for most all critters. Carbon Defiant 34, 73 pounds, 462 grain Gold Tip arrow, 4 fletch Blazers, Exodus broadhead.
Map of what SCI considers shiras range
Congrats again Gene, an great bull and great adventure!
That's awesome!!!!! Congrats!!! How'd you love that drive from through Saskatchewan and into MB? lol
Well done, nice moose. Enjoyed the pictures and story. Percy
Great story Gene! Congrats
Very cool. Congratulations and thanks for the recap.
Thanks for sharing that great story and pictures.
Nicely done! Great shot and great moose. Thanks for sharing.
Way to go Gene! Congratulations!
Congrats! But I hope you got some of your money back see you did get the opportunity to pack him out on your back! I fill a little robbed ;)
Drive the truck right up to the moose and pack it back to the skinning shed. At my age, that is the type of moose hunt I want to go on. Thanks for the story, pics and exciting moose hunt. Glad you were able to go, considering the issues that faced you and travel. my best, Paul
Nice job Gene! Thanks for posting
Thanks for sharing! Congrats on a nice Shiras bull!
Great write-up. Congrats!
Sure enjoyed the story!!!
Great experience! Thanks for sharing.
Fantastic! Congrats to you!
Outstanding pics and write up Gene. Congrats on a stellar Shiras!!
Nice hunt recap! Good pics. Congrats
Missed this one while I was gone. Congratulations on a great hunt and nice moose!
Great bull! Congratulations!!
Awesome job and great story!
Awesome job and great story!
Congrats!!! Very cool!!!!