It has only been a little over 10 years since I started hunting, but it is an experience I really enjoy and it is a sport that I am actually good at. I am not athletic so sports don’t come easy to me. But I love the outdoors and being close to nature. Hunting is not about the kill, it is about the entire experience and if you have never done it, it’s hard to explain.
I don’t know why, but moose have caught my attention from very early on. I guess I would say it was on my bucket list. I had the opportunity to hunt moose in Canada in 2009 when I drew my first moose tag with Kory Leslie of True North Outfitters. During that three day hunt, the weather was bad and I didn’t even see a moose. My husband, Don, and I tried every year to get a license again but with no success. That is, until 2014 when Kory had the opportunity to get an outfitter tag and he put all his clients name in the hat and drew out mine. Wow, I was so excited! And this year, New Brunswick extended the season to five days
After weighing the pros and cons we decided to fly from Florida to Maine and then drive on to St. George, New Brunswick, Canada. Flying presented a few challenges. I packed soft side coolers so that if we were fortunate enough to get a moose, we could bring meat home. But for Don, it meant he could not bring all of his toys that he loves to bring hunting.
Before we left, we were getting scouting reports almost daily from Kory showing us moose, blinds that were set up in beautiful bogs, and signs that the rut was starting. Moose hunting means getting up about 3:30 AM, getting everything together and leaving the lodge for an hour drive out into the woods. You want to get out into the stand just before dawn so we walked about a quarter to a half mile through the woods in the dark over logs, rocks, uneven ground, moss, etc (i.e. don’t twist your ankle while carrying your gear and rifle!). Just a side note, these are old boreal forests where everything decomposes on the forest floor. It’s like an emerald city, but slippery and uneven. Oh, we have to do all of this without making any noise! Not!!! We both have the bruises and bumps to prove it is not easy.
Once we got to the stand, Kory began calling. His call is a female moose in heat calling to any male moose in the area. What we want to hear is a male replying and come into the open bog area . The temperatures were cool, and perfectly moosey, but they were not quite ready for the rut. No males called back or showed up until the second morning. Then, silently, a 5 point spike slowly stepped out of the bush, stopped, and looked around. I had him in my scope, broadside, but I decided to pass. I don’t want to say I was trophy hunting, but I wanted a good representative moose.
We did get a lot of female moose replying from all directions, so that was a very good sign. Once in a while you could hear a grunt, usually just a single one somewhere close by but no one was coming out to get romantic.
So, the days turned into somewhat like the Groundhog Day movie. Up at 3:30, in the blind and hunt till 10:30 or 11. Then we would drive around scouting for moose, have lunch at a beautiful lake, and take an afternoon nap. About 4 pm, we would go back out in the blind and sit until dark around 8 PM, then struggle once again in the dark to quietly get out of the woods back to the truck.
This routine continued for all five days. I won’t go into the aches and pains that you get doing this type of hunt, but if you read until the end of my story you will find that it is all worth it. We hunted several sites and had changed sites the last two mornings. On Friday morning, we started getting the male grunt replies, meaning….. the rut was starting. But no one would show themselves. So on Saturday, the last morning, it was fairly warm (which is not good for moose hunting) but we got in there early and it was super super quiet. There was a mist on the creek. It was absolutely beautiful. When the calling began, immediately a bull moose replied. He was very vocal and never stopped replying. You could hear him getting closer and closer! Side note…because the moose never stopped replying or talking, the guys decided later they would call him Don, my husband.
This was the classic hunt I was waiting for. It truly was just like you see on TV. They called the moose in, step by step. The hairs on my neck stood up in anticipation and excitement. Don and I just looked at each other and grinned. This scene was magical. I got ready and put my rifle up, following the sound as the moose made his way in the woods a little closer, and a little closer. Suddenly, this black thing stepped out of the woods and I quietly whispered to Don in an excited voice, “Big and black. I see it!” No one else was in the position to see it so they all jumped when I put my crosshairs on and shot. The moose was moving a little quicker now. I quickly reloaded and took another shot. Both shots were broadside but I knew from my trusted guide Kory that moose to do not go down easily. He was moving toward an area that I could not see well from my position so Don volunteered to take the gun as he could see. As I was handing him the gun I saw the moose stumble and fall down. Then I saw the steam from his lungs coming up and I knew I was successful. Finally…I had my moose!
Now came a lot of hard work for everyone, except me. Kory had to go get the four wheeler while we waited at the moose. It’s a very interesting way that they hauled the moose out of the woods. They hooked one four wheeler to another four wheeler that was hooked to the moose to drag it out. Then they got the moose and the four wheelers on the truck and trailer, and drove to the check-in station. The rangers estimate the weight by measuring the nose, and my guy had a big one. He weighed 790 pounds, the second largest for that check-in station. We quickly headed back to the lodge to begin skinning so the moose meat could be taken to the butcher.
Oh, and his antlers were beautiful! He was a great 13-point, with a butterfly palm, meaning he was showing a distinct upper and lower palm on both sides. This was such a classic hunt and full moose experience. It was great and again I thank Kory, our friend and guide from True North Outfitters for making this all possible. http://www.truenorthoutfitters.ca
I cooked moose sirloin last night. WOW, melt in your mouth! Delicious. Now it’s unpack, clean, and get ready for our North Carolina deer hunt in a couple of weeks!