I'm back from my third moose hunt of the year, and have to go sit on the bench. No moose for me.
I hunted twice earlier on with my bow, we had bull and cow tags for the first hunt and a bull tag for the second, and my biggest thrill was a probable flash sighting of a moose moving by out of range.
This time I'd be hunting my favourite way (on my feet and moving) and on my home court (at my deer camp in Parry Sound).
The bush was very dry when we arrived, and we still had green leaves on poplars and birches on the burn (about 60% of our hunting area). Normally when it's dry we don't see moose. There were two of us in, and the camp next to us (Teal's Camp - great name! ) had 5 guys in - unfortunately we were all hunting calves.
On opening morning, I went out to scout one area while Pat went to sit at a spot that's been good in the past. I saw no fresh sign, but as Pat approached his watch, he heard - then saw - a bull moose feeding. The moose went out of sight, and then re-appeared - with a bigger rack! The two bulls eventually moved off. He heard Teal's shoot, and later the sound of a chainsaw, so we assume they got a calf.
That afternoon I did some more scouting and found some calf sign that was a few days old. The next morning we decided to put Pat on watch, and I'd go through some thickets to see if I could push him a calf. Later in the morning I came up out of a particularly thick spot onto an open clearing, and what did I see but a cow and a bull!
The cow was a good size though not super large, and the bull was the smaller animal. We stood eyeball-to-eyeball for a while as I checked to see if there was a calf nearby - no such luck. The cow was about 25 yds away and the bull about 35 - both within bow range (if I were hunting with a bow and not my Whelen). I eventually shooed them off, and they ran west - still no calf got up.
That afternoon we heard Teal's shoot again and more chainsaw work, to we assumed a second calf, but we never heard anything more from them. They probably left because of the warm weather.
We didn't see anything more for three days, when Pat put up and observed two bulls and a cow to the west of us (near what we call the Big Valley). The cow may have been the one I saw on tuesday, but the bulls were definitely different animals from what we'd seen before.
The last day we decided to do some more hunting in the same general areas where Pat had seen the last 3 moose and I saw mine. After splitting up we both modified our plans slightly (which would put us in the same area). I swung a bit to the north, and then angled to the south-west. I crested a little knoll, and saw two moose (at least) about 150 yds away. I'd forgotten my glasses, so couldn't see them very clearly. though the one quickly emerged as a bull (eventually I guestimated his score in the 160 range).
I figured the only way I was going to tell if there were a cow and calf there as well was to get closer. They were watching me, so a hidden approach was impossible. I put my rifle to my head to simulate a rack, began waggling it slowly and started walking toward the moose. The bull separated himself from the cow a bit and became very interested in me. I got to within 50 yds of them when I had a good view, and realized I was only looking at two with no calf present.
I dropped my rifle to my side and began walking at right angles to what I'd been doing. This exposed the other side of the knoll and there I saw Pat. At this time the two moose made as to walk away. Pat pointed to them and then in the direction I was walking. A little more patience showed another good sized bull in the valley before me.
Pat had gotten to that point an hour before me when the moose had come over a hill toward him, and were milling about him when I came upon them. Again these were moose we didn't recognize from before.
In all, we saw 10 moose (7 bulls three cows). I wish I'd had a fraction of those sightings during my bowhunts. The only fresh calf track we saw was on the way out of camp on sunday - in Teal's territory. They must have been having a PTA meeting down that way this year.