For some years, I had been applying for the antlered moose draw in one area that i had favored for them because i had seen so many in there while hunting whitetails and mulies and scouting for elk, but sightings were mainly of bulls around the 1-2 year old mark and only a couple maybe older and over the 40 inch category. I would get drawn every third year, with success 3 out of 3 times, including one of which was a friend of mine, the other two were mine. My first one was only a yearling bull, cant complain being my first moose and the meat was awesome. Will never forget those steaks and roasts that fell apart as soon as you cut the strings. Of course i kept the 30 inch set of antlers, being my first moose, and being a tradition of mine to keep all no matter what the size to remember each hunt by, as well as giving respect to all the animals I take. The following year, a friend of mine was drawn in the same zone, and didn`t know the area so I was pleased to take him out for his moose. He took a dandy 40 inch bull after 3 days of solid hunting dawn till dusk and covering a lot of country, and minutes after we had his bull loaded into the truck and were heading down the road, we seen two more bulls together. Two years later, I took a 41 inch bull the first morning of my hunt, and after hard work and skinning and quartering and loading, i was headed home by noon.
I was already getting sick of the area and starting to be annoyed by all the industrial traffick and pressure. Oil and timber companies were controlling roads and access points were becoming few and far between unless already heavily pressured. As a worker in the oil field, and being and avid hunter, i had been very fortunate to gain knowledge on several areas, and had sightings of huge 50 plus inch bull moose, and was beginning to see a pattern of where i was seeing the big bulls and the times of year. One of my favorite elk areas had been blessing me with a few sightings, and findings of sheds there, discovering a huge feeding area with a spring fed creek in the middle of it surrounded by hundreds of yards of timber which was only accessable and visible by going in on foot, I decided to enter the draw for this zone, which to my surprise, I was drawn the first year. I knew exactly when the moose would be starting to come into this area, so i applied for the November or late season. I knew I would need a decent first snowfall or two to get some movement in this area, however, there was always a couple resident moose but usually cows with calves and a smaller bull or two. I knew exactly where the animals lie up and on which sides and ridges above the willow and brook meadows depending on wind direction, and had already planned different strategies for every situation I would come across, to make my trip as worth while as i could living 5 hours away.
I had to work most of November and finally the day came when I was off from work with only 3 days left of the season. I drove 6 hours home, did my special washing routine and reactivation for my scentlok clothing, powdered my winter thermo rubber boots and de-scented everything including the inside of my packs, knives, rifle, socks, underwear, undergarments, hat, and even the plastic bags to put it in. I even de-scented the seats and doors and steering wheel of my truck and everything inside it. I was up at 1:30 am and showered and de-scented and on the road by 2. I was wearing my undergarments, with a pair of de-scented sweat pants and my shoes which I had also de-scented. Though it was only a couple days left of the season, I vowed that I would not take a bull less than 50 inch. Three hours later, I stopped for gas and a 24 pack of bottled drinking water. I already had protein and meal replacement bars, protein supplement and vitamins, trail mix and oatmeal bars, so i was good enough for breakfast and my hunts. In another hour and a half, I arrived at the last town before my destination, so I topped off my fuel tank, as it was still dark out anyways and was only a half hour or so from my destination. I sprayed de-scenter over myself and the inside of my truck and seat again. Then I was on the last stretch of road. I turned of the hi-way on the road which takes me to my planned spot, and put the truck in 4x4 for the ascent up the washed out, rutty and snow and ice covered road. I plugged my way to the top, and it had 6 inches of fresh snow and i was the only tracks going in, so everything was good so far. As I got closer to my spot, the last hundred or so yards of road before I get to where I park was just criss-crossed with fresh moose tracks. I got to the widening in the road where I parked my truck, had a quick bite, got everything ready and got out. I took my scent lok clothing out of the bags, and put it on, then my boots, then my already loaded pack with my knives, food, and a total of 6 bottles of water in my pockets, some cough drops to help me from making any cough noise, and quietly walked down the road. There was tracks everywhere, mostly moose but also several sets of deer, some large and dragging, and I also had mulie and whitetail tags. As I walked on further down the backside of the mountain, the sign faded out, so I decided to go back to the truck, as my thoughts were pretty much comfirmed of where the animals should be.
When I got close to the truck, I looked at all the moose tracks and it appeared that they were made by only 2 animals, and the tufts of hairs bent kinked into v shapes lying in the snow was a sign to me that at least one was a bull because of the way the tines scrape off hair when they push another moose along when being dominant, or by scratching. Also, being long after the rut, I knew it was likely to be 2 bulls together as they will often bachelor up together in the winter months. The wind was perfect, blowing towards me from the feeding and bedding area, and I knew exactly which bedding area they would use. The sun was breaking up the clouds and the foot of snow was nice and quiet to walk in. Soon the sky had cleared to blue and the temperature went from -20 up to around -1. I worked my way away from the moose tracks and headed to the timbered north side of the basin to a ridge that followed along the creek bottom with willows and meadows. An absence of sign in the fresh snow revealed that the animals were either between the feeding area and the road or further west along the feeding area somewhere, but from where I was travelling along, I maintained a good vantage point from above the feeding area, while watching the bedding area which was still up and cross wind in front of me. Then I heard noise, a familiar sound, so I stopped to hear it better. It was the sound of tines brushing against frost laden branches and twigs, but I couldnt see anything. I knew the noise was coming from crosswind and towards the feeding area, but there was a cluster of small lodgepole pine and alpine fir in front of me, so I sprinted quietly in the snow to just inside the cover of the trees on the edge of the feeding area. There was movement on the other side, and then I saw antlers, one set was huge, the other was average 40 inches or so, but all I could see was their backs, shoulders and antlers. I waited and anticipated there movement forward to take them across a spot where i could get more view of them so I stayed low, and chambered a round in my old trusty and faithful 30.06. I stood up slowly and the younger bull sensed my presence and darted forward up the other side near the timber of which my truck was a couple hundred yards on the other side. He stopped and looked back at his much larger accomplice. The big bulls vitals were obscured by a small alpine spruce or balsam, and he was stopped there, and looking at his younger friend. I was ready and held on him in my 3 power scope. He was only 40 yards away, and my heart was racing but I remained calm, I had to. It seemed to be taking forever so I made some loud hissing noise. The big bull finally proceeded to walk on and I let him have it right in the shoulder hump and he dropped like a ton of bricks instantly, kicked for a couple seconds and stopped.
Yaaaaay!! I yelled, even though I was alone, ``A trophy moose!!`` as i opened the action in my bolt action odd six, so all I would have to do was close it again to have a round fire ready. I sprinted across the sub-alpine willow swamp and right across a beaver pond with only a half inch of ice on it which I was breaking thru but not getting wet. I was so excited and moving so fast I wasnt going thru that thin ice!! I got to the bull and there was no need to fire another round, but I kept the bullets in with the bolt open because I was suddenly alone in grizzly country with a lot of bloody work ahead of me. Every noise even a bird would make had me looking towards its source so I kept my rifle close by leaning against a tree. I got some parachute cord and tied some lengths to the two legs on the same side of the huge beast, I noticed he had a beautiful gold colored coat around his shoulders and neck, which was unique, and I couldnt stop looking at his antlers, so I took a lot of pictures. I tried to get him on his back and was extremely difficult due to the fact he was lying on his stomach and chest in a deep rut caused by the game trail being so well used through the muskeg, but finally got him close enough to being on his back for me to start field dressing, and tied the legs secured to trees to prevent him from rolling back over, and proceeded to work on him. I bushwacked a trail straight due southwest to the road and was about 2 hundred yards from where the animal lie to my truck, and went to get my pack for packing out quarters. It was not there!!! I was cursing myself!! All I had was my daypack which I was wearing!! How could I have missed it!! Frustrated, I followed my trail back to the moose with only one option, which I was thankful to have a foot and a half of snow for dragging quarters, instead of dirt, moss, deadfall, leaves and evergreen needles. I had downed the moose at approximately 10:30 am. I skinned the bull as I went along separating the quarters and the rest of the meat, then made several trips, dragging the heavy quarters with nylon rope, which was hurting my hands despite thick winter ranching gloves, 6 trips completed having all the meat in the back of the truck in canvas meat bags for the boned out meat and the quarters wrapped in nylon game bags and each trip was with rifle in the other hand, switching hands often to relieve the circulation in my fingers. Then a quick trip back for the antlers. I was back on the road heading down the mountain at 6:54 pm. I stopped to top off my tank of gas and the gas jockey couldnt believe the size of the rack I had in the back of the truck, which I thank goodness my canopy was fiberglass so it was able to flex a little as I forced and wedged it in the back.
I was on my way home and very tired and sleepy from the long days work and exercise and my fingers remained numb for the first few days from the rope-dragging of the heavy quarters. I couldnt help but stop in a couple places to go back and look at those antlers. It was just shy of 52 inches, and up there with a couple of the biggest bulls I had ever seen. He had broken tines and a lot of character. I later had it scored by the Edmonton fish and game scorer and he only netted 168 inches, not making the book, but nonetheless a trophy in my books. As for the meat, dont let size and age of the animal fool you, the meat was awesome and the steaks were beautiful and even tasted better than the young bull which I had harvested some years before. Maybe it was because of being a late season bull long after the rut. The boned out meat and quarters weighed in at 425 pounds, mostly deboned except for the front upper legs and shoulder blades and the back upper legs and buttocks.
My knowledge of the area, hunting, the winds, and the animals and my strategies and hard work had paid off.