The Great Moose Hunt is On

It was finally going to happen!  After a three day drive from Council Bluffs, we arrived in Grand Prairie, Alberta Canada.  Next morning we met the chief guide at our motel and followed him up to Spirit River and to the lodge.  We then met the staff and everyone was shown to their rooms except for my wife and I.  We were staying at the 49 Motel in Spirit River.  The lodge had adequate rooms, but there were only two bathrooms and one shower.  Not so good for my wife but Mike told me hunters bring their wives all the time and stay at the motel.  It was only 20 minutes from the lodge.

The lodge was full of mounts of all kinds from bear to elk to a multitude of mule and whitetail deer.  Look at the pile of horn lying in the bottom of the picture. 
 

Next was licensing, a really big lunch, and then guidelines on how the hunts would take place.  There were five hunters in total and three guides.  Pam and I teamed up with the chief guide by ourselves.  The other two guides had two hunters a piece.  One thing the guides stressed at our initial meeting was to keep shooting as long as the moose was still standing.  More than likely it would take several shots.  They stressed that these are really big animals and it takes a lot to bring one down.  It was also common for one to get up after being shot.  We were instructed to shoot again and again until he goes down, stays down, and his head is down.  Next we went out to the range in back of the lodge and shot our rifles to make sure they were zeroed in.  Then it was off to hunt till it got dark.

This is farm country with gently rolling fields of canola, wheat, oats, and hay.  It is also oil country and the land is peppered with large swaths of forest land containing a multitude of pump jacks.  We were able to hunt this ground, although the roads were dirt and not maintained well. We could hunt the farm ground too and Mike’s Outfitting has obtained permission from a lot of land owners yielding plenty of acreage to hunt.

This is pasture ground and the crop fields are scattered throughout the area.  Notice the timber at the top of the picture.  This is made up of Spruce, Aspen, Poplar and other smaller native woods.  When it gets light the moose hide in the swatches of timber.  Keep in mind they are black and blend in really well with their surroundings. Our three guides had eyes like that of an eagle and could spot moose in the timber at great distances.  All of us hunters complained about the same thing.  They were seeing things and we could not see squat.  That is the difference between a young man’s eyes and ours. 
 

The farm ground had massive fields but they were bordered by stands of timber running for miles and about 15 to 20 yards wide.  The timber was a mix of spruce, aspen, poplar, and a tall plant that had a dark look to it.  The reason I bring this up is that the stands of timber were almost black looking.  The moose we were hunting were black except for their horns and legs.  The legs were white.

In a 4WD, 4 Door, F250 we prowled the roads examining the stretches of timber and searching for moose.  I have never seen such amazing eye sight as our guide had.  The other hunters had the same experience with their guides.  It was amazing how they could spot game in the timber line.  I want to also add that this country had deer roaming all over it and we saw whitetail as well as mule.  They also have elk, and offer bear and wolf hunts.  This is definitely a one stop shop hunting lodge.

Timber was to the left with a harvested Canola field to the right.  We studied the tree line and glanced out to the open ground.  The main concentration was the tree lines.  Notice how thick it is and dark.  A perfect place for a moose to hide. 
 
 

On the first day our guide did not see a bull moose, but did see plenty of cows and cows with calves.  That is the difference between a young man’s eyes and mine and my wife’s.

As it got toward evening, one of the hunters had a 250 yard shot and unfortunately missed.  He was disappointed, but he had hunted here before and was looking for a meat moose.  It was a respectable animal, but he was not too disappointed as he knew there was a young boy out there for him.

That is a calf.  The cow was deeper in the timber, and the calf did not even spook.  We stopped about 50 feet from her and just watched as she took her time nibbling away at the stand of timber.  I could not see the cow, but our guide did and said it was a big mature girl.  Now where are the boys?
 

As it got dark, we headed back to the lodge.  Our two main meals were breakfast and lunch.  Lunch was the big meal for the day.  In the evening it was generally a soup or a soup and sandwich combination.  There was always home made dessert and was outstanding.  After supper my wife and I would head back to the Motel 49 in Spirit River.  This was not New York City, and the Motel 49 was not the Waldorf, but it was very clean, comfortable, and met our needs perfectly.

We were to be at the lodge by 6:15 for breakfast and then it was off to hunt.

The next day we hit the roads at 7 a.m. and in the dim light, we could see big moose heading back to the stands of timber lining the fields.  They love the canola fields and this was where we concentrated.  We also moved into some of the oil country timber but saw nothing.  Our best luck on spotting moose was the stands of timber.  We were constantly seeing cows with a calf. That was a good sign as wherever the girls are the boys are soon to follow.  It wasn’t long.

A father and son team had just harvested two moose.  One was a really big boy, and the other was acceptable, but needed some growing.  Both hunters were pleased.  For them, this meant they would get their game to the processor, wait a day, and go back south to the U.S.

Both men were smiling ear to ear as we pulled into the lodge and went to see their results.

We got back to the lodge after all the loading, gutting and preparation for the processor.  Two guides did all of this and the hunters were really pleased with their harvest. It would take a day to have the processing and freezing done.  Then they would go back to New Mexico the following day. 

Two really nice bulls.  Father and son were really pleased

 

After another great big meal and being stuffed, we waited an hour then went back out to prowl the prairies and oil patches.  We hunted until late in the day, but did not see a decent bull.  There was an opportunity to harvest a young spike, but it was early in the hunt and if I got to the last day, I would take it. 


Back to the 49 Motel and repeat the same process next day.  The story continues on December 15th. 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank 

 
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