To bed last night at 10 p.m. and up at 5 a.m., Pam and I were on the road to the lodge to have breakfast by 5:45 a.m. After yesterday and the day before, I was brimming with confidence and could not wait to get out into the fields of canola, wheat, oats and hay. We torqued down our breakfasts and were the first ones out the door to the truck. Even the guide was amazed at our eagerness. He expected us older people not to move that fast.
Down the roads we went. It was just light enough to make out shapes heading toward the tree lines and standing woods packed with timber. We could make out shapes and we saw a half a dozen bull moose heading to the shelter of timber. Several were of really decent size. We also saw, as usual, a lot of cows. Our guide told us that moose hang around a general area unless spooked. At that point they never come back to the same area for some time. Another fact that is interesting is that moose do not like wind and they will really hunker down in windy conditions. It is hard enough to see them without them making themselves more scarce.
The animal is very black and the timber they hide in is very dark to almost black depending where the sun is. Today was partially cloudy with very light breezes. We hoped the big beasts would be out roaming around looking for female company or some very fine canola to feast on. If you are a bull moose in this section of Alberta, you have no problem finding female company.
Moving down the roads and through the oil patches, we did not see anything initially. Then we came across two really young bulls. The guide classified them as “forkys”, but Pam and I classified them as girlie man bulls. They were really young and would have been a really easy shot. I could have gotten out of the pick up, laid my gun across the hood and punched one of them. They were not 30 yards off the road and standing very still. It was an easy shot, but this was only day two and there was no reason to harvest a bull we really did not want. Pam was worried I was going to take the bigger of the two.
Edging down the road and keeping an eye on the stands of timber, we rounded a corner, and there stood a cow and calf not more than 75 yards off the road. Just beyond the cow and calf was a really great looking bull. He was just standing there like he was frozen and we moved down the road where we could get out. Quietly we got out of the truck and did not slam the doors. We were moving down a stand of timber and the cow and calf were on the next stand of timber. There was only about a 30 yard stand of grass between the two stands of timber, and this is where Mr. Bull was standing. (I hope you the reader can visualize or understand what is going on). Mr Bull was in the open. The two cows were on the edge of the next stand of timber. This was a really really nice bull per the guide.
We got this picture out of focus, but what is a person to do considering we were driving slowly along the road to a spot out of sight to go and shoot the bull, providing he was still there.
We crept along the timber line and I was almost in shooting position when the calf spooked and took off running down the road. The animal was immediately followed by the cow. Mr. Bull (the dirty rat) dove for the timber. I did not say it, but I thought expletive deleted. We were close to the timber and both the guide and I did not believe the cow or the calf saw us. We could have been winded.
The three animals ran down the road and crossed to the other side. We turned around and stopped about 100 yards where they had crossed. The guide said, “He is not going to stay with that cow. He will come back across the road and back to the tree line.” He did just that, and stopped just across the road on the edge. THIS WAS A PERFECT SHOT AND NOT MORE THAN 150 YARDS AWAY. Can you hear me? As I type this I am screaming!
The first piece of bad news came: 1. He was standing just off the road. That is against the law in Alberta to shoot an animal along the roadway. It would have been my luck to have dropped him, and along would come the constabulary. Who do you think would be going to jail? The American. 2. The lodge did not have permission to hunt this piece of ground, and it took about 10 minutes before the guide contacted the owner. It was okay, but by then that magnificent piece of moose, had moved over to the stand of timber.
We took off trying to get into a position where we could spot him, but the wind was on our backs, and he just kept moving ahead of us. Finally, after being soaking wet from sweat, I gave up. The guide, God bless him, wanted to keep moving, but I was worn down. Pamela sat in the truck and took a plethora of pictures of everything that happened, and as I typed this blog, she was right there to make sure I did not forget anything.
The good news was that the two other hunters each had dropped their moose. One was a really nice boy and the other was a meat moose along the line of the “forkys” or to quote Pamela, “girlie” moose. We did not share that with anyone at the camp.
Caught in the act. The bear had pulled open the door to the bin holding oats and was woofing them down to his heart’s delight. Then we came along.
It was a small bear and when we came by again later, there he was, chowing down.
The evening was uneventful, although we did see, as usual, a lot of cow calf groupings. We were both beat from the day and did not even stay for the soup in the evening, but went right back to the 49 motel.
A harvest of a really nice moose came close. Close is only good in horseshoes. That night I slept like a baby and cried all night. Read the next post on January 1st, and always remember to never give up.
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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank