Day Three of Six of the Great Alberta Moose Hunt

Do you ever get up in the morning and say to yourself? “This is going to be my day in the sun.”  Well, driving up to the lodge that is how I felt, and Pam told me to slow down more than once as I was exceeding the speed limit.  When she is confident and upbeat, that is a good sign.  After 51 years of marriage, I think we read each other pretty well.  Decades ago, before I got married, a friend told me, “In your marriage be either right or happy.” I chose “happy” and things have worked out well for both of us.

Sunrise in Alberta and it looks like it will be a high overcast day.  The great beast will not be so tied to the stands of timber and may wander outside of his protective cover, or maybe, he will move closer to the edge. 

 

When we arrived ready for another large breakfast, the other two guides said, “You now have the best of all of us.  There will be six sets of eyes out looking for you and this is your day.”  How much confidence can a person build up.  Everyone around me is saying today is your day.

That owl is one of many different types of mounts in the lodge.  The problem I have with him is I feel like he is staring at me. He can’t be because he is dead.  I find myself looking out of the corner of my eyes to see where he is staring next. 

 

We started out before daylight and searched along the road and stands of timber.  As usual, we were seeing our fair share of cows.  Alberta does not have a cow season, although they do have a week calf season.  We were shocked, but found out that the kill rate for calves is 80%  That is horrible.  The predator is the Canadian Grey Wolf, and I carried a tag for wolves if I saw one or several.  Besides  game, they slaughter cattle.  The farmers will let you hunt them anytime.  We can visit more about that later.

As it got light no bulls were spotted and we were trying everything that was in the playbook for today.  We even went over to where the two “forkys” hung out (girlie man bulls) and they were still there.  I could have stepped out of the truck and shot one right on the spot as they both would have offered excellent meat for a hunter.  The guide said, “Take one if you want.”  I just had not driven 2,100 miles for this size of animal.  The guide also said, “Don’t worry, we have three more days to go.”  

This calf was spotted as we slowly drove down the road.  The cow was back further in the timber, but we expected to see a bull or at least spook one out.  The calf never spooked.  It just kept grazing away and slowly fed its way back to where the cow was.  We were only 30 yards from this animal.  The guide thought that this road was used mostly by the oil companies and they were here only periodically.  Very low traffic should have made this a good place for Bullwinkle. 

 
 

The other two guides were looking in different areas, but were only seeing cows.  In the three days we had hunted, all of us combined had seen over 250 cows. That is good for the population in the future, providing the Canadian grey wolves can be dealt with.

This is what the oil patch country looks like.  We have total and complete access to all the ground.  We never saw a single animal. 

The enthusiasm that I had in the morning was starting to wane.  Pamela said she could see it in my face as I felt a pat on the right shoulder.  One of the guides called and said they had spotted a spike bull if I wanted to nail it.  I did not want a spike bull, but said, “Let’s take our time and hunt our way over to the spot and take a look.”  I did not say I would kill it, only take a look.  Right at that time I felt lower than whale poop.  That is the lowest thing in the ocean. 

 

The guide then spoke up and said, “Look we have three more days to hunt, and with all these cows, there is a decent bull out there waiting for your bullet.”  With all these cows, the bulls do not even have to fight each other to get one, or more.

I put this picture on the blog just because I really like the beauty of the canola fields.  We glassed the tree line with binoculars and a spotting scope and saw nothing but some deer.  I have never seen so many deer in my life.  I live in SW Iowa along the Missouri River

 

We drove through a gate and onto a farm of canola and the guide hit the brakes.  All he said was, “Big bull, let’s go.”   We quickly got out of the truck and shut the doors gently.  Not 100 yards from us a cow and calf spooked.  I still had not seen the bull. The sky was overcast and the beast was black against a dark background.

We went about 25 yards and the guide said, “Right now, hit him.”  I could not find him and finally got him with the scope.  I was told to take my time, but I felt like I was being rushed. He was hard as heck to spot although I could make out the horns so I worked back along the body line.  I asked, “How far?” and was shocked at the two words he said, “400 yards.”  I have never ever shot that far and was really nervous.  I tightened myself up, stopped breathing, making sure my left hand was holding down the gun in the shooting stick tripod, adjusted for the drop per the scope and sent the first round on its way.  Immediately, I cycled the gun putting a fresh round in the pipe and sent it to the great beast.  After reloading the magazine and putting a fresh round in the chamber, he went down.

We walked toward him, and lo and behold he got up!  The guide said over and over again, “Hit him! Hit him!” and I gave him another two rounds.  We were about 300 yards at this time and maybe a little closer, but as we started walking toward him he stayed down.  The concern was he would take off and we would have a wounded animal to track down.  No one is interested in doing that.

When I got up to him his head was down, but he was still laboriously breathing,  so I put another shot into his chest right behind his left front leg at point blank range.  One breath, and that was the end.  It was a cool day, but I had sweat running down my face.  My furthermost shot up until now was a buffalo in January in South Dakota.  That was 300 yards, but the animal was brown against a background of snow.  This was totally different, plus the distance made me really nervous.

I mentioned earlier about the Canadian Grey Wolves.  They are a menace and the ranchers want them shot by the hunters.  The wolf is the smartest of the predators.  Mike’s Outfitting is offering this fall wolf hunting at a really reduced price.  One of his guides is an expert in killing these beasts and I am looking at going up next year for a wolf hunt. The wolves kill moose, elk, deer, and cattle and there is a bounty on them.

The other two guides hearing the shots, showed up and the process began of taking some pictures and loading him into the back of the pickup.  They had an electric winch on the bed of the truck and  winched him right up a ramp. Then drove the 4 wheeler on top of the moose.  Wow, these people had it all down to art and he was loaded up and taken back to the lodge. 

 

My first Moose.  

His body is really black and notice the white legs.  Pam and I with the moose. 

 

Our guide Kyle, with Pam and myself. 

 

This is how they get the moose out of the field and onto the truck. An electric winch and cable are secured around the horns and he is hoisted aboard.  The 4 Wheeler is driven right up on top and the ramps laid along the side of the bed. 

That is Whiskey our guide’s dog.  He is patiently waiting for a leg bone which after each moose is brought to him to enjoy

 
At home with the horns.  The meat is in our freezers and we ended up with 585 pounds of moose. 
 

I did not take pictures of the gutting, but it was really interesting.  Pam and I are both healthcare professionals and we were interested in his vitals.  The lungs were big, but not any bigger than we had seen on some of the elk that we have harvested.  The heart, however, was bigger than a volley ball and we were amazed at the size.  Their stomach has four chambers like a cow and they chew their cud.  They also consume about 50 to 60 pounds of vegetation a day.  They have no upper front teeth.  In order for us to take the horns back across the border into the U.S., all spinal cord tissue must be removed along with all brain tissue.  The brain is not any bigger than a baseball.  They react to stimulus only.  They are looking for a place to hide, a place to eat, a place to drink, and during the rut, a place to get intimate with the cow population.

Next blog in 2 weeks tells about what we did afterwards in Alberta. 

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank

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