With my vaccination record and a Covid test prior to reaching the border, it was off to the Spirit River area in Alberta Canada. Over 2,200 miles one way, it took a mere three days of driving. The drive was enjoyable and seeing all the country we rarely hear about added pleasant memories to the trip. Crossing the border at Sweetgrass/Coutts got me into Canada. At the kiosk on first entry, my passport, proof of at least two vaccinations for Covid, and the completed test for the virus at least 72 hours before crossing was required. Then they asked me where I was going, what I was going to do, and when I would arrive there.
Next step was to go into the administration building where my contract with the outfitter was examined and my paperwork to bring a firearm into Canada was examined. The final step was to pay my fee to bring in the firearm and off I went. Total time was about 30 minutes.
After arriving into Canada, the first thing I noticed was a total absence of snow. In fact the weather was in the 50s during the day and never below freezing at night. This was the weather patterns almost to Spirit River and the lodge. Then things changed and there was a couple of inches on the ground. The weather was cool to cold, foggy, with snow showers. Great weather for hunting big game.
Now, since it is moose and wolf that would be hunted, how would this weather pattern affect the hunting for these animals? The outfitter believed that the moose would spend more time in the fields and less in the woods. The wolf would spend more time on the bait since it would not be frozen solid. This proved to be true.
You have to look a little but there are two beauties staring at us through the willows. One morning we counted 25 cow moose without seeing a bull. This is exciting.
I was sharing my guide with a deer hunter from Texas. That was a long drive for him. His goal was to harvest a trophy mule deer, so the morning and evening would be split up. In the morning we would focus on moose in the fields and then from late morning, the focus would be on deer. I would go to the wolf blind(s) during the rest of the day. Sometimes I would be picked up and we focused on moose.
On the third day in the early morning, the guide spotted a really big cow, and there was a nice size bull with her. We moved down the road we were on and then walked back to a road used by the oil companies and slowly walked back to the edge of the timber where they were hiding. At about 75 yards they crossed the road in front of us but did not spook. They just walked away briskly. Here was where an experienced guide came into play. He gave some cow calls with his mouth and that slowed them both down. We moved up closer.
The moose did not spook yet. They trotted briskly away from us and the guide gave another cow call. This caused both of them to stop and turn back toward us. The bull was straight in front of me with his rear end pointing directly toward us. The cow was just off to his left. To the right of the bull was heavy timber and they were following the timber line as they walked along. The guide whispered to me, “Can you make this shot?” And then he added, “Don’t hit the cow.” The guide let loose with another cow call and they stopped again. They stopped and the bull looked back at us and gave a great position for a good shot. Friends have asked what was the distance? We did not know but estimated it was over 150 yards, but not over 200. We were looking at two animals on the move and wanted the bull who was in the front, just to stop and turn a little to his right.
There was so much brush and timber, I screwed the power down to 4 on the scope. I generally leave it at 7, but I wanted a broader field of view and to know where the cow was so that she did not step into a shot. As he looked back, I focused, held my breath, and squeezed. Just at the squeeze point, the bull turned his head back to looking straight ahead.
The round went down his right side and into the right shoulder. He turned hard to his right with a couple of steps, then went down. The cow crossed right behind him and into the timber. She was gone and unharmed thank goodness. If there had been an accident, and I had hit the cow, things would get very messy for me and the outfitter in the way of fines. I felt confident as the equipment had been well tuned before leaving and I had used snap caps to practice just focusing, not breathing and squeezing the trigger at distant targets.
We knew the bull was down. The guide was hesitant about moving forward as the bull was definitely hit so he wanted to wait and come back. His experience was not to approach the bull in case he was wounded. Letting him calm down was the better way to approach him later. There is a big artery in the area he was hit so he probably had expired.
After lunch we came back, and there he was right where he fell. Not a big bull, but the guide said that he was about 2.5 to 3 years old and would make excellent dining fare. I was not after horns anyway, as I have no more room in the area of the house where I hang horns and heads. One of the guides at the lodge wanted the horns, so he got them.
Not a big bull, but a youngster so he will eat well. While a big old bull is great for show, he has had a lot of testosterone flowing through his veins. The youngsters are more tasty.
Beautiful Alberta Sunset culminates in a great day.
I had spent a day and a half in the wolf blind, so now I would spend the rest of the time hunting for grey wolves. Read the next blog about hunting wolves.
After crossing the border back into America, I filled out a sheet required to import the animal and all I checked off was for meat. The officer said, “Where are the horns?” So I showed him a picture and he said, “Good choice, he is a nice young bull and he will be good eating.”
Good hunting, good fishing and good luck, Hank
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