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Thread: Another hunting story... first handgun hunt....

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    Default Another hunting story... first handgun hunt....

    I posted this on the Handgun Hunter forum so figure I'd put it here as well....

    Okay, well now I'm hopelessly hooked! I went on my first "official" handgun hunt. Rifle stayed home. I was packing my 45 Colt Bisley Hunter w/355 wfn's as my hunting gun in the Wyoming Combo Holster and of course as any other time I'm in the woods here in Alaska - my 4" 454 Redhawk was on my hip in the Simply Rugged Pancake, my "Oh $4it!" gun. On to the hunt.....



    3rd solo moose hunt in a spot I've killed 2 meat bulls before with my rifle, a 40 incher and a fork. I motored in on my atv, pitched my tent and was ready to hunt for 5 days. I saw a cow and calf headed in the first day, nothing that evening. Did some calling that night. I didn't see one moose the second day, saturday.... bummer. But, I had done some exploring and found a moose freeway through the woods leading to a saddle where there was a nice little treed, rocky overlook into the old burn area from 6 years ago.


    Sunday morning I still hunt my way down the trail to "rocky point". It was pretty warm so I took my long johns off, stuck em in my pack and out of the still clam air I hear RAKE- RAKE, SNAP! RAKE RAKE!!...... A bull!! Unmistakable sound. It sounds like someone using a 5 gal bucket to tear the woods down.. My heart starts pumping and my mind starts racing...." is this gonna be it?!?!l..... a bull with my pistol?!?!?"


    I peek up over the rocky point, peer into the woods with my binos and bingo! I see the bull now on the move left to right about 150 yds. I get a quick look at him, probably 45ish, nice palmated brow tines. I also see a glimpse of another moose's head, looks like a cow.


    I head off paralleling them down my little ridge through the woods hoping to get in position....

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    .....I was looking for a shooting lane and a spot where I could scrape the brush and hopefully pull him in to 50 or so yds and hopefully have a kneeling shot. Well, you know how things go, critters don't always cooperate. I got to a spot, saw the moose still on the move through the brush… I scrape… he stops, then keeps going… somewhere along the line I ranged him at 92 yds. I grunt, he stops then picks up his pace. He doesn't want to come in. I figure he doesn't want to leave the cow he's with so I attempt to close the gap to get closer…. I close it some… maybe 15-20 yds but everything is happening very fast and I feel like a kid on his first deer! I find a shooting lane, the cow slips through fast…. there's the bull! ug, long way out, I can't get a shot if I kneel, it's offhand I line up, he whips around and as I pull the trigger BANG he's quartering away on the move back the way he came….AAAAHHHHH!!!! Not good, I see the other moose follow him and get clear view and it's a forked horned bull, not a cow afterall….. what just happened…. I think I screwed up is what happened…. Did I get to excited and impatient?… probably… did I wound the bull…. I seriously doubt it….but the aching thought lingers….. man, this is going to haunt me… I should waited... I coulda got a better shot.... did they wind me? see me or just sense me?.... I continue up the trail feeling like a whipped pup…. or a kid who just screwed up his first chance at a deer.....

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    As I slowly crept up through the woods my mind returned to the days of still hunting whitetails, mulies and elk in the mountain woods of Western Montana with rifle in hand. That was over 20 years ago before I moved to Alaska. I found there are different and better ways to hunt moose up here which mainly include staying put in a good spot and waiting for them to move through within, or close, to range. Calling and lots of glassing distant areas. The woods are much thicker and brushier up here, moose have bigger ears and noses and….. most of all…. if one spends much time sneaking around in thick brush sooner or later you'll come upon a Big Brown Fuzzy that could ruin your day! We see LOTS of grizzlies here. Plus, with moose there are fewer scattered across a larger area than in the typical deer mountains so a guy doesn't want to limit himself to a small patch of woods for the day. I say all that to say this…. as I was kicking myself for how the situation had just played out, I realized that my still hunting skills have not really been used in years. Getting close to a critter in the brush takes patience. I got impatient. I was wondering if I'd get a second chance on my hunt. I figure the bulls were down in the thick stuff now…. and then…. what's that!?! No way! the bulls had circled back up to the saddle and were in the woods about a 100yds out standing, looking right at me. It was weird though, the small one was directly in front of the bigger one, I could see one body, two noses and sets of eyes and a tangle of antlers. It looked like a two headed moose! Here we go again! I get a second chance!

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    The point of my story is to try and convey what I was going through on my first handgun hunt. Nervous excitement, anticipation and all that you know. Here's the rest of the story...


    This time I'm at a disadvantage, they know I'm there. I freeze, watch and wait. They seem nervous. I'm looking at them through my binos and they are staring me down looking kind of nervous. There is no noticeable breeze. Now that I know there are 2 bulls and not a cow and a bull I'm thinking that maybe a cow call will bring the bigger one in for a closer look. It's getting to be that time of year and a mature bull without cows has got one thing on his mind! Or, if they will just look away I could drop down and watch and wait or skootch around and get a bead on him. I decide to call. Here's where it's weird again, one of those split seconds where several things happen at once. Just as I start to let out a soft ..muhwaaa.. they turn their heads away but by then then I've let out the call, they snap their heads back and are on full alert…AAHH… I think I would have rather been undetected if possible. But I wait and watch, then the little bull takes a nervous looking dash off to the left quartering toward me. The bigger bull takes his attention off me, starts to follow the little bull then stops. The little bull bolts off…. the bigger one had moved to a spot where I've got what looks like a clear shot but he's still probably at least 90yds out. But, it's seems that it's now or never. Again, a standing off hand shot. Now I can put 3 in a 6 inch group at 100yds with a rest, consistently hit the 4 inch metal gong kneeling, sitting, leaning against something at 50-70 yds, and standing off hand consistently hit well inside a 12 inch box. But, I have'nt spent much time shooting off hand at 100yds. And of course now the adrenaline is flowing. But the kill zone on a moose is pretty big if you have a clear shot at it, 24 inches anyway. So, I line up at/behind the shoulder BANG! he turns around facing/looking the other direction, I have a second shot BANG… then a cow that I had never seen that the bull was obviously looking at, takes of and he busts out after her. I'm actually feeling good about my shots. a 1200lb moose can take a couple double lung shots and not even look like he was hit. I'm thinking I lunged him on at least one shot, he'll go a couple hundred yds, stop and try to catch his breath cuz his lungs are filling up and then fall over dead. Maybe farther cus he's chasing the cow. I head up through the woods to where he was when I shot. I can't find any blood. I'm still thinking he could be laying dead within a few hundred yds. I begin a grid/ zigzag search. The sinking feelings set in….. did I miss? did I kill him but can't find him? The nature of the woods there gave me good visibility, I did my grid search for over a half mile out and back and for for several hours. the more I searched and replayed the scenario the more I think I just plane missed. But at the same time I felt good about the shots, but then that leads me down the road of "did I hit him?". Any of you guys who have hunted for years know what I'm talking about.


    I continued with my search for the possible dead bull that evening for a few more hours because I don't give up easy. I never found a drop of blood or the animal. I am confident that I just plane missed. Too far of a shot for an excited newbie handgunner to be taking offhand. I'd be butchering if I'd been rifle hunting. But, I don't regret my handgun hunt. I learned a lot and am looking forward to many years of a new found passion. What fun it is being in the woods with only your revolver. I feel a sense of newness in regards to moose hunting. Like the boy on his first deer hunt.


    I hope I didn't get you guys all worked up for the big let down. But this is hunting not killing right?


    I'm hoping that through sharing my story in as much accurate detail as I can, that myself and other newbies can learn what to do, and NOT do. I was at the outside edge of my ability and comfort factor for shooting. Probably like a 400yd shot with my rifle with a not so perfect rest. Anyway, now I look forward to spring black bear!

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    Newbies???? Learn from what?

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    Quote Originally Posted by horse View Post
    Newbies???? Learn from what?
    I guess that part is out of context for this forum. "Newbie Handgun Hunters"

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    Can't kill em with out shooting at em some time! Maybe add a shooting stick for future hunts to help eliminate those no rest situations. Personally I have seen some awful successful hunters miss a shot or two over the years.

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    There are lessons to be learned here, for newbies and maybe those of us with more experience that have forgot a thing or two. I took away from the story that we have to remember to take our time and sometimes just wait and take a deep breath in the heat of it all. I haven't done much handgun hunting but I have taken my share of game using both muzzleloader and primitive archery tackle. When hunting with a weapon that puts us at a disadvantage to what we are used to it is imperative to remember your limitations and stick to them. Snyd may have taken a shot outside his comfort zone, that was his call, but he did the best thing he could afterwards by making sure, by what sounds like a heck of a thorough search for blood or a dead bull, to make sure that he hadn't connected. I'll bet dollars to donuts that before next season he either practices a bunch more from the offhand positition and at longer ranges, or maybe coaches himself to stick to his known comfort zone. I think he learned a lesson through all this and I sure enjoyed reading his tale, had me on the edge of my seat.

    Snyd, sorry you didn't get your bull this year, at least you have a good hunting story this fall. I wish I could have afforded that, BisHunter when you bought it but you've gotten a heck of alot more miles on it than I would have.

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    Perry sorry to hear about your hunt and wish you the best of luck on your future handgun hunts! I know you have put a lot of work into learning that pistol and getting a good load or two worked up now you just need to calm down the next time you get bullwinkle in your sights.

    I tried to get a black bear this spring with a .44 mag and I missed as well at a lot closer range than you did! Still haven't lived that one down and doubt I ever will.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Take time to see all you can.Wait to get closer and if not wait to get closer. I know what you went through but remember you got the pistol you did so you would get personal with the game. Long range handgunning get a T/C bigger scope and rifle cartridge. Next try I'm sure you will get inside fifty yards and make the shot. I can see your sig line now ( If you can't kill it with a 45colt hide).Great story and thanks for shareing
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Sometimes the Best Hunter goes home with nothin', just a fact of life.

    What matters I that we learn from it, because nothing is learned nor gained without a failure, a stumble, a miss as we get better with experiance. Time to reload and Pistol Hunt again, it should only get better.

    As the Secretary of War told the old Cheif in 'Outlaw Josie Whales' "Endevor to Perservere"
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Nice job, to me I can always go by meat so I believe it's the emories that matter most!

    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    As the Secretary of War told the old Cheif in 'Outlaw Josie Whales' "Endevor to Perservere"
    And I just watched that twice over the last month "Hell's coming to breakfast"

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    Try not to loose to much sleep over it,I know I would.Thanks for sharing the highs and lows with us . I think alot of hunters would not share that education with us.

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    Nice post Snyd, its nice to see a person "man-up" and discuss mistakes that we all learn from.
    I have taken several critters with handgun and open sight pistola's are much like archery huinting - finding one's personal range limits usually takes a few mistakes. I can hit a milk jug at 100 yards pretty consistantly with a couple of my guns but when hunting game I seldom attempt anything over 50 or 60yds.
    You learned a lot from this and you made a good attempt to make sure you didn't have a bull down - I say good job!
    My go to favorite is a S&W mod 57 - 6in 41 mag - thumps em good!
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Snyd,
    Fine hunt write-up.
    On every hunt some things go RIGHT, and some things go WRONG.
    Funny how we remember all the things that go RIGHT in our life, every high school touchdown, every little league homerun, every amazing kill shot. But we somehow forget the stuff that went wrong, the football offsides penalties in the red zone, the strike-outs, and the amazing, frustrating, and sometimes comical mistakes we have all made while hunting.

    Thanks for taking us, the forum, along on your handgun hunt. While a critter did not crash into the turf, it was a succcessful hunt!

    AlaskaTrueAdventure

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    If it were easy, everyone would do it. Plus, a hunt like this makes the successful one that MUCH BETTER!

    A day in the woods is better than a day in the office, and you had 5 and a chance. That's all you can ask for. Congrats on a fine hunt and thanks for the write up!!
    Know guns. Know peace. Know safety.

    No guns: no peace. No safety!

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    Great story, put me right there with ya. Thanks for sharing. Great to see the things that do not go as planned, helps for the future success. Thanks again.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Perry, not sure what if any preconditions you put on yourself prior to the hunt, whether you told yourself "fifty yds and under" for sure or not. Hindsight is always 20-20. I kicked myself in the rear this fall over a couple shots at beaver, was desperate for meat after not finding a moose, so was hitting beaver ponds at dawn and dusk, and this is with scoped .22 rifle...you say to yourself, "How could I miss, no way I didn't hit it!" And then you search and search and listen etc etc. For me, it boiled down to not being patient enough for the right (good) shot.

    You're no doubt going to be wondering the rest of your life if you hit that bull or not with those last two shots. I commend you for taking the time you did searching for signs of a hit, for a downed moose. Your "How could I have missed?" will play in to any future handgun hunts I'm sure, we all learn from our mistakes and I think we learn more from mistakes than successes really, at least the mistakes really stick with us, so I'd wager you ain't gonna be taking anymore standing offhand shots at that kind of distance.

    Another thing I have noted is that what happens at the range, what abilities we have at the range when practicing, often doesn't equate to what we can pull off in the field when the adrenaline is pumping and we have varying situational happenstances like lack of a good rest, limited shooting lanes etc.

    Sure appreciate the writeup, we can all learn from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by broncoformudv View Post
    Perry sorry to hear about your hunt and wish you the best of luck on your future handgun hunts! I know you have put a lot of work into learning that pistol and getting a good load or two worked up now you just need to calm down the next time you get bullwinkle in your sights.

    I tried to get a black bear this spring with a .44 mag and I missed as well at a lot closer range than you did! Still haven't lived that one down and doubt I ever will.
    Was that a black bear? I thought you might have been shooting at a black squirrel????

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    Great write up! Would love to shoot a moose with a pistol! Have done caribou and black bears but not a moose. I figure when I am retired and can spend the entire season out hunting, I will bring the pistola along and try to get one like you did! A good hunt doesn't always mean something dead!

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