I got my DM730 moose on Sunday. Spotted 2 cows on the opposite hillside around noon. Tried to ride the 4 wheeler around to get above them, and found that the trail had been completely torn up and obliterated by the state. Not sure why. Had to backtrack and found another trail that allowed me to get closer, but still not as close as I would like. I was on one hillside, looking over at the moose on the other hillside. The whole area burned a few years back, so there were dead trees down all over the place, and the ones that were still standing were dead as well.
I got off the 4 wheeler and walked about 1/4 mile to find a better position to shoot from. It was pretty clear that I wasn't going to be able to get very close. I could work my way down to the bottom of the valley between me and the moose, but I would lose sight of them and due to the terrain, dead standing and down trees, and heavy brush, there was no chance I'd be able to sneak up on them. Decided to set up where I was and wait for the perfect shot if it presented itself. I found a tree that had fallen over and had the root bundle sticking up. I was able to use that as a rest and sit on the truck.
I was carrying my CZ 270 that I bought last winter. It has a Leupold VX I 3x9 with the Long Range Duplex reticle. I had read up on how to use the scope for long range shooting, and was confident that I had it sighted in well, but had not shot at anything farther than 200 yards yet. The moose was much farther. I estimated it to be closer to 400 than 300, but of course we all know that range estimation is difficult if you don't constantly practice it under real world conditions. I turned the scope all the way up to 9, took my rest and waited....and waited. After that, I waited some more. Finally, I decided to wait.
It took a little over 1/2 an hour for the moose to finally step out into a clear area and turn broadside to me. All of that time, I was sitting there staring at it through the scope. The time had given me an opportunity to consider the range and mentally review the user's manual that came with my scope. I was confident that the moose was over 300 yards away, but no more than 400. Based on that, I decided to hold slightly high with the 300 yard dot, figuring that a moose's boiler room is big enough to compensate for some degree of error in my range estimation. I had already set the trigger on my rifle, so when that perfect shot presented itself I just barely thought about squeezing the trigger and the gun went off. The moose dropped immediately. Based on that, I was pretty sure that I had not hit it in the boiler room, and guessed that I had either spined it or broken the shoulders. Either way, it didn't get back up, so I headed down the hill to start making my way over to it.
Luckily, I had found a few good reference points before I left the spot I was shooting from, and was able to walk almost directly to where the moose was. It turned out that my elevation was almost right on, but I had hit slightly forward of where I was aiming. The bullet broke the near side shoulder, clipped the heart, and exited on the far side.
By this time, it was about 3:00. I started in quartering up the moose, and managed to finish it right about the time it was really getting dark. It was a job all by myself. As I said before, all of the trees had been burned, so even the ones that were still standing were dead and would fall over if you just pushed on them. That meant that I wasn't able to tie off the legs to anything as I worked, which made things more difficult. It also meant I didn't have anything to hang the meat from. Instead, I laid the game bags out across some parallel tree trunks so that they were up off the ground, and then put a tarp propped up with sticks over top them. It wasn't ideal, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. With all of the downed trees, it was pretty treacherous just trying to move around in the dark, so I ended up putting the meat only about 15 yards from the carcass.
By the time all of this was done, it was completely dark. I loaded the bag with the backstraps, neck meat, and other trim onto my pack and started slowly picking my way back down the hill. Just in case anyone is wondering, this was definitely not the fun part. It took awhile, but I finally made my way back down to the bottom of the valley. By then, the full moon was up, which helped considerably in picking my way through the fallen trees and brush, and I was able to find my 4 wheeler without too much trouble.
I figured there wasn't much chance I was going to be able to find my way back to the moose in the dark, and the weather was nice and cool, so I decided to go home and return in the morning to get the rest of the meat.
Yesterday morning, a buddy and I headed back out to get the rest of the meat. He has a bad back, so we wanted to get as close to it as we could to avoid packing it for very far if at all possible. We ended up spending about 1/2 the day working our way out the previously mentioned torn up trail, and were able to get onto the same hillside where the moose was with the 4 wheelers. We weren't quite sure where we were in relation to the moose, but saw some ravens and guessed that they were probably feeding on the moose carcass. We followed them, and found it less than 200 yards from where we had parked.
I should mention that I brought my 35 Whelen with me to go retrieve the meat. I've left meat out over night before, and it has never been a problem, but better safe than sorry. The 270 is fine for hunting, but I didn't want to walk up on a moose carcass with it. Sure enough, from about 15 yards away, we could see that the carcass had been covered up by a bear. I've never had a bear hit a carcass that soon before, but I was definitely glad I had the Whelen with me.
Amazingly, although the bear had rolled the carcass down the hill a bit and partially covered it, he never touched any of the meat. The tarp was still over it, and it was completely undisturbed. Nevertheless, we were a bit nervous as we loaded it onto our packs and carried it all back to the 4 wheelers. We never did see the bear, but I'm sure it wasn't far away, and we definitetly kept our eyes open while we were there. Anyway, we got all of the meat out, and it is hanging in my shed at home right now. I'll be taking it to get processed tonight.
All of this leaves me with a few thoughts. First...I'm still not a fan of long shots. If I had been packing a different rifle or had not had the perfect set-up, I never would have taken this shot. I much prefer being up close and personal, but it simply wasn't possible this time. Second...I am now officially a believer in Leupold's Long Range Duplex reticle. I had heard and read good things about it, but seeing is believing. You still need to either use a range finder or be very good at estimating range (which most people are not), but it does work. Third...I never thought I would use the set trigger on my CZ when I was hunting, but in this situation it was awesome to have it. Under normal conditions, I still don't think I would use it, but this time it was perfect. Finally...I'm done hunting moose alone (probably not...I've said that before).