Things are finally slowing down a little so I going to take a chance to share a few of our moments in the field with you all.
I have a little hunter who is 10 now. He has been going on short trips with me since he was 3 and has been on several short moose/caribou trips with me and we have already shared many gut piles, but this year was a little different.
As he gets older it is more of a fight with his mother to let him skip school for hunting season. She finally realized it was a losing battle, so she caved and gave us one week of hooky from school.
I rearranged my hunting plans to include him on an 8 day moose and caribou trip. This was not his first hunt, but it was the first time he was going to spend time in a tent 50 miles from the road. I had given him his first BG rifle this year, a cute little .308. He practiced with it and I was confident in his shooting to head out for the big ones.
We started the trip with just focusing on moose. He had made up his mind he wanted a "forker" or nothing. The two of us put several nice stalks on Bull Moose during the trip, but none were quite legal and at the last second I would have to tell him to put the rifle down because we were not going to shoot this one. I watched him get his first case of “buck fever” on one little bull that ended up having 3 points on each side it was very cute and he was able to get it together quickly.
One bull in particular I am still kicking myself over, we had a mid 40"s bull feeding towards us with the wind in our favor and the bull never knew we were there. I set him up for the shot and told him to be ready. I told him the bull wasn’t wide enough, but I wanted to look at his brow tines so just stay ready. The closer the bull got I realized he had 3 brows on one side and 5 on the other. At 50 yards we had him and I said just stay on him, he’s not spooked and I want to be positive the 5 brow side was good to go.
That’s when the boy looked at me and said “dad I don’t want to shoot him, he’s to big, and I want a forker”. I chuckled and told him “you don’t get to custom order your first moose; you shoot what I tell you to shoot”. Long story short 2 of the 5 brows were short stubby ones and I couldn’t be 100% positive they would meet the longer than wide requirement, so at the last second I had to say, “Sorry buddy, were going to have to let that one walk”. In hindsight the bull was most likely legal, but I just didn’t want to chance having to surrender his first moose. I explained to my son that he was young and he would have plenty of opportunities to bag a moose. He got over it quickly and we were able to bag 3 other moose on the trip that he was part of.
Now on to the caribou, we had planned to strictly hunt moose on the first portion of the trip and to switch over to caribou for the second part. The funny thing was we saw several nice bull caribou while moose hunting and each time I would have to look into those big blue eyes and say not yet, we’ll hunt caribou later. The first day of caribou hunting I took him up into a valley where I have done well in the past. As soon as we got there I noticed 2 nice bulls running parallel to us, I quickly got out his gun and got him in position. “I want you to shoot the lead bull when he stops” I told him. The only problem is they never stopped. After that we sat on a little knob to do some glassing. There were little bands of caribou all over the valley, so I wasn’t worried; I was just trying to decide which group were the best to put a stalk on.
Just then a caribou walked up on top of the knob we were sitting on, and was only about 40 yds away. My boy looks at me and says “hey dad can I shoot that one”? I told him no that one’s a cow lets just see if she has a boyfriend with her, as the caribou turned to walk back over the knob I realized it had a dinger. I had just let a little bull at 40 yds walk away! After a few minutes the same caribou walks back up onto our lookout and this time 70 yds away broadside. “Shoot him” I said while I settled in for a follow up shot. No shot and the little bull begins to run. I start Baaing at the bull to get him to stop and look back. It works and he stops and looks back at us, again I say “shoot him”. Again no shot and the bull really takes off this time. I start baaing again to stop him, but this time it’s not working. Now at this point the Bull is at a dead run about 200 yds away. I look down to my son who is laying on the tundra to tell him the hunt is over and not to shoot, but I can see that he is still trying to get a shot and he looks very concentrated. I think to myself IF he does shoot, he’ll never hit it and IF he does wound it, I am ready for a follow up shot, just then I look back to the running caribou and BOOM. The report startles me because I really didn’t expect the shot. What I expected even less was that bull doing a front summersault and hitting the ground like a ton of bricks. After a few seconds of whooping and hollering, I sent the boy in to make a finisher shot with me walking close behind. It was over, my 10 year old son had just taken his first big game animal. It wasn’t a perfect shot, a little far back, but it made sense that he didn’t lead a running animal, in my book a dead caribou is a perfect shot! It was a small bull. We could have taken much bigger ones, but he didn’t care. This one was his and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
We finished out the week with some bird hunting and grayling fishing. This season he was able to harvest his first caribou, catch his first mess of grayling, brush up on some Ptarmigan, though he’s no rookie to them, almost got his first moose, and just the other day I took him out where we really got into the rabbits. He shot 4 and my 8 yr old shot one before I made them stop. There were bunnies everywhere and I would have been cleaning rabbits all night had I let them continue to shoot.
What a great time I have had in the field with my boys this season! I can now see the writing on the wall. My moose/caribou shooting days are over for a while because I will be playing full time guide for my boys, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.
Sorry for the long post, I am normally not so long winded, but there were a lot of adventures this season and these were only the highlights.