So as I mentioned in another thread I have hit the ground running with hunting season ever since I got off work on the 18th of August.
That evening I got off work we packed in a whirlwind and drove north to try to take advantage of the extended season in unit 13.
Morning of the 19th Becca and I wheelered in to an area our family has hunted for around 20 years. We quickly set up camp and spent the rest of the pleasant afternoon glassing a bunch of caribou and seeing a few cow moose here and there. That evening we met up with some family friends that we have hunted the area with for roughly the last 20 years: A couple that are my parents’ age as well as their oldest son (my age) and his wife, along with their two children (22 month old girl and 5 month old boy). As you can imagine two little ones out camping can be a handful so we helped them setup to giant Cabelas Alaknak with the wood stove to help keep the munchkins in a happy state of comfort.
While we had just began to help unload the wheelers and trailers our friends had brought, someone spotted a decent sized grizzly bear about 3/4 of a mile away. So the guys (not being ones to miss out on a chance to avoid camp setup when there are bears to be hunted) decided to go after it. So the stalk was on. Soon we were about 220 yards away but the bear never offered a good shot and went up over a bluff. We climbed the bluff and walked around quietly for about 20 minutes looking over the dense brush covered area to find nothing. Thinking the bear had winded us and was long gone we figured there was no hurt in blowing on the predator call for a little bit to see what would happen.
After about 20 seconds of rabbit squealing my buddy saw the bear stand up on his hind legs about 180 yards away in the tall brush. All you could see was from the shoulders up. We froze in place. Let the bear go back to all fours in the brush and they readjusted their shooting sticks now that they knew where the bear was located and I with video camera in hand began rolling.
Once again blowing on the predator call this time only took about 10 seconds and the bear was up on its hind legs again. Now I was just waiting to see which rifle was going to bark first, my buddies Browning 375 H&H or his dad's Ruger 300 Win Mag., as they both were drawing a bead on the bear now. BOOM!! The bear was now out of sight but not before we heard the tell tell sign of a thwack of a 300 grain Barnes from the 375 balled up the bear on impact. Apparently the son was just a hair quicker than the old man in this case. The video isn't the greatest as I didn't get zoomed in like I would have liked but such is life. After a bit of anxious alder searching for the bear we recovered it right where it was shot. It was a nice 7.5' interior grizz.with the longest white claws I have ever seen. We skinned it out in a hurry and headed back to camp to finish setting up the tents as darkness would come soon and the little ones needed a place to crash after the long day.
After camp was set the 6 of us adults sat up and reminisced about different animals taken in different parts of the country we were currently looking out over from the campfire. We also recalled some of the funny follies and stories we remembered from years of bringing 5-10 year olds out hunting year after year and the trials and tribulations that can at times occur which us "kids" could only now begin to fully understand what an undertaking that was.
The next morning Becca and I planned to sleep in a little as I was still just home for only 18 hours at this point and was looking down the barrel at 5 full weeks of hunting so an extra few hours of sleep one morning wouldn’t make or break the season. Around 6 AM we heard a couple wheelers leave camp. Around 7:30 we got up and made our way over to the big tent to see who got stuck with “baby duty”. Turns out Dad was on tower while Mom left the little ones at camp to go hunting that morning.
Shortly after doing a bit of glassing from camp we heard a few shots in the distance and about 45 minutes later Mom came back into camp just in enough time, as the 5 month old boy was ready to feed at this point and was letting us 3 know all about it though was little any of us could do. She also said that they had a big moose (turns out it was 59”) down and they needed a little more muscle to skin it out.
So off went my buddie (Dad), Becca, and myself to go help butcher up the moose. The weather was great soon and the moose was hanging in the shade of a couple spruce trees in white bags. We went back to camp and I decided to take a mid-day siesta during the heat of the day. I know it sounds like I sleep through all of hunting season Around 3 PM I was back up and Becca and I decided to head back to another side of the mountain to look over an area the now “grandpa” said he saw a couple small bull moose at this morning before taking the large moose.
Around 6 PM a nice dark colored grizz emerged from the alders and begin feeding on the bumper crop of blue berries out there which allowed for some entertainment through the spotter for the next couple hours while we waited to things to cool and the animals to stand up.
Try as I might to convince Becca that we needed to go after this bear she kept being logical which was annoying as heck. “Hun, we need to take out this bear to save the moose.” “No, we don’t need another $1K in taxidermy bills and bears don’t taste nearly as good as moose so lets look for those little bulls.” Well as often is the case she was right……again.
Just before 8 PM we started seeing moose down in the trees in the swamp below about 1.25 miles out. After some looking over with the spotter I found a small bull. Man, it sure looked like a 3 point by 4 point bull through the spotter at this distance which is obviously just too big to be in the spike/fork category. “Oh well, likely won’t see too much else tonight anyways”, I told Becca so we began hiking that way for a closer look.
Now down in the brush its obviously harder to find the moose, but after 20 minutes of sneaking around through where we last saw the moose we finally saw a cow, and then another, and then the little bull, all within 150 yards. A quick look through the binos confirmed what I knew from 1.25 miles ago through the spotter: 4 points on one side a 3 points on the other, though the 3 (middle point) was a case of being close to not being longer than it was wide, however the hunting season was still VERY earlier and there is no need to push the issue. So instead I took the opportunity to help Becca indentify a legal bull by looking this guy over a good deal and explaining what a bull needs to look like in order to be legal and why this guy didn’t fit the bill.
During the process of getting the little bull to look our way to get good looks at his antlers at 80 or so yards, I would occasionally cow call. While we were looking over the little bull I peeked over my shoulder and lo and behold another little bull was less than 100 yards directly behind us looking a little confused at the weird looking cow making all the noise. Being as Becca had drawn a coveted valley cow tag I was the designated shooter. A quick look at his little antlers through the binos showed 3 points and a brow tine (4 total) on his left antler and…….what the heck is THAT on his right?!?! I could only make out one point through the binos but knew beyond a doubt there were no more than two points on his obviously strange looking right antler.
Now that it was confirmed the bull was indeed a legal begal it was game on. We did a bit of a dance through the scrub swamp spruce until he was broadside and two quick pops with the little Kimber Montana in .308 and it dropped with lights out at 200 yards.
Walking up to the moose we found the moose died how they always seem to, with the non-legal side in the air and the legal side dug into the ground. I picked up his head and saw the funkiest looking forked antler I have ever seen. Both points came out and pointed downward. I dubbed him my “double drop tine” moose.
I had dropped him at 9:30 PM so after a few quick pics we got the moose into position to begin butchering (man those spike fork moose are so much handier to maneuver than a big 50+” moose especially when its just you and your wife out there and its getting dark quick.) A little over an hour after putting the little havalon knife to work we had the 4 quarters off and the guts out and the hide off the moose.
Now began the 1.25 mile hike back to the wheeler in the dark with just one headlamp, but actually learning from past experiences I have began marking where we leave the wheeler on the GPS prior to going after an animal so late in the day. This came in handy, as it was pitch black and even with a headlamp didn’t see it until the GPS said we were 44 ft away.
We rode back to camp that night for a midnight din din and went to sleep. The next morning we strolled over to our friends’ camp and told them the story as they were unaware of when we had come in the previous night and just assumed they didn’t hear us come by. However, it is not surprising that they didn’t hit the little .308 chirp given the distance and terrain between the moose and their camp. We made a plan to run both moose and the bear hide out to the road that day while the girls wanted to stay back and pick berries (including the 22 month old girl that decided that eating them was MUCH more fun than actually putting them in her bucket).
That night was another fun time spent with more stories and reminiscing around the campfire with great friends and family. The next morning we packed up camp and headed back home with plenty of meat to put in the freezer to take the pressure off the rest of the season.