After hearing all this griping about bad hunting partners etc. I just wanted to give some kudos to the crew I went with the past few years and hope there are many more to come. Just got back from a hunt with a crew of current and former bushdwellers who have kindly included a man twenty years their junior into their fold.
Last year we had a great hunt and I must have passed the litmus test cuz I was solidly slated as the fourth man again this year. All great, experienced, fun and solid guys that have shown me a ton of things but also had ears open to new ideas from the new guy (some of em even worked). Last year I called in a nice bull and my buddy took the shot and we slogged that toad out of the woods in baking heat and bugs creating a solid bond of trust with each other.
This year when I said I wanted to do a bowhunt he was more than excited to back me up. Within this I made it clear that no bull would walk, just that we try to get in real close before the gun became the method of choice. Well, first morning, first calling session, a nice little bull responded to us and came chargin in. My bud stayed hunkered down and let me call the shots on the calls it took to get him in tight and never moved a muscle as this thing shredded a tree at 12 yards and but never presented a bow shot. When it finally turned and went round the other way he eventually gave me a gorgeous broadside (after holding the bow for more than a minute while he got his long brow tines stuck in a tree) and he got a great view of what was probably the closest he's ever been to a bull, and then the shot flew, THUMP, and he still stayed quiet as a churchmouse while I kept an eye on the bull as it bolted down the hill. The bull stood for a few minutes and I was not completely confident of the hit (looked to be back a bit but was quartering forward) he handed me his gun and said if I wanted to finish it, to make the call myself. Well, I didn't get to as it bolted as soon as the crosshairs were on it, but after the bull was gone, he gave me a smile and a high five that made it clear he was as jazzed as I was.
Despite all being decades experienced moose hunters, the guys asked what the plan was and what they could do. So, we came back a few hours later to make darn sure the critter was done, with my buddy and I on the blood trail, and the others in the boat listening and watching in case we jumped it. Wonderfully, we found him just 50 yards from the last spot we saw him. Hugs and handshakes all around. The rest of the guys came up with the stuff, and insisted I drag my bow back up to get the pics done right. Everybody jumped in on the cutting, trail clearing and packing, and we were washing our hands less than three hours later with the moose hung and cocktails poured.
The composure and support and experience of the whole crew made it one of the greatest hunting experiences of my life. And that was just the hunting, camp was nearly as much fun. Better yet, my buddy and I got to back up the other pair after they put down a beauty of a bull a few days later. I'll post a pic later but I gotta go cut meat in a few.
So, here's to all the great hunting partners out there, and for what you all do to make this lifestyle rewarding and character building....and a heck of a lot of fun.