My last day in moose camp so I was up, dressed and glassing before the coffee was done. Nothing was insight close but Paul caught movement due north about a mile and a half out. I continued watching and there were three moose and at least two were bulls. One deserved a closer look so all the gear went on and with loaded packs we walked the hour to just over a mile from the camp. A medium bull stood alone in the spruce timber ¾ mile out but where were the other two? We circled east for the best downwind approach and closed another quarter mile. Now there were NO MOOSE visible. Ah, 400 yards west was a moose palm moving slowly back and forth. Perhaps the mid-sized bull had moved and was taking his late morning nap. He faced north and our best approach would be downwind of him. Paul could not make out three brow tines and he did not offer us a look at width so the 50” criteria could not be confirmed. We could get 180 yards out, sight unseen and downwind. We dropped our packs in a clearing before making that mark. Having studied the bull’s location prior to this last move we were not sure if he remained bedded. We were on a lower hill and the alders blocked our view. I could cross the last hundred yards unseen and downwind, the perfect setup. If I raised the front of my rifle, Paul would give a soft cow call to get the bull to stand up. Wearing my quietest outwear, I dropped to the bottom and chambered my Tikka .300 WM. Another 50 yards and I should be able to get a glimpse of antlers. Stepping through tussocks, gently side stepping willow and alder I climbed the last few feet ever so slowly. I concentrated on a spot 80 yards away where the bull might be bedded and looked back to Paul for any information. He stood motionless so he couldn’t see the bull either. Another step in a crouched position and I paused again checking Paul. One more crouched step and there he was. And there was a paddle horn. And there was a 60”+, four tine bruiser… Three bedded bulls and all were completely at rest and unaware of my hiding spot a mere 50 yards north of them. The mid-sized had three brow tines on each side and was the clearest shot from my kneeling position. The paddle horn was in the foreground and over his back a left was the giant. I’d have to stand for him or move out from cover and expose myself to the two smaller bulls. WELL, three brow tines are fine by me so I sent 180 grains of Nosler Partition into the bull’s neck. His head fell to the ground as the rifle roared. The two others SLOWLY stood and looked at my bull. The small bull squatted and urinated. The bruiser looked around for the source of noise that had interrupted his slumber. I stood motionless behind my barricade, a four foot tall alder clump to wait for their departure. Paddle horn was the first to move out and passed 15 yards to my right. The big guy looked straight through me a started to my left. I kept my barrier of twigs between him and me as he finally made for a quieter setting, again at 15 yards.
I approached my bull and put a second round in his neck to end the hunt. What ifs, maybes and might have been raced through my mind over and over again. I did underestimate the speed of which moose react. They are much slower getting out of bed then a White-tailed Deer. Two to three seconds compared to a half second would be my guess. Or, I could have signaled for the cow call and we’d be standing over a monster now. Well, after pulling the trigger you cannot call back the bullet so you live and dine with your choices.
I met Paul as he had fetched our packs and he asked what had happened. All he heard and saw was a shot and two bulls. Why wasn’t Roger finishing off the big one? Should I put in a backup shot? I sure hope Roger knows what he’s doing? I assured him that I took the mid-sized to save weight during the pack out. And as is the practice here in Alaska, if you share in the pack out, you share in the flesh. Paul and I would be splitting up my moose and I could not stop smiling.
I took my best moose, (65" most likely will be my lifetime largest) and my buddy took a 50 ish. Two days of packing meat back to back is why I look like that. Taken with my G.E. Lewis .404 Jeffery made in 1918 with iron sights trotting away at about 75yds.