For the past couple of weeks, sure-shot dave has been crying to me about an injured shoulder and his concerns over the coming hunting season.
Who would have thought a shoulder injury would turn out to be a good thing!
Thanks to sure-shot for sharing details of a moose hunt in Pickle Lake he’ll likely never forget.(Hope the shoulder is feeling better, dave?)
Calling all Pickle Lake moose – by sure-shot dave
Left my driveway last Friday at 5:35 PM for the long drive to moose camp. 24 hours later we pulled over in Pickle Lake to meet up with the rest of the group. They had flown out to Edmonton to pick up a truck that they had left out there (it’s a long story), and we’re heading back from that direction. Somehow, we only had to wait 15 minutes for them to show up. Back on the road for the final 100 miles of gravel. Blew a tire on the trailer within 10 minutes, after a Nascar style tire change we were back at it. The road follows a hydro line for a good portion of the drive, and there must have been lots of blueberries because there were bears everywhere. A couple of them had us debating getting out of the trucks and sending some lead their way. Problem was that camp wasn’t set up yet, and it was getting late.
We finally arrived at the boat landing about an hour before dark Saturday night. We quickly set up the tent so that we could get some sleep before heading up the river to our final camp location. Sunday morning dawned cold, frosty and a perfect morning for hunting. Too bad we still had all the work to do. We loaded the boats and headed out for the hour long ride to our spot. With the amount of gear and crap we loaded into the boats, you’d think we were going for a month. Got to our spot, everyone got right to work and we got things set up fairly quickly. Then it was off to try and catch dinner, I had a limit of pickerel and a pike in less than 30 minutes. Man I love this lake!!! Slowly the crew dispersed for the evening hunt.
I headed to the spot that I had spent some time in last year, and had been thinking about going back to. It was a bay at the far end of the lake that just had that look and feel to it. Shallow water with lots of feed, and a nice creek that had lots of cover and feed around it as well. It just looked “moosy”. I cut the motor and rowed the final 200 yards because the water was too shallow. Quietly I dragged the boat up on shore and loaded up. Ken lent me his 300 Win Mag Browning BLR again, I know it well by now. As I walked in I saw lots of sign, tracks, droppings, a couple of spots where moose had bedded. Things were looking good. I got set up at the same blow down that I had used last year. I let things settle down and then let out a series of cow calls. It was fairly windy so it was tough to hear any response. I called again after another 20 minutes. Still nothing. Grabbed the horn and let out another set of lonely cow calls.
I put down the horn, and within 5 seconds heard what I thought was a bull grunt right behind me. “Errrrrp”. Nah, my mind is playing tricks on me. It’s less than an hour into the hunt. “Errrrp” again. Huh, I really need to get my mind checked, I think I’m going nuts… “Errrrp”, ok that’s three times now. Maybe I should grab my gun just in case, and turn around to have a look. As I turned around, I saw some movement through the trees about 40 yards behind me. Now my eyes were playing tricks on me… The wind was blowing towards the moose, and I think he winded me because he quit grunting and I didn’t see him anymore.
After about a minute of silence, I decided to go have a closer look. As I walked, I grunted like a bull to hopefully keep from spooking the bull, if in fact he was still around. I walked about 75 yards through the trees looking for any sign of a moose. Then I looked out into the bay, and couldn’t believe my eyes. There, about 150 yards out in the wide open, was a bull moose. He was standing broadside looking back towards me. Just standing there. In the wide open. Just standing there. Bad choice for him. I guess he figured that the quickest, and easiest escape route was out and across to the far side of the bay. I did not feel sorry for him in making such a bad choice…
I scurried to where I could get a clear shot at him. All this time, I’m telling myself “don’t screw this up. This is what you’ve been waiting for for 5 years. He’s out in the open, you’ve got lots of time”. And the last time I checked, moose cannot outrun lead fired from a small cannon. As I got to an opening, he started to trot off, quartering away. I had the gun up, but wasn’t quite ready yet. So I grunted again. He stopped and looked back again. Arm through the sling for a steadier hold, crosshairs on him, breathing controlled, almost ready. He takes off on a trot again. Have I mentioned how I am astounded that an animal that big can trot through the mud like nothing. We’d be stuck, losing our boots in the muck, but he just glides through it.
Anyway, as he starts to trot, I start to squeeze the trigger. Everything slows right down at this point. “Boom”, the gun goes off, and I’m already working the lever to reload. As if in slow motion, the bull buckles, and drops like a sack of potatoes. It’s a sight I will replay in my mind thousands of times. His head drops first, then the rest of his body follows. Ass over tea kettle. And he stays down.
My mind finally realizes that I did it. I finally not only saw a bull moose, but I taught him who’s boss of these woods. At this point, I’m literally doing a happy dance on the shore, and I bet the grin on my face could be seen from a mile away. I’m tempted to go get my things that I left at the blow down, but I wanted make sure he didn’t get up. I wait a full two minutes to make sure. Now the adrenaline kicks in and I realize that my bucket list is one item shorter…
Wayne was hunting close by, and by the time I get my things, row out in the boat and start taking pictures, he’s coming up the bay in his boat. The next five hours are spent towing the bull back to camp, field dressing, quartering and hanging. We figured he weighed somewhere around 1200 lbs live weight. I’m still amazed at the size of a mature moose, and it’s hard to believe that a little piece of lead can drop them in their tracks. Monday we skinned the quarters, and put them in cheese cloth. It was getting warm and the flies would be buzzing. Tuesday it got warmer, and the nights were not cooling off. By Wednesday morning when it was still 16 degrees out, we decided to pack up and head home. The only problem with shooting my bull that early in the hunt, is that we had to cut it short so the meat wouldn’t spoil. I’d do it again in a second though, even though I’m now sitting at my desk, going through a mountain of emails.