Cautiously approaching the waist high brush choked spot where I thought I saw the hard hit bull go down my heart dropped slightly but then soared as I saw a big black mass flattening out the high brush. It was done. I cycled the bolt and emptied the one insurance round I had chambered only a moment ago….
This hunt really came as a huge surprise as drawing a tag in NS is akin to winning a lottery ... .a moose lottery nonetheless, but a lottery with super low odds of winning.
I was guiding up in New Brunswick for spring bear with North Shore Guide Service when I felt my phone ping. I dug it out of my pocket and there on the tiny screen was a picture with the caption “ Congratulations , you're a successful” or something like that. I double checked who it was from….holy moly….it was from my wife. She had won the moose licence .
It had taken me something like 36 years. I have friends who still have not drawn for close to 40 years. What’s more remarkable…it was Mary’s first ever time applying ! What are the odds of that I wonder.
The tag was for zone 1. Currently, probably not the best zone. Perhaps in all likelihood it may be the worst. Anyways, it didn't matter, we were going moose hunting. I had hunted zone one and zone 5 in recent years. We stayed in tent camps. They were fine but not what Mary was really interested in doing.
So I contacted my bud Hector Hines ( Meat Cove Outfitters) and told him the situation. I wondered if he knew of any accommodations that were a little less rough and had indoor plumbing hot and cold water etc. It turns out his camps and lodges were full but his sister had recently just set up a nice travel trailer with a big deck, well, sceptic etc. We checked out the link he provided and booked it right away for the full 6 days of our week/season.
The trailer was awesome. The views are spectacular. It was all we wanted and more. Eventually the summer ticked by and we were headed North to Cape Breton. That drive and scenery never gets old. We pulled into the trailer around 3pm the day before the season opener and unpacked.
Meat cove Outfitters hunt 2 zones. Zone 1 and 5. Our zone was quickly accessed from the trailer. We were hooked up with co-owner and guide Sheldon. That suited me just fine. We had hunted together 4 years earlier in a tough late season zone 5 hunt. In 4 days we logged 64 kilometres on foot before tagging outt. We got along perfectly. I was happy to spend some woods time with him again. Neither one of us give up easily and will exhaust ourselves trying if we have to.
Getting to our destination just prior to light we walked about a kilometre and called for the first sit of the 2023 moose season. It was a spot they had trail cam pics of a bull. We thought perhaps we heard a bull answer but never heard it again or saw any sign of the bull, if indeed it was one.
Before long we began to see a bit more fresh sign. Tracks and beds became more frequent. Setting up in a spot that just seemed moosey we hit the e-call. It just felt like something was gonna happen. It felt like a lucky spot.
Sure enough, a bull came out to the call. He kinda snuck in on us and was at the call and back in the brush before we really even knew it. But he was a young bull and the thoughts of that enticing cow was more than he could resist.
I waited with the gun leaning against a big birch tree. And waited. Just as I was beginning to think he got wise and buggered off, I saw him coming around or through a young stand of spruce.
There was a dicey shot but he was walking and there was just enough brush to make me take my hand off the trigger. If he held the course he would be in the open in short order and broadside.
For whatever reason. Likely to circle back to the cow (speaker) he was now coming at me chest on. I carry that 7 mag for just such reasons. I slipped my finger back on the trigger and lowered the scope on his black chest and squeezed .
The bull wheeled and took two big jumps then reversed and took another, putting him broadside to me . I cranked the bolt and fired again. He swapped ends again and took another jump.
Just as I chambered another round, I looked up just in time to see him disappear. Like he was there one moment….and gone the next. I can’t actually say I saw him go down…but everything I could evaluate at that split second told me he was down.
I covered the area and a split second later I saw those same young spruce begin to shake and sway back and forth. He was down. I snicked on the safety and high tailed those 75 yards ready to administer a finishing shot.
Like mentioned at the beginning paragraph, I noticed a big black hulk on the ground. I eased around for a clear shot but it wasn't required. He had already checked out.
Instantly, Sheldon was behind me ... .I'm not sure but I think I gave a big ol fist pump and thrust my hand forward for a quick fist bump.
I'm used to doing a lot of the work myself after the kill….but Sheldon was having none of that…he said sit back and relax. I felt a little awkward having him do all the work so I at least grabbed a rear leg and held it open.
As one does these days, I sent out a few texts, took some pictures, one of which is a new favorite of mine; Me, Mary and the bull on Sheldon's 4 wheeler. My second fav is something that's (now) of a tradition when hunting with Sheldon after a moose kill…..a goofy Selfie of us two. The first one was after a gruelling hunt in a literal snow storm. The 2nd one was this bull…..fair weather and a relatively easy bull.
The bull was hanging in the cooler not 2 hours after killing it, so Mary and I stuck around for a couple days hiking and just enjoying the trailer and the special wild place Meat Cove NS is.
Oh, one last thing about this lucky bull. Despite the odds of Mary being drawn on her first ever try, the evening back in the winter or early spring when she applied went something like this.
Me: Frig, I didn't get a NB moose tag.
Mary: And you can’t put in for NS again?
Me: Not for 3 more years.
Mary: Want me to apply?
Me: Well the tents can be pretty cold and rough depending on the weather.
Mary: That's ok, I’ll apply anyways ...what are the odds of getting drawn anyways?
Me: I dunno but pretty low….like crazy low
Mary: Ya never know…I’m pretty lucky
And she was. And we got lucky and found a bull in a tough zone and great comfy accommodations.
Big thanks to Meat Cove Outfitters and Sheldon. Big effort.