I did something last year I've never done before. I kept a diary each day on stand. It's interesting to look back on. And it's only been a few months.
From overnight stays accompanied by some close range coyote vocalizations. To critters walking by from feet away. Cold mornings drinking luke warm coffee. Having a heater but not lighting it for fear of noise or odor.
Those were the highlights. There were indeed some lows, but sitting by the window looking out at a snowstorm from the comfort of my living room, this particular addition to the growing collection of scattered thoughts found on this page, are all positive.
Scrolling thru the unedited, hastily jotted down thoughts while on stand, one particular morning jumped out at me. I remember it well.
So close. So far. Excitement. Disappointment. Polar extremes, at least in relation to a hunter's time on stand.
I don't believe I've ever seen 4 bucks all exerting rutting behavior all at the same time while gripping a bow.
Ugh...I'm getting too long winded....to the point, here's the words I jotted down with cold fingers on my phone that morning.
Nov 18, 930 am
Saw 4 bucks this morning. 3 good ones
I would have shot any of them tho if given the OP. The first one followed a couple does out . Not really chasing. Just following. Soon as the does stopped to feed...he bedded down
I think hes about wore out. I watched them for 30 minutes. The bedded buck seemed quite content just watching the does. Then I noticed a swollen necked buck approach the bedded one. He took a little run at him. It really wasn't a fight..but antlers collided once. The bedded buck ran off 70 yards. The bigger buck followed the feeding does. One doe slipped in and started feeding 17 yards from me . Joined by another a minute later. Off to my left I could see two more bucks. I looked back up the hill and could still see the first two. With glasses I could see 3 eight pointers and either a 4 or 6.
With 4 does and 4 bucks in front of me, i gripped the widow. I really felt like it was gonna come together. I felt that way for 45 minutes. The biggest buck wondered within 50 yards. Eventually one doe went into the woods. The biggest buck eventually followed her. The buck that had been bedded went in same trail. This left two bucks in front of me. They fed for 10 minutes . The bigger of the two walked off. The last buck hung around for 10 more minutes but he too followed the others.
It was then I let a big breath out and realized how tensed up i was.
I'm not sure what to do. Grunting had almost 0 effect. Are they purposely avoiding this blind? Have i over hunted it ? Or is it just good luck on their behalf? I may look for a spot to hang a stand on my way out.
Wow, steady buck action. Passed two more small bucks. With this much action its gotta happen soon...I think....I hope
Well, hope and think doesn't get it done I'm sorry to say. I often think I should have been more aggressive and hung another stand or two ( I saw these bucks for about one week daily) . But I didn't. So that's kinda like the well known crying and spilled milk story.
I've recovered from it now. I consider it a plus. My cam captured a bit of the action. While I don't need it to recall an awesome time in the blind...I find myself looking at the picture periodically. It does capture the bucks on cam. I thought for sure the closest buck would have taken an arrow that morning.
Next year it is !
There are many things that make up a great adventure.
Perhaps one of the biggest is the size of the buck, bull, or boar. There are however, many other aspects that add to the story and adventure. Yesterday was such a day.
I’ve been having a better than normal year for spotting big shooter bucks. Just none were 20 yards or less. A couple were close...oh so close.
Arriving at my lot early yesterday afternoon I was dismayed to see the lower edge of my property which border a river was completely flooded out. Not a chance of hunting a single one of them.
I had two choices. Go home or sit on the ground on one of the heavily used trails on the higher ground and hope for the best. After making the 45 minute drive, I was not interested in heading back home. Although I did consider it. The daytime high temp was around -6. The winds were simply howling. Big spruce were swaying like blades of grass. Add in the occasional snow squall and it was a full fledged blustery winter day more typical of January than the last day of November.
With about 30 minutes of light left I first caught movement coming through the thick evergreens at about 40 yards. It was a small buck with a bearing that would put him right in my lap. When he was pushing through some especially thick stuff, I got into a kneeling position. Bow arm out...fingers hooked on the black widow’s string.
The bucks kept coming directly at me. 30 yards, 20 yards, 10 yards !. After that I was measuring it in feet. I’ll have to go back and pace it off, but he came to somewhere between 10 and 20 feet.
We were almost nose to nose. The wind was in my favor. But at 10 feet, even a young immature buck sensed the kneeling blob just wasn’t quite right. He stared long and hard at me. But, while I can’t really explain it, he was still curious not completely alarmed.
Before I gave myself an imaginary slap, I briefly thought about shooting him in the chest. The things that go through your mind. With the fresh snow, I knew with such a shot, blood might be minimal, but I could follow his tracks, and if fatal ...I'd find him. The key word was “if”. I quickly dismissed the idea. I held my ground.
The buck relaxed and turned hard to his right to head out into the field of standing wheat. He was broadside but brush covered his vitals. I watched his head for signs of what he was about to do. After a minute or so, he ducked his head down and I knew he was going to take a step. I had about a 2 foot opening where I could shoot.
Luckily , he just took one step and stopped. Leaving his head behind cover but his vitals exposed. I pulled the limbs back to that beautiful S shape I love so much about recurves. My middle finger found the tooth I use as an anchor. I stared at a tuft of fur.
Almost unexpectedly, the arrow launched. I saw the tuft of fur part. I heard the thump. The buck ran out into the field. I watched him fall while on the run at 40 yards with hardly a kick.
Once again, I became aware of the brutal wind and sub 0 temps. Although the buck was down, I instinctively followed his tracks and blood trail to him.
After a couple pictures, I went to my truck and retrieved the sled. Dragging would be easy with the sled and the fresh wind polished snow. I forgot about the biting wind though. It was especially bad out in the open field.
Regardless, step by step I worked towards the truck. Being a small buck, the drag was one of the easier ones I've had recently. Make no mistake though, the fierce wind made up for the easy dragging.
Once back home, after he was cleaned and hanging, ready for the butcher’s cooler in the morning, I retreated into the house and it’s warmth in front of the fire.
By all accounts, it had been an adventure and a perfect day for a solo hunt from start to finish. Despite offers of help, for whatever reason, I enjoy doing such things alone.
Sitting here today, nice and warm by a raging fire, the outside temps are still cold. I’m glad he’s in a cooler as he would be frozen hard by now.
I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday. I hope I enjoy future hunts as much.
Somewhere, there's a line when you go from client to friend. Somewhere, there's a line where you go from being guided to hunting together.
I have no idea where or when it happens. I only know it after the milestone has transpired.
Never however was it more evident than my last trip to Northeast Wilderness Outfitters a last week.. Pulling into the gravel driveway was almost like returning home when you've been away for a while.
It wasn't the firm handshake from Chip (owner) or the greetings from the long time guides who always gather to meet the incoming clients. It was more from walking into the kitchen and seeing Chip's daughter and noticing how much she had grown in a year. It was more the stark realization that Woody wouldn't be there to chat with. It was more the big hug from Chip's wife Maria and her inquiring about my wife and new grand daughter. It was my familiar seat at the family table and the easy conversations that ensued.
However comfortable that dining room chair and enjoyable the catching up conversation was, our thoughts soon turned to turkey and turkey hunting. We headed out looking to roost some birds for tomorrow's opener.
The hunters and guides all took off in separate directions looking for the ultimate, high odds, location to clobber a gobbler in the morning. It wasn't long before cell phones were pinging from all the sightings and plan making.
We were heading to my favorite spot of all. It's a beautiful farm, with a pond, orchards, and, of course, lots of turkey.
From Chip's tireless scouting, we knew where the birds would roost, and more importantly, he knew where they would head and where they would likely be at any time of the day.
Sitting under the pines listening to the Maine woods come alive was reward enough for the 3am wake up. The weather was spectacular. Clear skies. Chilly but above freezing. Before long, the eastern horizon had a glowing streak of wildfire racing across it. I wanted to take a picture of it so bad it wasn't even funny. But I dared not. The previous evening, we saw two lone toms head for their roost about 75 yards behind where we were sitting.
As if on cue, the tree talk started about 30 minutes before light. Gobbles rang out from below and above us. A couple hens were softly yelping from their perches. What really caught my ear's attention was the gobbles coming from behind us. I had my fingers crossed it was the two toms sporting those 8-9 inch beards from the scouting trip the evening before.
If there was somewhere else I would have rather been...it didn't readily come to mind. It was a production as only mother nature could script. I felt blessed to have a front row, center seat as it unfolded. I reminded myself to never, ever, take such moments for granted.
Chip was just a few yards behind me. He would call and I would shoot if it all came together. He returned those soft yelps perfectly. Not too much. Not too little. It's almost an art to work those birds with just the right finesse. It's a touch that only comes from years of calling to thousands of birds.
Legal shooting time came slowly. But it came. Slowly or not. The birds were still in the pines.
When Chip and I hunt together, it's usually radio silence. We don't talk or move. Uncharacteristically, Chip leaned towards me and whispered, " They're on the ground, be ready".
I smiled and thought, I've been ready for an hour, but I appreciated the heads up. He offered it because he knew they flew down exactly where he had hoped. All we needed to do was pull them around the point of brush to where they would see our decoys.
The periodic calling was just right. Their excited gobble answers easily gave us their location and travel route. It was as if they read the script.
They came around the heavy brush point, hit the field and marched double time down the tree line right to the decoys we had placed 12 yards in front of me.
Once they rounded that corner, I could see glimpses of the big birds through the raspberry thorn thicket. I saw long beards. My heart began to thump. The shotgun was across my raised knees. They were literally gonna walk right into my line of fire.
The closer they came, combined with Chip's louder and more excited hen calling, the more they sounded off. Double and triple gobbles rang out across the picturesque farm. I wasn't about to, but I could have closed my eyes and followed their exact location by sound alone. When they were in range ( but still no good clear shot) Chip wisely backed off on the calling.
I let them come almost right to the decoys. I picked out the bigger of the two and placed the bead steady on his waddles. The ol' pump gun barked and the tom folded. Swinging on the second bird, I couldn't see his beard. I didn't want a Jake ( or shoot an illegal bird that wasn't sporting a visible beard - which is the law in Maine) and despite having the impression they were both long beards when they were approaching, I just couldn't pull without that identification.
The second bird began walking away. Not fast. Just confused. Chip stopped him with an excited yelp. Bird number 2 turned sideways to look back at the receptive hen. In doing so, I saw that paintbrush hanging low.
First day or not, I jammed the pump like a jazz playing trombone player and drew a bead on him just above the waddles and broke the morning silence once again.
The tom collapsed in a heap.
While the gun's loud report was still ringing in my ears, I was aware of Chip offering congrats, and seconds later I felt a sincere pat on my back. Chip called the time of death at 530am. We looked at each other. We looked out in the green field at the two black lumps and took to laughing.
Giddy laughing, like two school yard kids. I glanced down across the little farm valley and noticed the sky was a perfect pinky red. I realized that the wind had picked up and I was shaking. Well, that's my story anyways.
We gathered the birds and took some photos. Before we left I just made a point to take this event all in one more time. I knew, no matter how hard we posed and placed the birds, the pictures would not capture the moment. There's not a camera out there that can capture the sounds, smells, and sights of such moments.
Sitting there, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not since hunting with family had I seen anyone as happy for me to take an animal as Chip was.
It was then I realized I was hunting with family.
I can attest to this. More than dust gets in your blood while hunting the dark continent. I'm planning a return visit to reclaim the piece of my heart it stole a few years ago. If you are considering a trip across the big pond, shoot me an email. We've got some great pricing with this outfitter. www.africangamehunters.com/ . Contact me at email@example.com
Looking through the glasses I couldn't believe the size of the bull. He was without a doubt the largest moose I had ever seen on the island of Newfoundland. Even from 2000 yards or so, I could see white spurts of vaporized air blasting from his nostrils after each deep grunt. He would thrash a tree now and then with his huge pans. I was getting the full show as only mother nature can produce.
My heart was beating like a bass drum, as was the steady pulse of pounding blood in my temples. Before taking off after the bull I had a slug of water and chewed on a granola bar. We had been walking and calling since daybreak. I peeled off a layer or two, albeit too late...my base layer was sweat soaked. Rising, I half opened the bolt to be sure a round was in the chamber.
I had taken a couple of smaller bulls on previous hunts. This trip, I was hoping for a good bull. I had passed up a couple spikes earlier in the week. For a guy who doesn't get to hunt moose all that often, it was tough to let them walk. As they walked off into the dark spruce, both times I reminded myself the words a more experienced hunter had told me. " Ya can't shoot a big one...if you shoot the first small one you see". Point taken.
Anyone who has hiked much in Newfoundland knows that the walking can be tough going. While glassing from one side to the other, it's easier said then done to think , I'll just slipped on down this valley and circle above yonder bull.
It was that odd mixture of trying to hurry while being stealthy at the same time. The wind was in our favor. My mind however, was playing tricks on me. We had been out of sight of the huge bull for an half hour or so. I began to worry that he had moved on.
The valley was alive with cow bawls and bull grunts. To this day, I don't think I've ever shared a valley with so many moose, or if I did, they were not as vocal. Just as we were skirting a small yellow bog, we spotted a bull 200 yards away, maybe less.
Dropping my pack, I fished out my binoculars. There before me was a great bull for Newfoundland. I referred to my guide Robert for direction. He indicated that normally the bull would be a shooter. He added though, that somewhere up above us was a legit monster. In short, he wasn't going to tell me what I should do. And I'm good with that.
After much deliberation, I found myself with the model 70 shouldered with the crosshairs on the bull. Snicking off the safety I touched off. The bull was hard hit and only went 20 yards. When he went down, I lost sight of him....I worked the bolt and fed a fresh round into the chamber. Seeing nothing, I cautiously made way way to where I saw him go down. Before long I saw an antler tip sticking up above the brush. He was done.
As we were dressing the bull before the big job of packing him down to the lake, from somewhere high above me, a bull continued to grunt. I suspect it was the bruiser we had spotted an hour or so earlier.
Closing the tag on the last quarter of the moose I just shot....I was just fine with the big bull up above me living to see another day. There would be other trips. Other trips where I'd hold out for the biggest bull in the woods. Maybe......
I’ll never forget my first sighting of a big Eastern Coyote. It was on a
dark grey November morning about 15 minutes after legal shooting
light on the opening day of whitetail season many years ago. It left a
lasting impression on a young hunter.
I had crept to the edge of an expansive bog under the cover of
darkness hoping to catch a glimpse of the big whitetail buck we had
seen here at daybreak a couple times during our preseason scouting
trips. It was one of those mornings where good shooting light seemed
to take forever to come around.
Eventually the murky grayness yielded its grip as daylight slowly
rolled around enough to where I could see a hundred yards or more. A
small doe ghosted past me at about 75 yards at a quick paced trot her
tail held high. I hunkered down a bit in the hopes the big buck was on
her back trail.
What I saw next had me reaching for my binoculars. A lone coyote
was on the doe’s trail. He would walk a bit and stop to survey his
surroundings. His grey winter coat blended with the overcast sky and
drab fall landscape of the bog perfectly. He was power, beauty, speed
and savageness all rolled into one package.
I had seen coyotes on out of Province hunts before but I had never
seen one so large and wolf-like. Many biologists are of the opinion
that these coyotes during their Eastern migration have bred with
wolves and/or dogs along the way creating a much bigger version of
the western coyotes most of us are familiar with. These “coy-dogs” or
“coy=wolves” as they are often referred to can reach some impressive
Big males will sometimes tip the scales at over 70 lbs; a few will go
even heavier. And that my friends is one big coyote. Although cursed
by many hunters, somehow for me, they have added to the overall
enjoyment of my time in the woods. Hearing a pack of coyotes light
up the woods with their long lonesome howls any evening on stand is
a sound I enjoy hearing. It lets me know I’m not the only hunter
prowling the woods and puts things in perspective in a strange way.
I’m just another cog I the wheel. A small part of the big picture.
Although not a popular opinion among many hunters, a certain
small part of me can relate to them as predators. I guess in one form
or another I can identify with their quest for game and even perhaps
share their excitement in the hunt. It must be some kind of predatory
They do kill a substantial number of deer which doesn’t endear them
to whitetail hunters in general but the plus side for me is they have
offered up another awesome hunting opportunity. They can however
play havoc on localized deer numbers. From what I can gather the
bigger Eastern ‘yote may take more big game more often than their
Notwithstanding my slight soft spot for them and their niche spot they
have filled in the eastern woods, I do believe their numbers need to be
managed aggressively. Hunters and trappers need to keep the pressure
This bolder bigger eastern coy-wolf is not winning many fans with the
non hunting population either. From running off with household pets
all the way up to ( and everything in between) having actually
attacked humans and in one well documented case killing a lone hiker
in my home Province of Nova Scotia.
Calling in big predators from the ground is exciting stuff. Having a
big coyote run in at your distress call will get your hunter’s heart
ticking I can assure you!
I think the most consistently successful calls would have to be a
remote controlled E caller. With the remote function a hunter can
have the incoming coyote’s attention focused other than on him or
her. The ones I have used sound realistic, the volume can be
controlled, they can be operated with just the push of a button, and on
many models you can play one or more call at the same time.
If you combine one of these calls with a distraction decoy your odds
of being spotted by a sharp eyed ‘yote will increase over using a
mouth blown call. A mouth blown call will have the coyote focused
directly on your location. Of course, this can be overcome by hunting
with a partner set up a short distance away from the caller.
Notwithstanding the above I love hunting coyotes using a mouth
blown call and using my Black Widow recurve bow. It doesn’t add up
to many coyotes on the ground but it’s exciting as any hunt and when
it does all come together a more exhilarating experience can be hard
to duplicate for difficulty and sense of pride.
One particular bear season had my hunters all tagged out by mid week
with respectable bruins. The group had traveled by car to my hunting
camp so after the paperwork and sample teeth had been turned into
the DNR they were packing up and heading home by 10 a.m.
Thursday morning. This left me at bear camp with a few baits that
hadn’t been hunted yet that year and a bear tag with my name on it
burning a hole in my pocket.
After the final handshakes and farewells it wasn’t long before I was
grinding up an old rut filled logging road to check a distant bear bait
that had been getting pounded on a daily basis for about 4 weeks but
had yet to have a hunter sit over it.
Rounding a corner I saw a couple coyotes dart across the old logging
road about 200 yards ahead of me. I double checked my back pack
and sure enough I had a rabbit in distress mouth blown call in my
pack. I noted it was only about noon time so I had plenty of time
before I needed to be on the bear stand.
With nothing to lose I grabbed my call and recurve and crept up the
trail and closed the distance to about half way to where the coyotes
had crossed. I tip-toed off the trail for perhaps 40 yards and snugged
up tight against the root ball of a big blown down spruce and gave my
first series of calls. I wailed on that call and tried to imitate a rabbit in
a world of hurt. I ended it with a series of low squeals as if the rabbit
was taking his last breath.
I barley had time to put down the call and grab the bow when I heard
several animals coming in fast from directly behind me. It’s an
awesome feeling but it does make you wish for eyes in the back of
your head I can tell you that!
It happened so fast it was almost as if the rabbit squeals were still
echoing through the forest when the animals were coming in. In
seconds 4 coyotes passed by me within easy bow range. Two on my
left and two on my right. They passed within 25 yards but stopped
just shy of 20 yards in front of me. One dog was much larger than the
other so all my attention immediately focused on him. The biggest
coyote I was watching actually stopped and sat down. He and the
others were all looking straight ahead. No doubt looking for any sign
of the dying rabbit which was perfect for me.
I rolled quickly on my knees and drew on the big boy. I picked a spot
and sent off one cedar air mail special. Upon impact the coyote rolled
over but quickly regained his feet and took off in a blur. I tried to
follow him but I only caught a glimpse of him here and there between
the trees before he disappeared altogether.
I thought the shot looked good but decided to sit still for 30 minutes
or so. When I took up the trail I found drops of blood within yards of
where he had been sitting when I shot.
I followed the trail for well over a hundred yards. The blood wasn’t
heavy but I was able to follow it without resorting to hands and knees.
It would be best described as light but steady.
As with most well placed broadheads I found the coyote at the end of
the trail. I had just tracked through a spruce thicket and came out into
an open hardwood when I spotted the downed coyote. I sat and
watched for a few minutes to ensure he was down for keeps. The
coyote was done. He never moved.
I approached the big male coyote and estimated his weight at around
50 pounds. His early fall coat was close to prime. He was the
perfectly evolved predator for this part of the world. I couldn’t help
but have the utmost of respect for the animal that lay at my feet.
How many deer kills had he been a part of? How much small game
had he taken? How many pups carry his genes through these woods?
One small cog in nature’s perfectly balanced wheel had met another
cog this autumn morning. This time however the coyote lost the flip
of the coin. Mother Nature plays no favorites. In her domain there
are no right or wrong decisions. There are only consequences.
Perfectly complicated. Perfectly perfect..
Are you up to the Coyote Challenge?
It's been said it's the journey that's the real adventure in hunting, not just the tagging of an animal.
Stepping off the plane in Deer Lake NL for the second time in a month, I couldn't help but think about the journey to get back for the second time. Ferry delays, 100 mm of rain in a single day's forecast, combined with 130 K wind gusts on my earlier trip, all were a part of me stepping off the plane on this grey morning, with blizzard like conditions expected the next day.
Our ferry had 3 delays on this second trip over to hunt with Where Ya Wanna Be Outfitters. The owners decided that enough was enough, and they made arrangements to fly me over. It appeared from the forecast, we would have one good day of hunting...if we were lucky. Which was exactly one good day of hunting more than we had 3 weeks prior.
Early the next morning, long before light I met Barry, a well known moose and salmon guide in the area. Without the official title, I think it's fair to say Barry is the head guide at Where Ya Wanna Be Outfitters. The drive into the area we wanted to hunt was tricky. Perhaps a foot of snow was down. But with just the right amount of gas and breaking we chugged and spun our way into one of his favorite winter hunting spots.
On the 20 some kilometer drive in, I knew instantly that I was paired up with the right guide for me. Our general thoughts and philosophies on things in all respects of hunting were perfectly aligned. I senses he loved the hunt. Not just the taking of an animal.
On the skid filled, tire spinning drive in, we knew the area we wanted to hunt. A high ridge looking down into a valley where the moose go to in winter conditions. I was dressed light for a long day's walk of spot and stalk despite the blizzard like conditions.
Normally, I'd have had my Black Widow recurve in the back seat of the truck. However, on this day, it was my old Model 70 winchester in 7 rem mag cased on the back seat. This 2nd trip was all about getting it done. A moose tag and subsequent winters meat from such a large animal could provide is not to be taken lightly. And I didn't.
While I'm normally prepared to come home with an unclosed tag, on this 2nd trip, late in the season, with limited areas we could get to....I was ready to pull the trigger on a rifle hunt (literally). In short, unfinished business. I had an either or sex tag and was willing to use it on a good cow.
Driving in, the woods, hills and valleys were post card perfect. Snow laden spruce. The odd fresh moose track in the fresh snow. I was eager to get out and test my legs against the deep snow.
Shutting off the truck, Barry said it was now legal shooting time and that I should uncase the rifle. I hopped out and opened up the back door to break out the rifle. Odd as it sounds, the silver worn bluing on the bolt handle and floor plate and odd scratch brought back a flood of memories. I have no idea how many animals I have taken home with that rifle, but I do know it has taken moose, caribou, and deer.
Our plan was to glass this big valley from where we parked the truck before walking into it. In big country, it's often wise to do more hunting with your eyes than with your legs. Barry figured we had a great chance of spotting moose on the distant hills. Breaking out the glasses we meticulously picked the hills and basin apart. Tree by tree. Opening by opening. Nothing.
n Just as we were about to leave and hit the ridge, I was on one side of the truck and Barry on the other. Suddenly I heard him whisper.
I figured it was on the distant hill but I asked " Where"?
" 30 yards" was the answer.
In the name of safety and for a view down the steep hill I had to walk around the truck to see.
Approaching Barry I closed the bolt over a fresh, solitary, bullet hand fed into the chamber. Instantly I saw the big cow. Right about the same time she started to make tracks. She was about 5 yards from the dark spruce when Barry let out a long, loud bawl.
The cow stopped dead at 40 yards, two yards from cover. The model 70 came up easily and smoothly from years and years of prior use.
The cross hairs settled and I touched off. The cow shuddered and the snow flew off her back. I heard the bullet strike home with an audible whap. And then she was gone.
There was only one way she could have escaped without us seeing her go. So I crept along that travel corridor looking for her or tracks. I went about 100 yards. I saw nothing other than a fresh, smooth , undisturbed blanket of snow. My heart rate quickened. I was feeling good.
I was 99% sure she was down right where she had been standing more or less. It was a perfect setup to have not seen her run away.... now that I was pretty sure she didn't escape down the only route she had with cover.
I returned to where Barry was. He had climbed up on the bike loaded on the back of the truck. He didn't see her go. We watched for another 10 minutes or so. Our confidence growing each minute after discussing what we saw. But, it's always better to caitious be on the cautious side, especially with an animal as big as a moose. Every yard they travel, is another yard you have to get them out.
We decided I'd go have a look while he remained standing from the elevated view of the wheeler in the back of the Tundra. Finding moose tracks in fresh snow is pretty easy . I slid another bullet into the rifle, closed the bolt, and double checked the safety again and slowly, step by step, started on her tracks.
When I got to where she was standing at the shot I was a little surprised I didn't see blood. However, 3 more steps around a little clump of spruce and I saw blood and lots of it. Barley 5 paces from the first blood was the big cow, stone dead. It appears she wobbled 4 or 5 yards and went down for keeps.
A couple pictures and congrats and we got to work. The fresh snow and sled made getting the 4 quarters out to the road about as easy of moose recovery as possible. However easy , it still took a couple hours to complete the quartering and dragging. The hardest part was getting it up and over the steep bank up to the the old road. There was a moment we thought about towing the quarters up with the truck. But with the snow and mud underneath, we figured we would leave the truck right where it was and muscle it up the steep bank.
Make no mistake, even in an ideal situation, dealing with a moose still takes a few hours worth of work. However hard the work, if there's better, back busting, leg testing work out there, I've yet to experience it. We lugged. We sweated. We rested. We told old stories. We laughed. We eventually got the job done.
When I closed the tag on the last quarter, it was satisfying to seal the deal. We had finished what we started. There was no more unfinished business.
For more info on hunting with WYWB in Nl or NB contact http://moosehuntingcanada.ca/
Maybe it's because I've mostly hunted woods. Maybe it's because I've only used them sparingly . Maybe I've been doing it wrong. Maybe I just never used it at the right time.
I'm not sure.
I do know however, I will never underestimate the power of a grunt call again.
It was one of the most exciting hunts I've been on in a long while. And it has sold me .
The evening before, I sat in the popup blind with my wife. We saw good deer action. The bucks were chasing the does. We were close, but didn't get a good shot opportunity. The buck action and doe chasing we witnessed though, gave me reason to set my alarm and head out early before light the next morning.
Arriving an hour before legal shooting light, I was still able to make deer out in the field. I picked the downwind wood-line and headed in. Ghosting in past the deer from about 100 yards.
Once in the popup blind, I hoped I was able to sneak in without spooking the deer. As light began to slowly creep over my view, I was able to see 5 or 6 deer.
One looked bigger and darker. Without really seeing any bone, I knew it was a buck. It was harassing the does relentlessly.
I decided to just watch the show, although I did dig out my grunt call and bleat can. This buck, if nothing else was persistent. After 20 minutes of watching the show, I tried the grunt call. I gave one long grunt, followed closely with a short but louder grunt.
The buck spun his head around as if on a swivel and quite literally charged towards the blind for 20 yards. He stopped and looked around the field, seeing nothing, he began to come close, albeit more cautiously that the first 20 yards. He came steady from about 150 yards right into 30 or so.
I grabbed the widow and prepared for an opportunity. I was all but at full draw. I dared not even stare directly at him. I more was looking at the ground while casting my eyes upwards, just enough to keep him in sight. I could see the broadhead tipped arrow shaking slightly as the anticipation grew. And grew.
At some point, perhaps 5 minutes into the standoff, a lone doe drifted into my peripheral vision. The rutty buck saw her too and took off in hot pursuit. I released the death grip I had on the bow and took a deep breath.
He followed her around the field as she fed. Unlike some of the deer, she didn't seem bothered by his advancements. Perhaps because of her size. She was a huge old girl. He just kept about a 10 foot barrier from her, but he doggedly followed her where ever she went.
When I determined she was not coming my way, I reached for the grunt call again. This time I gave one long grunt. The buck just about snapped his neck to spin around and look my way. But he stayed put.
The next call, I turned slowly away from the him and gave two shorter grunts in the hopes of sounding farther away and making the "other" buck appear to be out of sight. Again, he came steady towards me. Walk 20 yards and stop and look. Repeat. It took him 10 minutes or so to make his way into recurve range. At around the 30 yard mark, I slid my fingers onto the string with the familiar 3 finger under grip. Right around then, 2 more does popped out of the woods. They were new does and they had his attention. He trotted over towards them. This appeared to be too aggressive for them, and after a quick chase in the open, they headed back towards the woods. The buck followed.
Once out of sight, I knew they were not far, as I could here grunts and bleats just inside the woods. I picked up the grunt and gave 3 loud calls. I'm not sure it was related or not, but the grunts and bleat increased just out of sight.
Just when I began to get that nagging little doubt that the buck was not going to give me another chance, I grabbed the grunt almost as a hail Mary and gave two loud ( very loud) grunts. Not a minute later the buck literally burst out of the woods but at 200 odd yards.
He gave chase to a doe and fawns that were there. It was clear to me, this young buck was in a state of rut that made him vulnerable. I reached for the grunt call again. One loud grunt and he looked my way. Another and he began to walk.
I'm not sure, but this time his mood seemed different. Almost as if ( total guess on my part though) he was sick of hearing this other buck and was either coming in to run him off or have a look to ensure he wasn't about to get his butt kicked. My recollection was that he came in with head up but ears pinned back.
I'm not sure how many times but 3 or 4 times when he would stop, I would grunt and he would resume his advancement . The direct link to the call was obvious. It was beyond exciting and I wished I had a camera rolling. At one point, he stopped and gave a an overhanging branch a good thrashing. My heart was pounding. My heart was full. It's moments like this that we all live for. I'm sure I'm not alone.
I'm gonna say when he was at 40 yards ( I say this, because typically, this is when I get into shooting position) I noticed a doe right in front of the blind. Well sir, with an already excited buck, chasing does, and feeling his oats enough to come challenge another buck , the new doe was more than he could handle.
He passed the 30 yard mark. He went to my left, I think to approach the doe from behind. I had my bow arm extended and good pressure on the string. He paced back and forth 2 or 3 times. The fourth time he was under 20. This made the doe nervous and she moved to my right. The young buck followed, sniffing her tracks like a good bird dog on a rooster's trail.
As odd as it sounds, almost unexpectedly , he was broadside and in trad bow range.
Instinctively I began to draw the bow back. It felt like my fingers would never reach their intended anchor at the corner of my mouth. But somehow they did. Somehow the buck was still there.
The next few seconds are a blur to be honest. I don't remember the release. I didn't see the arrow fly. I do however, remember hearing the thunk.
Did I mention how hard it was raining? I normally wouldn't have bowhunted in that downpour. But I was in a popup so I decided to stay. But the track job and bowhunting in the rain are fodder for another story.
The point of this little tale was more how a grunt tube can work ! I know I'll never not have one in my pack from this day forward. It was rewarding, heart pounding and nerve racking all at the same time. I'm eager to get back out and try it again. I do think timing is everything. And right now, right before the peak of the rut may be the time to give one a try.
While I'm happy with any trad bow buck, some I'm just a little more proud of. I'm pretty sure there is a direct connection to the excitement experienced. I can say for sure, this was one was jam pack with adventure. I'll remember this hunt and buck for a long time.
I'd love to hear your grunt tales.....