CANADA: My Sons First Moose Hunt & A Few Other Stories

Powdermaker

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My sons first Moose a few other hunting stories……

Every year we put our names in a lottery with the hope of being selected for a special licence to hunt Moose or Elk around our farm in central Saskatchewan. This past year, my 14 year old son, Ben was very lucky and was drawn for three mule deer licences, as well as a antler-less elk and either sex moose. We don’t have much of a priority system in Saskatchewan and I have never heard of anyone getting all these tags in one year!

Our first hunt was the early October, black powder season for Mule deer. We have had some tough winters and deer numbers are down, so I knew locating a good buck would be difficult. We decided to concentrate on filling the two antlerless tags. However, after several morning hunts, we were not having much luck locating any deer. Our technique is to drive around in the hope of spotting deer just at daybreak. Our third morning, we noticed some mule deer feeding 2 km. south of us. We drove a little closer and attempted a stalk. Unfortunately, the deer moved towards us and then spooked and ran over a large hill. We walked about 500 meters in pursuit and suddenly we noticed a doe standing about 250 meters away. We had to move closer! As we approached, I noticed a doe bedded down about 80 meters in front of us. I quickly set up the shooting sticks as the doe got up and ran a few meters. Ben's shot appeared to have missed, high. A second deer now stood where the first one was. So, I handed Ben my rifle and this time, there was no doubt of a solid hit. We checked and soon found both deer after a short search. We were off to a good start!

IMG_0142.jpg


We continued to hunt for a buck mule deer but the weather was very warm and the bucks were not moving very much. We did not see any. We still had the November rifle season to hunt deer. Elk season opened on October 15th so I did a lot of scouting before hand and located a herd that we could hunt on opening morning.

Opening morning was calm and cool. I parked the truck about 1 km from where I expected the herd to be. I gave one call like a bull elk and the herd bull answered right away. Now we knew where they were! We quickly moved closer in the darkness. Soon, we could see a few elk about 300 meters away. Too far for Ben to shoot and it was still a bit before legal shooting time. We ran out of cover to hide in, so we waited for light and for the elk to feed around the edge of the trees. Our plan was to use the trees as cover so we could approach closer with out scaring them. Many more elk ( about 50- including a large herd bull), emerged from behind a small hill and fed in front of us. We needed 10 more minutes when suddenly all the elk started to run for the trees! We saw headlights approaching and I had that sinking feeling that our hunt is over. These "hunters" were attempting to drive up to the herd....to lazy to walk. I was not happy.

We went back to our truck and hunted a different property where vehicles are not allowed. We walked about 6 km. in a large circle calling periodically in the hope we would bump into a herd. All we saw was a cow and calf moose. We were almost back at the truck, when we noticed a herd of elk approaching from the north. They saw us and veered around us. I had an idea where they were heading and told Ben we had to run. It was a quick sprint about 300 meters up a steep hill and we had the herd crossing in front of us about 140 meters. I called like a cow elk and several stopped for a moment. It would have been an easy shot for Ben, except the difficulty in controlling his breathing. At the shot, it looked like a good hit but unfortunately, a bit too far back on the animal. We found a bit of blood but no elk. After an hour of looking and about 150 meters of tracking, we lost the blood trail. (Sadly, tracking dogs are illegal in Saskatchewan!) We decided to go back to the truck and rest and re-group. We then went back looking for another 30 minutes. At one point, I am sure I heard the elk get up and move but didn't trust my intuition enough to look thoroughly in that direction. Decided to quit and head for home. One very dejected boy (and father.)

We went home and had lunch and related the story to my wife and oldest son. My wife immediately said, we should go back and look some more! (Got to love a woman with strong determination.) I had given up at this point - it was a very large track of bush that the elk had run into. However, Ben has willing to give it another chance, so off the four of us went. We spread out and went about 300 meters south and then went back to the north and we went about 100 meters and I looked off to my left and there she was! We were all very happy. We thank the creator for the elk but I thank my stubborn wife for finding it! Two hours of packing and we were back at the truck and heading home.


My third hunt of the year was for white-tailed deer with the muzzle loaders. This time I was guiding Ben’s best friend, David. We started out by driving the back roads and glassing for a deer that might be in a spot where we could stalk it. No luck, but we did see elk, ( a 5 pointer and 2 spikes), a cow and calf moose, one mule deer calf, and a doe and fawn whitetail.

I decided to go for a walk on some public wildlife lands west of us. We would walk quietly along, while I would make the occasional doe bleat on my call. There was lots of elk sign, but even more sign of humans....ATV trails all over the place! (I should note that it is illegal to drive on this land.) We had made our way about a mile back when I heard a bull moose grunt. I gave a quick cow call and it answered by raking it's antlers. We got to the edge of a clearing, cow called once and then ran 40 yards downwind and called quietly into the ground away from the bull. We suddenly heard brush cracking as he came in at a dead run! He reached the edge of the clearing and stopped in mid stride about 30 meters away. His right hind led is raised off the ground and he was literally frozen in place like a bird dog. I short stand off ensued while I fumbled with my phone, took his picture and told him to "get out of here". Interesting that he circled around us, still in search of that cow. Sorry to disappoint him. He was a nice 50” bull.

We went back to Bruno for lunch and than went up to my tower stand behind our barn. Around 6 pm two small does came in to the bait and 10 minutes later this heavy bodied 4 pointer came in and David had his second deer of his hunting career.



Moose hunting:

There are only 50 moose tags given out by lottery in the zone where I live. It is a large zone consisting of about 8000 sq. km. There are about a 1000 applicants, who apply each year. So, we were pleased and amazed when Ben was drawn for one of the coveted tags. The moose season is spit into two time periods. The early season is during the rut and obviously the best time to shoot a big bull by calling. The November season can be good for tracking and or spot and stalk. I like calling moose but I can’t stand the taste of a bull in rut, so I forbid my son from shooting a bull in the early season. (He could shoot a cow though-that was his choice.)

Anyway, we didn’t hunt the early season…….I had seen a nice bull in my pasture several times over the past few years. The last time was just a few days before the November season opened. We passed up a small bull on opening day and then didn't see another moose for two days. November 3rd was a school day and we weren't going to hunt but I went for a short drive at daybreak. I drove around the West side of our land and glassed for a bit and then drove past our barn and saw the bull standing about 150 meters off the road. This was at 8:10 AM. I went home to get Ben but he had already left for daily mass. Mass was over at 8:30 so we drove straight back to the moose. A quick drive by confirmed he was still there and had moved further up the side-hill and so was now clear of the willows. Perfect. (divine intervention?!) We parked the truck at our shop and walked closer, using the opposite ditch as cover. I thought we were about 200 meters from the bull but the range finder said it was 325. We had to get closer! We cut the distance and moved up across the road, I set up the sticks and Ben settled in and made a quick shot. (I was a bit surprised how quickly he got on it, but I had drilled into him that animals will not stand there all day.) The moose ran down into the willows so there was no chance for a second shot.

We heard it for a bit and then all was quiet. Ben had made a perfect shot, double lungs just above the heart. The moose went about 20 yards.

He is a great bull! Ben is only 14, but it is likely the bull of a lifetime, even for his young age.

The recovery turned into a family affair with my wife, brother, oldest son all helping out. The boys had the meat packed out in eight trips and we had the moose in the cooler by noon.

Ben had two more tags to fill. His regular whitetail tag and his either sex mule deer. We didn’t have any decent chances at white-tail and mule deer bucks were proving to be elusive. Finally , running out of time, Ben elected to fill his third tag with a doe. He made a nice 250 meter shot and his season was over. Five animals with five shots. Some good lessons learned; it was a season to remember and give thanks! The only downside was the expenditure a new freezer to store all the meat!








Other pictures of interest:

This is the third year that I have pictures of this nice buck and he is definitely bigger this year. I have never actually seen him except with the camera. Once hunting season starts I no longer get pictures of him! I had a neighbor report that he wounded a large buck last November….I hope it wasn’t him! I guess I’ll see if I get pictures next fall…….

Any of you trophy hunters care to speculate what he would score?







A friend of mine was hauling cattle last December and noticed this nice NT buck get hit by a freight train – yes I couldn’t believe it either. You would think a deer would avoid an object as large and loud as a train. Anyway, he didn’t have a gun and by the time he got back with a rifle, it was dark. Unfortunately, the coyotes had already been at it and had eaten part of one back leg while it was still alive. Nature can be cruel.



 

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PHOENIX PHIL

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Very nice moose and I wouldn't care what that whitetail on the trail cam would score, it'd be on the wall. Very sad story for that mulie.
 

BRICKBURN

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Looks like David has the shot placement down for Africa.

Your wife deserves a pat on the back for the determination.

About 187 Typical - being very conservative. If you see him... you know what to do. Gorgeous record book buck.

Very nice Moose and he will have some work to do to get one better. Certainly in his back yard.

Thanks for sharing your season.
 

gillettehunter

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Your son had a great season. Very nice moose. He be very happy. As to the deer. 6X6 plus the junk at the base. Big deer in anybodys book. I was thinking 180 plus myself. Give your wife a hug for insisting on looking some more. Bruce
 

Wheels

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Sounds like your son had a pretty nice year. Congratulations to both of you.

Hope that whitetail is still around. That rack needs to hang on a wall, and not reside in a porcupines belly.

Thanks for sharing the photos and stories.
 

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