USA: Idaho Shiras Moose Hunt

IdaRam

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I just got back from three incredible weeks in the backcountry of Idaho and I thought you guys might enjoy some hunt pics and the story to go with.
A very close friend of mine retired from the local Sheriffs department a few years ago after 31 years on the job which included many years on the SWAT team and regular duty as a patrol sergeant. Upon his retirement we decided to start putting in for moose tags in our home state of Idaho with the agreement that if one of us drew a tag the other would commit the time to go along as packer, camp cook and chief bottle washer. Moose are a once in a lifetime species in Idaho, meaning if you are successful in drawing a tag and harvesting a bull you can never apply again. If you are unsuccessful in harvesting a bull you must wait 3 years before applying again. As luck would have it I was the first lucky hunter, drawing the tag in 2012 and harvesting a big old bull past his prime with antlers starting to regress. Two years later Jim also won the lottery :) and it was my turn to return the favor (y) YES!
When the draw results were posted Jim was spring bear hunting and I had to check the results on-line for him. When I sent him the text that he was successful I had to take a picture of the computer screen and send him so he knew I wasn't yanking his chain! Needless to say it was his best spring bear hunt ever :D Then the waiting began...
After 5 months of planning and waiting the time finally came to go hunting! With camp set up and some scouting done before opening day, we were ready to get down to business.

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A 4:00am wake up call allowed time for a fire in the stove to knock off the chill and a bacon and eggs breakfast with plenty of coffee to start things off right.
The first day yielded smaller bulls, cows and calves along with several rag horn bull elk and 2 black bear, but no large bull moose. Kind of a relief actually. Who wants to put an end to the hunt on the first day? Especially when the season runs from September 15 through December 1. From past experience on my hunt two years prior, we were expecting to hunt the full 3 weeks that we had set aside and maybe end up coming back for the last 10 days of the season to hunt from snowmobiles. That would prove unnecessary :)
On day 2 we caught a few fleeting glimpses of what looked like a good bull running off a lesser bull, but in the thick timber and brush we never could get a decent look.
We were high up overlooking a bowl that held the two bulls as well as a cow and a calf moose. In addition, 3 rag horn bull elk moved through the bowl right after first light and then another small bull elk showed up and proceeded to dive in the pond and splash around and play just like a kid in a bathtub :ROFLMAO: As soon as I figure out how to post video I will share it with y'all. It's pretty entertaining :D
Day 3 also yielded the same 2 bulls in the thick stuff without a good enough look at the bigger bull to decide if he was worth further effort. This time there were more cows, a couple elk and a black bear. Then something funny happened...
Everything just sort of melted away. Not a mad dash, just an evaporation. They all just filtered out of the bowl kind of quietly. Here's why.

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A Big Old Grizzly Bear! He just moved on in and started eating huckleberries like he owned the place, which he obviously did! Once again, I am so glad I invested in a video camera!
We watched him and shot video for about 15 minutes then moved on to try to catch up with the bigger bull and hopefully get a good look.
Day 4 finally yielded the look we had been trying to get. Yup, he's a shooter! He's just over 600 yards when he finally beds down behind the base of a big fallen tree that died decades ago and all that is visible are his antlers. Now to close the gap and wait for him to stand up. We made our way down a steep ridge and found a perfect rest in a small cluster of spruce trees at 389 yards. After some stacking of packs and gear for a good solid rest front and rear it was time to wait. A little over an hour later with the sun now shining on his bed, the bull decided it was time to stretch and move to a spot with more shade. I barely had time to switch on the video camera and hit record when Jim's 300 WSM boomed. The 180 grain Barnes was spot on. Right through the near shoulder and out behind the far shoulder. A follow up shot was also right on the mark but not necessary, as we learned later. About 30 seconds after the second shot we heard the crash as the bull went down in the trees.
It took us about an hour to get to him due to a long detour around cliffs which encircle part of the bowl he was in.
Here he is in his final resting place with the happy hunter claiming his trophy.
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After caping, quartering, bagging and hanging the meat in the shade and leaving most of the gear we had in our packs, it was time to head back up the mountain with Jim carrying the cape and me packing the backstraps and tenderloins.
We reached the top of the mountain right at dusk. I came puffing up behind Jim just in time to hear him say "Oh Crap"! Guess who decided to show up. It was getting dark but there was no mistaking the size and swagger of the Grizzly as it approached the kill. The last we could see was him going into the trees about 50 yards from our moose.
It took us about 3 hours to hike the 3 miles in the dark back to the road where we had left the Rhino UTV. On the one hand I was glad to know where the Grizzly was, considering I smelled like moose meat and blood. On the other hand, that probably wasn't the only grizzly around. And we still had to deal with him the next day if we wanted the rest of the meat and our gear back (n) :oops:
Day 5 is a little tense :whistle: After very little sleep and adrenaline crash we stoked up the FN SLP tactical shotgun with a charge of buckshot backed up by high velocity slugs, grabbed hold of the lead ropes on the mules and headed back.
We tied up the mules a few hundred yards away from the kill and made our way in, making plenty of noise of course. I am happy to report that this must be most polite grizzly in Idaho. After checking things out he apparently decided we smelled pretty bad because he didn't touch a thing! He was back on the kill the next day when we glassed from a distant ridge top. Glad that had a happy ending :D
Here's the girls, Brakey and Charlie, packing the quarters, antlers and my SLP :)

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As you can see in the photo above, they are pretty interested in something below that they kept their eyes on most of the way up the hill... I have a suspicion it was our friend.
Here's a few more photos I hope you enjoy :)
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Misty Mountain


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Fall Colors

We ended up staying the full 3 weeks, chasing Elk around and almost getting an arrow into a really big 6 point bull that I was able to call in to 10 yards, but still no shot.
One of the funnest hunts of my life and I think I actually only carried my rifle twice! Shooting a black bear for the freezer just didn't seem important.
Best wishes and good hunting to you all!
Dan
 

enysse

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Congrats, backpacking all that meat would have been fun:whistle:.
 

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Congrats to your friend IdaRam. Huckleberries makes me think you were hunting in northern Idaho, but grizzly in the area makes me think you were hunting outside of Yellowstone. Just a month or so before moving to Arizona, a friend of mine and I doubled on bull moose. This was on October 1st and they were rut crazed. We did not have to work as hard as you, killing our bulls within 1/2 mile of camp. This was in the McCoy Creek area not far from Soda Springs in southeast Idaho.

Thanks for the report, takes me back to my favorite place I've ever lived!
 

gillettehunter

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Nice looking bull. Congrats on a great hunt. My best Shiras came from over by the Tetons. Love seeing the country. Bruce
 

IdaRam

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Thanks guys :)
Enysse, I agree! If we had to pack the meat on our backs we would still be there! It would have been time to build a picnic table and a camp fire :D Of course, hunting where we were would not have been an option without pack stock...
Phoenix Phil, congrats on your Idaho moose success! Rut crazed moose are an absolute blast to call and hunt aren't they (y)
We were hunting in the northern panhandle where there is a significant population of grizzlies. According to Wayne Waakenan (bear biologist over grizzly management in Idaho) there are somewhere between 60 and 90 grizzlies in the Selkirks of northern Idaho. I am told there are currently 6 that have radio transmitters and are being tracked weekly by air, and quite a few more with non-transmitting collars and/or ear tags. I have personally seen 3 grizzlies, possibly 4 (may have been the same bear) over the past few years. I understand the population is doing well and continues to increase.
Thanks gillettehunter, I have hoped to hunt moose in Wyoming one day but it seems like that is getting less likely as tag numbers shrink...
 

James.Grage

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Nice Moose and a great story.

I kind of had a similar hunting experience in Alaska while Moose hunting.

We flew into the Bush and i was able to take a very nice Moose, the second day in the field. We packed out 2 loads the first day and when night came in one of the best looking grizzly bears i have ever seen came in and claimed the rest of my moose. We were hunting above timber line and our moose was on the ground awaiting our return the next day. We arrive early the next morning for a second day of packing, only to find what was left of my moose buried under some of the biggest boulders and dirt pile i have ever seen. a couple of the rock we could not move.

We knew that his was a great grizzly bear location in Alaska, and our bush pilot warned us about shooting a Grizzle if it claimed our kill. If you do not have claw marks on your ass do not shoot one, To recover your downed game. We got to watch this great bear for 3 days eating my moose, then he move off. My brother was able to get a nice moose also on the trip, however we were able to recover all of it. Bears in parts of Alaska have learned to come to the sound of a rifle shot in the fall, looking for a free lunch, and you need to be on alert at all time around a kill.

Great eating by the way.
 

Royal27

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Just stunning....
 

Nevada Wapati

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Congartulations on you successful and enjoyable hunt. It's so good to hear that there are still some "Polite" grizzlies out there.
 

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Great story and pictures. It brought back fond memories of when I had horses and would pack a camp in every year for elk, sheep, and moose hunts.

My last Shiras moose hunt was just me, my two horses and my Golden Retriever. That hunt was quite a few years ago, and if I hadn't had the horses I would probably still be packing the meat out.:)
 

bluey

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great hunt congratulations idaram
busting up a moose and lugging up a big hill sounds like a workout
thanks for sharing your memories
 

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Wow IdaRam great bull. Thank you for sharing the story an photos!
 

Velo Dog

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IdaRam,

First off, as others have said; thank you for the great narrative and photos.

Secondly, now you know why so many Alaskans hunt deer, caribou, sheep and goat with either the .338 Winchester or the .375 H&H.

Idaho is one of my very favorite places on earth, for the reasons shown and written about in your post, plus rainbow and cutthroat on grasshopper patterns - dry of course.

You live in a paradise.

Best regards,
Velo Dog.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Thanks guys :)

Phoenix Phil, congrats on your Idaho moose success! Rut crazed moose are an absolute blast to call and hunt aren't they (y)

We were camped on a small bluff above McCoy Crk. We had I think 4 horses with us and a 4 wheeler. Big to do getting that camp setup for just the two of us. When we woke up for the first morning of our hunt, my friend went out to saddle our horses while I made breakfast. I had barely cracked the eggs and Bill came back into the camper. In all his years in Idaho he'd never heard that unmistakeable sound of love sick cow moose, but he guessed something was up and came back in to tell me about it.

So I stepped outside to hear it myself as I knew what to listed for. It was pitch black dark, but there was no doubt what was down in the creek below us. Two bulls were mixing it up at the same time, one of which I was to kill an hour or so later, the smaller of the two though.

We didn't bother to saddle the horses. We waited till first light and headed up the hill behind the moose. Cows everywhere with smaller bulls and one big bull chasing them. It was the craziest thing I ever saw. Bill and I had got split up somehow but I wanted him to take the first shot. Shortly after I spotted the big bull, he laid down to take a rest. So I scooted around the hill looking for and calling for my friend, but to no avail.

So I went back after the big bull who I found in short order still resting up hill of me. I couldn't see much of his body, just his back, but I could see his head clearly. He kept turning his head from side to side with all the cows calling for love, giving me plenty of time to evaluate him. After a few minutes of this, I knew he was one to take.

So I just set up my 7mm against an Aspen and waited for him to get up. After awhile a hot cow came trotting by him with a younger bull right behind her. The big bull could not take that and got up and was headed straight away from me after the cow and the young bull looking for a butt whooping. All this time waiting and now he was about to get away from me! So I let out my best impression of a moaning rut sick cow moose just using my mouth. This turned him broadside and he stopped. Bang, the 160gr Partition whacked him. He took a few steps and stopped as I was taking aim for a follow up. As I got him in my scope, I could see his back end wobbling and he dropped.

He kicked a bit after dropping so I gave him a few minutes to make sure he was down for good before moving up the hill. Just about the time I started up to him, bang! Bill had shot the younger bull that was chasing the cow that ran by mine. He was up the hill a couple hundred yards.

This is precisely the moment that all the fun of the hunt was gone.....what a day that was getting two bull moose off that hill. After tagging Bill's bull, we went back to mine as Bill wanted to see what I had got. We were both pretty sure that mine would challenge the B&C minimum (it ended up just a tad short). As we were looking him over, I happened to look back down at the creek. In the bottom, chasing a cow, was an absolutely huge bull that I think was the one mine had been fighting in the morning. How do I know mine was fighting? Well when we skinned my bull he had fresh bruises along his back about half way between the front and back ends.

Crazy day of hunting that I don't think I'll ever experience the likes of which again. The only downside of that hunt was the wolves. The night before we had a pack just a couple hundred yards away down in the creek howling. It was in some respects very cool to experience that. But, with 20-30 moose I saw the next morning while hunting, not a single calf was seen.
 

IdaRam

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Oh, man! 1 moose on the ground at a time is plenty! 2 at once is making my back ache just thinking about it o_O What a hunt though! You guys were really fortunate to have tags together. Congrats on what sounds like a fantastic bull. Anything close to B&C minimum is a wonderful trophy. I would love to see a pic if you have one.
Until I hunted moose during the rut, I never knew moose hunting could be so fun. I have called in a fair number of bulls with both cow calls and challenge calls just using my mouth. What a rush when they come in with blood in their eye! I actually had a bull come charging in to just the sound of me crashing through the brush. Guess he thought I was just another moose. If it turned out to be a cow he was going to breed it and if it was another bull he was going to fight it!
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Oh, man! 1 moose on the ground at a time is plenty! 2 at once is making my back ache just thinking about it o_O What a hunt though! You guys were really fortunate to have tags together. Congrats on what sounds like a fantastic bull. Anything close to B&C minimum is a wonderful trophy. I would love to see a pic if you have one.
Until I hunted moose during the rut, I never knew moose hunting could be so fun. I have called in a fair number of bulls with both cow calls and challenge calls just using my mouth. What a rush when they come in with blood in their eye! I actually had a bull come charging in to just the sound of me crashing through the brush. Guess he thought I was just another moose. If it turned out to be a cow he was going to breed it and if it was another bull he was going to fight it!

I don't have a pic on my laptop and he's in storage at the moment, but soon shall be at the house I bought in August. We've had him in storage since putting our last house on the market. When I get him home, I'll put a pic on here.

One of his brow tines forked. The other one started to, but didn't finish. Had that one also forked, he would have cleared the B&C minimum easily. Still a great trophy and I'm not disappointed at all. I did in our recent move manage to break a little bit of his antlers....long story....don't make me tell it....please.

Yeah, moose are funny critters. I had so many run-ins with them when I lived in Pocatello. Sometimes they'd just stand there while you walked by and other times they could get a bit aggressive. The worst time was when I was fishing one evening. If you look up Daniel's Reservoir, it's the scene of the drama. I was walking back to my truck carrying my fly rod and float tube. Came around a bend to find a calf between me and momma moose. She didn't give a crap that I had no intention of harming her baby and got instantly aggravated.....I ran away dropping all of my crap. Fortunately she decided to stop and continue on to the water. But I still had to get by them to get to my truck. She watched me carefully as I did so, but in the end let me get on by without anymore issues.

Another time while I was deer hunting, I had a big bull nearby watch me as I and friends were loading up the buck on my horse. He just didn't care. A year later a friend of mine had a tag in that same unit. I was up deer hunting and once again ran into that bull. I called my friend on my cell and told him right where I was. We had a mutual friend who was happy to saddle up and get him there. My job was to just hang out near the bull until they got there. He declined. Darn shame as he was a great bull and my friend didn't get his bull.
 

IdaRam

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So here's the humorous addendum to the story.
We were scouting some new country and looking for elk. Jim dropped me off where an old road ends with the plan that he would drive back around in the Rhino and I would bushwhack it cross country to where two roads meet in a low saddle for pick up. It turns out to be about 23 miles around by road and we figured it would take me about the same amount of time to get to the rendezvous point as it would take for Jim to drive around. Did I mention it was the coldest day so far? Not frigid, but not exactly warm driving the Rhino with no top on it.
So Jim freezes his face off for almost 3 hours while I am sweating buckets boonie-crashing through head high brush, dog hair thick spruce and alder thickets. Well it only took me about 2 hours to make the trek to the RP. Lo and behold there's someone with a camp set up there. As I bust out of the trees 3 dogs come on the run to greet me. Hackles up to begin with, but once they figure out I'm friendly they are all happy to meet someone new.
Turns out it's another moose hunter. And SHE is damn cute! And so is her friend. The guys are apparently out chasing a bear they've spotted and the ladies are hanging out in camp around the campfire. Lucky me! So, what's a guy to do but accept their invitation for a cold beverage and wait by the campfire with them 'til my ride shows up? Turns out we know some of the same folks up in that neck of the woods and spark up a great conversation :D
About an hour later Jim comes pulling up with a face the color of a huckleberry and a nose that he's still trying to thaw out. If he could have formed an expression on his frozen face when he saw me sitting there by a nice warm campfire with two hot blondes I would have killed to catch it on video! :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
Thank you to Sarah and Kacey for a MasterCard moment! Priceless!!!
Jim stopped the Rhino about a mile down the road and called me a rotten son of a bitch a bunch of times between fits of laughter. He says, "You are the only son of a bitch I know that can find two hot chicks and a warm campfire in the middle of the God damn wilderness! Next time you are driving this fucking thing and I am doing the scouting!"
Pretty sure I'm going to remain a son of a bitch for a while...
 

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Nice story and photos.

Nice Shiras.
 

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Awesome Hunt Congrats to your friend and yourself for a great Moose. btw Love the tent and stove can't tell you how many times I've ran a trapline out of a tent with a surpus army Yukon stove just like that one while living in Alaska.
 

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