USA: Utah - Shiras Moose & California Bighorn With Mossback Outfitters

JES Adventures

AH elite
Mar 7, 2015
Reaction score
Hunting reports
Member of
Life Member of SCI, DSC, GSCO, HSC, NRA and FNAWS
Botswana, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, RSA, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. US, Canada, Arctic, Mexico, Argentina, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, U.K., Romania, Tadjikistan, Turkey, Nepal, China, Australia and New Zealand
Utah Mixed Bag hunt with Mossback Outfitters

I met Russ Collard with Mossback Outfitters at DSC Convention this year at his booth. An impressive collection of big Elk and Mule Deer on display so I decided to inquire about a landowner Shiras Moose tag. Fortunately, being the first show of the year, he still had his one tag available, and we quickly made a deal. I told him I would be in Manitoba for two weeks in September and he said no problem we can hunt your moose in October.

We visited again the next day at the show, and I told him I was down to four species to complete my North American 29 and a Bighorn was on the list. He asked me why I haven’t bought an auction tag and I told him I have been putting in to draw a tag for years without success and just haven’t pulled the trigger on buying a tag. He said if you buy the California Bighorn tag in the Newfoundland Mountains, we will get you a sheep for sure – 100%.

Over the next few weeks, we talked several times and I decided this was the year and I bit the bullet and bought the early season Newfoundland tag at the Sheep Foundation Auction so added that on to the moose hunt.

Time flew, Manitoba came and went, and I had my flights booked to arrive Salt Lake on October 7 and would hunt sheep first. The manager of the ranch where I will hunt moose called Russ the Monday before and told him he had seen a big bull moose right at sunset that evening and if I could come now, we will try to get on him.

I changed my flights and arrived Salt Lake the evening of the 4th. Marc Bowthorpe (the ranch manager) picked me up and we had about an hour and a half drive to a very nice cabin adjacent to the ranch. We visited about the bull, and he told me he has seen him periodically but hopefully the rut is still going on and we can connect with him. Just as in Manitoba last month, Fall is a few weeks late here and the leaves are turning but still on the trees. The mountains are covered in oak brush, interspersed with Aspen groves and pines. The terrain is steep in places with elevations approaching 7500’ so I knew I was in for a challenge.

California Bighorn Large.jpeg
Last edited by a moderator:
Day 1

I set my alarm for 6 and Marc arrived at the cabin a little before 7. We started up the mountain glassing along the way and made our way to the general area where he had seen the bull two days before. It was a beautiful, blue bird morning and about 30 degrees. The elk were bugling in the valleys around us, and the mountainside was vibrant with the colors of Fall. We spent most of the morning calling in various locations, but no moose responded. After a big breakfast and midday rest, we were back at it around 4 o’clock glassing the mountain side then calling periodically. We made our way down the mountain as sunset, day one was in the bag with no moose.

Day 2

I slept hard, must be the altitude and walking we did yesterday. The cabin is comfortable and nighttime temperatures in the 30’s so perfect sleeping weather. We were off again today just before 7 and continued with the same protocol of calling and glassing. The daytime temperatures have been reaching the 70’s so Marc stopped at several waterholes checking
for tracks as the moose will need to drink daily. We are coming into the full moon, and this will certainly have an effect on movement. Morning passed and we were off the mountain for midday respite and back at it around four. We continue to hear elk bugling in the mornings and evenings and I sure wish I had a tag. The ranch in under a CWMU management program with the state and gets landowner tags for elk, deer and moose. I asked Marc if he had any elk tags left and he said yes, we never shoot all the tags they issue us. I made the comment “lets get this moose down and go hunt an elk”. We both chuckled at the idea as the moose hunting has been tough. Off the mountain at sunset and back to the cabin for dinner. Marc’s wife has done a great job of cooking for us, and the hunt has been spectacular even without the moose.

Day 3

Russ arrived this morning and was going to glass another area of the ranch and call us on the radio if he spotted a moose. Marc and I carried on as usual, calling and glassing. I am starting to become acclimated to the altitude and feeling better. We will hunt the morning then go to sheep camp for opening day tomorrow.

We set up in a new spot and called but this time within minutes you could hear something coming towards us in the heavy oak brush. Marc pointed and said “cow, about 20 yards from us”. I could only see the black shape and she moved off as quickly as she arrived. He said there was a trail below us and we eased down through the brush until we came to an open area. The cow was feeding about 200 yards down the trail and Marc began calling again. After a few minutes a bull responded, the first time I have heard a bull moose in ten days of hunting this Fall. He was several hundred yards away and was thrashing the brush as he moved closer. I chambered a round and got on the sticks. The cow disappeared in the brush but reappeared about 120 yards from us. Only minutes later the bull joined her but never came completely in the open. We studied him and Marc said, “he’s too small” so we passed him. We made our way back to the cabin, and after a big breakfast I packed my gear and we were off for the 4-hour drive to sheep camp.

Russ has his son over in the Newfoundland’s scouting for sheep and he has been texting Russ pictures and videos of rams he has located.

We left moose camp and headed to the sheep camp about 2:30. Once we left pavement, it took us about 2 hours to get to camp as the road was terrible. Big Jerr (the cook) came up right behind us about halfway to camp on the railroad siding and by time we got there he had the cook tent up and was setting up camp.

Russ was at his truck, and I asked what I can help with, and he said let’s glass for sheep before sunset. He set up his 15x Bino’s on a tripod and started glassing. About 15 minutes later he said
“there’s a Ram”. He got the spotting scope set up and he’s a nice Ram with two ewes. They were grazing about halfway up the mountain, relaxed and content. We were far enough away that they didn’t seem to be worried about us.

The Ram is gorgeous, about 3/4 curl and a stunning dark cape contrasted by the cream colored hind end and golden horns.

Cameron showed up around sunset and Richie. He showed us pictures of the seven rams he saw today but the Ram we have seen from camp is the nicest.

As the sun slipped into the horizon, I watched the Ram bed down. I pray he stays on this side of the mountain, and when first light comes on opening day tomorrow, we will spot the Ram and make a plan.

Big Jerr started cooking dinner of steaks and potatoes for a filling dinner at our camp.
We finished off the evening with cigars and I turned in about 10:30. It was a beautiful night, I tossed and turned a little but finally woke to the sound of Russ getting up and the smell of coffee.
Newfoundland Mtns.jpg

Day 4

It was 5:49 so I got dressed and went to the cook tent for morning coffee. By 6, Cameron showed up and we talked about sheep hunting while anxiously awaiting first light. Sunrise would be 7:37 and legal shooting time 7:07.

It was light enough to start glassing but 7:15 and by 7:25 a Ram was spotted coming around the mountain. A few minutes later our Ram was located with one ewe, and he was bedded back down. Russ said “let’s get going” so I grabbed the 300 RUM and off we went towards the mountain. We needed to cut a half mile off of the distance.
Sheep hunt glassing.jpg

When the new Ram (with wider flaring horns but barely a half curl on his right side) spotted the Ram and ewe below he made his way to him. He pushed my Ram around, but they did not fight. My Ram just started walking up the mountain and away from us. Russ said “he’s gonna go over the top, set up for a shot he’s at 480”.

By time I was able to get into position I ranged the Ram at 507. I just couldn’t get comfortable, and the Ram never stopped moving. I finally pulled away when he was 529 yards and told Russ I was not comfortable taking the shot.

The Ram did not go over the top, but instead went over a saddle to our left, so we took off in that direction to try and locate him. Within five minutes Russ had him again at 410 yards. I set up but the Ram just wouldn’t stop moving and was headed back to the other Ram and ewe, so we followed.

He had a change of heart and turned and started back our direction and Russ said “get set up he’s going to walk right across the of mountain face”. As the Ram walked, I could not pick him up with my naked eye, but Russ kept saying “there he is walking left”.

I found a rock about 2 1/2 feet tall and set Russ’s pack behind and got into a prone position. I scanned with my scope but could not locate the Ram. Then Russ said, “he’s about to walk into the shaded area”. As he did, I could see him clearly with my naked eye so I settled in on him and ranged the shot. It is 357 yards and the Ram walked slowly to the left. I followed in the scope, and he finally came to a stop.

I settled the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed off. I flinched and nothing happened. I checked the safety, and it was off. Then I realized I did not engage the bolt on the round in the chamber, so I cycled the bolt. Luckily, the Ram stayed in the same place and I settled the crosshairs in and took a couple of deep breaths, relaxed and squeezed the trigger. As the RUM barked, I lost sight of the target and Russ said, “you got him, great shot!”

As I looked, I saw the Ram tumbling down the mountain but lost sight of him behind the rocks. Russ thought I hit him high but that was due to the acute angle.

When Russ called Cameron on the cell phone, he confirmed the Ram was dead and had
lodged in behind a small bush. Cameron got to us in about twenty minutes, and we climbed the mountain to recover the Ram. It took about forty minutes, climbing on steep, slippery terrain due to the loose rocks.

When we got to the Ram I was elated. I have completed my quest of the Grand Slam and it almost seemed surreal. I said my prayer of thanks then Russ and Cameron got him set up for photos.
California Bighorn.jpg

We took our time taking photos from several angles paying respect to our quarry. I stayed on the mountain for most of the skinning and quartering just relishing the moment.

When they were down to the last bit of meat, I started my slow descent. It took me about an hour, and they were ten minutes behind me.

Big Jerr had an amazing breakfast ready of an egg casserole with spinach, bacon, eggs and cheese along with biscuits and gravy.

Russ and I toasted with a beer and enjoyed the meal. As soon as he finished, Russ wanted to get to caping so he can get the hide in a cooler.

Big Jerr cleaned up while Russ and Cameron worked on breaking down camp. We’ll overnight at Russ’ house then back to moose hunting tomorrow.

As I sit on my cot, the cool breeze blowing through, I have this total sense of calm. I have completed the Grand Slam of Sheep and now at #26 of my North American 29. I’ve got plenty of time to collect the Shiras Moose so when I board my flight for Texas, I’ll be finished for 2022, but the good Lord willing, I’ll complete the 29 next Fall.
Day 5

Russ woke me about 5:30 for the hour plus drive to Marc’s house and we were back at the moose hunt. Cameron came along and he too would be glassing different areas of the ranch. Marc and I took off well before first light and he was puzzled at what these moose are doing. It almost seems to be the tail end of the rut. Russ went to a new location, glassing the area we had called the bull a few days before. He began to find moose but nothing big.

Marc and I called in a different location and continued to check water holes for sign. It seems like the moose are only moving a little in the morning and then at last light. With the full moon, they are probably watering at night. Marc suggested we sit at a waterhole this evening to change things up a bit. We got into a grove of aspens about a hundred yards from the water around 4 and he would call periodically through the evening. I was kicked back, pretty relaxed just watching the pond when all of the sudden I caught movement. I whispered to Marc “lion, lion”. A mountain lion slinked down the pond dam for a drink of water. An amazing sight, I watched the cat drink for nearly a minute. Marc took video with his phone, and we whispered wat a mistake it was I didn’t buy a lion tag. Who in the world would ever think you would see a mountain lion in the daytime! Marc said it’s only the second time in his life he has seen a cat in the daytime other than hunting them with hounds. The cat quickly disappeared into the forest, and we waited until dark by the water, nothing else showed up.

Day 6

Up at 6, on the mountain by 7 for more of the same. Russ and I will be hunting together this morning while Marc goes glassing. Marc called Russ on the radio that he has spotted some moose but never got a clear look at it. Russ and I headed that way and slipped off the mountain down to a lower bench and began to call. A bull responded from below us and Russ started to glass in the heavy oak brush. He finally spotted the bull about 130 yards below up, a youngster maybe 3 years old so we passed him.

As the sun got high, I watched the bull lay down for the day. We made our way back up the mountain to the vehicle and headed to the camp for breakfast.

Out at 4 for the evening hunt, Marc and I together now and Russ glassing. We came up empty again this evening, but Russ spotted 9 different moose and one bull that looked promising. In addition, he had seen several elk including some nice bulls. Tomorrow morning, we will go back to the area Russ had glassed up the moose and see what we can find.
Day 7

The steep terrain is taking a toll on my knees and the deadfall and oak brush only add to the difficulty in negotiating the terrain. I took some Advil as we headed out the door, back to the location where Russ had glassed the evening before.

Marc and I slipped off the mountain top before the sun has risen, making our way down to the bench which is about halfway to the bottom. A crisp morning with a light frost and the forest was nearly silent. We moved slowly, glassing along the way when all of the sudden we hear a moose bull call to our right, he was moving up hill. We made our way through the brush, Marc calling back to him. We rounded a corner and there he was, a young bull which looked like the one Russ, and I had seen slipped into the oak brush. Then, we heard a second bull call not far from us, so we moved up the mountain. With two bulls walking and calling they must be on a cow. As we moved up the mountain through the thick brush Marc said, “there he is, shoot him”. The bull was walking about 30 yards in front of us, and Marc cow called, and he stopped and looked back. The brush was incredibly thick, but I could make out his front shoulder, so I put a round in him. I heard the wallop of the 300 RUM hit the bull and he took off in a run. We pursued him up the mountain when Marc said “listen, I can hear him gurgling”. We moved slowly and could see the bull bedded about 40 yards in front of us. I eased up to get a clear shot and put a finisher in him. I had my Shiras Moose, number 27 on my quest for the North American 29 after a week of hard hunting.
Shiras Moose.jpg
Day 8

We were off well before 7 to be on the mountain before first light. Marc believes the elk are coming off the mountain for water and to graze the alfalfa fields in the moonlight then moving back to bed up. We are hoping to intercept a big bull on his way up the mountain. Russ spotted a couple of bulls, and we did as well but nothing within range. The oak brush is incredibly thick and there are only pockets of open areas where you hope to glass up a bull. We stayed on the mountain until about 10, the elk were virtually silent today, so we headed back for breakfast.

Four o’clock came and we were back on the mountain glassing. As the sun slipped behind the mountain the elk started to pop up like mushrooms on the mountain side. One particularly nice 6x6 was working his cows and we had him dead to rights at 498 yards, but he was just across the boundary line on another ranch so couldn’t shoot. Marc cow called but he wouldn’t respond and carried on moving his cows away from us. Three other bulls bugled around us, but no big ones showed themselves. We saw three smaller bulls throughout the evening but nothing worth shooting.
Day 9

Marc and I were going to the far end of the property in hopes of catching that bull and his cows moving back up the mountain this morning. Russ spotted a 6x6 behind us and Marc said he may be moving towards the waterhole on our place. We moved over that direction and Marc told me to get up in the tree stand overlooking the water and sit for a couple of hours, maybe the bull would show up. A little after 11, Marc came to get me, and we were off to breakfast.

We left a little earlier today and made our way slowly to the high point overlooking a canyon where we had seen the big bull and cows the evening before. I made my way slowly up the hill, my knees giving me grief with every step. We got to our spot about 5 and settled in for the evening. As the sun dipped behind the mountain Marc said, “did you hear that?” I said no, and he said, “an elk bugled back up the canyon”. I broke my shooting sticks down to use the front as a rest to shoot from the sitting position and chambered a round. The oak brush is thick,
and we both scanned the opposite side of the canyon.

Marc continued to hear the elk grunt and call and finally I heard him. Marc said, “he’s on the move be ready”. As I glassed the other side, I checked the range, and it was 300-480 yards. Within minutes I caught a glimpse of elk cows moving through the brush and I alerted Marc to them. We both scanned constantly, and I saw the bull emerge, about a hundred yards behind the cows. I said, “there’s the bull, there he is”. Marc said, “get on him and shoot him”. I steadied the RUM on the sticks and located the bull, but he disappeared in the brush. Marc said, “keep on him he’ll show up again and I’ll stop him”. I watched through the scope and the bull appeared. I ranged him at 368 as he walked, and Marc cow called. The bull stopped and I settled the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed off. I heard the report of the shot, a solid hit on the bull. I chambered a round and got back him and could see the bull was wobbling in the scope. Before I could squeeze off another round he toppled over and died. Marc said “congratulations, I believe that is the bull we say the first evening”. I said my prayers of thanksgiving as Marc called Russ to give him the good news. It was about 5:40 and we made our way over to the bull for photos and recovery. It took less than a half hour to get to him and I was thrilled. A heavy horned 6x6, broken up a bit from fighting but an impressive bull that I have been Blessed with.

Kenneth, the livestock manager of the ranch came with Russ to help with packing out the bull. We were off the mountain a little after 7 and headed for the house. As we made our way down, I reminisced about the last nine days and commented to Marc “I wish I would have known about Utah twenty years ago”. I shot three of the 29 on one hunt and if I had a deer tag and lion tag could have taken 5 species. An incredibly game rich area,
without a doubt one of the top Western States to hunt.

I had a celebratory whiskey and cigar as they caped the bull and relished every moment. Russ was off to his next hunt, a Desert Bighorn in the Henry Mountains so we said our
goodbyes. Marc and I had dinner, reliving the hunt and I told him I’ll be back in a couple of years when my son Parker graduates from college. He is a diehard bowhunter and I want to bring him on an elk hunt.

This has been a Fall of ups and downs for me, two trying unsuccessful weeks in Manitoba followed by a week and a half of amazing hunting in Utah. Not without its challenges, the hot weather and full moon hurt us but with teamwork and persistence we got it done.

I want to thank Russ Collard of Mossback Outfitters and Marc Bowthorpe for an amazing Utah Adventure, I’ll be back!
Your moose looks a lot like my last one. Spindly palms, but mature bulls. Genetics? Nutrition? Anyway congrats on getting him down. Nice sheep. Wish I could hunt more of them. Pretty ram. Nice bull elk. I’m elk hunting now. Good job!
Your moose looks a lot like my last one. Spindly palms, but mature bulls. Genetics? Nutrition? Anyway congrats on getting him down. Nice sheep. Wish I could hunt more of them. Pretty ram. Nice bull elk. I’m elk hunting now. Good job!
Thanks Bruce, I appreciate the kind words. Weather has been strange this Fall. Good luck on your elk hunt.
@JES Adventures , I bet you are tempted to say, "Utah been berry berry good to me!"

Well done and congratulations on closing in on your goal of 29.
Glad you did well in Utah. I’ve been putting in for California bighorn for a lot of years and it was fun to see your success. Congratulations!
Glad you did well in Utah. I’ve been putting in for California bighorn for a lot of years and it was fun to see your success. Congratulations!
Good luck on the draw. Tons of sheep on the Newfoundlands
JES, I really enjoy your write-ups and appreciate you sharing your adventures. I probably missed it, what are the last two on your quest?

JES, I really enjoy your write-ups and appreciate you sharing your adventures. I probably missed it, what are the last two on your quest?

Thanks @TwoTracks. I still have Canadian Moose and Central Barren Ground Caribou. I got a linked on them last month in Manitoba
Wow, what a hunt! Congratulations!
  • Like
Reactions: WAB
Well done, congratulations. Always e joy reading your hunt reports
Congratulations. Look forward to hearing more of your quest for the NA 29. What's been your favorite hunt of the 27 you've successfully taken? What do you have left?

Forum statistics

Latest member



Latest profile posts

A.A. wrote on Msprenger!'s profile.
Are you still looking for a 375 H&H?
NRA Life, ASSRA Life, GGCA Life
Sable @ the lodge this morning

Buffalo encounter this morning!

here with available dates for 2024/25

1-13 September 2024
14-31 October 2024
1-7 November 2024
18-24 November 2024

March 2025 is wide open!
12-17 April 2025
24-28 May 2025
15-21 June 2025
7-12 July 2025
22-28 July 2025
13-31 August 2025
15-30 September 2025

October and November 2025 is wide open!