Jared and I left in typical fashion, well before daylight at 3:30AM knowing it would take over half the day to get to that savory camp spot! The air moved just strong enough through the night that no moisture had a chance to settle on the overhanging brush along the trail giving us a cool but dry ride in.
The east wind was hard in our faces as we broke tree line and nothing but a couple black bears were moving that afternoon as they fed on some excellent cranberries! I had several handfuls myself! The wind began to settle just a bit and at 7 PM it was like a gong had sounded that only the moose could hear! Within 5 minutes we were watching 5 bulls, they had been bedded down out of the wind and afternoon sun. We focused on a couple good lookers and hoped they would be nearby in the morning.
“Louie, Louie get up man there’s a bull right below us!” I cracked my right eye just enough to tell it was a long time till sunrise and thought to myself, “damn it, can’t a man get some sleep around here.” Then I heard him say it was the big one we watched last night! Well golly, why didn’t you say so sooner, I was up in no time and crawling to the edge to glass down into the valley. Sure enough he was there along with a couple cows! Time for some action!
Giving the terrain and the distance to the bull I knew it was going to be a calling show and that was fine with me, I love calling them in close! The air was dead and sound was traveling a long ways and as we reached the edge of knee high brush I gave a couple quiet grunts. He slowly raised his head and looked our way, what would his response be?!! He lowered his head back down, stuck an antler in that little willow, and with a twist of his neck almost tore it right out of the ground, GAME ON!
I ranged him at 850 yards and Jared and I began calling and racking our way in closer as he did the same. 500 yards, 375 yards, at 340 yards he stopped and we had a couple minute stare down. As a bull closes the distance he’s going to want to see you, some proof that you’re really there and not a mile away. Knowing this, Jared held up the small bleached moose shed that we carry and rocked it back and forth challenging him. He saw it right away and began a march for us rolling his antlers from side to side in a slow and bold manner!
Over the next 340 yards we grunted back and forth and Jared continued a visual for him with the shed. I last ranged the bull at 44 yards with no sign of him turning off for a broadside shot, he was mad and wanted us out of there! With him facing directly at me I placed a shot just left on his chest with the 300 win mag, he spun around and took 3 or 4 lunges, his back end wavered, took 2 steps right and went over! SUCCESS!
Now fast forward to that night about 8pm, I see a bull almost a mile out come over a ridge and dip into the valley closer to us. He was moving fast and I could only watch him for less than 1 minute but in that time I could tell he had big main palms! Where would he be in the morning?
Jared and I were up right away again the following morning and this time I didn’t need to be prodded out of my bag. We instantly got eyes on 3 bulls, 2 about 30 inches and another maybe 45 or so. Jared decided to head after the 2 that were paired up, the air was in our face, conditions looked good!
As we closed 400 yards on those 2 bulls while hunched over walking in the complete open I caught a flicker of white in the corner of my eye. OH MAN, a much bigger bull was bedded down on our side of the draw! Ranged him real quick at just over 600 yards and we started his direction to close the gap. A few minutes later the wind changed and hit us right in the back, I couldn’t believe it! 1 of the 2 cows that was near him stood up, ears alert and looking our way, we’re at 330 yards now. We continue a low crawl through the frosted grass and cranberry bushes for another 30 yards and that’s when she busted us!
The cows started downhill at a quick pace and the bull of course followed. They were less than 50 yards from reaching the 8’ tall alders and would easily disappear into the valley with that kind of cover. I laid the shed across a hump of moss and Jared instantly took it as a rest, paused, and fired……. That bull dropped right out of sight!!
So was it worth the paralyzing wheeler ride? Was it worth having all my winter gear on plus rain gear to break the frigid wind? Was it worth the fear of watching a grizzly sow with 3 cubs approach camp as darkness fell? Absolutely, every bit of it was worth a great hunt with my brother!!
We’re going to have a nice video up in the next few weeks with this falls hunts compiled so be looking for that! In the meantime, check us out on FaceBook and feel free to share your stories or lessons learned with us and everyone else!!