(This story was written in 2015)
I am very new to hunting. Two years ago I had never fired a gun. I
went on my first hunting trip last fall and managed to punch my first
tag with a nice 5x5 whitetail. Last spring I put in for my first LEH with my father in law
and a family friend. We ended up getting our moose draw, so in late
September we headed North to Vanderhoof.
My father in law and I decided to prepare all our meals in advance so that we would have gourmet meals without having spend the energy cooking after a long day of hunting. My 2014 buck factored heavily into the menu with venison bourguignon and meatballs.
Once we got to Vanderhoof we
filled our jerry cans, did groceries, and headed into the bush for as
long as it would take to get our two moose (or until our LEH window ran
Setting up camp was a quick, but the warm weather meant the flies were pretty terrible that first evening.
The next morning we set out on our first day of hunting. Mostly just
scouting the area and looking at the marshes and slashes where my father
in law and his friends had pulled moose out of in the past. We saw
lots of grouse, but decided we leave them until later. We were there to
After the first day I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go,
but all we had seen was some very old moose sign and lots of bear sign.
One of the guys in our group was out fishing and saw wolves along the
shore that day.
On day two we went to an area near one of the marshes and tried to set
up on a game trail with some old moose sign and started calling. We
spent the whole day at that spot and used some of that cow moose in heat
scent attractant hanging it from wicks in that area.
luck at all that day and we decided to come back the following morning
to see if the calling and scent had brought any bulls into the area.
When we got back to camp our friends had managed to get a nice little
4x4 whitetail so at least we weren’t going to be going home completely
I also managed to get my first grouse with my Ruger 10/22. My father in
law pan fried the breasts in butter and onions. They were excellent.
On day three we went back to the same area near the swamp and set up for
another day of cow calling every 20 minutes. My father in law dropped me off and drove about a kilometer further down the road and over the hill and set up there.
A few hours in, one of the
other hunters who was staying in the same rec. site as us, drove in their Suzuki Samurai along
the logging road just up the hill from where we were, he stopped at the
top and called a few times, and drove off. Then, suddenly I heard two
shots in very quick succession from just over the hill where my father
in law was. I was surprised that he shot twice so quickly. I turned on
the radio just in case he needed a hand and I started packing my gear
up. I thought to myself, if he got a moose or deer he’ll need my help
dragging it out and if it was a bear he may be hurt and need my help.
After reading about all the bear attacks I was pretty
Just as I started walking along the road I see my father in law’s Toyota Tacoma
scream around the corner and drive straight at me at a high rate of
speed. I see it’s my father in law behind the wheel and quickly see
there is no smile on his face. He screeches to a stop right next to me
and half shouts “I was just charged by a f*&%ing grizzly!”. My
father in law was okay, but pretty shaken. He’s been hunting deer,
moose, and elk all his life, but he’s never been charged before. He
recounted to me how just after the little Suzuki Samurai pulled past him a lone grizzly started walking down
the trail right towards him. The path had the grizzly just about on a
collision course with him so he decided to stand up and start backing
away from the grizzly slowly. As soon as he stood
up the grizzly began to trot towards him so he took a shot above its
head and that just caused it to full on charge. So he fired one more
shot into the ground ahead of it before he was going to fire the next two into the
bear. Luckily that caused the grizzly to stop his charge at about 30
feet, shake his head, and turn around and run away. What a close call.
|Photo taken from where my father in law took his two shots. He was
sitting half way between this spot and where the Tacoma is. The grizzly
came up the road from the tree line after the Suzuki Samurai drove
along the road which is just inside the tree line.|
After hearing this story I hopped into the truck and we went to go see
where it all happened. We drove over to where my father in law was
sitting and found where he was and the grizzly’s prints. Based on the
size of the prints he wasn’t a very big bear, but plenty big enough to
do damage. I found the two casings and from my father in law’s .30-06
and said that’s probably the best $4 you have ever spent and that you
had better hang on to those for good luck. We decided to road hunt the
rest of the day. We drove along and found lots more bear sign and also
ended up seeing a brown phase of a black bear in the distance.
On our way home for the afternoon I saw some movement on the side of the
road and thought it might be a deer so I hopped out and loaded my
.30-06. It turned out that it was a lynx. We got to watch him for a
few seconds before he took off. What a beautiful animal.
On day four we decided to try a different area, one that had been
productive in the past. We parked the truck and I walked in about 100m
and my father in law walked up the back trail to circle around up the
adjacent hill. Once I got in about 100m the morning’s coffee kicked
in… I was so glad to have full tube of wet ones with me, so I did my
business behind a sapling at the edge of a little clearing and continue
my walk in for another 100m. I decided to start calling so I sat there
for about an hour and a half cow calling every 20 minutes. I eventually
convinced myself that I didn’t have a big enough field of view where
was at the bottom of the little valley so I followed the old road up the
hill to get a better look. I walked at my super slow hunting pace,
still calling every 20 minutes. After about 30 minutes I had a pretty
good view of the valley and where I had done my business. I was pretty
convinced I had scent-ruined the area with my business so when I heard
some bull grunts I thought it was just another hunter in the area, but
then I heard another six bull grunts. I thought to myself, I don’t know
that any of the hunters I am with would do six grunts in a row. So I
waited a bit and did another cow call.
To my surprise I heard six more grunts back. So I decided to try three
grunts myself and then I saw him for a second. On the adjacent hill, I
caught sight of this great black beast move between two trees. Then
nothing. The heart starts going up tempo. Was that a moose? I think
so. I hear the grunts again and for a split second there he is again,
but then vanishes. It is a moose! It must be a bull. All of a sudden I
hear swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. He is raking the willows! Damn these
little Christmas trees. I can’t see anything. I set up on my
telescoping shooting sticks, but I am in the middle of the trail, no
cover. Don’t blow this Alex, this is your chance. The heart is racing.
There he is again!! He is coming towards me, but all I see is the
briefest of glimpses as he is walking down the adjacent hill, down to
the valley bottom directly towards me. I spot an antler and look
through my scope, ready to hammer him, just waiting for the right shot.
I only see one antler and it isn’t very big, but it’s bone and it’ll do
just fine for me. Grunt, grunt, grunt. Run, crash, twigs snapping.
Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. My heart is beating in my ears and I see where
he is going to pop out and start coming up the bank on a game trail
right towards me. Calm down Alex. You’re shaking so hard now you won’t
be able to make the shot. Just as he starts up the bank towards me he
must have seen me or smelt me because as fast as it had happened he
turned 90 degrees and silently started walking away, down the valley
bottom to my right, out of sight. I blew it.
I settled myself down; I sat down on the edge of the road and got into a
good stable shooting position. I only saw him once more as he silently
walked through the Christmas trees at the bottom of the valley away from
When we got back to camp the all ears were on my father in law as he
told the story of the bear charge. Everyone was pretty unsettled by it.
None of the old timers there had ever seen as much bear sign in all
their years of hunting as they had seen this year on those roads and
Just as I was started to lose hope I see some movement in the distance.
It is a nice whitetail doe and her fawn and they are standing in the
little clearing right where I did my business. That right there blew my
mind. I watched them for while just hanging out right next what I
would have thought would scare game out of the area.
Just then I see the moose again, far away on the adjacent hill, heading
right toward where my father in law is. He’s too far away for my
shooting ability and I don’t seem him for more than a split second
So I watch doe and her fawn hanging around my business for another five
minutes when I hear a shot. This time just one and it is right from
where my father in law is. He must have got the moose I had missed my
chance with. Strangely, neither the doe nor her fawn seemed to care
that much about the shot. They tensed for a second, but then went right
back to eat and sniffing around. I get on the radio and he tells me
that the moose ran right across the road in front of him and he took a
shot at it through the Christmas trees, but that it was a clean miss.
So I packed up and headed to him to help him look just in case he tagged
As I walked back towards the doe and her fawn neither of them seemed to
care that I was coming. I watched them the whole way until I was about
50 feet from them and then they both went tails up into the tree line.
This doe and her fawn changed so many of the ideas I had about hunting.
They didn’t care about my smell, the shot, or me walking right towards
them. We talked a lot about this doe and her fawn later.
When I got up to my father in law he had been doing circles around where
the moose was when he took his shot, but there was no sign of blood at
all. We decided that I would follow his tracks into the bush while my
father in law would try to circle around in case I would flush him out.
I followed his tracks for a while and we came to a clearing and I saw
my father in law in the distance. He signalled for me to keep going, so
I got back on the tracks and followed them through until we met up on
I said to my father in law that I think perhaps we have spooked him and
should go back to camp for lunch to let the area calm down and try again
in the afternoon. We chatted a bit in a quiet voice and then my father
in law said he through we should give it another 20 minutes. He gave a
nice long cow call and we just stood there in the open scanning the tree
Just as I swing around, I see something big and black standing on the
ridgeline about 150m away. “Is that a moose?” I said out loud. “Where?”
“On the ridgeline over there… It is a moose. He’s got antlers.” As I
say it I lift up my rifle and look through the scope, it’s a front on
shot and I decide instinctively that I would be better off kneeling. I
take a knee, safety off, breath out, line up, BOOM! He drops on the
spot like a sack of hammers as I rack another, and after a second or two
put the safety back on. Now the adrenaline hits and my heart is
beating in my ears. Did that just happen? My father in law tells me
that he didn’t even see the moose until I took a knee and as soon as he
realized I was about to shoot all he could do was put his fingers in his
With my heart pounding I started second guessing myself. Were those
antlers or just really big ears? Oh no, did I just shoot a cow? Did I
rush that too much? I see him thrash about for a second. I look through
my scope and I see his head and antlers. Thank goodness. Probably
unnecessarily, I flip the safety off and put a round right between his
eyes just to make sure it’s over and he isn’t suffering. I’ll
reassemble the skull bits later to mount the antlers.
As I walk up to him I check my GPS and see that it was 155m from where I
shot to where he was. I found that my first shot was right into his
collar, hit his spine and blew out his lungs, the second shot really
wasn’t necessary, but everything I have read is to hammer it again if it
is still moving just in case and the last thing I wanted was for him to
suffer at all. I could tell once I got up to him that it was the same
moose I had been called in before because he had broken off the paddle
on his right side, probably in a fight of some kind. He was nicely on a
slope so we were able to field dress him easily before heading back to
camp to grab some guys to help us load him into the truck. My father in
law stood guard with the rifle and I had a can of bear spray at the
ready in case the shots were interpreted as a dinner bell by one of the
bears in the area. It was an easy pull down hill and we used a
deactivation ditch in the road to slide him right into the bed of the
truck. That could have been so much harder. The only difficult part
was the flies were out and they were right in your nose and eyes the
|Notice the flies around my head. It was the warmest day of the trip. Also note the broken tines on his right side.|
Just as we were finishing up, our friends hunting the neighbouring
management unit got a nice big moose, and as it turned out just two
hours after I got mine.
|My moose in a friend's truck|
We celebrated that night and I felt really fortunate to have been able
to get my first moose with my father in law and that we had worked so
well as a team to get him. It’s not the prettiest, or the biggest rack
by any stretch, but the memories from getting my first moose are
priceless to me.
The next day we walked into another area and heard wolves all around
us. We waited a while but none of them came out. We decided to go back
to the area where the guys had gotten the whitetail and as we drove in
with the truck we saw another grizzly in the middle of the slash where
the gut pile was. We decided to fish the rest of the afternoon and
caught our limit.
The next day while I was doing my business, this time in the outhouse, I
heard two shots ring out. It was our family friend and he had gotten
his moose! It turns out it was in the slash where the whitetail gut
pile was and the grizzly was the day before. I loaded the defender with
slugs and was on bear patrol while they field dressed it and pulled it
The trip was a raging success. We filled our two LEH tags for the three
of us in our group and our friends got one of their two moose, and
apart from the close encounter with the grizzlies I wouldn’t have
changed a thing. As a bonus we also caught lots of trout. I can’t wait
for whitetail in November.
|Two moose hanging in quarters|
Once we got home I set to work cooking moose and trout and mounting the antlers to commemorate my first moose.
|I did the mount myself and it now adorns my workshop|
|Moose sirloin steak|
|Moose sirloin steak|
|Lemon Rainbow Trout|
|Moose - Korean Short Ribs|
|Moose - Korean Short Ribs|
|Moose - Korean Short Ribs|
|Moose - Korean Short Ribs|
|Moose - Dutch Meatballs|
To note, it is 2018 now and I have still been enjoying this moose. Yes, it has kept well in my freezer with no noticeable deterioration. It was a lot of meat to share with my father in law! It was a trip of a lifetime and I remember it fondly with every meal.