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Moose Hunt Recap: Part 1-A Dance with Giants.

October 20, 2009

– Few things in life will test a man’s patience more than Moose Hunting.

I’ve heard that statement a thousand times, and up until last week I can’t say I believed that to be true.

For some reason, the general consensus among locals and out-of-staters alike is that moose hunting is easy. Drive, spot, shoot, and its finished…right? WRONG. The truth is that while seeing Moose is always a given in northern Maine, the hunt is rarely easy if your after more than just a freezer filler. The days are long and filled with frustration, temptation, and disappointment. The nights are sleepless, the mornings drag on, and the afternoons are even longer. But when the moment of truth arrives, the thoughts and emotions are much more difficult to describe.

I could write a novel about my three day hunt, and I doubt many of you would read it. This simple fact of the matter is that nobody wants to hear about a long day of driving, calling, and glassing the horizon with nothing but a few dozen cows to show for it. During our first two days we saw upwards of thirty five moose. Most were females while about 10 were smaller bulls. On Tuesday however, we had our first encounter with a true Maine monster. While no shots were fired, he still made a lasting impression…

The view from the top of the clear cut, with Round Pond in the distance.

The view from the top of the clear cut, with Round Pond in the distance.

The cut where the big bull was standing. I wish I had a better picture, but the sun wash was just too strong. I'll return some day soon to take a ton of pictures. because this one just does not do the size of this cut justice.

The cut where the big bull was standing. I wish I had a better picture, but the sun wash was just too strong. I'll return some day soon to take a ton of pictures, because this one just does not do the size of this cut justice.

Around 9:30am on day 2 we were nearing the end of our second branch road. The road, which ends atop a gigantic clear cut, boasts quiet possibly the most spectacular view the Allagash has to offer. Upon walking to the end of the cut and peering down, we quickly realized that we were not alone. Down at the bottom at a distance of about 450-500 yards stood two cows and one of the largest bulls I had ever seen.

Dad crouched down really low and scanned the scene, quickly deciding that we would commence the stock down the western side of the cut towards the enormous bull and his ladies. The terrain was steep and the cover was minimal, making it more difficult to navigate while staying undetected. Home-made moose horn in hand, dad slowly made his way down the edge of the cut. I fell in behind him and stayed on his heals as we made our way towards the bull, grunting and thrashing the trees along the way. With the wind at our backs, progress was slow, and every moment seemed to last for hours.

After the first hundred yards we lost sight of the bull, who had become intrigued by dads calling and thrashing of HIS territory. We hunkered down as he made his way up towards us, listening for any sounds that would indicate he might have taken to the woods. There were none. Hoping that he would continue up the edge of the trees towards us, we sat still for a while as dad continued to grunt.

This is dad playing with a smaller bull on day 3 of the hunt. It looks silly, but you would be surprised at how well this method actually works. Hold the horn over your head, sway back and forth, and grunt like a bull moose. It iritates them to no end!

This is dad playing with a smaller bull on day 3 of the hunt. It looks silly, but you would be surprised at how well this method actually works. Hold the horn over your head, sway back and forth, and grunt like a bull moose. It iritates them to no end because imitates a challenger. This is how he kept the attention of the large bull long enough to get within gun range.

After what seemed like an eternity we continued making our way down the cut, still with no sight of the giant bull, who had positioned himself at the western corner just around the bend. Slowly but steadily we marched down towards the bull, imitating a worthy opponent for his two females. Finally, we reached the bend and slowly leaned out to gaze around it. What we saw was an absolute monster in every meaning of the word. Through the brush and leaves dad put what he could see of the bull in his scope and told me to slide out along side him and do the same. Suddenly, just as I began to move the wind shifted and the two cows that we had forgotten about in all of the excitement winded us and began to run towards the back of the cut. The bull quickly followed, not wanting to be left lonely by his two female companions. He stopped only once for a brief moment at about 200 yards, his back to us. We quickly decided that risking a shot might not have resulted in a quick and humane kill, so we backed off. Pulling him out of the clear cut would have been enough of a job, tracking him through the woods was a completely different story. While he vanished into the deep woods, I couldn’t help but be proud of the way dad handled the whole situation. His confidence and calling skills gave us a great chance at a trophy bull, and there is no doubt in my mind that if he would have taken the shot himself, our hunt would have ended that day.

While I was slightly disappointed, dad had a completely different take on the situation. He laughed and shook his head as we climbed the hill back towards the track, exclaiming with a renewed energy that tense moments like the one we had just been a part of were the very reason moose hunting was so exciting. “He’s not the only big bull around here Ben,” he said calmly as if to try and ease my mind. I knew he was right, but I couldn’t help but replay the scene over and over again in my mind. It is one that I will forever remember, and one that will surely replay in my dreams for years to come.

When darkness fell over the Allagash for the second night of the hunt, we emerged from the woods empty handed once again. This night, however, was much different. While it would no doubt be sleepless (it was) my goal to find a trophy bull took on a whole new meaning. I was bound and determined, and Wednesday could not come soon enough!

Happy Hunting,

-Ben

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