Inspired by Trial153 amazing hunting stories I felt it was time to write my own.
One year ago today was the opener for my Maine Moose adventure. But I guess it really started in early June when the lottery results came in. Never thought I would actually draw that year considering I'd only been applying for 3 or 4 years. The excitement of seeing my name on the list was just a little bitter sweet when I saw that I had won a cow tag. But I was thankful nonetheless. So I immediately start looking for outfitters. The 3rd one I find online is OMM outfitters and right on the home page of their website it says "trade your cow tag for a bull tag" Well that peaked my interest!!! Called them up the next morning. They explain to me that some people will trade cow tags for bulls but they are going to want some cash thrown in too. They tell me they generally go for at least $500 but have seen them go as high as $3000. And the best part is that they would search the tag swap website and do all the paperwork for me. No need to look at another outfitter. I knew I already made the right choice. They said my cow tag should be relatively easy to swap because it was for zone 3 which is considered by many to be the best in the state. I gave them my info and waited anxiously for the next week or so. When the phone rang from a Maine area code I enthusiastically answered! They tell me they found someone to swap for a zone 6 tag in the September season. I ask if it's a good zone and they tell me anything 1 - 6 is great. And the September season is the best time for rut action. The guy wants $1500 for the swap. No brainer! Let's do it! I tried not to get too excited until all the paperwork was finalized and I had the bull tag in my hand. But when I did I was on cloud 9!!! And so the preparations begin. Got the 30-06 sighted in. Borrowed every large cooler I could for bringing home meat. and even practiced how I would pack up the Jeep with coolers and gear.
Finally the day arrives! I leave my house at 3am for the 9 hour journey to Eagle Lake Maine. The scenery was beautiful and the colors of fall were increasing the further north I traveled.
Arrived at the lodge and met my guide Eric and the rest of the crew. He asked me what I was looking for and all I said was "I'll know when I see him" I also told him I didn't want it to come to easy. I didn't want to come all the way to Maine with a once in a lifetime tag and spend a few hours in the woods and shoot something. I wanted to feel like I earned it. We had a short safety meeting and went to the rifle range to make sure all our guns were on point. Came back to the lodge and had an amazing lobster dinner. All of the food there was incredible. Tried to get some sleep but it's hard to when you know it's opening day of moose hunting the next morning! The first morning we saw a ton of sign. Tracks, droppings, beds and alder's that were raked up from moose antlers. Then it started to rain, and we got freaking soaked. The rain finally passed and right at sunset we had a cow call to us from maybe 40 yards away but the woods were so thick we never even saw her. That sure did get the blood pumping though!!! It rained so much that my guides binos got fogged up on the inside. Well day 2 we had some action right away. Weren't in the woods for more than 20 minutes and we stumble across a big cow. My guide says to get ready in case she has a bull with her. I put the rifle on the shooting stick and look the scope and see nothing. Same thing that happened to his bino's. Fogged up on the inside. It was a cheap Bushnell that came with my savage and I never even thought to upgrade it with all the other planning I had to do for this trip. So now I'm freakin heated. Luckily she did not have a bull with her and we head back to the lodge. My mind is racing on how I'm gonna fix it or get a new scope and sight it in and how much hunting time I'm gonna lose because of this and my guide says "I got my browning 30-06 semi auto back at camp all sighted in, you wanna just use that?" Well that was an easy solution. We head back out for the afternoon and find some wild blueberries and stumble upon a small bull. I say small bull because he was a spike but he was probably the biggest animal I had ever seen! We got within 40 yards of him before he wandered off. Just seeing how these huge creatures move through the woods was worth the trip. Day 3 we saw nothing but beautiful scenery and plenty of moose sign. As we were walking down one of the logging roads a truck passes us with a giant bull hoisted up in the bed. An absolute giant by anyone's standards. Amazingly I found a video of the bull on youtube at the check station. Unbelievable animal!!!
By the time day 4 came along I was starting to get a little more anxious and thinking maybe I should've taken that small bull. Or maybe I shouldn't have told my guide that I didn't want it to come easy. Nobody in camp had gotten one yet and it was day 4 of a 6 day hunt. We had put a lot of miles on the truck and our boots. Well the morning of day 4 was no different. Slowly walking down old logging roads with the wind in our face and calling, lots of calling. By mid day my guide says "we gotta try something different" So we sit on the edge of an old swampy clear cut with the wind in our face and wait like a deer hunt. It was maybe 100 yards wide and maybe 500 yards long. The brush was mostly 2 and 3 feet high so I sat on a stump and he sat on the ground. Assuming we wouldn't see anything until closer to sunset he decides to take a little cat nap. We found some more blueberries and I said to him "last time we found blueberries we saw a bull" And history repeated itself.
At about 3:15 I laid eyes on what I had came for. At about 300 yards away he crossed the clear cut at pretty steady pace. I start smacking my guide in the arm and whispering loudly "Big Bull, Big Bull, Big Bull" He immediately starts grunting and raking the brush with a moose scapula. The Bull was already on the other side of the timber. But he grunts back!!! Then he starts raking!!! My blood is pumping. For the next 15 - 20 minutes we hear him come a little closer, than go further away, then closer again. So we crouch through the brush and head towards the wood line in case he doesn't want to come out in the open. As we get closer we start to hear him again. He's close. And he's fired up!!! He's trying to circle around us to get downwind and he's coming in hot!!! I get the gun up on the shooting stick and before my guide even finishes saying "he's gonna come out right there" there he was. 60 yards perfect broadside. I shoot. Felt good but looked like it hit a little far back towards the stomach. He runs a couple yards then stops and looks back. I shoot again. Couldn't tell if I hit him or not. he runs a few more yards then stops again. 3rd shot looked and felt perfect but he still ran off where we couldn't see him. Pretty confident he was down, we start to celebrate!!! What a rush!!! We give him just a few minutes before we go looking for him. He didn't go far. Amazingly it was one of the only spots out in the bush that I had any cell pone service and I must have sent 100 texts simply saying "The Moose is Down"
We quickly found out where that 2nd shot hit. right between the nostrils and blew out through the bottom jaw. Now I had just taken a taxidermy course that April and had every intention on doing a shoulder mount if I got one. Guess I'm gonna have to learn how to fix that!!!
So my guide walks back to the truck to call for help on the radio. While I was alone with the bull I grab the flap of skin that hangs from his throat that they all call "the bell" and it makes a noise!!! Not gonna lie, that scared me for a second!!! My guide came back with a helper and they got a good laugh about that!!! And we start taking tons of pictures. My guide even says to me "your gonna get sick of smiling" and I quickly replied "no I wont!" Another guide shows up and we make quick work of skinning and quartering the beast.
When we get back to camp we got to see the 500lb bear that another client had got while hunting with hounds.
The next morning we bring him to the check station. He officially measured 41 inches. Couldn't get a weight on him because he was quartered but everyone guessed around 800lbs which seemed accurate because the bull ahead of us in line was around 760 and a little smaller than mine. We get him back to the lodge and into the walk in cooler. My guide says I can hang out there or go with him and help the other guides. Well I didn't come all the way to Maine to sit at camp! As soon as we got back towards the hunting area he got a call on the radio that someone shot a bull. We arrived just in time to start following the blood trail. They were in a spot were they had about a 200 yard shooting lane and the bull came it to about 10 feet!!! Client said he just saw black in the scope. Well he did make a good shot because the bull was only about 100 yards away laying dead. About the same size as mine. Got to help them skin and quarter the bull which was such a cool experience.
We get back to the lodge and a father and son team brought in their monster 53 inch bull
I make the 9 hour journey home on cloud 9. Probably smiled the whole time
I get back just in time for deer season here in New York. I have a freezer full of moose meat so I'm holding out for a good buck. Passed on a bunch of does and small bucks during archery and shot my first coyote on opening day of rifle season. And then on Nov 19th I see a decent 8 pointer and decide this is the perfect way to end this amazing season.
And now the taxidermy process begins. Did them all by myself and am damn proud of them. I know I have a long way to go but for my first coyote and first moose, I think they came out good. Had a lot of sewing to fix that moose face but it was a great learning experience
Even if I never go on a hunt like that again I will always have the memories of the hunt of a lifetime!!!