A memorable moosy morning
A good friend of mine says that the best part of every great adventure is the anticipation leading up to it and the chance to brag about it after it’s done.
While I agree with that in most instances, it’s everything in between that I’ll remember most about a moose hunt I took to Newfoundland in mid-September. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that we filled every tag and brought back four moose. It was more about the people that I got to share it with that really stands out.
Every adventure has that in common, right? Sharing it with family and friends makes a good hunt great, but this was a little different. This was likely a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me, which made the chance to share it with my dad and father-in-law a little more meaningful.
After more than 2,000 miles in a truck, a six-hour ferry ride and half an hour on an Argo, we arrived at our destination. This was country none of us had ever seen before — hardwoods that gave way to wide open bogs and pristine ponds.
Day one of our hunt through Portland Creek Hunting and Fishing ended with Mike, my father-in-law, bringing back the biggest bull that any of us got that week. It was getting late in the afternoon when his guide glassed the brush and saw the very tip of an antler while they were walking across the bog.
The bull was bedded down. By the time he stood up, Mike was ready to deliver a perfectly placed shot. The bull’s rack measured 38.5 inches with 15 points.
We brought two more moose back to camp on the second day. My dad said all along that he was hoping to take a younger bull, convinced that it would provide better meat. He knew that was his only hope of my mom ever letting him come back. That’s exactly what he got after pulling the trigger on a four-pointer the second morning. That evening, our buddy, Curt, filled a third tag after his guide called a young bull to within 100 yards.
I didn’t see a bull those first two days, so the pressure was on. We woke up the fourth day to cool temperatures and no wind – “a very moosy morning” as our camp cook, Rosie, liked to say.
She was right. We saw more than half a dozen moose within the first half an hour. I turned down a shot at a spike bull with the hope of finding something bigger. Not long after, we found exactly what I was looking for – a big bull walking on the bog along the edge of the trees.
We closed the gap on him and I sat down to position myself for a shot at about 200 yards. After a deep breath, I pulled the trigger. The bull didn’t flinch. My Remington automatic 30-06 jammed and I frantically worked to chamber another round.
I positioned myself again and pulled the trigger. Click. It was the first of three misfires. I got off four shots in between those, but the bull never noticed any of them before trotting back into the woods. My guide told me it sounded like I was shooting a .22 instead of a 30-06.
The bullets I was using were hand loads that my dad had a gunsmith make for him before going on a caribou hunt a few years ago. I don’t know if they got wet somewhere along the way or what happened. I do know it took a while to get over missing out on the biggest animal I’ll probably ever see in my crosshairs.
With my father-in-law’s rifle and ammunition, I set out on another moosy morning the next day. We were on the edge of some cut timber when two young bulls ran out onto the bog in front of us. I pulled the trigger on the bigger of the two – a bull that would have been a six-pointer if not for the fact that he was missing the left side of his antlers. I had my moose with one day to spare.
As we made the long trip back home the next morning, Mike asked what we thought would be the one memory we would remember most from the trip. Mine wasn’t the fact that I shot a moose. I admit I went into this hoping to bag a big one and missing on my opportunity still stung a little.
What I knew I would remember is everything that went with the hunt – seeing new country, meeting great people and the fact I got to share a once-in-a-lifetime hunt with the guy who introduced me to hunting in the first place. • • •
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.