We join the boys in the middle of action on their second last day of a New Brunswick Moose Hunt.
With Dad’s pep talk sinking in I mustered the gumption to man my post. But, as the morning wore on, I could feel my spirit drooping. It wasn’t long before Dad tapped me on the shoulder, recognizing I needed some lunch, a cold Pepsi, and some new scenery. And scenery we did receive!
A short distance into our travels we came across a fresh set of moose tracks meandering up the road followed by another set shortly after. Both moose must’ve been bulls because there were signs of a clash – gravel and shrubs were torn up on both sides of the road — an impressive display. We called with the hopes that moose were still nearby, but nothing came to fruition. One thing was clear, a switch had flicked in the Ackerman and the boys were out to play!
A tale as old as time, Boys fighting over a woman..
We returned to camp for a quick lunch and decided to approach our hunting spot from the other direction that evening. This route would take us through the scene of the clash before arriving at our spot, the last hour before dark.
As we made our way toward the fight scene, we met an oncoming truck. Bouncing along in a trailer behind them was a 6-point bull. Our worries went unspoken until we arrived at our calling destination and realized that was where they had shot it. Even Dad was starting to become disheartened with our luck.
Hopes to the wind, we drove right to our spot, parking in the middle of the cut. We settled in for the final hour before dark and debated even making a call. Finally, Dad decided to offer up a single cow call. What could it hurt? We were both well-aware that tomorrow was the last day of the season.
Dad wandered up behind the truck. He stopped nonchalantly and peered through the fading daylight toward the treeline. He came back to the truck with a concerned look on his face, grabbing binoculars. This grabbed my attention as well. He returned to his vantage point bringing binoculars to his eyes. No sooner than the eye cups touched his brow did his knees buckle and he spun toward me mouthing M-O-O-S-E!
I grabbed my gun loading three .270 Winchester rounds into my top loader Model 70. I shoved the bolt ahead and peeled toward Dad. He reminded me to grab my shooting stick from the bed of the truck and pointed me in the direction of the moose.
“Assuming a cartridge can make its way on merit alone, that cartridge is the .270” – Jack O’Connor
“Take your time bud. Find your shot.”
I locked the rifle onto the shooting stick. I focused the scope and peered through the glass. I spotted the lone cow almost instantly. As I readied myself, I saw another cow to her right. I held two fingers out to Dad indicating I saw two moose.
Dad whispered, “there’s two cows out there, Matt, take your time. Pick the one you want.” , clearly unaware I had already indicated such to him.
While panning my scope across to the second cow, I spotted a third moose. I lifted my cheek from the rifle stock to whisper back that I’d spotted another, and I was greeted with Dad’s exclamation of the same.
“Three Matt! Three!”
With uncharacteristic composure, I scanned each moose systematically for antlers or size differences. While surveying the third, I noticed movement even further to the right. I shifted my sight picture to see a bull feeding on a maple sapling.
“Bull Dad! Bull!” is what I thought. “Bull Matt! Bull!” is what I heard. The chaos was unfolding so quickly it was almost comical. Dad reminded me to take my time and stay calm. This would likely be our final chance.
I readjusted my footing and settled myself into the gun. I used this moment of calm to reflect on past mistakes. I found the bull’s front leg. I followed it up to the base of his neck. I adjusted slightly to center mass. I breathed. I felt the trigger on my finger. I slowly squeezed.
CLICK! — Damn safety!
‘You’re such an idiot’ I thought as I peered out over the gun and thumbed the safety. The moose had stepped behind the maple clump. I slid up the road further using a tractor push out to conceal my movement from the 8 eyes now staring me down. I posted up. Refocused. I found my shot.
BOOM! – fire blasted out the barrel in the fading daylight.
I shackled another round as the moose pivoted toward the treeline. I swung on him, finding his body, leading ahead and squeezed as he entered the sight picture.
BOOM! – the shot stopped dead. There was no noise. There was no movement. I turned to Dad, still holding his binoculars; so much for that second gun! His face told the story. We exchanged a couple high fives but knew we needed to get in there now. If that moose had anything left in him, he was only steps away from the Ackerman and hard night ahead for us.
Landmarking where we last saw him last we made our way through the cut. We headed toward the maple clump to find hair or blood for confirmation of a hit. That wasn’t necessary. There a few yards from the tree line, a large antler protruded up from the underbrush. We had a big bull down and we were ecstatic!
Now the work begins…
We called our friends for help. A jeep, a quad, a poorly tuned chainsaw, five men and seven hours later we had our moose on the trailer. It was the longest 218 yards any of us had ever covered! The bull would eventually weigh in at 853lbs, sporting a 12-point rack with a 54 inch spread.
Handshakes and rest were required, especially since those boys still had to hunt the next day. We felt bad for taking so much of their time, but we knew they wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. You see, moose season isn’t just about hunting. It’s about comradery. It’s about sharing experiences with peers.
Back at camp Saturday after the moose was registered and delivered to the butcher, Dad reminded me, “Everything happens for a reason Matty!”