3 Moose in 3 weeks

Turkeygetpwnd38

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I've been meaning to do a write up, was planning on doing a pretty thorough one but got busy. I figured I do a summary before I forget everything! A big thanks to @Broomd @coop22250 and a few others on the stock trader thread. The Canada portion of this trip was completely funded with covid market profits and I was able to give me Dad a heck of a retirement gift! Also worth noting this was my Dad's first archery hunt. I had talked him into gettting a bow about a year prior to open up more opportunities for tags.

Background:
I booked an archery moose hunt for my father and I in Alberta around 11/2020 for 9/17-22-21. When booking I was obviously aware of covid but the outfitter and myself assumed it wouldn't be an issue by September of 21. Man were we wrong. Leading up to the hunt was pretty stressful. The border was closed, we didn't know if it would open, I was scrambling to figure out an alternative hunt since my dad had those days off anyways. The border ended up opening the month before we left. Crossing was anything but simple (driving) but after 3 covid tests, scrambling for results, a detention and thorough search at the border, we made it across with a day to spare!
 
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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We drove in from Montana and gave ourselves the extra day in case there was any delays. Stayed the night in Calgary and then headed North the next morning. I don't know if it's the lack of scenery or the slow speed limits but time seemed to move slower up there, not a drive I'd want to do again. We arrived at the outfitter right after lunch.
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Day 0
When we got to camp, we got shown around and asked if we wanted to go out for the evening. After scrambling to get unpacked and ready, we make it out for the last two hrs or so of light. We ride a four wheeler down a pipeline cut to a beaver pond and walk a little loop. The guide calls and we get a response. We end up pushing towards the moose calling, the moose returning the calls, until we bump him out of his bed. The guide got a little ambitious and pushed a bit too hard, we got close enough to hear the brush on the bull's paddles as it got up and walked away. We found his bed about 30 yards from where we last stopped and set up. On the way out, we spotted two really nice bulls about a mile down the cut, but with only 30 min of light left, it wasn't feasible. The tone was set though and we were excited for the week.
 
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Day 1
We get up way before light for breakfast and to start the hour drive to our area. It rained on and off all night, as it did the entire time we were there, so getting out there was a bit sporty in the truck. The mud the entire trip was insane. I still have mud on my bow today and I've cleaned it several times. Today we got introduced to the bush and man is that an appropriate word for it. Everything was thick with no real trails other than the pipeline cut and a few four wheeler trails. We busted brush most of the day checking beaver ponds and calling. No moose were heard or seen but it sure was pretty and a lot different from any area we had ever hunted. We probably logged 20 four wheeler miles and about 4 miles busting brush that day.
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Day 2- Wolves
The four wheeling the previous day was pretty rough. We were having to sit split saddled, three to one rig, riding in the rain/mud in our rain gear on rough trails. My dad and I were averaging about four falls a day off of it. You just couldn't hang on since everything was so muddy/slick. Talked to the guide the previous night about wanting to have more boots on the ground time vs four wheeler riding so we change up spots and head out to a gated road that morning. About .5 mile in we come upon a cow and calf moose feeding on the road and got pretty close before she started pinning her ears back. They take off further down the trail and we continue on for about 3 miles without seeing any more moose.
After the 3.5 miles, we get to the end of the trail where it Ts off in either direction. We stopped a little before the T and were digging through our bags for snacks when the guide walks up to the T to look. As we are digging, the guide runs back to us and said there are some wolves working down the cut to our right, grab our bows and maybe we will get a shot. You could tell he didn't really think we would get a shot, I thought he was joking in the first place, but when we get to the cut, much to our surprise and his, there is a pack of wolves working down the trail at about 150 yards. The trail has a tree fallen across it, me and my dad climb on top and stand for better shots, maybe about 2.5 ft off the ground. The pack continues down the trail to 60 yards and then just plops down in the trail, we counted 8 wolves. I pick out a jet black wolf, range, and draw back. I look over at my dad planning on syncing when to shoot and his bow isn't drawn. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see the guide crouched walking on the trail in front of us. He goes out about 5 yards and then howls. All the wolves jump up and immediately lock on him. He, in his infinite wisdom, decides to then run back to try and get behind us. When he runs, the wolves all start after him. They cover another 30 yards in about 2 seconds and hesitate when they see us on the tree. It was a crazy eerie feeling, I lock eyes with the black wolf and I swear I could see in its' eyes it deciding to continue on course or back out. I send an arrow at the head on black wolf, can still see it perfectly in my head today, right between the ears. In my head, I had ranged for 60, was already through most of my shot process when everything went down and it all happened so fast I subconsciously still aimed with the 60 yard pin at 30. When the arrow whizzes over it, the wolves split off on either side of the trail and circle around us. The guide jumps on the log and is trying to rip the bear spray off my chest (on my bino harness). I nock another arrow and the wolves start to howl. We stay on the tree, yelling hoping it scares them off. Eventually it seems they moved on and we get down and retrieve my arrow. I ask my dad why he didn't shoot, his release was clogged with mud and wouldn't close. It was a long, tense walk back to the truck. The guide didn't have a firearm, we had no sidearms (good old Canada), and the grass was tall. Every time we got to a muddy puddle area, there were new wolf tracks that weren't there on the way in. We were pretty sure they circled around us the entire way back.
It was an awesome experience interacting with wolves on that level. Momentarily they thought our guide was prey and then at 30 yards they knew what we were, hesitated and seemed to be doing the math whether 8 on 3 would come out in their favor. We are lucky they didn't come to a different conclusion, because with no firearm, one inoperable bow, and a guide with nothing, I don't think the odds were in our favor. I replay that shot in my head all the time but try not to beat myself up too bad, just tell my self to be better. It was quite the chatter at the lodge, had to retell the story probably 50 times. The guides said nothing like that had ever happened to any of them, we were just lucky! I gave our guide hell for freaking out and trying to rip that bear spray off me haha so did everyone else.
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Arrow that should of gotten me a wolf!!
 
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Day 3-4:
The next two days after the wolf encounter were uneventful. Lots of rain, mud, hail, and a little sunshine. Morale in camp is pretty low. There were four other moose hunters, six in total, and no one had gotten a shot opportunity or much of an encounter at all. We didn't see any moose, just rode around and got beat up on the quad all day, occasionally convincing the guide to go on a walk. I know the saying do not guide the guide, but these guys hunted moose one way, covering a lot of ground and calling from the four wheeler, and that obviously wasn't working. We butted heads quite a bit over it. Day 4 morning we did 8 miles of rough bushwhacking. I think it was his way of trying to shut us up and discourage us from continuing to ask, but we loved it and our guide admitted later that he was struggling and hated it! We did get into a lot of fresh sign, but still no moose. Day 4 afternoon is when we started splitting up. I figured my dad's chance at a moose would be better with the guide, they could cover more ground and he could be more comfortable doing it, so they would drop me off in a spot and I would do my own thing. We would agree on a pick up spot after dark and they would come get me. I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a little unnerving walking a few miles in the dark alone, in an area/country you have no experience in, in a terrain you aren't used to, without my usual side arm, after recently having a very real wolf encounter and bear tracks everywhere... but that just makes it more fun.
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Day 5:
The morning proves uneventful and no one in camp has had any opportunities or much action at all. We plan on going into a new area that evening and splitting up again. We get out there around 2pm, ride the 4 wheeler to a beaver dam about 3 miles from the road and walk in from there. The area was a mixture of clear cuts from a logging operation and a large wetland/prairie type area. The guide and my dad take off to the area the guide has the best feeling about and I head in another direction to a large cut with good visibility. I walked around for an hour or so and get no responses to calling other than wolf howls. The last two hours of light I decide to climb up on one of the tallest old wood piles to get a good vantage and just call every 20 minutes or so. The cut is a large L shape and the pile is at the 90 degree junction. The first hour or so passes with no action. I am feeling pretty low as we only have a day left to hunt and it isn't looking good. I let out a calling sequence and immediately hear what sounds like a large tree snap. I turn and look to my right/behind and there is a bull moose head poking out the wall of brush on the border of the cut at about 250 yards. I wait what seems like 10 minutes but was probably more like two, and the bull is still just standing half way out of the bush. I call and here he comes. He is very slowly working across this wide open cut and every time I stop calling, he loses interest and starts to meander another way. While I am constantly calling, I am also trying to get off this log pile to get behind another to cut the moose off. The problem was every time I tried to move, he'd lock in directly on me. I quickly realized that I was not getting off the pile and if I wanted to kill this moose, I was going to have to shoot him from here. It probably took 10 minutes for the moose to close the distance, swaying his head and grunting the entire way. If I stopped calling, he stopped coming. He finally got to the next closest log pile to me and depending on which way around he came determined whether I would get a shot. He the route I needed and wrapped around the pile at exactly 60 yards. Looking back, I probably could have called him directly under me, he had come that far, but in the moment, I didn't want to take any chances. I drew back and let off the arrow at 60 yards. I heard the sound all bow hunters love to hear, thwack, the moose trotted about 15 yards and fell over dead.
I sat there for a while trying to comprehend what exactly happened. I am alone in another country hunting an animal for the first time and called one in and shot it solo. I would have preferred my dad was there to witness it all, and I also felt guilty it wasn't him that got the shot, but all in all I was feeling pretty accomplished. I decide to not go check the moose out because I want to share that moment with my dad. I head back to our designated meeting spot and wait. About 30 minutes after dark I see their headlamps coming down the trail. When they get to me, I ask if they had any luck... they hadn't. I then quickly ask them if they mind coming and helping me get my moose. It took a second to click but my dad was ecstatic. The guide didn't believe me until he counted the arrows in my quiver. We walk back to where I was, show them where I shot from and walk straight to the moose. We take a bit to appreciate the moment and snap a few pictures, then start working. We end up just gutting, partially skinning and splitting the neck/hams. There is some confusion on how we are going to get it out but figure it would last the evening ok. I rig a tarp over it, drag the guts away and leave my sweat clothes all around. When we get back to the lodge everyone is asleep, we ate, laughed, and slept great!
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The log pile I was on, about 20 ft up
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Full moon night
 
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Day 6: Last Day
The plan in the morning was to go back to the same area, I would branch off and process my moose and my dad would hunt the morning with the guide. Since no one else had killed, there wasn't a lot of extra hands for help and I did not want my dad to miss any hunting time. We later joked about how I would go on a "fully guided" hunt and have to shoot and process an entire moose alone! I get to the moose before light, it's untouched, and get to cutting. I get it all bagged up after 2-3hrs and start shuttling loads to the rendezvous point because we are still unsure how we are getting it out. Around 10am I can see the guide and my dad headed back. I'm thinking it is a little early but notice my dad is wobbling pretty bad. He had a double knee replacement about two year prior. The one thing you aren't supposed to do on a knee replacement is run and jump. Evidently they had climbed onto some log piles and my dad kind of hopped off one onto a log that moved and it really aggravated his knee. I ended up having to cut a tree and fashion a crutch to get him over the beaver dam and back to the four wheeler, he could barely walk. They hadn't had any luck that morning and reinforcements were starting to arrive to help get the moose out. We got my dad to the truck and then spent the next 2-3 hrs getting all the meat out.
We get back to camp and my dad is hurting really bad. I talk to the lead guide and he tells me another guide is coming in that evening that also has a bad knee, so he has a nice SxS set up to hunt from. I spend the mid day trying to convince my dad to go with the new guide, just take a ride since it is the last hunt, but understand he is in a lot of pain. I decide to run my moose into the nearest town, about an hr away, to have it cut and package since I am not sure if I'll have the time. We talk before I leave and my dad says he isn't going to go, will see me when I get back. I get back several hours later and he is gone. I ask a few of the guides that are still there and they tell me they all went in there and bothered him until he agreed to go. I am happy they got him out and settle into the couch for some much need rest. Hours go by and I hear nothing, there isn't much for signal anywhere out there, but about dark I get a message, two words, moose down!
They get back to camp about two hrs after dark. We hadn't been able to communicate other than that one text, but they show up with a moose! It turns out they were headed back to the truck, almost dark, and on the trail was a bull moose. They had come over a rise, saw it in the trail, backed up back over the rise and gotten out. They walked single file straight towards the moose while calling, got to 30 yards and my dad made the shot! Everyone was joking that the moose wasn't threatened by them, just curious why these two guys who could barely walk were hobbling towards him! I couldn't of been happier, my dad got a moose, his first archery kill, injured on the last day last hunt. We were extremely lucky, no one else in camp killed that week.
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After reinforcements came a built a bridge, got the moose on the four wheelers
 
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Turkeygetpwnd38

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Day 7:
We get up in the morning and get to work. I work on cleaning and boiling the skulls transport, Dad works on getting the meat packaged up. By lunch we have his moose loaded and the skulls ready to go. We head out and swing through town to pick up my moose from the processor. Coolers full we start the long trek back to the states. Border crossing was smooth this time, get a hotel for the night stateside and take my dad to the airport the next day.
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