A Stupid Shot
(Kamloops, British Columbia)
After years of no success, my hunting partner and I both drew authorizations for a Limited Entry Bull Moose hunt. The area was about an hour drive on a logging road North of Kamloops BC.
It was a late season November hunt and we were fighting the snow to be able to get around. The area we were hunting was along the edge of an old forest fire that scorched a vast area of timber in 2003.
The fresh tracks in the snow that were crisscrossing the roads told us there were Moose in the area. The problem was that the second growth of trees coming back since the fire were starting to get pretty big. Unless we got lucky and caught the Moose crossing the road, it was really hard to spot them.
Never-the-less we put our time in and hunted hard. The second day we saw a young spike bull looking at us from the edge of an old fireguard about 120yrds away. A clean shot to the heart filled one tag.
We hunted the next 4 days looking for another opportunity but without any luck. More than once we drove old roads to the end, turned around and came back to find fresh Moose tracks over our tires tracks. We were so close, but kept missing them, sometimes by mere minutes.
The last day we had allocated to hunt, we still had one tag to fill. We were out of time and felt that that it would be disappointing to not fill the tag as the odds of being drawn are slim.
Just after lunch, we stopped at a bend in the road and I walked up the road bank to scout a section of the old burn that still had some decent sight lines. I immediately spotted two black blobs way up on a ridge. I brought my scope up and saw they were two big Bull Moose bedded down. One immediately stood up, looking in my direction.
It was so far away, but it was our last chance to fill that tag. The terrain was such that a stalk to get closer was not likely viable. Also, I thought that the Moose that had stood up had spotted me, that is why he got up at looked towards me. I remember thinking, it is now or never.
I found a stump for a good solid rest and got comfy. I struggled for a bit considering if I should even attempt taking the shot. It would be a long shot but my rest was good and steady, the Moose was broadside and still, and I was using super hot hand-loads. I was pretty sure I could pull it off.
I rested the crosshairs of my 30-06 on the top of his back and squeezed off the first shot. Nothing! I raised about 1 foot over his back and squeezed off another round. This time the Moose took a few steps then stopped again. I held about 2 feet over the Moose's back and fired one more time. This time he hunched up, then wandered up over the ridge out of view. The other bedded bull then got up and wandered off too. A cow Moose I hadn't even noticed, moved briefly into view and then she too disappeared over the ridge.
It took about an hour of slogging through knee deep snow to get to where the Moose was. We found the beds, the tracks and a fresh trail of blood. It was easy to see every few steps the Moose took, there was a big spray of bright pink blood in the snow.
I followed the trail for about 120 yds to a stand of taller second growth timber that had been originally missed by the fire. I spotted the Moose just inside the timber, standing there looking at me. He was breathing very heavily and coughing blood. Another shot to the neck put him down for good.
During cleaning and gutting we found one bullet wound low on the brisket, just grazing the breast bone. Another round hit higher up and penetrated one lung and lodged on the other side. Of course there was also the kill shot in the neck. One shot, presumably my first, missed completely.
Luckily, an old road looped around from behind and came close to where he had fallen. It was dark when we finished, but we got him out without to much trouble.
Later, I measured the distance using Google earth. It was an incredible 535 yd from where I shot to where the Moose was! I knew it was long, but didn't think it was that long.
In hindsight, that was way too far away. I should never have even attempted that. It all worked out in the end, but my goodness....What was I thinking? Buck Fever I guess, even so that is no excuse. I still shudder to think of the "What ifs". The guilt I would have felt if I wounded that Bull and never recovered it. I fully admit it, that was a stupid shot!