It was Sept. 22, 2003, and the second day of my moose hunt. I was hunting on Thompson Lake in northern Manitoba, Canada, with Lynn Lake Fly-In Outpost Camps. My guide was Tony Jeffers. We were overlooking a wide, shallow valley in the middle of an old burned out area. The cover was small re-growth pine trees, birch trees and willow brush.
Tony sounded a long, mournful cow call, filled with all the yearning he could muster. Then we heard the distant reply of a bull moose. Tony estimated he was about 1 mile away. Because bull moose have excellent hearing and can pinpoint where a call came from, Tony assured me he’d show up.
We stood looking in the direction of his anticipated approach. Then I moved 10 feet to my left, 5 feet forward and 6 feet to my right. Tony followed my every move, until he finally asked, “What’re you doin’?” I explained I was trying to find both a shooting lane and a good rifle rest. He mumbled that I still had plenty of time. Be that as it may, I wasn’t satisfied until I found a spot I was comfortable with. Then we were left to settle in and continue our wait.
It had been 35 minutes since I’d heard the bull answer the call. My eyes were tearing up from the strain of staring through trees, and my nerves were stretched taut. Yet Tony looked like he might have just been waiting for the next bus. Suddenly through the trees I noticed a flash of white. I stared at the spot expectantly and soon saw another flash. The bull moose was coming in!
Ten minutes later we saw him walking straight toward us. He looked huge to me! For a guy who’d previously only hunted whitetail deer, he was an elephant. Still, I glanced at Tony and asked if he was a good one. Tony’s grin and one word reply, “yeah,” was all I needed.
I turned again to watch the giant animal. I’d seen videos of bull moose in rut and this was the classical show. He was waving his head back and forth, continuously showing off those magnificent antlers. With every slow step he sounded a guttural grunt. Suddenly he stopped about 150 yards away, and stared right where we were sitting. My heart dropped. For what seemed like an eternity he stood perfectly still ... staring. I thought the game was up, but he proceeded to move forward and resumed the show. When he came closer I raised my rifle. Tony put his hand on my arm, leaned over and said “Wait, wait! He’ll come closer.”
So I put my rifle down. He continued to walk directly toward us. I was getting worried now that I wouldn’t have a good shot at him. I didn’t want to shoot him head-on. Closer and closer he came, then at the bottom of the gentle slope we were sitting on, he turned to us broadside. He was 60 yards away now, and I thought this was the moment. Again, I raised my rifle, and again Tony put his hand on my arm. He whispered in my ear, “Not yet! He’s headed to the boat.” While I didn’t understand what he was getting at, I waited. Finding another shooting lane ahead of the moose, I kept my rifle up. Once he stepped into the clear, though, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I fired!
I’d been told that to put a moose down I needed to shoot him through the front shoulders. Well, I missed-not the moose, but his shoulder. At the shot he hesitated for a brief moment and his head almost dropped to the ground. I knew he was hit hard, but he kept walking straight ahead. That is, he moved forward another 20 feet before he collapsed, and never moved again. When he went down a surge of relief, elation and wonder flowed through my veins. “Wow! I’d gotten a moose!”
Tony and I walked up to him. I looked at Tony and said, “Jeez! He’s bigger than a horse!” I remembered Tony’s earlier words about the moose heading toward the boat, and now I understood their meaning. Closer to the boat, equals less work for us.
My Winchester Super model 70 in 300 WSM had done its job well. I used 180 grain Fail Safe Winchester ammo, and at 40 yards had shot him through both lungs. It took 2 days of skinning, cutting and hauling to get everything back to camp. His antlers green scored 190 Boone and Crockett points.
The rest of the week was spent walleye fishing and relaxing. I was also introduced to Manitoba “surf and turf,” which is fresh moose tenderloin and walleye fillets. My first moose hunt was a great time, filled with memories I’ll have forever.