My hunt really began on June 15, the day my name appeared on the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website as a successful applicant for the state’s moose hunt. After 5 years of applying for a moose permit in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, I’d finally been selected. I was even very fortunate to draw an either sex permit for one of the best zones in the state. I quickly started searching for guides in the area I was going to hunt, and after a week of e-mails and phone calls, I settled on Northern New Hampshire Guide Services. I sent off my payment and started reading and watching anything related to moose hunting.
On August 13, I received a verification notice; shortly thereafter my permit arrived. I was actually going moose hunting! I spent most of September at the range with my rifle, trying different loads. I was using my Browning A-Bolt chambered in .300 Win. Mag. My final bullet selection was 180-grain Winchester Supreme Partition Gold.
On October 17, my father and I left northern Kentucky and arrived in camp the afternoon of the 18th. We spent Friday the 19th scouting and getting settled in. I was really excited when we saw a cow and calf while scouting. On Friday night, I met my guide, Leo Roberge, and we discussed hunting options based on his past months of scouting. He decided on a clear-cut area that was about 1 mile from a logging road.
The Thunder Rolls
As expected, it was a very restless night. Between the anticipation of the hunt and the thunderstorms, 3 a.m. came quickly. After a quick breakfast and a final equipment check, we were out the door at 4 a.m. As we sat in the truck listening to the thunderstorms and wind, I wondered what the day would bring.
As light broke, we gathered our gear and started the trek to the clear-cut. Only a half-mile from the truck we saw a cow feeding 150 yards to our right.
Entering the clear-cut, I could see that it was large, about 200 yards wide and close to 1,000 yards long, with many rises and dips throughout. Stopping to glass along the many rises, we made our way to the middle ridge. Leo was up ahead and quickly motioned for me to catch up to him. There, 400 yards ahead of us in the saplings, was a bull moose. My heart started racing. We looked him over, and Leo said the bull’s rack had an outside spread of 45 inches. He had good paddles and decent eye guards, which is what I was looking for.
As we headed back into the clear-cut, Leo predicted the moose would be just out in front of us. Sure enough, as we eased over the top of the rise, the bull was directly in front of us, less than 120 yards away. He was slowly feeding away from us, and the setup was perfect. A strong breeze blew directly into our faces, and the rain had quieted the ground. Leo set up the shooting sticks and I took a sitting position, waiting until I had caught my breath and was calm.
Leo would occasionally call to the bull, causing him to turn and look our way. He had no idea we were there. After 10 long minutes, the bull cleared the saplings and was standing between two birch trees.
At the shot, the bull bolted to the right, moved around one of the rises and headed directly toward us before disappearing into a small depression. We hurried toward him—fearing he’d gone over the side of the hill and down the mountain. As Leo got to the edge, he let out a yell. I had my moose!
As I approached the bull, I was awestruck by his size. He was a very respectable animal, and I was ecstatic. After field dressing and hauling him out of the woods, we went to a check station, where the bull was registered. The rack had a 441/4 inch outside spread; Leo had missed it by only 3/4-inch at 400 yards!
I had my moose only 60 minutes after we left the truck in a rain storm. It was great to get back to camp and share the hunt with my father, who couldn’t believe it ended so quickly. We took some pictures and then proceeded to the meat processor. We stayed in camp for another 2 days, then made the trip back to Kentucky. The 5-year wait to draw a tag was certainly worth it.