I’ll Be Trying That Again
Moose has always been one of my favourite animals to hunt. Although they require a ton of work and time once you get one on the ground, they fill you with a feeling of accomplishment and the amount of meat in your freezer is second to none.
Last fall I drew a great tag here in Alberta so I set out with a goal to kill a Pope and Young class bull with my bow. In the spring and summer, I spent countless hours scouting and put on over 150 miles on my boots, searching for key areas, learning the land and picking up sheds. You could say that I was taking things seriously.
Before I knew it, the third week of September was here and big bulls were trailing hot cows while younger bulls were cruising in an attempt to find cows in heat. The leaves had turned and they were beginning to fall off the poplars that surrounded the scattered beaver ponds in the area I was hunting.
While hiking into the area I wanted to hunt for the day, I heard a bull grunting to my west and could tell by the sound of his grunts that he was tending a cow. He was grunting from a small bowl on top of a willow ridge only a few hundred yards away, so I circled to get the wind in my favor and snuck in with an attempt to get a visual on the grunting bull.
As I slithered my way through the willows and crested the rise, I spotted two cows about 100 yards ahead of me, looking in my direction, but calm. The bull wasn’t immediately visible, so I stood motionless for a period of time before he finally moved his head and the paddle on his left antler caught my attention behind the cows.
Having a bull tied up with cows is usually the end of the game when it comes to moose hunting. Mature bulls won’t leave a cow in heat to investigate a cow call and they won’t leave the cows side for a few bull grunts in the distance.
With no great play available and not enough cover to make a stealthy move, I crouched down and slid a black hoodie on, pulled my Heads Up Moose Decoy from my backpack and mounted it to my bow.
With the decoy in the bow mount, I stood up in plain view of the bull and his cows. I let out a low grunt and the bull’s eyes instantly locked onto me. His ears pinned back, he started thrashing the bush around him and letting out thunderous grunts that surged adrenaline through my body.
I began to sway my way across the meadow toward the bull and his cows. This stalk was getting more and more intense. Closing the gap, the cows decided they weren’t a fan of the aggression and made their way over the ridge. The bull slowly followed but made sure I knew he wasn’t happy that I was moving in on his ladies.
As soon as he crested the ridge, I quickened my pace and closed the gap as fast as possible. I held the Heads Up Moose Decoy in front of me as I made my way over the ridge that separated us and as soon as the bull saw me, he started to thrash the willows, a mere 15 yards away. My heart was pumping out of my chest as things were quickly unfolding in the willow-covered hillside. I continued to work my way toward the bull and hoped for a clear shot at his vitals but as we danced around each other, there was no shot opportunity.
With the cows working ahead but intently watching the action behind them, I slowed my advances while they worked their way across a clearing only 40 yards ahead of me.
If the bull followed their trail, he would offer me a 37 yard shot. He followed. Swaying his rack back and forth with a stiff-legged walk, he cleared a patch of willows and gave me a small opening in the foliage. At this point, I came to full draw and settled my 40 yard pin low on his chest. My thumb came off the safety of my tension activated release and I began to build pressure on the back wall while my pins quivered on his vitals.
The shot broke and my arrow sailed its way through the opening and smashed through both of his lungs. I knew the bull was mine as soon as the arrow hit its mark and my quest for a giant bull was now complete.
As I sat down to replay all that had just happened, I realized how blessed I was to be able to hunt such an animal and how effective my tactic was that morning. I had heard rumors before of guys wearing black and having success on moose because of the color. I hadn’t trusted the tactic of a black hoodie and a bow mounted decoy before though. This was a game changing experience for me. You can bet I’ll have a black hoodie and a Heads Up Moose Decoy ready to get after it when the moose rut rolls around again next year!