Friday, November 1, 2019

A local tale of a Maine moose hunt

By David Field

Being drawn for the moose hunt is like winning the lottery to those chosen. After being drawn this past June for the second season moose hunt for Zone 11, the planning began. First, I called a butcher to reserve my spot. This is a necessary action as a lot of butchers only take so many animals in a season.

Secondly, I got my team assembled. We have a group of guys that has the moose hunting challenge down to a T, no matter who holds the permit. So, besides me, I had my long-time friend and moose magnet, Cliff Knight as my sub-permittee, Ron Richards of Windham and Todd Hunter of Raymond. The four of us previously did a moose hunt in 2017 and brought home a 675-pound bull on Ron Richards’ permit.

Thirdly, the scouting began. I follow Maine Moose Hunting on Facebook and it amazes me at the number of hunters asking for moose locations before and during the hunt. Accommodations weren’t an issue as we have a hunting camp in the zone. and I went to camp in June and deployed a handful of game cameras. We made trips north every few weeks during the summer to collect photos, assess activity and develop our plans.

We went up to the camp the last weekend in September to assess rutting activity and signs and to hopefully nab a grouse or 2. We didn’t nab grouse, but we did learn some things. In the area of the camp, we encountered 5 moose hunters looking to fill their tags. In the first season for Zone 11, only 11 out of 25 tags were filled. I attribute this to a handful of reasons. 1) The rut hadn’t really started, 2) plenty of food in the woods (is your yard filled with acorns?) 3) hunters were driving the roads hoping to fill their tag and not actually hunting the woods.

So, with the second weekend of October upon me, I begin packing. The trailer gets loaded with a 300-foot spool of rope, the 4-wheeler, propane tank, water, coolers full of food and of course, clothing and guns. At camp, we use an old Sears John-Boat to haul moose out of the woods. Very effective tool.

We get to camp and check the cameras for the almost final time. The camera located in the spot we call Moose Alley has 3 different bulls on it. Another camera has 2 bulls on it and a third has a cow. Another location has a moose wallow and becomes our Number 2 spot. Moose Alley is number one. 

Sunday afternoon to sunset, we go and check a few spots out. We had a cow moose come out at Moose Alley after sunset. I was so pumped for the 12 hours to pass!

The author, David Field and Cliff Knight with
the 680 pound bull.
Sunrise Monday morning finds us at Moose Alley. 33 degrees. We hear a bull grunt in the distance and the excitement jacks up a notch. We enter the woods and begin calling. We get a response, but from a different direction. The bull answers the call, but doesn’t come in. We stay in place until late morning. Frustrated, we head to camp for lunch. We try our second spot after lunch. Bright sunshine a stiff south breeze and 64 degrees are the conditions. We are set up at a T location of logging roads. I was on the south side of the truck when a bull appeared on the north side 20 minutes after arriving. I didn’t have a shot and the bull took off. We pursued but he escaped deep into the woods. We went to another spot and did some calling and then went back to Moose Alley to finish the afternoon. A day in the books and we were facing an incoming weather system on Thursday that we didn’t want to hunt in.

Tuesday morning, we went back to the spot that we were at Monday afternoon. We parked away from the area where the bull appeared. Again, walking in, we heard a bull grunt off in the distance. We set up and began calling. After a few hours, we explored. We walked down a logging trail that became a wide-open field. The beaten down path through the field showed the animals had been there. After exploring, I got a text from Todd to “Get Back ASAP”.  Ron and Todd had stayed back while Cliff and I explored the field. When I got the text, we got back and the guys told us that they heard a bull grunt 4 times off to the southwest. We worked our way back up the trail. About two-thirds of the way back, Ron made a grunt on the can call. There was a response that seemed to come from the road we had started on, very close. I worked up to the road and peeked up and down. Empty. A few more calls and the bull had gone silent. With the late morning approaching lunch, we headed back to camp to reassess.

So, Cliff and I decided to go back in the early afternoon and Ron and Todd would drive and scout with the rendezvous to be around 4pm at Moose Alley. We stuck to the plan. No action at the first stop, then back to Moose Alley. We set up in our parking spot. I had a feeling that the moose would be out and about this area as opposed to deeper in the woods where we had been on Monday., Todd and Ron took turns with cow calls and bull calls. Every 10-15 minutes, a new chorus and answers would occur. Forty minutes later, about 300 yards away, the young cow we saw Sunday night emerges from the woods. She is followed by the crotch-horn we had on camera from the previous week. In a bolt, we jog/creep down the road doing our best to stay out of sight. We get to 75 yards from the animals and the cow takes off. The small bull seems oblivious and slowly meanders to the cutting on our left. Sighted in on him, there is movement to the right. A much larger bull appears and the focus changes. One shot and the bull dropped just feet from the logging road. A final shot finishes him off.

With the easy part of the hunt done, the work begins. Ron goes to camp to get the trailer, tow strap and beverages. I have my gutting kit with me and change clothes and ready the knives. I use a forked branch to hold the rear leg out of the way and we tie off the front leg to Cliff’s truck. Todd watches me in amazement as I eviscerate the beast. He quickly nicknamed me the “Ginsu-Man”. As I am finishing the gutting, Ron returns with the trailer and goodies. We quickly fashion a drag to pull the moose up into the trailer. It took us 2 hours from time of shot to driving off with the bull to get this done.

So, the final weight was 680 pounds. I netted just over 300 pounds of meat. The final harvest for Zone 11 was 32 moose out of 50 permits issued.

Many thanks to my friends on this trip. Couldn’t have done it without them and the memories! Until next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.