One of my hometown buddies found time to enlighten me on the current status of the blog with some interesting criticism. The dialogue went a little like this...
Buddy- You've got a nice blog but you haven't done anything on your Biggest Buck of Maine back in high school, nor have you mentioned anything about the moose hunts.
DEDH- It's basically a duck hunting blog, it's easier to write about what I'm doing rather than construct a narrative or two about the past.
Buddy- You teach history, don't you deal with the past.
DEDH- Yup, I suppose I'll get to work on those...
So now I've taken on the charge and will take some time to recount some of my historical adventures. First up will be the moose hunt of 2007...
Never in my lifetime did I think I'd get a moose permit, let alone three (2000, 2003, & 2007). There's an adage that the fun ends right after you pull the trigger which holds some truth and on the other hand, some of the greatest memories tend to fall into the retrieval of these massive animals. On that note, let me digress.
In June of 2007, there stood my name on the Maine Department of Fisheries & Wildlife moose lottery winner list. My first call was my uncle who was the alternate and my cousin who for the first time replaced his dad as my subpermittee. We had landed Zone 2 (one of the premier zones running from Ashland north to St. Francis) and possessed a bull only permit. This would be my cousins first chance at a moose and I offered him the opportunity to take the shot of a lifetime. Needless to say, he was very wound up as he was in his senior year of high school.
After the traditional efforts over the summer to land our lodging, acquire our game tags, ready the equipment, and compile the crew, we found ourselves skipping the first day of the season as I had a school law course Monday night. Later that evening, I met up with the rest of the crew in Garfield Plantation and went over the strategy for hopefully a fast hunt.
Long before daylight we set out for the Hewes Brook Road from the Fish River Checkpoint accessed just to the west of Portage Lake. Once registered and all fees covered, we began the northerly trek for some of the cuts in hopes that Bullwinkle would be seen.
The bull stood in the middle of the road about ten minutes after legal shooting and I shut down the truck quickly for the fastest moose hunt in modern history. As I scoped the nice bull, my cousin from the passenger side had a jam with the bolt action. The moose began to move and in the time it took him to draw the rifle, was into the thicket. Our first moose disappeared. On a side note, my Remington Model 700 in .338 Ultra Magnum had to be taken to the gunsmith for a minor repair. The rifle at the time of the hunt was rendered a single shot.
Shaken but not stirred, we continued our hunt that morning and saw approximately zero moose other than the ones taken by other hunters in the zone. Our spirits were not ruined, for there stood two more days of vacation time and a good crew consisting of my uncle, cousin, best man, his father, a close buddy, and another pal who was on his first ever moose excursion. Good company was making for a fine trip.
Our next morning found us repeating the voyage taken the day before and we employed an electronic moose call that broadcast the soothing sounds of a cow in estrus, young bull grunt, aggressive mature bull, and thrashing woods. As my cousin and I stood at the road side of an older cut, I sent out the love signal only to be amazed at a quality bull smashing through the woods that arrived about ten feet into the cut. My cousin who was at least one hundred feet to my left did not see the bull which had a hard job figuring out why I wasn't a sexy cow waiting for love. I tried to point in the direction of the bull, but my cousin could not see it. When the bull knew the gig was up, it turned and retreated. At this point, strike two.
We hit the roads that day only to discover that 120 miles of dirt roads void of our intentions. The clouds began to approach from the west and the rain promised by our weatherman found northern Maine. We hoped for a chance on the last day of our trip. I had to be back to work Friday.
For those of you who don't know, the truckers hauling massive loads of woods have full right of way on these roads owned by the North Maine Woods. The rain wasn't a sprinkle but rather a downpour which turned all gravel roads into mud runs. Our next day found little success other than we managed to avoid either going off the road, or in a serious accident. The mud highway coupled with the inclement weather made Thursday a serious bust for we saw not one moose of either sex. For us the moose season was nearing an end, I had been missing my family and work was looming. But then my cousin thanked me for giving him the chance for a moose, I took that appreciation and decided our trip wasn't over no matter the consequence that could find my way. Once cell phone reception got to at least two bars, I made the call and chose our pursuit over responsibility.
|A rainbow did appear after our decision to stay|
I lost three of my crew that night which left us four strong for the next day. Our plan was for my cousin and I to drive ahead while my buddy and uncle held back. We would contact them with two-way radios once the decision to move was made. Since most of the hunters had either tagged out or relented from our zone, there was next to no pressure in the far northern expanse of Maine.
Once legal shooting arrived, I began the cow in estrus call and immediately heard a responsive bull. The woods crashed and a grunting bull presented himself at the edge of the trees. My cousin seemed to have taken forever as I had enough time to count the points and estimate the spread. Then in a loud boom, the .338 Ultra Magnum found the target and I watched the bull collapse on spot through the scope of my Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe. Success had been attained, well as we thought.
My cousin was sure of a quality vital shot and the moose had not been seen since the shot. Within a few minutes, we slowly walked into the cutting armed with our rifles looking forward to inspecting the great creature. Then all of a sudden, a rack appeared and the bull staggered up making a lurch for the woods. I quickly fired a round, but our moose officially had left the building.
Once my uncle and buddy arrived, we explained the details of the event and then began searching for blood. The moose had been clearly hit well, dropped, but managed to have enough recourse to run. Hair had been spread at eye level where I managed to hit it, but again no blood. At this point, we feared that our moose was gone and may not be found.
We broke into two groups and commenced a full blown search believing the moose had to be down at this point. Eventually, my uncle yelled informing us that he found the moose. It had run a couple hundred feet in and fallen in the middle of a cedar swamp. In addition, the chainsaw for our trip had gone to southern Maine the night before.
My cousin did not want to quarter the moose and take it out in pieces which then left us with a difficult process of block & tackle, hand sawing a path, and some serious energy to be burned. Eventually, after four hours of mechanical advantage, blistered hands & feet, and more sweat than I'd like to mention, the moose was delivered close enough to use a rope pulley system with our two trucks.
|13 point 767 pound bull moose|
|At the Ashland weigh in station|
After this had all transpired, I spoke with our processor about the moose wondering why the 250 grain lead from the Ultra Mag hadn't exited. He smiled and gave me the Swift A-Frame in full entirety. The dense mushroom had entered the moose, gone through two lungs, and severely broke several ribs on the other side. With no exit, the blood had pooled inside the moose and if we had waited (as if), the moose would have never gotten back up.
This past spring my two year wait had expired and I weighed the possibility of throwing my name back into the ring. I chose not to apply for a variety of reasons, but with the online application available as of last week I may just need to get myself in a little bit more trouble.