The season started on September 8th when I pulled into town full of anticipation for the adventure ahead. The first order of business was picking the perfect camping spot and getting up camp. The only problem was there was close to a foot of snow already on the ground and a snowfall warning for the next two days. Great! After that cleared we packed the trucks and trailers full of gear and headed out of town. Every spot I had in mind had limited or no access with all the snow, so we settled for an old lease in the middle of our area and got to work. It was nice having a camping spot I could quad out of but we found in the weeks to come an old lease is not ideal for camping after the rain and wind picked up causing the floor to flood and the wall tents to practically take off! Definiteley a lesson learned the hard way, but an easy fix for next year! We spent the next week scouting the area and hanging cameras on the major trails. The Elk and Moose were definiteley on the move and we came across a ton of sign. Our first week we had Ray Jr and Ray Sr in camp on their first elk hunt, and after the first morning they were hooked. Lane had called in three bulls and the one herd bull was over 350. Unfortunately it never gave them a great shot and was missed to see another day. The next few days the weather turned warm and the bugling slowed down, but the last day of their hunt they called in a few more bulls and one was a six but Lane didnt want to chance it because the sixth point was border line legal. All in all they had a great time and seen lots of differnet animals. The next week we Had Jim who took a nice 6x6 at 35 yards. They had an incredible morning and heard multiple bulls bugling before taking his bull. He also had an oppurtunity at a big 150 inch plus mule deer but the distance was a little to much and couldnt connect. That same week we had Dave guiding Doug for rifle moose, Randy guiding Bucky and Joe for mule deer, and I took out Bob for rifle moose. Dave called in a beautiful 45 inch bull to 25 yards and Doug put him down on Wednesday morning after passing a few others. Joe and Bucky seen all kinds of critters including a big black wolf which Bucky shot at but didnt connect. They also seen bull moose chasing cows and making wallows, sheep, multiple black bears, a sow and cub grizzly which decided to chase after them in the truck (thats another story), and Bucky had a 155 inch whitetail in front of him one night waiting on a big mule deer buck and no whitetail tag. Bob and I put on many miles looking for moose and came across a ton of fresh sign but would always be at the wrong place at the wrong time. We did have a 40-45 inch bull in front of us one afternoon but I made the decision to pass even though he was right off the road and Bob would have been happy to take him. I figured we could get bigger but sadly it didnt happen, but Bob left happy after the experience of a lifetime with what we seen that week.
The moose rut seemed to kick into high gear by the end of October and bulls were running everywhere. I had a few nice bulls on camera by this time and was excited for the new hunters to arrive. The Sweeney brothers, Reagan and Kevin, drove up on their own and were looking for Lane to get them some big bulls. He definiteley came through putting multiple bulls in front of them and tagging them both out on Wednesday. Reagan in the morning on a 50 inch bull and his brother Kevin that afternoon on a 51 inch bull with double drop tines that made the book! Needless to say they were thrilled and we cant wait to have them back in camp for elk next year. While that was happening I had Randy and Jacob from Savage Outdoors with me. They were filmimg for their TV show and Randy had a moose, whitetail, black bear, and wolf tag in his pocket and ready for action. We went out the first evening they arrived after some fresh snow. The first meadow we walked into had a bull moose with a drop tine standing on the other end less than a hundred yards. The only problem was he was less than 40 inches and wasnt what we were after. By the end of the first day we had seen 4 other bulls, two big whitetail bucks between 145-160 that never gave us a shot and at least a five hundred pound black bear 5 minutes after dark. I thought we would be covered up with animals but the next three days the wind picked up big time and we couldnt find a critter. After the wind died down we finally got a moose to answer us and came into 80 yards but wouldnt break the tree line and then we lost light. Next morning same thing a bull to 50 yards with no shot but that evening we called in at least a 50 inch moose and unfortunately we never recovered him after the shot. We spent the next three days looking for him or birds with no sign. I am very confident he survived but sadly, Randy never got his bull. We did however manage to pick up multiple sheds looking for Randys bull and Lane found his matching set from the previous year less than 500 yards from where he was shot!
After it was all said and done Lane had a chance to chase after a big bull moose. Im glad I decided to tag along because the first morning found us standing over another book bull after another successful hunt. Even better that I brought my camera with me and captured the whole thing on video.
It was a phenomenal year and we had a blast with a great group of guys. I cant wait for next years adventure!!