Chasing a Dream - Maine Moose Hunt

SCliving Outdoors

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Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
916
Location
South Carolina
Back in June I was working a long weekend when I received a message on my phone informing me that I’d drawn a Maine bull moose permit. I’m pretty sure I audibly whispered “No way”. It was a cool moment but this dream started a long time before that. My mom is from Northern Maine. She and my dad moved down to South Carolina before I was born. Every summer or 2 our family would load up in our mini van and make the 20+ hour drive up to visit my grandparents. I really really enjoyed our trips to up there. My grandpa was a fantastic woodworker with a whole basement full of tools so I would get to work with him and he’d always give me a new tool to take home. Another reason I really enjoyed my time in Maine was because I always got to go fishing and I always asked to go look for moose. I knew I wanted to hunt them one day.

In 2012 I began applying. I told my mom I knew it was a long term goal, but I hoped I could draw while I could still walk. Well in 2018 I did draw. I drew a cow tag in an area just north of where I used to go with my family and see moose. I was so excited for that cow tag. My buddy and I went up and scouted for 2.5 days. Opening morning I killed a big beautiful cow. The hunt was amazing and the meat was phenomenal.

Maine has a penalty box when you draw a moose permit. You’re not allowed to be entered in the draw again for 3 years, but you are allowed to purchase a point. Every year I would buy my point and enter my wife in the draw. Last year I started applying again, but this time I would check the box saying I would only accept a bull tag.

That brings us back to the beginning of my story. I drew a bull tag in Northern Maine in a phenomenal zone. I couldn’t believe it. I started texting people and I received a plethora of responses most of which remarked on my Irish Heritage and Leprechaun ancestors ☘️. One of my friends is good friends with a bear/moose guide in the area I drew. He spoke extremely highly of him having multiple successful hunts. I was fully planning on doing the hunt diy but the guide offered me a good deal with a new nice log cabin to stay in. I felt like it was too good of a deal to turn down. I was very confident I could kill a bull, but I didn’t know what my odds of finding a big bull would be. Size wasn’t the most important thing on my hunt but I wanted to do the hunt justice and kill a mature bull. I decided I would spring for the hunt and book with him. My buddy, Greg, told me he would come out from AZ and go with me. Our plans were set.
 
Back in June I was working a long weekend when I received a message on my phone informing me that I’d drawn a Maine bull moose permit. I’m pretty sure I audibly whispered “No way”. It was a cool moment but this dream started a long time before that. My mom is from Northern Maine. She and my dad moved down to South Carolina before I was born. Every summer or 2 our family would load up in our mini van and make the 20+ hour drive up to visit my grandparents. I really really enjoyed our trips to up there. My grandpa was a fantastic woodworker with a whole basement full of tools so I would get to work with him and he’d always give me a new tool to take home. Another reason I really enjoyed my time in Maine was because I always got to go fishing and I always asked to go look for moose. I knew I wanted to hunt them one day.

In 2012 I began applying. I told my mom I knew it was a long term goal, but I hoped I could draw while I could still walk. Well in 2018 I did draw. I drew a cow tag in an area just north of where I used to go with my family and see moose. I was so excited for that cow tag. My buddy and I went up and scouted for 2.5 days. Opening morning I killed a big beautiful cow. The hunt was amazing and the meat was phenomenal.

Maine has a penalty box when you draw a moose permit. You’re not allowed to be entered in the draw again for 3 years, but you are allowed to purchase a point. Every year I would buy my point and enter my wife in the draw. Last year I started applying again, but this time I would check the box saying I would only accept a bull tag.

That brings us back to the beginning of my story. I drew a bull tag in Northern Maine in a phenomenal zone. I couldn’t believe it. I started texting people and I received a plethora of responses most of which remarked on my Irish Heritage and Leprechaun ancestors ☘️. One of my friends is good friends with a bear/moose guide in the area I drew. He spoke extremely highly of him having multiple successful hunts. I was fully planning on doing the hunt diy but the guide offered me a good deal with a new nice log cabin to stay in. I felt like it was too good of a deal to turn down. I was very confident I could kill a bull, but I didn’t know what my odds of finding a big bull would be. Size wasn’t the most important thing on my hunt but I wanted to do the hunt justice and kill a mature bull. I decided I would spring for the hunt and book with him. My buddy, Greg, told me he would come out from AZ and go with me. Our plans were set.
Seriously...anybody who doesn't follow this member and hunt is just a pretender.
Always Grade A content, with a great ending.
Following.
 
Back in June I was working a long weekend when I received a message on my phone informing me that I’d drawn a Maine bull moose permit. I’m pretty sure I audibly whispered “No way”. It was a cool moment but this dream started a long time before that. My mom is from Northern Maine. She and my dad moved down to South Carolina before I was born. Every summer or 2 our family would load up in our mini van and make the 20+ hour drive up to visit my grandparents. I really really enjoyed our trips to up there. My grandpa was a fantastic woodworker with a whole basement full of tools so I would get to work with him and he’d always give me a new tool to take home. Another reason I really enjoyed my time in Maine was because I always got to go fishing and I always asked to go look for moose. I knew I wanted to hunt them one day.

In 2012 I began applying. I told my mom I knew it was a long term goal, but I hoped I could draw while I could still walk. Well in 2018 I did draw. I drew a cow tag in an area just north of where I used to go with my family and see moose. I was so excited for that cow tag. My buddy and I went up and scouted for 2.5 days. Opening morning I killed a big beautiful cow. The hunt was amazing and the meat was phenomenal.

Maine has a penalty box when you draw a moose permit. You’re not allowed to be entered in the draw again for 3 years, but you are allowed to purchase a point. Every year I would buy my point and enter my wife in the draw. Last year I started applying again, but this time I would check the box saying I would only accept a bull tag.

That brings us back to the beginning of my story. I drew a bull tag in Northern Maine in a phenomenal zone. I couldn’t believe it. I started texting people and I received a plethora of responses most of which remarked on my Irish Heritage and Leprechaun ancestors ☘️. One of my friends is good friends with a bear/moose guide in the area I drew. He spoke extremely highly of him having multiple successful hunts. I was fully planning on doing the hunt diy but the guide offered me a good deal with a new nice log cabin to stay in. I felt like it was too good of a deal to turn down. I was very confident I could kill a bull, but I didn’t know what my odds of finding a big bull would be. Size wasn’t the most important thing on my hunt but I wanted to do the hunt justice and kill a mature bull. I decided I would spring for the hunt and book with him. My buddy, Greg, told me he would come out from AZ and go with me. Our plans were set.
 
Greg arrived at my house on Wednesday night and we headed out early to get a jump on the travel. We spent the night in Vermont sleeping in the truck which is always a fun time. We got back on the road around 5 and and we arrived to our cabin around 1:30pm. We met Ted (our guide) and immediately started talking about moose hunting. We unloaded our gear and we all loaded into his truck to go scouting and checking out different areas. The season was scheduled to
open on Monday so we would have 2.5 days to scout.

On the way in we stopped at one of the of the North Maine Woods checkpoints and got our passes for the week. Ted had been scouting for me and had found some good areas. Our hope was the bulls were on the back side of the rut and still receptive to calls. All the sign we were seeing was saying that was true. The bulls were still with the cows or that’s what we were hearing and seeing based on the sign. We didn’t seeing any moose while scouting. Honestly, this didn’t bother me at all because we were seeing the sign and the sign doesn’t lie.

Over the next few days we looked at too many places to remember. We drove. We glassed. We hiked. We explored. Ted even found a nice shed which was pretty cool. Many places didn’t stand out, but a few definitely did. Sunday was really rainy so we slept in and went out Sunday afternoon after the rain stopped for a few hours. We checked a few more spots for moose but we were also looking for truck tracks to see if any of “our” areas we’re getting more pressure.

That night we talked about where to start the next morning. Ted wanted me to pick where I wanted to start and the area we would hunt. I appreciated him asking my input. The area that stood out to me the most was an area we explored on Friday afternoon. This old road could be driven on, but after about 3/4 of a mile the road got rough, but about a mile in there was a lot of sign. Wallows every 30yds. Trees were destroyed and lots of fresh tracks. One of the tracks was massive. Sunday afternoon we saw there was one set of truck tracks going down this road. I wasn’t convinced that they went all the way down the road. After much deliberation I decided that was the place I want to be opening morning. We wanted to be the first ones in the area. There were some camps close by so we planned to be in there pretty early. The alarms were set for 3:30 and we went to bed.


Some pics from scouting
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We were up before our alarms. We ate an early breakfast and put our lunch, snacks and drinks in a small cooler for the day and loaded in the truck. Our plan was to hunt all day hitting one spot after another calling and raking until we hopefully found a mature bull that wanted to cooperate. After our 45 minute drive we arrived at our location. Before turning in Ted said to us that he hoped we didn’t see any moose when turning in because we didn’t want to spook any animals away. Well, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we turned onto the old grown up road I said “there’s a moose”. A small cow was trotting down the road. Ted immediately pulled over and turned off the truck. We had 90 minutes until legal shooting time. Ted said we would sit in the truck quiet for 75 minutes then drive down the 1/2 mile to where we were planning on parking the truck to walk the remaining distance to the area with all the sign. We were hoping that by stopping the truck and being quiet the cow would stay around and just feed down the road away from us. Our assumption was that most of the cows should have a bull with them.

About 5:55am we started the truck and turned on the lights to head down the hill. The cow was nowhere to be seen. We came down the hill and parked the truck. We sat in the truck for another 15 minutes. Legal shooting time was 6:11. So we got out of the truck, I loaded my gun and we began to slowly make our way down the cut. There was a little fog that made visibility a little less than ideal. We began to walk and as we did Ted let his moose shoulder blade lightly touch the vegetation making us hopefully sound like a bull. As we got to the corner to peak around I heard what I thought was a grunt and it was close! As I turned to looked at Ted I distinctly heard 3 more loud close grunts. I was excited! Ted peaked around the corner, looked back at me and said “big bull”. We moved slowly forward but I couldn’t see the bull because he’d stepped into the thick, tall grass on the edge of the cut. I got in front with Greg directly behind me and Ted in the rear beginning to call. Greg immediately pointed into the tall grass and said bull. I got my gun up and there in the grass was a big set of antlers. The bull was on the right side of the cut 90 yards away in the tall grass. Only issue was all we could see was his antlers. The grass was tall. I didn’t have a shot. The wind swirled. The bull took off into the woods. We heard branches breaking as the bull moved off. You have got to be kidding me! We looked at Ted and said “That was a big bull!” I explained I didn’t have a shot. We were all a bit disappointment. Ted continued to call and rake trying to convince the bull to come back out. After about 15 minutes we were quietly contemplating heading back to the truck and hitting the next spot when all of us looked to the left and saw a big black blob behind a couple small trees 100yds away on the edge of the fog. It was a moose directly facing us. He was partially behind vegetation with most of his head covered. I looked through my scope with my gun on the sticks and Greg and I confirmed it was a bull. I was pretty sure it was a big bull because through a hole in the brush I could see a small piece of antler, but I could tell he had 3 big points on his left front. I didn’t want to shoot too fast or jump the gun even though I was pretty confident he was a big bull. After about 5 seconds Ted said “He’s big, stand here”. I took 2 steps to my right, centered the crosshairs on the center of his chest and hammered him. I heard the bullet hit. He spun and I worked the bolt as fast as I could and I hit him again behind the shoulder. I heard the bullet hit again and I saw the bull collapse. I stayed on him and I could see he was still lifting his head and struggling a little bit so I shot him a 3rd time. He didn’t move again.

As we approached the bull we knew he was a big bull but we still weren’t sure exactly how big because of trees and brush that had been blocking his antlers. I was not disappointed. There was zero ground shrinkage. He was a phenomenal bull. Absolutely massive body and an impressive set of head gear. He had heavy chocolate antlers with fantastic fronts and beautiful palms. I could not have asked for a more beautiful bull. I’d dreamed of killing a bull like this but I’d been doing my best to temper my expectations and enjoy the hunt. Every time I’d look at him and every picture I’d take I couldn’t believe I killed a bull like that. Ted believed it was the same bull as earlier and he’d just made a loop to check out the calls. He was the boss and didn’t like the idea of another bull in his area.

Ted was able to maneuver his truck down the road through the rough stuff and we were able to load him up Maine style using a winch and ramps into the back of the truck whole. We rode out to check in my bull. When we arrived the people weren’t even outside yet. Based on my check in number I checked in the first bull for the whole state in second season. The people were all so nice and I received more heartfelt “congratulations” than I could count. We went to the skinning pole and Greg and I went to work while Ted smoked a celebratory cigar. We had the bull completely skinned, broken down and in coolers with ice by 1:30pm on opening day.

It was an awesome experience and a hunt I’ll never forget.

790lbs dressed weight.
19 points
45” spread.
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