Cow moose, hunt of a lifetime (WITH Pictures lol)

OverlordBear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
321
Location
Idaho
Once in a lifetime Cow Moose Hunt

This is my first time completing a hunt report. Most people say that hunting cow moose is easy. This was far from my experience. I drew a cow moose tag and was one of five to draw this tag. I was fortunate because the hunting unit was only a half hour from my house.

Scouting for cow moose was false advertising. I saw cow moose almost every day during the September archery season. They usually liked to feed along the south side of the ridges and along the spines near the aspen chutes. Big black shadows just slowly feeding like clockwork, they could care less about hunters pretending to be elk running around the woods with a bow.

Hunting opening day and day one of my hunt coincided with the bull elk rifle opener and within the first hour I heard about 6 shots in the area and maybe two dozen throughout the day. With those shots all the easy to see moose that I had glassed during the archery season just vanished into thin air. I hiked a total of 8 miles that day.

more to come.


IMG_7765.JPG IMG_8030.JPG
 
Last edited:

OverlordBear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
321
Location
Idaho
I took a four day break to deer hunt with a friend and harvested a nice mule deer buck. My friend had never seen an animal broken down and he got a firsthand lesson on field dressing butchering wild game.

IMG_7887.JPG IMG_7883.JPG

After the deer break, I had new friends join me for a 3 day hunt. On day 2 of my moose hunt we hiked a ridge and walked the perimeter of a plateau and saw a few mule deer does, but no moose. We cut our first somewhat fresh looking sign and followed it down this beaver creek drainage. We found 2 grouse, but all I had was my .40 cal and I thought that was a little bit of overkill and we let them go. The sign dried up and we finished our 7 mile loop with no encounter. On our evening hunt we hit a 3 mile trail along the creek near a two year old burn. Lots of beaver dams and more does, but no moose. It should have been a prime time spot, but we turned up empty.

On Day 3 it was more of the same except we had a fresh dusting of snow. So we went back to the same plateau that we hit on day 2 to see if we could see any fresh tracks cut through the drainages, but to no avail. We tried glassing but we were dealing with single digit temps and 25-40 mph winds all day. Not a single animal was seen moving the whole morning and afternoon. We tried some evening fishing, but the fish were not biting either (I did snag on a nice thick piece of moss which makes it look like I am reeling a monster).

IMG_8027.JPG

Day 4 we hiked in up a new creek and slowly gained 2000 feet over the course of five miles. Found an amazing high altitude waterfowl sanctuary, but the moose sign was scant. First trail was cut over a frozen beaver pond and went further in over some gnarly creeks at the 6 mile mark. My friends wisely argued that if I killed a moose six miles back, it would be madness and convinced me to turn back. 12 miles total that day.

Day 5 my friends went home and left me to pursue moose on my own. I proceeded to hunt a powerline trail down a ridge with a fresh layer of powder laid before me. I found deer tracks, a turkey track (super rare in my unit) and some very fresh elk tracks. I followed the elk into some dark timber and busted four cows at about 75 yards. I tracked them for another 1.5 miles and at one point could see the tops of the trees shaking where they were busting through. I thought I had them because there was an open canyon with 300 yard lines of sight, but they jinked right and went along the ridge staying obscured in the timber. 5 miles total that day.
 
Last edited:

OverlordBear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
321
Location
Idaho
Day 6 I went and completed a three mile loop above another creek that I had not been before and cut a moose track. I followed it down to a beaver damn and willow hell hole, but I did not have waiters so I was unable to follow. 4 miles traveled.

Day 7 and 8 more of the same as day 6, 6 miles traveled and I am beginning to feel the incredible weight of the tag weighing in my pocket. At the end of day 8, I come home to find my washer has broken and the main water line is leaking. With a family of two boys it dangerous to not have a working washer. I lost two extra hunt days to replace both the drain pumps and the main line connection.


EBNJ3058.jpg
 

OverlordBear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
321
Location
Idaho
Day 9-12, I got to borrow a friend’s ATV. I thought I was now cooking with grease. My legs were tired and the snow was starting to wear me out. The snow was not deep enough to justify snow shoes or snow mobiles. Day 9 saw nothing, but hordes of deer ended up hiking to multiple glassing points and got to watch the deer rutting, 2 miles hiked. Day 10, I cut fresh moose sign in the fresh powdered snow at about 8000 feet, I closed the distance into their beds and found a cow with two calves of the year. I told myself I did not want to take cow with a fresh calf, because that would be like killing two moose and this situation would have been killing three so I walked away and left them be. 3 miles hiked that day. Day 11, I checked out a couple of new drainages and canyon and cut a moose track that went from public to private. I saw a gorgeous coyote that was hovering between public and private, but I opted to let him walk due to not wanting to mess with a hide cutting into my moose hunting. I did spend 20 minutes looking at him and confirmed 100 % that he was a coyote and not a wolf.

IMG_8029.JPG IMG_8131.jpg

Day 12 on my way to the drainage I wanted to hunt an hour before dark I had to slam on truck brakes and avoid hitting a cow moose that was trying to cross the road. It was an hour before dark and I knew she was trying to cross the highway to attempt to leave my unit. I drove by her and went to the next pull out to attempt to come back and track her. As I drove up to the trail head parking area I could see she was changing her mind and she darted back down from the road into the willows along the creek. I parked and cut her trail about a half hour before legal shooting light. I followed her for an hour and got to an opening about a mile in when I saw three cow elk squirting through the top of the ridge. I ranged the closest one to me at 452 yards and she was walking away from me. I let them pass and decided that it was not a good shot for me. 10 minutes later two hunters passed me hiking fast. They followed the elk and I followed the moose. About 20 minutes later I heard two gun shots (they missed the elk at about 300 yards from what they told me later). On my way out I saw a pine martin as well. I figured the day and drainage was shot for the day. I checked one more area and found nothing, but more hunters. The elk hunters were cramping my style and the ATV was not as helpful as I thought it would be. It does help you cover a lot of ground, but it also adds extra work to each day. A blizzard rolled in and I returned the ATV, 3 miles hiked in total.

IMG_8141.jpg

One more week to hunt. I had four more days to hunt. Day 13, I went back to the drainage I saw the cow and did not see anything moving. 2 miles hiked. The snow and the tag was starting to wear me down, I prayed a lot that day was had to rely on my faith in Christ to keep the negativity and self-doubt at bay. I was pelted consistently with rain and snow.

IMG_8172.jpg


Day 14, I returned to the same drainage and waited in ambush for the cow to come out and feed in an area she had lots of tracks. By late afternoon, I decided to try and put a stalk on her. I was not still enough and busted her out of her bed at 100 yards. I had a “texas heart shot,” but did not think that was going to work or would be ethical. So I watched her trot away and I tried put a short stalk on her until she hit private. 3 miles hiked that day. That night when I got home, I told my wife the only way I am going to kill a moose is if God wants me to.

IMG_8175.jpg
 

OverlordBear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
321
Location
Idaho
Day 15, I had thought of this plan to try and hunt along a river where unbeknownst to me there were some river islands that might hold moose in them so I had made a plan to try and hunt them when my buddy from church on his way to work reluctantly texted me that he had seen a small herd of moose along the road and he told me which pull off to go glass from thinking I might see them. I listened to his Intel, but did not want to be tempted so I set an alarm and took a nap in my truck until 5 minutes before legal shooting light. I got out of my truck and started glassing and could see a ton of tracks in the snow going down the hill into the creek, but none were leading out of the creek. I decided to move to a different location and check to see if I could find them, as I drove out of the pull off 200 yards away I saw a cow moose head suddenly pop out of the trees about 250 yards away from me. There was traffic on the road and she was trying to time the gap to cross the highway. I accelerated out of the pullout and pulled across from her onto the shoulder. She turned away and ran back down into the creek. I knew she was spooked and would not stay in the bottom long. I grabbed my rifle and crossed the road and jumped over the guard rail. I dropped 35 feet down a snow drifted embankment into the willows and pine trees. I ran deeper into the first bench and had to clear the willows to get a clear shot on the moose. There were three moose standing at the bottom of the second bench near the high water mark of the creek. There was a large cow, a smaller cow, and a fork and horn bull moose all standing together staring at me about 75 yards away. I put my crosshairs on the big cow moose’s rib cage who was standing between the two smaller ones (there was about 10 yards in between each them) the big cow moose was quartering away, I fired the cow moose moved about 10 feet and looked back at me and I fired again with no reaction from her. I did not want her to run down into the creek because it is about 200 yards wide and 6 feet deep in places, so I put the cross hairs on her neck and fired hoping to drop her in her tracks. On the third shot the two other moose fled in opposite directions of the large cow. I reloaded three more rounds, and the big cow turned perfectly broadside to me at about 75 yards while I reloaded. I immediately put my rifle up and fired three more rounds into her ribcage. She ran 25 yards towards me as if to charge and then she veered halfway to me and collapsed on the first bench I had shot from. She fell to her side and begin kicking all four legs into the air. I ran up to her and placed another round into her lungs to make sure she would not get up. I suddenly realized my quest was over, my hunt of a lifetime was complete. The mental weight and all the miles staggered me as I thanked God for giving me an opportunity to harvest such a beautiful animal. I was overwhelmed with emotion and had to wait 10 minutes before I had even remotely composed myself. I cried tears of joy and frustration. I had only four days left in the season and it was the last of the two days I could hunt before the close of the season.

IMG_8186.jpg IMG_8184.jpg

IMG_8201.jpg IMG_8198.jpg

IMG_8229.JPG Moose Photos Set 2 (22).JPG

I took some photos and called some friends and my family who were able to join me at the moose as we field dressed it out. It was my shortest packout ever, where we only had to carry the moose 50 yards to the truck. Final count of meat (bone in quarters) was 336 pounds of meat. I also kept the hide and head for a rug and euro mount. When I checked in the moose for game and fish they appreciated the completion of the biological specimen kit. Hunting is conservation after all. Final autopsy of the shots, two forward liver shots, three lung shots, one upper grazing hind quarter and one grazed neck and jaw hit. I wish I shot better, but they were all off hand shots in knee deep snow with chest high willow twigs, it was the only thing that soured the hunt was the two grazing hits. I have spent 20 hours butchering all of the meat by myself and I suspect it will take me another 8 hours to finish the burger and sausage, I am going to make.

Well I hope this read was worth the trip and I wish everyone many adventures and the roughly 61 miles was well worth the effort.

IMG_8254.jpg
 
Last edited:

Bowhuntrben

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 26, 2010
Messages
1,735
Location
SE Minnesota
Congrats! Great job being persistent. It’s amazing how things work out once a person admits that they can’t do it themselves and need God.
Post up a pic of the rug when it’s complete. Hoping to take my dad on a cow moose hunt in a couple years and considering a rug if we’re successful. I’ve just never seen a moose rug!
 

Forum statistics

Threads
95,197
Messages
1,429,380
Members
29,873
Latest member
Fame88
Top