KHunter 2022 ID bull and CO cow moose hunts

Khunter

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western Colorado
Final stalk, finding it and and pack out and some cool photos to wrap up the hunt other than rando photos I may post

Also an update on the bull I lost. grimmace.

A short review then speed to the end of the hunt.

Post 334 on Wednesay Oct 5 evening had me capsized and pushed in to a strainer chin deep in the river struggling and dodging a bad outcome. I and all equipment made it out of the river.

Post 357, Thursday Oct 6 leaving camp at 8 am (yes slept in after metabolizing a ton of adrenaline that gushed into my bloodstream the night before) I spotted the girls, a cow/calf, very near camp, took photos for awhile and hung out till they headed out just to be sure they did not have a bull stashed in the willows, they were alone and here they are again. Let’s remember them as ‘bait’ cuz they will be and are central to this wrap up.

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Post 360, Thursday about 2 pm I had hiked in and around some pvt property on a long winding slough with great, dense habitat and actually called in (I think) and definitely had a close call with a decent bull with forks on one side and spike on the other. He smelled me eventually and trotted off.

Elected to abandon that spot and bull.
Headed to walmart to get, gasoline, propane bottles and water and a few food items. Including Brandon and my new fave camp luxury food, Patti Labelle Peach Cobbler. Wally world is 4.5 miles from my tent for this ‘wilderness’ hunt in tater country.

As I was driving toward camp at 4 pm I was talking to Game and Fish to learn protocol if I find the lost bull and tag horns while leaving soured meat—As I am doing this, Bill my landowner where I am camped is calling as I am on the phone. And calls again. I ignore till done with call and call him back.

Bill Whispering….“Kirby, I don’t mean to disturb you but the big bull is in camp”

Kirby “what? how big?”

Bill. Whispering again “Big like that really big one I told you about that dwarfed the small one you did not shoot that had been with him in August. I had to duck around behind my RV to stay out of his way. He is RIGHT HERE! Wait, now he is heading down in to the river. He looks to be crossing. He stopped on the island. OK now he is walking the rest of the way to other side of the river”

Kirby “Bill I am no more than 5 minutes away, please keep an eye on him, if possible. I will come to your camp”

Here are two videos of the bull, first coming in to camp and second, crossing the river. Resolution is poor on the second but can hear three grunts as he crosses.

Bull heading through camp


Same bull continuing into river and crossing and grunting as he does. Updated to higher resolution 10.12.22


So, I get to Bill’s camp, which is also right on the elevated river bank with incredible views and 800 yards upstream from my camp. The bull had gone up the opposite bank and dissapeared into the trees before I got there. Bill had observed him walking in from a quarter mile away walking nose into the wind and traveling downstream along his land and the rivers edge till reaching his camp (the wind almost always seemed to kind of blow west to east, upstream throughout the hunt) and bull was grunting continuously as he walked as can hear in second video above.

Knowing his land (and my camp spot) was a REGULAR travel corridor for moose all summer and during the hunt, I first drove downstream on river edge most of the way to my camp looking for the bull across the river to no avail.

Next was to inflate my raft at Bill’s camp, 200 yards below where I capsized night before, and load up and cross to hunt the bull from where he crossed. I found his wet tracks climbing the opposite bank but quickly lost them in cattle tracks. I presumed the bull was alresady downstream but felt compelled to at least check if he held up nearby as there had been a cow moose over there too (the one with the bull I arrowed very close to this spot for example). Landowner over there there (I also have hunt access to his land), just two days prior had removed electric fencing that kept cattle out of the immediate river corridor, darn it and cattle tracks and crap were everywhere. I was being absolutely devoured by skeeters and that also helped me realize it was foolish to chase a bull on the move who was likely cruising for cows to breed, when I have skeeter juice back at the raft, and thus the bull could and may well travel fast and far in short order till he finds a cow.

I decided to get back to the raft, put on anti skeeter juice and quickly paddle down to my camp while looking for the bull to pop out. I got to camp, quickly pulled the raft and my gear up the bank and set my plan in action:

I had cows near camp and saw the thicket they likely/hopefully! bedded in this morning. My bet was the bull was cruising for chicks and I had the hot chicks nearby so I would circle around and well downwind of estimated cow/calf location and do some calling and still hunting to that spot.

Well, we all know how “great hunt plans” tend to fall apart fast? Well this is not that! Not even a little. This is a plan to find, call in, and efficiently (on day 27!) kill the biggest bull by far I have seen or had photos sent to me by the many cool folks who have been keeping an eye out since summer, and especially during the season. Thanks to local guys I befriended: Ross, Bill P, Jerry, Jon, Terry B., Harold, Jim H., Taygan (part of the 14 yr old hunt crew that shared game cam photos of a good bull) and a couple others who shared moose sightings and photos.

OK, by now I have spent about 30 minutes or more making my way around and downwind of presumed cow/calf location, which also puts me 150 or so yards from my tent, go figure. As I am doing this doubt does enter my mind including I will be very bummed if I missed out on a big bull by a few minutes. I start cow calling and continue moving toward the presumed cow/calf location.

A few minutes later I poke my head out of a willow patch and look into a small empty meadow. Looking across I see a lone tree, the sort with lots of shoots near the base and I initially see GRAY MOOSE LEGS, and then BIG PADDLES coming to me. Was kinda surreal and hard to see as all of him is covered by the leaves, shoots and branches so he looks kindly ghostly and washed out but it is clearly a good bull. And he is grunting! Just as I see this, my iphone starts vibrating an incoming call which I of course ignore. Later I learn it was Bill trying to call to say the bull had crossed back to our side of the river at my camp and was headed about where I just happened to be perfectly situated already. But Bill of course had no idea where I was. LOL.

I sit and get set to shoot if he comes in range and wait. I do not feel he has seen me but not sure. I am directly downwind. He has stopped and I can just make him out through the tree standing head on. I take a beat to assess and then I make three soft short grunts. Immediately he starts moving and grunting and swings to my right exposing his head and maybe some shoulder in the wide open from behind the lone tree in this meadow. And stops, then retreats behind the darn tree that I have already ranged at 70 yards. Wow! Great bull!

I can no longer see him at all and soon I worry thinking “Is he walking straight way from me and the tree is blocking my view”. By now I REALLY want this stalk to work out, he is a beautiful bull and the grand plan I devised has halfway worked so far. I have not yet seen the cow/calf but assume and hope they are nearby.

I make a couple more grunts and he is again on the move and this time I see him coming straight at me from behind the tree and he walks right past left side of tree and is still coming. Holy smokes he has everything. He then starts angling to my right in front of and past the tree in the wide open. He stops again at 60 yards (ranged) broadside and by now I am doing happy backflips in my mind and trying to keep it together hoping for a shot opportunity.

Here he is in mid August about 7 miles from this spot. Photos by Bill Schiess, a professional photographer, from his social media post. Unquestionably a worthy quarry for this marginal unit known for recent very low success rates on medium to dink bulls for the most part. EC4FE21B-6390-46EC-A96F-58628DA311DC.jpeg 1292EB02-C660-4327-AB46-58673ADC9E2A.jpeg 22C87345-2B8E-482B-9D88-1A6C9254859E.jpeg
 
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Khunter

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western Colorado
He is still at 60 yards, broadside. I ranged it again.

Well, just after arrowing the earlier bull almost a a week prior, my friend Ross, who came out that same evening to help track the bull had also brought me a rifled barrel, 3x9 scoped 20 ga. bolt action slug gun with a two shell magazione, sighted dead on at 50 yds and 5 slugs in case I wanted to have a more certain finish for that bull that had travelled a lot farther than a lung shot should have allowed. Sounded like a good option so it carried it that day. And then again on this afternoon stalk on hunt day 27.

Ross is also the guy who lined up land access on the other river and who video taped this bull on Sept. 11 while I was still back in Colo hunting cow moose grin (See post 452 in this thread) but I did not yet know this was that same bull till two days after harvesting him) 6.5 miles from this spot in his yard and chowing down on his Birch tree leaves.

Sixty yards broadside, scoped shotgun in hand, solid sitting position with a sling to help stabilize and I decide that is CLOSE ENOUGH, and lead flies. At the hit he spins around and takes a couple steps and i fire again at a quartering angle. He slowly heads straight away back to the dense thicket the other side of the meadow maybe 70 yards beyond where I shot him. I let fly another shot at a ranged 120 with an estimated holdover.

In the thicket he goes and I sit there wondering how the heck he made it that far with two gimme shots and one flyer.

Meanwhile Bill heard the shots from where he was plowing and headed to where he could watch the river in case the bull crossed after the shots. Bill was well situated to see a lot of the possible escape routes and I was pretty well situated to see him as well from the other angles if the bull made it any kind of distance in a directiuon other than straight away.

A couple minutes after the shot I am scratching my head wondering why I have no dead bull in the meadow. I ease up to the tree he had ben standing behind seeing no blood trail but not yet searching much for that. I glass into the dense thicket but it is dark in there. I do see a glimmer of light where trees are thinner and can see a bit of green pocket meadow past the thicket. As my eyes adjust I see the bull! But damned if he is not still standing, head hanging, looking wobbly and not putting weight on the passenger side front leg of the shoulder I first shot at. Dang, not good, not good at all! I range it at about 60 yards away but there is too much vegetation to shoot through and darn sure do not want to push him. He makes a couple SLOW steps and I can no longer see him.

I back out and text Bill and then actually see where Bill is posted waiting and watching.

I text Ross and he asks if I want him to come out and I say not yet, gotta sort it out.

I text @Bryerific and say “If what I think just happened did happen I should have a big bull on the ground”

He is quick to respond “We are in Pocatello, Dad and I and can be there in two hours if you need help.“

I reply “Thanks buddy! that will be perfect, the bull should be mortally wounded and was barely standing and wobbling a couple minutes after the shot. I am right where I shot him from and backing out till you get here. Drive in the gate to camp, kill your headlights and park and I will come to you and we will go in together to retrieve the bull so I do not rush it and push it.”

I stay well away but cointinue glassing. About an hour after the shot I catch movemennt in or just past the thicket the bull went to. Crap!! Not good I think. Ultimately it was the cow and calf! They then then cross the fence and step out into a slot of open ground exactly in line between me and Bill. In my head I hopefully think “ They gave up on the bull and are moving on. “ but of course do not know for sure what the cow and calf are up to other than leaving the last spot I had spotted the bull.

A long nerve wracking 2.5 hour wait till @Bryerific and Doug reach the gate and I walk out to meet my, yet again, awesome volunteers who only know me by following this thread and who are once again ready and willing to put in some hard work for a fellow hunter. Bill the landowner is on standby and said if the bull is where his tractor can get he will drop the plow and add the pallet blades to help retrieve the bull. Bill also loans me a battery powered spotlight for what will be a final approach in the dark.

We, @Bryerific , his dad Doug and I walk the two track and I decide with their advice on a more direct, clear route to the presumed Onx-marked spot where the bull is hopefully piled up, with not so great wind direction that takes us to the barbed wire fence we will have to cross to get to a spot about 30 yards further where I marked the bulls last location. The issue was either loop around well past the bulls last location (and walk by my tent) with better wind and more quietly get past the downed section of fence where i know it is down but then have to bushwhack when pretty close to the bull and risk bumping him with the commotion of busting brush.

Anyway we stalk up within 10 yards of the fence with no lights in the moonlight and @Bryerific whispers in my ear he sees a dark spot just ahead. Enough already, we light it up with the spotlight and there lays my bull, hind end 4 feet from the fence. Only 27 days after boots on ground and raft in water quest began. Relief, satisfaction, and soon enough happiness set in.

I call Bill and he gets busy converting the tractor to Bull retrieval set up and within 5 minutes we hear the diesel engine coming our way from the other side of the property.

I killed the bull on neighboring land after stalking him across two other landownwer properties I have permission for but we decide it best to bring the bull across to Bill’s land for the late night field processing and where we can use the tractor to lift the bulls in stages as we skin it out and let gravity work for us.

Over the fence we go with a whole moose!

@Bryerific and Doug were a huge help and have mad skills processing wild game. @Bryerific is an amazing photographer when it comes to trophy photos. He took all of them and was thorough and patient as his dad Doug wrangled several lights to get photos to be lighted as great as possible. Thanks guys, look foreward to seeing you 3rd season in Colo where I will meet you in your camp to return your cooler and hand over a pile of processed moose meat to take home along with a couple big bucks I hope you kill.

Here are Doug and @Bryerific . Thanks Guys!!!

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A couple last shots:

Me, riding herd on the one and only pack out trip. Gotta love it when a plan and preparation to kill and pack out a bull moose in a far flung and complex water retrieval spot becomes ‘easy’ on the 27th day. Hung the bull over night in 40 degree temps from the tractor!

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Have a heart

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Me and landlowner Bill, and great guy, just after he lowered my game bags into my truck bed.
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Camp and bull are loaded up and now headed to Doug’s house where he and his wife will help me get all the meat iced in coolers for the trip to fish and game to get it checked in followed by my 9-hour drive home exhausted, sleep deprived and on cloud nine the whole way.
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Khunter

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Few more shots amd some gratitude.

Through this hunt I became friends with so many great folks who in some way appreciated and invested in my quest to find and harvest an outsized bull, or at least a solid mature bull, in what has become known as a very marginal unit on the downhill slide for moose opportunity and quality. Also had help from old friends and of course my brother @abqbw who hunted ID moose via raft in a unit south of mine a couple years ago.

Andrea G. is a badass newer bowhunter from work. Upon drawing and my description of the float hunt to come and my trying so sort out optimal watercraft, she immediately offered her nearly new AlpackaRaft Mule that was an absolute game changer as compared to cockamamy and affordable ideas (canoe, canoe with outriggers) I was mulling. I had the distinct honor and pleasure mid season to give her some needed live assist as she blood trailed and then harvested her first archery elk. That was cool and glad she did not get eaten by the bear woofing at her from 2 paces as she was trying to and did get the finishing arrow in her elk.

My wife, Bess puts up with a lot of hunting time away from home which makes the whole shebang and everything good in life possible, and better.

Ross, a local, was exceptionally gracious when on Sept 1st I had heard of (facebook post forwarded to me) the very bull I killed 35 days later. Ross lives along the stream where the bull was first spotted and connected me to adjacent neighbors with farms straddling the river and also got me access with a big landowner who had already told me “No access”. Ross came running to help track the lost bull, loaned me a weapon. and was encouraging and informative throughout the hunt. A great hunter, advisor and sounding board as I dreamed and schemed ad struggled and prevailed. He is the one who said “Kirby it has only been an hour, you are in no hurry, give that bull a few hours before going into the thicket he went to”. Wise and spot on. A new lifelong friend willing to let me muck up his prime deer spots in my quest for a moose.

Luke is a certified blood tracker with an amazing and gorgeous Belgian Mountain Hound. He is going through a very tough medical situation (prayers please) and dropped what he was doing to come track the lost bull the 2nd evening after I had arrowed it and hours on knees searching had finally advanced the trail a couple hundred more yards. His dog was clearly making progress but we never found more blood and he had a pile of medical appts the next day so our time tracking was just the one evening well into dark.

Jim was referred to me by Greg S., a guy I got to know when he won our RMBS bighorn raffle tag and killed a ram in my Colo sheep unit in 2019 and who had won the ID gov raffle moose tag in Idaho and hunted my unit along the way and connected me to the guy who first alerted me to the bull I killed which opened my eyes to a class of bull I thought was nonexistent in the unit.

Jon, a super guy with tons of river and moose knowledge I chatted and texted with all summer and during the hunt. He connected me with Luke for the blood-trailing and also connected me with a couple key landowners I was able to gain permission from.

Harold, a local legend of sorts, and great hunter who kinda adopted me and sent the photos and fresh intel on the bull I would have arrowed opening week if that landowner lady had allowed me to kill a bull that was just 20 yards off BLM onto her propoerty.

Nate, Super guy who brought out is blood tracking dog he is training and darned if his dog was not trying to point us to where the lost bull was eventually found, dead almost a week later.

Scott, Mark, Scott, Jerry and Bart. Awesome guys who have successfully hunted local moose and all provided access as I tried to locate this bull I did kill since early September.


My brother, Brandon, @abqbw loaned me his smokepole, rounded up his own raft and a fiberglass skiff and put 17 days into my hunt, after already giving up a week on my NM lope hunt. Thanks Brother!

Dang there are even more but will leave it here for now. I was fortunate to get to know such an awesome group of folks who aside from ‘helping’ simply made my hunt more fun and rewarding than it already was by simply having visited with them and in some cases spent field time with them during the hunt.

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seeth07

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Congrats big time! That is a fantastic Shiras. The bull I got was just around the block and had the same characteristics as yours with no defined brow tines. Basically just the beam spread out to big wide paddles.
 

passinthru

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Little disappointed in the effort put forth on this one. :)

Jesus dude, seriously incredible adventure highlighting some classy individuals.

Congratulations!

Glad you made it out alive and
thank you for taking the time to write it up to share with us.
 
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Big Fin

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This is such a great story and thread. Kirby, you have pretty much "been there, done that" in the hunting world. You are one of the more accomplished archers I've had the pleasure to meet. For you to have this type of adventure speaks to the challenge of this hunt, and to your determination and fortitude.

I just got a chance to read the October part of the story. Congrats on the great bull. I hope everyone who might traverse flowing water will read your post about getting hunt up in a strainer/sweeper. This is no joke. I am so grateful you were able to get yourself out of that one. It can happen so fast. I am glad you shared that part here, as it may help someone avoid a similar event that could have a different outcome.

The adventure, the effort, and the final success are hallmarks of a great hunt. In reading this one, the many people who helped, and you acknowledge their help, is a testimony that the world has many great people, even with those we may never have met. Maybe hunting is the activity that brings such decency and friendliness. It is great to read your story and the many people you feel helped bring success.

Thanks for sharing this story on Hunt Talk. It is a hunt for the ages. Again, congratulations.
 

sacountry

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@Big Fin ....if HT ever had awards for best hunting thread of the year (which would be pretty cool).....this would get my vote. Still holding out for @Gerald Martin and his sheep hunt, but this one right here has it all. @Khunter ....you and those that helped you are examples of what is still good in this world. Congrats on a dandy of a bull and an even better story to go along with it.
 

Khunter

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Dropped the bone in quarters and all the other meat at processor yesterday
The morning ne scale is the wiarters and a backstrap and random meat. the other is the tub of all other side meats. no rib bones, trimmed that meat. the heart was in the pile as the only innards.

I shoulda had him get a weight on the bone in quarters alone just to know but didn't.

I was getting a weight on everything just out of curiosity but took the straps, tenders and both briskets (cantvwaitvto cook) home to process my self per usual. Adds up to 463.5 pounds. Not sure if that is hefty or not but borrowibg s freezer from @Dinkshooter today till @abqbw comes by after @Gerald Martin sheep hunt to pick up his half. Brandon put in 25 days on my NM antelope and this moose hunt so half this moose is his for that and cuz he is my brother of course.

how much do mature Shiras bulls usually weigh on the way in the meat cutter door?

I am thinking this one fattened up eating all those apples snd broccoli out of Jerry’s garden. Jerry said he really iut him out of house snd home in September. LOL. However this bull was rut lean. @Bryerific and I were discussing how he had almost no stored fat at all. Bet he was making lots of miles cruising for chicks.

View attachment 243628

View attachment 243622


After getting the bull backl from the porocessor today, amd there was no added aft to burgewr and no suasage or specialty items in the order, so just a straight cut and wrap

463 pounds bone in quarters and loose meat dropped off yielded
360 pounds wrapped roasts, steaks and pure burger (no added fat)
plus 28.5 pounds dog scraps I had them save for me. The briskets, backstraps a tenderloins I processed myself are in the above before/after numbers.


Seems a high yield percent? (lost 100 pounds out of if do not count the dog scraps). but maybe not.
 

Dsnow9

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@Big Fin ....if HT ever had awards for best hunting thread of the year (which would be pretty cool).....this would get my vote. Still holding out for @Gerald Martin and his sheep hunt, but this one right here has it all. @Khunter ....you and those that helped you are examples of what is still good in this world. Congrats on a dandy of a bull and an even better story to go along with it.
Talk to @Hunting Wife , she handles the yearly awards!
 

Khunter

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Awesome! How did you cook the ribs?
just a dry rub and smoked at 289ish a few hours, turned ip to 240ish for little while then double wrapped in foil with dome added liquid and back on smoker for another few hours.

when the gristle has rendered enough it it ready. no bbq sauce, not needed. delicious.

read a lot of moose rib recipes that “cheated” in my view and involved cooking in a pan of liquid. not my style so did my own thing.

these were plenty tender.
 
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