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Moms moose hunt

RyGuy

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Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
133
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
This is the story of my Moms Colorado moose hunt from this past fall. Hopefully it doesn’t run too long, but we’ll see…
First some background: I have been lucky enough to grow up in a hunting family. My dad has been taking me hunting since before I can remember, my sister hunted with us from a young age, and my mom started coming along too when I was in middle school. She didn’t want to be left home alone. 😆 We have always relied on the meat for our meals throughout the year, and we even process all of our game ourselves. We usually hunt deer, elk and antelope but my dad has also always put us in for “the big 3” in hopes that one of us would draw and we could all share in the experience together.
My dad drew a cow moose tag many years ago, and did not fill the tag. All he heard leading up to the hunt was how easy it would be to find a cow moose, and “they’re always just standing around on the side of the road” and “better buy another freezer”. He ended up hunting for 7 straight days and saw many bulls but never a cow, so I know he had a bad taste in his mouth when it came to moose hunting.
Flash forward to summertime 2021. I’m at work and I get 2 missed phone calls from my mom and a “call me asap” text. I’m thinking: oh no something must be wrong… but instead I get the most exciting hunting news that I’ve gotten in many years. Mom drew a bull moose tag!! In a unit that I know well and have spent tons of time in. Immediately I’m on the phone with my dad and we’re talking about turning in other tags and planning scouting trips etc.
September:
With a bull moose tag in CO you can hunt all 3 seasons until you fill the tag, archery, muzzleloader and rifle. But my mom is only confident with a rifle so we decide to scout in September and start rifle hunting on October 1. Plus in this unit I’ve noticed the moose movement really picks up in early October anyway. Our first scouting weekend yields ZERO moose sightings. We talk to a few archery hunters who are not seeing much either. I can feel a little bit of anxiety starting from my parents, but I assure them that “once October rolls around, the moose will come out of the woodwork”.
The second scouting weekend we finally located a few moose. Thank goodness. 19ADA95A-69DE-4BF2-B01F-8B88CBB1DC7D.jpeg
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I can tell my parents are less anxious, but they still haven’t seen the numbers of moose that I’m telling them are in this unit. Again I say “in October we will see more, I guarantee it”. ACAFD7E3-AE38-4323-90D0-D77DBBB93C9B.jpeg
 

RyGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
133
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
October finally rolls around and excitement is in the air! We have rented a cabin and have a large camp of supporters to help locate a moose. My parents, my wife and myself, sister, one set of grandparents and my best friend all have come to the mountains to share a camp and hopefully help pack out a moose. Most of them just like to hang out in camp and can only stay for opening weekend, but are willing to help pack out meat.
Day 1:
We spot a nice bull with a cow and 2 calves right in the middle of the road! It’s still dark and we are on our way to our first hunting spot, but it’s a great sign of things to come.
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We plan on spending the rest of the day hunting around from a large trailhead that has tons of moose country around it. E020039F-1949-4742-B08A-6D5C38F4F7AF.jpeg
We spot a cow and a calf early in the am and watch them for a while, but do not see any bulls with them.
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We get to drive and hike through some of the most beautiful country that Colorado has to offer. 55895229-B26A-4BDE-BA27-AE32C173A862.jpeg
And of course we stop and take naps along the way. 80F54730-7D97-41A8-88AE-068B696E762B.jpeg 7361C8B9-ED1D-4886-B415-801509DA49EC.jpeg
After a nice day with a few moose sightings we decide to pack up the SxS and check some spots close to the road on our way back to camp. We attempt to load the SxS on the trailer and end up breaking our old wooden ramps! Tensions run high, but we are thankful that we aren’t loading up in the dark, and we get the thing loaded. On our way back to camp we spot a small bull on the road again! Mom and I hop out and follow him into the willows. She has a shot opportunity at about 50 yards, but I convince her to hold off. She wants to fill the tag! I assure her that there will be more bulls, and the first day is too soon to fill the tag.
 

RyGuy

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Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
133
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
The morning and most of the day on day 2 were mostly uneventful. We hiked in On a new trail to a few lakes and ponds. DCE08DC2-9100-4EFD-82E2-133047AFE571.jpeg There were lots of beautiful pictures taken, but no moose spotted.
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My buddy and I walked up to this nice waterfall. 6084E84B-6336-4CA3-9EAE-9197E59A35BE.jpeg I got this picture on our way back out towards the truck:
246F4F6B-9810-4EFE-93CB-0DCC871E2DDF.jpeg The hike was somewhat long and mom has a bad knee so we decided the rest of the day we’d take it easy and explore some of the unit from the truck. My dad needed to run to town and buy new ramps for the SxS, so it was just my buddy, mom and myself. We planned on meeting my dad and wife later on in the evening.
We drove around for a while and didn’t see any sign of moose. They were on the road the day before! Where have they gone! 😉
Then just as we were getting ready to leave the national forest my mom spots a moose off in the willows.
We park the truck out of sight and make our way over to a hill where we can see down into the adjacent willow bottom. We watch a decent bull chasing a cow and rutting hard. C142026E-9F1C-461A-BDCD-5D93836CAF32.jpeg
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We watched and mom decided she wanted to take this bull. It wasn’t a giant, but she was excited and we had lots of help to pack him out. Plus he was close to the road… and our team of packers would be leaving the next day on Sunday. I agreed. It was her tag and I wanted her to make the choice of what moose to shoot.
She settled in, I ranged them at 200 yards. The cow moved through an opening in the willows and the bull was close behind. When he stepped into the opening I let out my loudest attempt at a cow moose call (though it probably sounded more like a fatally wounded angus cow). He stopped perfectly in the opening. Mom went to shoot, but oh no the safety was on! She takes it off and settles the crosshairs again. Pulled the trigger and… CLICK. Oh no! What’s happened?? I help her check the rifle, it’s loaded, but the bolt must not have been completely closed. Luckily the bull is still standing in the opening. She settles in for a third try. CLICK The rifle still doesn’t fire!! And now I’m panicking. It seems like an eternity since I stopped the bull and the cow has moved off into the willows out of sight. We get the rifle figured out and JUST before she tries for a 4th attempt, the bull walks into the willows. Never to be seen again. I slammed my fist into the dirt in frustration! Not at her, just in frustration with the rifle, and frustration with myself. We knew there would be more moose, and we knew that the trip was still young, but it can be quite disheartening to set your sights on something and not have things come together.
Later that night, when the adrenaline wore off and we told the story to the entire crew around the dinner table, we all had a great laugh 😆
I still think about it and laugh sometimes.
 

RyGuy

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Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
133
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Day three was an eventful day. We started high on a hill overlooking a willow bottom where we had seen moose on day 1. We glassed all morning and didn’t locate any moose. We then moved on to a long ridge with mixed aspens, burned and unburned pines. We located a few cows and stalked in on a small bull. Mom was happy to pass on him since he was one of the smaller bulls we’d seen at this point. We then headed back to camp to help everyone pack up their things. Our cabin reservation was up so we had to move camp after the crew all left. Mom, dad and I got our new camp set up and were paid a visit by some kind locals who happened to be out looking for deer. They told us about a few places where they had seen some bull moose. We thanked them and told them about a few deer we had seen and they went on their way.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the unit and checking likely spots off the map. We found a cool tree stand near one pond.
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We headed to one of the creeks that the locals had seen “a big bull” in for the evening hunt. On our way we spotted this guy:
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This creek was in a basin with a tall glassing knob right in the center of it. So from the top you can see in 360 degrees with creeks and willows all around. The basin was a mix of aspens and pines. At the top of the glassing knob we bumped a cow and calf. Which we assumed was the reason the bull was in the area.
We sat and watched the basin until dark but didn’t see any more moose.
 

RyGuy

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Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
133
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Day four we decide to split up. Mom and I will take the SxS to the long ridge and hunt a few creeks and openings along the top, while dad takes the truck and goes back to the basin with the tall glassing knob in the bottom. He says “he’s got a good feeling” about that spot after bumping the cow and calf the night before. Mom and I still hunt through a few creek bottoms with no success. It all looks like great moose habitat but none are located.
Mid-morning, dad rolls up with an excited look in his eye. He says he’s located “the big bull” in the basin. He even has a video of him on his camcorder. We look over the footage and decide that’s a great bull to hunt! Quickly we pack up our things and start driving towards that area. We hope the bull will still be up and moving around by the time we get there.
On the way, while driving through an open area of private property I look to my left and notice a nice bull moose!
Just casually walking through the wide open.
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We pull over to watch him, and notice he’s headed for a valley to the South. I check my OnX and see the valley is BLM. If we hustle back the way we came and hike over a hilltop we’ll be looking down directly into the valley and hopefully catch him on his way up to bed for the day.
We relocate and hike over the hill. As we crest the top we slowly walk and glass, expecting him to be right below us in the willows. This could be our chance…
We make it all the way to the rim of the canyon without spotting him. Did he get past us? Did he stay on the private? Then I look up and notice a black shape moving up the far side of the valley. He is too far to shoot and still just walking along, but the terrain he is covering is rough. He is walking up a steep face through an old burn with a ridiculous amount of blow down. It was incredible to see how effortlessly he just sauntered through that mess. We watch him crest the far hill and consider chasing after him in hopes that he bedded somewhere on the far side. Mom says “no way”. We could spend days trying to navigate that blow down and who knows where he’s gone… Dad and I reluctantly agreed. After all, this bull was the biggest we’d seen since day 1 before first light.
We spend the rest of the day exploring the unit and find some nice moose habitat but don’t locate anything. We also see a red fox.
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In the evening we set up on the BLM valley where the bull disappeared in the morning. Our hope is that he comes out through the blow down and feeds out into the valley before dark. He does not. We sit till dark glassing and searching. And while we do, we formulate a plan for day 5.
 

GCox

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Joined
Feb 23, 2022
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10
Sweet pictures and a great story to go along with them.
 

RyGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
133
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Day 5 arrived and we were all starting to feel some pressure. We had seen lots of moose and we felt confident we’d see more, but we were starting to run low on time. Originally we had planned to hunt for 10 days, but my sister was set to move to another country (she serves in the Air Force) and we needed to say our goodbyes. Family comes first after all. The plan was to hunt in the morning on day 5 and then run home, spend some time with her before she left and then spend the last two days hunting.
We decided to hunt the big basin with the glassing knob where Dad had seen the nice bull the morning before. We were hopeful that the bull would be sticking to his morning routine and we would be able to see him up and about.
We drove in and got set up on the knob before first light. As the sun came up we saw the cow and calf moving up the East side of the basin, slowly feeding. We got very excited thinking that the bull had to be right behind them! But as we watched, he never appeared. We sat, and we glassed the rest of the basin around us to see if the bull was in the area. We couldn’t locate him. We kept an eye on the cow and calf but started to feel like the bull wasn’t in the area. Mom was cold and sat in the truck to warm up. Eventually so did Dad. I was still up and looking around, but I felt like we’d be heading home empty handed. I went by the truck to get some little doughnuts and check in with the parents. They were about ready to leave. I told them that the cow and calf were almost out of sight, because they were feeding towards a small bowl on the side of the basin. I said that I’d go over and check on them one last time, maybe give it about 5 more minutes and then we’d leave.
I walked over to my glassing spot with a mouthful of doughnut and immediately noticed a third black animal moving up the hillside towards the cow and calf. IT WAS HIM. The bull had appeared from the creek bottom and was on his way up to join the other moose. I pulled my binoculars up to verify, and watched the cow and calf slip out of sight. I knew we had to act fast! I spit the doughnuts out on the ground and started running towards the truck. There was no time for chewing! 😆 I got to the truck and whisper-screamed “big bull! On the hill! Hurry!”. I ran back to my glassing spot with my parents close behind. We saw the bull moving quickly up the hillside towards the bowl, not spooked, but walking with a purpose. He was too far to make a shot, but if we could move down the glassing knob towards him we could get in range.
We ran down the hill through sage and oak brush trying to close enough distance to shoot before he disappeared. But we were too slow…. The bull crested the hill and disappeared into the bowl on the far side of the basin. We stopped, panting and trying to collect ourselves and figure out what to do next.
I noticed that the cow and calf had not yet exited the bowl. They must have been down in there feeding out of sight. It was possible that the bull might do the same thing. Quickly we formulated a plan for mom and I to cross the valley and enter the bowl to try and get a shot. Dad would climb back up to the top of the glassing knob and watch to make sure that the moose didn’t exit the bowl and disappear into the timber above.
Mom and I crossed the creek at the bottom of the valley and started working our way up the hill. Periodically we would check in with dad and he indicated that the moose had not left the bowl. As we closed in I checked my OnX and used the line measuring tool. I determined that the entire bowl was only 50 yards wide. We were going to pop over the hill and be CLOSE. maybe too close… but we were in a hurry to get up there before the bull left the area.
We stopped at the edge of the bowl and caught our breath. It’s a bad idea to hustle over the hill and try to shoot while you’re sucking wind! I also reached over and dialed moms scope power down to the lowest magnification. I quietly reminded her to take the safety off before she pulled the trigger this time.
One final check with dad, and we knew we were good to go.
 
Yeti

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