Once in a lifetime Idaho moose

NorthIdahoDude

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Joined
Aug 24, 2022
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32
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Bonner County Idaho
So, for the last 18 years I have been putting in for a moose tag in the Pacific NorthWest. I am not a traveling hunter, so the tags I put in for are close to home, wherever that may be that year. So after 18 years of no tag, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I got the email from IDFG saying I had successfully drawn a moose tag in Unit 2, my home unit!!!! For dates that coincided with the peak rut no less!!!! I have been saying for years, if they would just give me a moose tag in Unit 2, they might as well cut and wrap it for me too. Not so much in the far north part of Unit 2, but in the central to north-central parts of Unit 2, it's a rare deer hunt I've been on where I didn't also see a moose. So let's just say I was pretty stoked!

Work and life has been insane this year (word to the wise: never build a house, it will suck up all your spare time, money, and energy for years), so I didn't get to scout near as much as I would have liked. However, having seen a lot of moose while deer hunting over the years, I still had a pretty good idea where to start. My only scouting consisted of driving around an area I hadn't hunted in about 10 years to re-familiarize myself with it, and pick where wanted to be on opening day. Found a great spot, fairly high elevation for the area, where a massive spring water flow comes out of the side of the mountain, enough so that it serves as the headwaters for a year round creek. There was also some roads and skid trails in the area to facilitate extraction if we got one there, and the foliage in the area also looked like great moose food, so I marked that on my GPS as my preferred day 1 spot.

Day 1 finally came, and I headed out into the dark morning, with The Wife(tm) in tow. She and I have been hunting partners since the day we started hunting many years ago, so while she could not call or shoot on this hunt, there was no way was I going to leave her sitting at home for this adventure! We setup overlooking a clear section of hill/mountain side about 500 yards from the main water source, and using some rolled up birch bark, I commenced to doing my best impersonation of a horny cow moose. I called about every 15 minutes, till noon time rolled around and we had to bail out. Before we left, I got up and did about an hour of boots-on-the-ground scouting through the nooks and crannies of the hill/mountainside we were on. That was very instructive, as I found out that we had somehow set up in the worst possible spot - I saw moose tracks about 500 yards off our right (out of sight of where we had set up), and off to our left, more/less right around the spring water area, was covered in moose tracks (also, out of sight of where we had set up). I made mental notes of all that, and we called it a day.

Day 2, had to do some house stuff in the morning, so we didn't get rolling till around noon. This time we set up more/less directly above the water source. It was a lot thicker over in this part of the hillside, so while I did have some good shooting lanes out to around 200 yards, there was a lot of brush and branches I would have to watch out for when taking a shot. As with the previous day, I did my best impersonation of a horny cow moose about every 10-15 minutes as we enjoyed the beautiful afternoon on the mountainside.

This had been going on for about an hour and a half, when my wife and I both heard that classic "muwah, muwah, muwah" of a bull moose off in the distance. Of course, he's coming from our downwind, which is blowing UP the mountain, which also puts him coming in from exactly the direction I am not setup to take a shot. I shut up all calling and waited, hoping he'd pass by us and give me a shot. The "muwah, muwah, muwah" got closer, and we started hearing brush crunch as the bull came in, but we still couldn't see him. Then he went silent and stopped calling, and I could just see a flash of him crunching through the trees, moving at a pretty fair clip down the mountain. Damn it, I bet he caught our wind, and he's GTFO'ing!!! I cupped my hands around my mouth and gave him a quick "muwah, muwah" of my own and then set the rifle on my mono-pod shooting stick and waited. Sure enough, that got his attention, and he turned and came out of the trees so he could get a look at me. He came till just his head and shoulders were sticking out of the woods and gave me a "muwah, muwah" and swung his head back and forth looking for the source of the call I'd just given. That was all I needed to happen, and after kind of leaning back and forth a time or two to make sure I was not going to wing a branch or brush with my bullet, I dropped the hammer on a perfect quartering-to shot, with him about 100 ish yards out.

He lurched forward at the shot, but he was moving like he was hurt bad, and I was fairly confident I had hit him pretty solid. He made about 30 yards and the stopped, full broadside to me with no branches or brush in the way, and looked up at me again. I was about 95% sure he was about to go down right there, but I wasn't going to take any chances on having maybe had my bullet deflected somewhat on the first shot, so I pulled the trigger one more time for insurance. He stumbled about 2 steps at the second shot, and then he hit the dirt hard and never moved again.

Right up until that moment, I had been calm, cool, and collected, with a laser focus on getting the job done. Once he hit the ground and was obviously not twitching, I took a couple of deep breaths, let go of the mental grip I had on myself, and the adrenaline took over and the shakes flowed through me. I looked over at The Wife(tm), and I think she was shaking harder than I was. Did that just happen? Oh HELL YES, THAT JUST HAPPENED!!!!!! She told me later that she had been shaking since she heard him calling as he was coming in. This was not the first time The Wife(tm) and I have shared an adventure like this, but this one will definitely be right up there in the top 3 coolest hunts we've ever done together.

It was about 2PM, and I have friends who live at the base of the mountain we were on. A few phone calls later, a buddy with an ATV and a winch and a long piece of rope was on his way, and The Wife(tm) and I set about to gutting him and packing the body cavity with ice. We were just wrapping up the ice packing job when he showed up. Even with the ATV and the winch, it was still a lot of manhandling, brute force, and ignorance involved in getting him back to the 4runner, but we got it done. Unfortunately, my other buddy from down the hill who had promised a few days earlier to let me borrow his flat-deck trailer if I got a moose was a no-show. Hrmm... what to do... well, I've got a hitch-mount carrier that's rated for 500 lbs, and this isn't the biggest Shiras moose anyone ever saw, so let's see what we can do here. Son of a biscuit, turns out you can load whole moose onto a hitch-mounted carrier, and haul him home that way. I am fairly confident we exceeded the weight rating of the hitch carrier, but probably not by all that much, LOL. It was straight up north Idaho redneckery at its finest, but I am not in any way ashamed of that.

I was hurt bad enough from getting him off the mountain that I called another buddy so I'd have help skinning and quartering him when I got home. Thank God for good friends!!! I'll post postmortem notes here in a bit.

Anyway, I know, I know, pics or it didn't happen.

signal-2022-10-02-142304_002.jpeg signal-2022-10-04-101453.jpeg signal-2022-10-04-110416_002-redacted.jpeg
 

NorthIdahoDude

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
32
Location
Bonner County Idaho
Postmortem notes.

I thought that having gotten a few elk over the years, I would be prepared for a big animal like a moose. I was wrong. We got home about 7PM, and it was 5AM before we were done skinning and quartering (more than quartering actually) and getting all the parts into one of my spare refrigerators or one of the coolers full of ice. At one point my whole right hand locked up like I had trigger-finger in all 4 fingers, and I still have sore muscles and scrapes and bruises 5 days later. I'm not complaining, it's well worth the pain, just stating facts about how hard it was physically!

Both shots were within maybe an inch of where I was trying to place them. Shot #1 entered ahead of the shoulder that was facing me, hit no bones on the way through, and exited just ahead of the diaphragm on the off-side. So that shot ruined near zero meat. Shot #2 entered behind the shoulder that was facing me, center-punched a rib on both sides, and hung up in the hide on the off-side. It missed both shoulders, so again, nearly no ruined meat other than around the rib bones that it shattered. And I got a souvenir bullet out of the deal, hot damn, that's perfection!

The gun I used was a 30-06, with a 150 grain Nosler Accubond. However, that particular gun doesn't like hot loads at all, so muzzle velocity is 2800 FPS, so it might as well have been a 308 Winchester. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you need a magnum anything to kill a moose. Shot placement is king, penetration is queen, some bullet expansion is nice to have but not 100% necessary, and everything else is just s**t gun-nuts argue about on the internet. :)

Bullet retained 105.3 grains of weight, and expanded to +/- 0.600 inches in a very uniform way. See pic.
signal-2022-10-04-195430_002.jpeg
 

NorthIdahoDude

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
32
Location
Bonner County Idaho
Did you have to have a wide load flag car on your trip home? 😀

Congrats on the bull.

No, but we did crank pretty hard on ratchet-straps to get his head twisted up so it wouldn't hang out into the road or bang up the 4runner, and his hind legs pulled in so they wouldn't stick out into oncoming traffic.
 

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
6,174
Location
Wichita
I’m surprised your front wheels touched the earth after you hit a good pothole going down the mountain. Amazing what some redneckary engineering can come up with for cray cray solutions to problems.

(Love the trademark attempt!)
 

NorthIdahoDude

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2022
Messages
32
Location
Bonner County Idaho
I’m surprised your front wheels touched the earth after you hit a good pothole going down the mountain. Amazing what some redneckary engineering can come up with for cray cray solutions to problems.

(Love the trademark attempt!)
To be fair, the front end definitely felt a fair bit lighter than normal, probably would not have wanted to go 75 mph on a highway, lol. But a fifth gen 4Runner with me and all my gear is a lot heavier truck than you think (around 5k lbs, which is more than some half ton trucks), which helped a lot.
 
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