The 24 Hour Moose Hunt

  During the September 2014 moose hunt, I was guiding for Smoldering Lake Outfitters in Bridgewater, Me. Although the lodge was located in WMD 6, we were traveling 45-50 minutes west each day to WMD 5, which was where the hunters tag was zoned for.  The hunter wanted to use his bow which meant I had to call the moose in close.
      On Monday, we tried an area along a small lake that had been partially cut about 3 or 4 years ago.  This spot was littered with spruce and fir with the occasional hardwood mixed in.  Even though there was a lot of moose rubs and wallows, we didn't have any luck.
         Tuesday started out cold with a light wind.  We tried a new location and found a nice bull but couldn't get him close enough for a shot because the wind kept swirling and the moose would smell us.
         When I woke up at 3AM on Wednesday morning,  I had no idea what was in store for us that day.  I arrived at the lodge around 3:30AM , did the normal routine of having breakfast with the hunter and his two friends.  After breakfast and a quick talk about the days plan, we started our 50 minute drive to the area we could legally hunt in. About half way to our destination, we spotted a nice bull in the road.  We watched him for a couple minutes, then
continued on our journey. It was still dark when we turned left on RT 11  and headed south.  We had only gone a couple miles when I noticed head lights of a logging truck coming toward us on this long straight portion of the road.  This section also dipped into a valley and had a bog on both sides of it.  We met the truck on the lowest point of this valley and even though the lights were on low beam, it was still hard to see. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a cow moose, that had been feeding in the bog, running toward us. I didn't have time to hit the brakes and I couldn't swerve because that would have put us head on into the logging truck.  She hit the passenger front fender and her head came through the windshield.  The momentum spun her around breaking the passenger window and deploying the air bag.  When the moose came through the windshield, she emptied the contents of her mouth on the face of my hunter that
was in the front seat.  He was pretty upset because he could feel this warm liquid on his face, that he thought could be blood.  I turned the light on and soon realized what it was.  We laugh about it now but it was pretty scary at the time. The hunter cut his hand a little  bit when the passenger window broke but other than that, everybody was ok.
          It didn't take long for the state police to arrive after calling 911.  The accident report was completed and the trooper offered to give two of the guys a ride back to the lodge.  The other friend and I rode back in the wrecker to my house.  We transferred everything over to my other pick-up and headed back to our zone again to continue the hunt. It was around noon time when we reached our zone, so we decided to have a lunch.  While we were eating, I got a text message from the outfitter about a big bull spotted in the northern part of our zone.  The information was a couple hours old because of poor cell phone reception. The sighting was from the cook of another moose party of Smoldering Lake Outfitters. They were staying at a cabin in the very northern part of our zone 5 but were hunting in zone 2, which was only a short distance away.  That party couldn't legally shoot this moose so the information was passed onto us. The drive to that area took about a hour to reach the cabin where the group was staying.  Upon arrival, the cook jumped in the pick-up with us and we drove to a spot about a mile from where the moose was spotted.  The rest of the distance would be done on foot.  Unfortunately, the moose had moved closer to the old road we were on than had been previously seen and we busted them without any chance at a shot.
          This area had been cut over probably 5 or 6 years ago and the partially grown in skidder trails went from the old road to the base of a really steep ridge.  This ridge ran to the right of us in a half moon shape and the old road ran parallel to the ridge.  I figured because the ridge was so  steep, the moose would follow the base of it along the back side of the cut. We walked 300-400 yards down the road before I tried a cow call.  Immediately after I cow called, a bull
grunted in the woods not too far away. It ended up being a small bull and the hunter decided he wanted a bigger one.  While we were playing with this bull, I could hear a cow bellowing further down the road.  As soon as this little bull left the area, we headed in the direction of that cow.  We kept walking until we were about 100 yards from the end of the road.  I could hear the cow bellowing a lot and occasionally hear a bull grunting. Every time I would do a cow call, she would respond back.  Her calls were loud and echoed all through the valley. You could hear the bull heading to my call and then she would respond and bring him back.  This went on
for about 45 minutes before I realized he wasn't going to leave her for another cow.  I remember thinking, if he won't come for the love of a female, maybe he will come to fight another bull. I started raking the bushes with an old moose shoulder blade that sounds just like a bull raking his antlers.  It didn't take long and the bull started in my direction, occasionally stopping to raking the bushes with his antlers.  It only took about 15 minutes for me to bring him to within 30 yards of my hunter. The quartering away shot hit its mark just behind the front shoulder.  The bull walked off of the road and stood long enough for one more opportunity for a shot but it was a clean miss.  You could tell the moose was hurt from the first shot by the way he was walking.  He went about 150 yards and stepped into the bushes. I thought I saw him lay down but wasn't sure so we backed out of the area for awhile. A hour later, we returned and it didn't take long to find the bull.  I breathed a sigh of relief thinking, I can't believe the day we just had.  We skinned and quartered the bull then loaded up and drove the 2 hours back to civilization.  We put the moose quarters and head into the walk in cooler at the lodge.  I closed the cooler door and looked at my watch, 3:10 AM.  I had been up for 24 hours straight.
        Guiding can be tough, working a lot of hours but you can never give up.  You always hope to give the hunter, a hunt of a lifetime and I think I definitely succeeded with this one.
         I would like to give a special thanks to the cook for spotting the moose and also doing most of the quartering job.

By BWB Prostaff & Maine Guide - Joel Carvell