The 2008 hunting season started in June when the draw results for Moose, Sheep, and Goat were released. I scrambled to check the results, for myself first, of course… Unsuccessful again, I mumbled to myself. Since I apply for my little brother, wife, and my buddy Matt every year, I proceeded to check results for each, brother… Unsuccessful, my wife Amy is up next. I am holding out little hope, since she has only accumulated 4 bonus points. I scroll down the page, and about jump out of my chair, Successful 1st choice Moose. I can’t believe it, so I log out and check again, Successful it reads. Now Amy is currently out of town, flying in this evening, so I elect to surprise her when I pick her up at the airport. I arrive to pick her up with a smile from ear to ear. She gets in the car and I can’t hold out any longer and just blurt it out, she looks as shocked as I did.
I proceed to ramble on about how we need to start scouting now!!! We are both avid bow hunters, so our plan is for her to harvest the moose with her bow. Well little did I know Amy had an even bigger surprise for me. After she let me soak in her glory of drawing a coveted tag for a few hours, she informs me that she is pregnant with our first child. I am shocked, not what I expected. Soon the shock turns to excitement, and I realize how great it will be for our child to be along on this great adventure.
Fast forward to July when the results are posted for Deer, Elk, and Antelope. Once again I check, and Unsuccessful… Amy up next, I scroll down, and Successful it reads for 1st choice Elk. She drew an either sex tag for one of the most coveted trophy areas in Montana. Now we have our plate full. A Moose tag, season opens 9/15, an Elk tag good for archery and rifle opens 9/6, and a baby due in February. Well the Elk tag is up first.
After spending 4 weekends throughout August scouting the Elk area, we packed a camp in 3.5 miles, with the help of the Mystery Ranch Nice frame, Day Pack Lid, and 2 medium Alice bags, to where we have been seeing lots of Elk, although no bulls yet. Opening weekend comes with no success, second weekend in the 2 man tent comes with no success. Amy is getting too uncomfortable in the mummy bag and little tent, so we pull camp and move it out, planning to base out of the camper/truck for the remainder of the season.
This takes us to opening day of Moose season, a Monday. Amy and I were fortunate to take a half-day off, so we returned to a spot where we glassed a very respectable bull 2 weeks earlier. We arrived 1 hour before sunrise, got our Mystery Ranch packs on, Amy grabbed her bow, and I took the rifle incase she elected to use it. About an hour after sunrise we spotted a young bull with a cow and a calf. We watched as they wondered into the cottonwoods along the river bottom. We decided if we could get on the bull she would take him. The other tag she had in her pocket, and the fact that she was beginning to become more uncomfortable with each passing day influenced this decision.
On our way back to the truck to jockey for position on the bull we had just seen, I proceeded to stop and do my imitation of a moose cow call every 200 yards. Well we reached the truck without another moose sighting. Upon entering the truck, Amy responds, “there’s the big one” I figure she is joking. Then she shouts it again, I look and here is a beautiful moose b-lining in the direction we just left. She jumps out, grabs the gun and disappears into the trees along the river. I stayed back 100 yards, and I see the moose enter her shooting lane, I let out a couple long cow calls, and he finally stops. Three shots in the boiler room and moose season is over. Upon walking up to the moose, I was amazed at the sheer size of his body. He was all we could have hoped for in a Montana moose, 8 points per side, split brow tines, nice paddles, and 42” wide.
One tag down, one to go. We spent the remaining weekends of Archery season chasing, calling, and watching the elk with no shot opportunities. Rifle season opens, with no sighting of any elk. The next two weekends are spent checking new areas in hopes of finding the bachelor groups of bulls that are wondering the mountains. One morning we got on a group of 6 nice bulls, but once the sun came up they disappeared, never to be seen again.
This now takes us to Thanksgiving morning, Amy’s last weekend to fill her coveted tag. This morning started off good. We were going to be to our parking spot about 45 minutes before shooting light, then about 200 yards from our spot I get a flat tire. A rock the size of a baseball is embedded in my tire. I quickly try to get the tire changed, but the lug nuts are on so tight that I striped out my lug wrench. We are in the middle of the single lane gravel road, so I decide to just drive on the flat and change it after the day’s hunt. Once at the parking spot another truck pulls up, and Amy informs them of our situation, and that she has an either sex tag. They agree to let me borrow their wrench once we are done for the day, and off they go to get his son a cow.
We set off up the trail in the dark, Amy mentions she forgot her binos at the truck, and I look back to see lights heading our way. We start towards the lights and it is the father of the gentleman we just spoke to. He informs us that his son just saw a group of 11 bulls heading into the timber. We hopped in the back of the truck, and he dropped us off 2 finger ridges away from where the bulls were heading.
Amy and I scurried up the ridge, and slowly worked our way through the timber. She stops and motions to our left and against the skyline 400 yards away is 11 bulls staring at us. The bulls dropped over the ridge and we hustled over there with no sight of the bulls. We are both discouraged with the fact that we lost 11 bulls, and a great opportunity. We decide to head for higher ground in hopes of re-locating the group.
About halfway up mountain I look back to spot 3 more bulls heading our way 1 ridge over. So off we go again. We got to the top of the ridge and get set up on a good meadow that is 100 yards across, and 200 yards long, hoping they would cross through. After several minutes of waiting, I tell Amy that I am going to check over the next ridge incase they snuck out that way. After my investigation turned up no elk, I decided to circle back and come up the draw the way the 3 bulls did, in hopes of pushing them by Amy if they were still in the timber. I was slowly working my way through the timber towards her, when I spotted the bulls. They were slightly spooked by me and made their way right into the meadow Amy was set up on. I froze and waited. About 30 seconds later a single shot from the .300 Win Mag broke the morning silence. I waited a minute or two without hearing another shot. So I slowly made my way to the meadow, where I see Amy searching the ground for blood. I spot a dark object in the timber about 20 yards in front of her, I pulled up my binos and confirm that it is a huge bull on the ground. I yelled to Amy “there he is” as I motioned in front of her.
A few hoops and hollers later and the season is over. It is the biggest bull I have had the pleasure of being along for the harvest. He is all we could have hoped for. The downside is that his G-4, G-5, and G-6 are broken on his right side, but we couldn’t care less. He is a heavy horned mature bull. In all we spent 29 days scouting, hunting archery and rifle seasons to harvest this magnificent animal. To top it all off Amy was 7+ months pregnant. A season I will never forget.