Twenty eight days. That’s how long I had been hunting for a bull moose in one of the limited draw areas of northwest Montana. During that time I had traveled literally hundreds of miles, walked dozens of trails and sat for hours on a number of lakes, ponds and bog areas, all without seeing a single moose! It had taken me eleven years to draw one of the twelve tags available for this area and I was devoting every possible minute to getting it filled.

On morning twenty nine I left my house early, determined to be sitting at a promising little pond before the sun came up. It was about five miles up a forest service road and required a short hike in from there. I quietly made my way through the woods and found myself near the ponds edge just as day was breaking. As the light increased, I saw a young moose standing in knee deep water and then I saw a cow and calf casually walk from the pond back into the woods. As I shifted my position for a better view I could see that there was also a bull standing in the pond. It had only been light for a few minutes and now, right in front of me were four moose including the bull I had been searching for.

I was still watching the bull when I saw movement behind him on the far shore of the pond. As the light continued to improve I was surprised to see another bull moose even larger than the one in the water. The bigger bull was about 150 yards away, much further than I am comfortable shooting with the open sighted rifle I was carrying. Since all of the moose were relaxed, I decided to back out of my hiding place and slowly work my way around through the timber until I reached the other side of the pond. It took a while but I was able to get within range and the moose were still unaware of my presence. The bank on that side was fairly steep and I was well above the water level. Working down towards the bull I began to look for an opening large enough to make a clean shot.

I was carrying my Montana Rifle Company Professional Hunter model chambered in .505 Gibbs. While I will be the first to admit that my choice of calibers might seem a little unusual, remember that this rifle was designed for close range dangerous game hunting. All of the features that make it so effective in Africa also make it perfectly suited for our largest American game. Loaded with four rounds of factory Norma PH ammunition, the 600 grain Woodleigh soft point bullets at 2100 feet per second would certainly be more than adequate for the task at hand. My rifle is fitted with MRC’s new flats brake which not only eliminates any painful recoil, it also reduces muzzle rise allowing for a fast second shot if necessary. I slowly moved the three position safety forward into the fire position, and raised the rifle. The bull was now about 60 yards away standing broadside. I aligned the iron sights on a rib just behind the shoulder and worked to slow my
breathing as I applied pressure to the trigger.

At the shot, I saw the bull stagger, start to turn, and then simply fall over. A perfect one shot kill on my first moose! As I made my way down to the bull I could not help but reflect on all of the hours spent leading up to this moment. If you have never had the opportunity to approach a downed moose, I can assure you that there is no such thing as “ground shrinkage”. With every step you take approaching a moose, they seem to get bigger and bigger. Sitting there alone with such a massive animal is a very humbling experience and it is one that I savored. I ran my hand across the coarse fur on its body; I touched the rock hard antler and then struggled to lift its head. It is almost surreal how truly massive these animals are. I tagged the moose and took a few photos. By this time the excitement was starting to fade and the reality of the enormous task ahead was starting to sink in. I hiked out of the basin and made some calls to assemble a
team that could help me process the moose. In less than two hours I had a group of five enthusiastic folks at work skinning, butchering and packing it out to my truck. By one thirty in the afternoon the last load was packed out and nothing but the rib cage, spine and entrails remained at the site. Something that the ravens will certainly enjoy cleaning up.

The ride back to town was a quiet one; I was both tired and sore but could not have been any happier. I dropped the meat off for processing then took the head and hide to my taxidermist. At every stop I shared the pictures and story of my moose hunting adventure. I cannot apply for another Montana moose tag until 2023 but it’s a safe bet that my application will be in the mail on the first day I am eligible!

"saving helpless baby animals, one predator at a time."

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