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Last Updated: Feb 5, 2010 – 5:39:39 PM
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Moose Dreams

By Darryl Quidort

Sep 5, 2006 – 10:10:00 AM



From the pages of: Great Canadian Sportsman

Standing seven feet high at the shoulders and weighing over 1000 pounds,
the bull moose is an awesome animal.
 
Well suited to survive in it?s harsh boreal element, it?s long legs and
large, cloven hooves allow it to travel easily through swamps, swim lakes or
wade deep snow.
  The large nostrils on
it?s long, pendulous nose can be clamped shut while feeding on submerged
vegetation.
  A body which seems too short
for it?s height gives the moose a somewhat comical appearance.
  If the moose seems slow witted at a distance,
say rifle hunting distance, it is only because he fears nothing at long
range.
  Up close, say bowhunting range, the
moose is not a slow, dumb animal.
  He is
a proud, fearless and surprisingly graceful animal displaying awesome power and
strength.

Outfitter and guide, Michael Schneider, admires the grace and power of
the Canada
moose and has extensively studied the behavior and vocalizations used by the
moose during the fall breeding season.
 
Lately, he has developed an exciting and successful method of aggressive
calling and posturing which he uses to get his bowhunting clients into bow
range, or closer, to the gigantic rutting bulls.
  Michael literally ?dances with moose? by mimicking
the calls, movements and posturing of the animals.
  If a bull won?t come within bow range,
Michael aggressively pushes the moose, challenging it with bull grunts, until
it either turns and runs or turns to fight.
 

 

There
appears to be a ritual followed when two mature bull moose prepare to
fight.
  They approach each other slowly,
walking with a measured stiffness, while displaying their antlers in a slow
rocking motion.
  A grunt, which sounds
like saying ?WOK? into an empty 55 gallon drum, is often emitted at nearly
every step.
  They almost seem to go into
a trance.
  At close range they turn
broadside and circle each other to show just how massive they are.
  If neither bull backs down, a terrible, all
out battle between two 1000 pound wild animals will result.

Michael?s system of using moose vocalizations and posturing to approach
them can get a bowhunter into a close range situation with an aggressive bull
moose looking for a fight.
  This is not
for the faint of heart!
  It is the most
exciting hunting method a bowhunter could ask for.
  After experiencing it myself, I can assure
you that a bull moose seems slow and comical only at long range.

 

Last
fall I spent nearly a month in Michael?s remote tent camp bowhunting
and taking video of rutting moose.
  His
exclusive guiding territory is in a very wild area of northern British Columbia, Canada.
  Each day spent there brought new
adventure.
  Black bears are plentiful and
we saw them often.
  Grizzly bears are not
uncommon in that wild country either.
 
One large grizzly raided our meat cache on two occasions and stole three
moose quarters which were hanging from a meat pole16 feet high.
  The silence of the boreal forest is sometimes
broken by howling as a wolf pack gathers for their hunt.
  Moose camp in B.C. is a wild and wonderful
place.

 
Being a
traditional bowhunter himself, Michael knows what is needed to be successful
using close range longbows and recurves.
 
Quiet clothing takes on a whole new meaning when hunting moose with
Michael.
  He is blessed with remarkably
good hearing.
  After making a cow call we
would stand motionless, no rustling of clothing either, for 20 minutes or more
while he listened intently.
  ?If I hear
brush break it is a moose,? Michael explained.
 
?There are no deer here and bears and wolves make no noise in the
bush?.
  When Michael heard brush cracking
we would move toward the sound to close the distance, grunting to see if the
moose was be a bull.
  Sometimes it worked
so well that we got right up close and personal with an agitated bull.

 
One
morning we spotted a cow with a bull in an opening on a distant hillside.
  Approaching them from downwind, we silently
closed the distance to 150 yards.
  ?Get
right behind me,? Michael whispered to Scott Bishop.
  ? We?ll go right at ?em.
  They?ve never seen a man before.
  They think another moose is coming so don?t
worry about breaking brush.
  When we get
close I?ll push you ahead to shoot?.
 
Away they went with Michael holding his rifle over his head to resemble
antlers.
  Scott, carrying his recurve
bow, played the back half of the moose costume.
 
Michael rocked slowly from side to side as they moved in on the
moose.
  To my surprise, the moose stood
and watched them approach.
  At 40 yards
the cow got nervous and walked away.
  The
bull sort of went into a trance and started a slow, stiff legged walk while
rocking his antlers from side to side.
 
Michael and the moose had a grunting and posturing session.
  Several times the bull started to follow the
cow away but Michael?s challenging grunt turned him around to return posturing
toward the hunters.
  He never came within
bow range of where Scott was hiding in the grass though and ended up following
the cow away from us.

 

?The area was just too open?, Michael
explained.
  ?An approaching bull expects
to see and hear another moose.
  If they
don?t they may hold up or circle downwind.
 
In thicker cover they may end up right on top of you.
  You never know.
  We just have to find a bull that will play
our game?.

 
Scott
got his chance the very next day.
  We
were shooting flu-flu arrows at a grouse during mid-morning when suddenly
Michael froze and hissed, ?Bull coming.
 
Who?s got a broadhead??
  Sure
enough, a bull moose had mistaken the sound of our arrows bouncing off trees
for another bull raking the brush with his antlers and was approaching us with
challenging grunts.
  Scott nocked a
broadhead and got set as Michael returned a challenging bull grunt.
  The moose seemed to be coming straight in,
then turned downwind to try to get our scent.
 
?Let?s go,? Michael whispered as he pushed Scott ahead.
  They moved quickly downwind 40 yards, grunting
as they went.
  Suddenly they were too
close to the bull, leaving him no choice but to turn and fight.
  The big bull turned and came right back at
them.
  Scott tried a grunt to stop the
moose in an open shooting lane but with one more long step the bull was through
the opening and stopped broadside, looking down at him from only nine paces
away.
  Already at full draw, Scott
searched frantically for an opening.
 
Leaning slowly over he let the arrow go.
 
At the shot the bull charged past Scott in the direction he had been
facing.
  Perfectly double lunged with a
shaving sharp broadhead, the bull only made it about 60 yards before going
down.
  What a rush!

 

I
learned a lot while moose hunting with Michael.
 
He is an excellent woodsman and a well disciplined hunter who pays
attention to details.
  By his example and
actions I remembered to: always close a truck door quietly; never talk above a
quiet whisper; walk in a natural ?moose like? rhythm; stop and stand motionless
for long periods of time like a moose is prone to do; use binoculars
continuously while hunting; and most important of all, to listen.
  LISTEN.

 
In our
everyday lives we learn to tune out and ignore all the unimportant noise around
us.
  In the silence of the boreal forest
there are no unimportant sounds.
  By
learning to listen I found out my hearing is not as bad as I first
thought.
  While standing motionless
listening I?d ask myself, ?What do I hear??
 
A far off raven, a pine squirrel, the wind in the pines, wait…was that
a moose?
  The vocalizations of
undisturbed moose can be surprisingly loud at times.
  Other times the calls coming from such a
large animal can be surprisingly soft.
 
If you are not disciplined to really listen you will miss them.

 
Michael?s listening powers still amazed me.
  Once while stalking through head high willows
we stopped and stood listening for a long period.
  Then Michael turned to me and whispered, ?Do
you hear them??

?No,? I
answered honestly.

 ?One
over there,? he pointed. ?And two over there,? he pointed the other way.

 
?I
never heard them call,? I quietly whispered.

?They
aren?t calling,? Michael explained.
 
?They are walking and eating.?

 
I don?t
blame you if you don?t believe that little story.
  I would have trouble believing it myself if I
hadn?t later seen the three moose he heard.

October
11th was my day.
  As Michael and I made
our way quietly uphill through mixed pine and spruce we heard a cow moose
calling.
  Listening carefully we soon
heard a bull softly grunt.
  ?Hear him??
Michael whispered.

 
?Yep,?
I answered.
 

Michael
turned and led the way toward the moose.
 
His challenging grunts received no response.
  Then we saw the mature bull walking away from
us on the trail of two cow moose.
  ?Come
on,? Michael directed, as he started forward again.
 

 
This
time the bull stopped on top of a hill and stood in the open watching for the
bull he knew was following him.
  Pinned
down, we challenged him with grunts to see it he would approach us.
  He didn?t respond.
  After awhile he turned and followed the cow?s
trail again.
  We moved quickly forward to
try to catch up.
  A quarter mile farther
we saw the three moose again.
  The cows
were still moving steadily along with the bull following behind them.

 
?A
coward of a bull,? I muttered to Michael.

 
?That
son-of-a-gun,? Michael said.
  ?Let?s get
him.?
 

At that Michael ran ahead with me
right on his heels.
  Holding his rifle
over his head to resemble antlers, Michael grunted continuously as we hurried
to catch them.
  A man has to run to catch
up to a walking moose.

Again
the big bull turned and waited for us in the open on a little hilltop.
  This time we pushed right up to him.
  He would either have to run away from us or
turn to fight.
  Breathing hard, yet
grunting every breath, we fairly ran up to within 30 yards of the moose.
  ?Go on!? Michael whispered to me between his
challenging grunts.
  I moved quickly
ahead another 10 yards.
  The bull was now
about 20 yards in front of me and he turned to face me head on.
  With a stiff legged walk, the huge animal
came back at me rocking his heavy, four foot wide antlers slowly form side to
side.
  Every time he rocked his head I
could see the white as he rolled his eye to keep it on me.
  I stood ready, with an arrow nocked and my
recurve bow raised, just waiting for a shot opportunity.
  A mature bull moose is a powerful beast and,
even though my target looked huge, I knew I?d have to place my arrow well to
kill him.
  Michael?s back up rifle was of
questionable value at this close range.
 
At 12 paces the bull slowly turned broadside to impress me with his
enormous size.
  That?s when I made my
shot.
  The arrow drove to the fletching
just behind his elbow joint.
  As he moved
to run, his elbow snapped the heavy carbon arrow shaft as if it were a
toothpick.
 

He
slowed down and stopped 55 or 60 yards out and stood quartering away, looking
back over his rump at me.
  Michael was
still grunting challenges at him as I shot and hit him with a second
arrow.
  This time he ran another 50 yards
before slowing to a walk.
  With his head
hanging low he soon quietly laid down for the last time.

After a
respectable wait, we approached the downed moose.
  I was in awe.
 
It was the first trophy animal I?ve ever walked up to that didn?t suffer
from ?ground shrinkage?.
  Even Michael remarked
that, ?The antlers didn?t look that big on that huge body.?
  For me it was the culmination of a
dream.
  Even as a kid, reading Outdoor
Life Magazine, I had dreamed of hunting moose in British Columbia and wondered
if I would ever get to walk up on one of my own like this.
  It didn?t matter that a light rain was
starting to fall or that we had a big meat packing job in front of us.
  For me a lifelong dream had just come true.

 

Author?s Notes;

Michael
Schneider owns United Guide and Outfitters in northern British
Columbia, Canada.
  Last fall he guided a half dozen bowhunters
to their dream moose.
  Shots ranged from
5 paces to 25 paces.
  He also guides for
black bear, grizzly bear and offers fishing trips.
  Michael has a DVD available which includes
moose calling and hunting techniques, (including my moose hunt) and trailing
and recovering wounded big game using scent hounds.


From the pages of: Great Canadian Sportsman

 

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