Moose Hunting in Alberta Steps 1,2, &3
By Randy Meppelink
Moose hunting in Alberta, Canada in October is as good as it gets anywhere in North America. I recently hunted in Alberta with Whispering Hill Trophy Hunters and Outfitters and professional guide Jay Stewart of Edmonton. Jay has been guiding in Alberta for over 15 years and his knowledge of Moose is some of the best I have seen. Jay sums up moose hunting as a 3-step process.
STEP ONE Find the Moose.
We arrived at camp on Friday afternoon. Guide Kory Webb picked us up in Edmonton and we made the 3-½ hour drive to our hunting area located in the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I was hunting with Craig Sawyer and Doug Regnerus both of Hudsonville, Michigan. This was Craig and Doug's first attempt at Canadian moose and first tent camp hunt. Both Craig and Doug were hunting with .300 Weatherby and I was hunting with my PSE Citation Compound bow.
Jay had seen some moose earlier in the week while doing some advanced scouting in preperation for our hunt, we were pumped when we heard that we had not missed the rut and that Jay had seen some moose in the area. Donna, Jay's wife, prepared a wonderful dinner for our first night. If this was any indication of how we were going to eat the rest of the week we were not going to be disappointed.
Saturday morning arrived and we started our 3-step process. Craig and Doug went with guide Kory Webb and I was off guide Les Webb. Jay had some unexpected business in Calgary for one day so he had to take off for that. Jay assured us that we were in good hands, and we were. It only took and hour or so for Kory to guide Craig and Doug into some action. As they cleared the top of a ridge they spotted a pack of wolves about 100 yards down the ridge and as you know with wolf hunting you generally only get 1 second at best. Well wouldn't you know it, one of the wolves stopped and turned broadside to take a look at the guys which gave Craig just enough time to pull up his .300 Weatherby and make the perfect shot and bagging a beautiful gray Timber Wolf.
Les and myself spent the day scouting the many logging roads that ran through the zone where I would be bow hunting. I enjoyed Les's company that day and his knowledge of hunting. It wasn't until after shooting hours and we were on our way back to camp that we seen our first moose. A small bull about 30” stepped out onto the road in front of us and crossed and disappeared into the darkness. Step one was accomplished.
STEP 2: Getting close to the moose
This step seemed to be a little harder to accomplish. The wind never seemed right, full moon, and plenty of heat during the day. This was all about to change. We woke up Wednesday morning to a nice frost. Everything was crisp just like a whitetail deer hunter from Michigan likes it. The moon was full the night before and we were a little concerned that it may have an effect on the rut. Jay however said that if we believed in legends of long ago we may be interested to know that the Indians claimed that a full moon was all that was needed to jump start the rutting season. Little did I know that this legend was about to be played out exactly like it was suppose to.
Jay and I left camp earlier than usual that morning in order to try and get to a meadow where we had sat the night before. We spotted numerous signs of moose activity and wanted to investigate it further. We had no response the night before to our calling but sometimes the moose come in sneaky not wanting to give themselves away just yet. This morning felt different. We spotted a large cow moose on our way to the meadow; she was on the wrong side of the road however in a different zone, which meant that even if there was a bull, we could only watch. So we hurried to the place were we would park the truck and start our hike in. As we drove down the last hill in Jay's Dodge 4x4 truck where we were going to park the truck I spotted a moose. The black silhouette of a large animal stuck out in stark contrast to the amber prairie grass growing in the meadow. We parked the truck and got out and glassed this magnificent animal but we could not determine if it was a bull or a cow. Jay asked “are you ready for step 2?” “You bet” I said. “Lets go try to put the sneak on this one who knows this may be my window of opportunity.” After a short planning session it was decided to stay to the top of the tree lined ridge until we reached the area straight up from where the moose was and then cut down to the bottom quietly as possible and do some calling. We snuck down to the bottom and found a small stand of pines that provided us good cover and started to call. There was absolutely no wind so the sound of Jay's moose calls carried throughout the valley. No response. We called off and on for about an hour and a half. As Jay and I waited patiently for some response, nothing. Where did this moose go? Did we scare it off when we stalked in to our spot? Who knows? Jay suggested we quit here and try to get back to the meadow we had originally planned to go to. So we started our ¾ mile walk back to the road. Just before we reached the road Jay turned to take another look down the valley and there was the moose following our trail back about 200 yards or so. It was a bull. Suddenly the bull simply turned and in the slow motion trot moose are famous for, he disappeared into the bush.
Jay turned to me and said, “how about step 2 ½?” So there we were sneaking back into the valley we had just left. This time Jay stayed about 50 yds. higher than me as we stalked in. When I reached the meadows edge I found some small pines that would provide good cover if this moose decided to emerge into view. Suddenly there was a vocal response to Jay's cow calls, and almost as quick, I could see the bull moving thru the trees on the other side, we had finally sparked some interest into this bull. After a few more cow calls this bull couldn't take it anymore and trotted straight across the meadow and stopped 55 yards or so from me. It provided a perfect shot opportunity broadside, however, I had been in this situation before and I didn't fell confident enough at that distance to be able to place the shot exactly were I wanted to. So I slowly motioned to Jay to move further back to my left and call again. As Jay started to move, the moose seemed to loose interest and started walking the other way. Jay changed tatics and started cracking some branches. Jay then changed position by moving further down the slope and all the while keeping me between Jay and the moose. Jay let out another cow bellow and this Bull Moose was cow struck in a nano second. He turned 180 degrees and started walking right to me. The bull has thought he had seen the cow of his dreams behind me and he was making it known that he was coming “a callin”. I had to make a decision fast as this bull was coming straight for me. He could go either left or right around the only pine tree between us, I chose left and bingo, he went to my right. I drew back my PSC Citation Compound and picked a spot behind the front shoulder were I wanted the arrow to land. The moose came closer, and at 12 yds. I released my XX75 Easton aluminum arrow with 100 grain Thunder Head Broad head at its point. The arrow hit pay dirt. The shot was perfect. The bull ran across the meadow and stopped at the other side. I could see it was a good hit. Now I started to shake. Jay came down and congratulated me, I thanked him we shook hands, heck I even gave him a hug I was so pumped. I had waited three years, through some tough moose hunts for this moment it was awesome! A friend of mine, Ed DeYoung, told me 4 years ago that it's the moment after you take a moose with a bow and arrow you will never forget. He is 100% correct. What a feeling, what an animal.
We sat sown and decided to wait an hour or so before we would go after him. We could hear the bull just on the other side of the meadow. There was a lot of thrashing going on, so we both knew it was a good hit. That hour we waited felt like a week.
Step 3 : Bag the moose
After an hour had passed we decided it was time to start tracking. I knew where the moose had entered the bush on the other side of the meadow so needless to say it was a brisk walk to the other side of the meadow. We found a spot of blood and then another
And another. As a whitetail hunter I was excited to see the bright red bubbly blood which in deer usually means a lung shot. I kept quiet though not wanting to interrupt our concentration of tracking. As we slowly worked our way up the mossy hill we suddenly ran out of blood. I went back to find last blood while Jay stayed on the tracks. Then Jay called “Randy he's over here”. I hurried up the hill to find my bull.
There was a lot of hoopla at that moment, years of bow hunting unsuccessfully for moose that had finally come to an end. He only measured 39” but I was elated. I stopped for a moment and gave a word of thanks and then we started celebrating again.
After field dressing the moose we headed back up camp to get the quads and the other guys to help get the moose out of the bush.
Later in the week Doug Rignerus, while hunting with Jay called a beautiful 50” bull in to 100 yds. and using his 300 Weatherby he dropped him at 100 yds. What a hunt all three of us went home with an animal.
As Jay Stewart says it is as easy as 1,2,2 ½, &3.
Jay Stewart is the owner and guide of Whispering Hill Trophy Hunters and Outfitters in Alberta, Canada. Jay donated the hunt to the West Michigan Bow hunters Chapter of SCI. 25% of the proceeds were then redonated back to the APOS Legacy fund by the bow hunter's chapter.