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Old 10-10-2019, 11:20 AM
Bushleague Bushleague is offline
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 2,955
Default Canoe moose hunt, 2019.

This is the somewhat wordy tale of a canoe hunt I just returned from. For a few years now I've considered the elk hunt we did back in 2015 one of my greatest trophy's, even though it was my partner that pulled the trigger.


I think I finally surpassed that victory however with a truly epic hunt. This hunt was significant in that it is the 10th canoe hunt I've done, and quite possibly the last one that I will do for moose as early season tags are getting much harder to draw. It was also significant in that the hunt was done solo, and just the all around epic-ness of the whole hunt. So if you've got a few minuets, pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the read, if not just enjoy the pictures.....

DSCF1223 by , on Flickr

First off, a huge thanks to a fellow member and all around stand up guy, and great hunter by the sounds of it. He drove me to the put in point, and kept my vehicle at his house for the duration of the trip. We met for the first time over breakfast on the morning of the hunt, drove to the put in, and then I gave him my truck LOL.

PA200256 by , on Flickr

I spotted a few cow moose as I paddled down the river, each time I pulled over onto the opposite bank, glassed the area carefully and did some calling. I never did manage to put antlers on a moose that day however. Despite some strong upriver winds and my relatively late start I paddled about 30km that day and made camp late in the day.

PA190254 by , on Flickr

The next couple of days I stayed along the banks, I was seeing quite a few cow moose near the river, and saw a couple bulls higher up the valley. I figured if I kept calling it was only a matter of time until I got a bull to come out on the bank, where dealing with it by myself would be relatively easy. A couple days into the hunt however, two jet boats full of "keepers" made camp upriver of me. These guys were buzzing past about 4-6 times a day, I saw them go by with two cow elk and what looked like a cow moose, at that point I didn't really want to call any moose closer to the river, so I started hunting higher.

PA200255 by , on Flickr

The next day it got bitter cold, my Life Straw bottle became more or less useless, there was a lot of driving snow, and up and down the valley you could hear the crash of trees getting blown over. The wind made calling useless, and longer shots impossible. However it did give me enough noise coverage to still hunt some timber, even with the dry crunchy leaves. I found some fresh moose tracks in the dead leaves, headed down a well worn game trail that I could move along quietly and decided that I may as well follow them. Without snow there was no way to tell the sex of the animal, but I figured it was about as good of a chance as any. I slowly followed those tracks for about 4-5 hours and eventually bumped into the cow that had made them at less than 20 yards. Not a bull, but I was pretty proud of myself for pulling that off on bare, crunchy ground.

PA230257 by , on Flickr

Shortly after tracking the cow I saw a herd of elk further up the far side of the valley, and decided to go after them the next day. I hiked a couple kilometers back to camp and the paddled the canoe a couple km upstream so I could use it to get into position the next morning. The next day was much like the previous, high winds and lots of snow. I hiked upriver to the canoe, crossed the river, then hiked another 3 km further upriver (and down wind) before climbing way up the valley. I hunted half the day up there and didn't see any elk.

About noon I looked across the valley and saw a moose, way up on the other side. It was hard to tell through the snow, but eventually I was able positively confirm that it was a bull. He was slowly descending off of a bench in a more or less south bound direction. My first feeling was that of disappointment, but the more I thought about it the more I became convinced that I just might be able to intercept him if I really got a move on. The moose was over a kilometer away and heading upriver, not accounting for the elevation, and my canoe was about a kilometer and a half downriver... I decided that I didn't have anything better to do that attempt a more or less impossible stalk.

I barrelled down the side of the valley to the river bank, hoofed it back to my canoe down the rough bank, and then paddled the canoe back up the river as fast as I could. I landed about where I had seen the bull, I ditched my pack and then marched up the riverbank another half kilometer to get downwind of the bull... assuming he was still headed in that direction. The bush was impossibly thick and noisy so I had to move very slowly and only using game trails. I was trying to cut back to the wall of the valley where I figured the bull would be, but the game trails were not taking me there very directly. All of the sudden I smelled him, he was close! I hunkered down and did a few calls... nothing. After about 15 minuets I convinced myself that I must be smelling a wallow, and moved forward cautiously. About 10 yards further... BOOM!... a huge commotion right near the wall of the valley. It was too thick to see anything so I ran up a knoll, hoping to see over the undergrowth. The bull was charging straight up the wall, back up onto the bench he had come off of, right at the top he stopped broadside. I couldn't tell you the yardage, but it felt too far for me to freehand. He just stood there while I blundered around trying to brace my rifle on a tree, however the moment I found a rest he turned, giving me no ethical shot, and slowly disappeared over the edge. At that point I really should have given up, but I decided that I was going up after him, did you know a moose can pretty much run up a vertical wall? By the time I was nearly to the top, I was only still climbing because I was too scared to try to come back down. On top of the bench it was crazy thick, forget trying to move quietly, I was doing pretty good just to move at all. I did bump a moose near the top but never did see it, and finally decided that maybe I'd just have to give up on that bull.

That there is pretty much the most epic day I've ever put in. I think if I had had a partner on this hunt, no matter who it was, they would have talked me out of even attempting it. I cant even decide if nearly pulling the whole thing off makes it more crazy, or less crazy, but it was indeed crazy.

DSCF1221 by , on Flickr

So the next day I decided to move further away from those jet boaters, I packed up in the dark and launched my canoe at the crack of legal shooting light. About 200 yards down river, just standing there on a gravel bar, was a bull moose... so I shot him.

DSCF1216 by , on Flickr

I only had to pack him about 100 yards to get him in the canoe, but still, dressing a moose, and packing it 100 yards over your shoulder is pretty hard work for one guy. I was back in the canoe by noon, doing my best to keep it headed downriver. As usual my arms and stomach were cramping up like crazy, I literally could not even sit still without some muscle or other twitching and cramping. My entire right arm was hard as a rock, but if I tried to rub it my left hand would involuntarily curl itself into a pretzel like shape, and I would have to use my other hand to straighten it out. So mostly I just drifted and drank lots of water for a couple hours, eventually I recovered to where I could carefully do some paddling... despite my slow progress I managed to cover the 40km or so of river to the takeout before nightfall.

If anyone managed to read this far, I thank you, and hope that it has been somewhat entertaining, and I will end with the same line as I did on that 2015 hunt... More than the game we pursue, regardless of the outcome, its the hunt itself that is the real trophy. Good luck everyone.
There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

Last edited by Bushleague; 10-10-2019 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:27 AM
dave99 dave99 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Jasper
Posts: 740

Epic. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing.

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Old 10-10-2019, 11:34 AM
Shotgun Shotgun is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 4

Great write up and pics!

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Old 10-10-2019, 11:34 AM
Athabasca1 Athabasca1 is offline
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Posts: 273

Congratulations. Tremendous effort on your part. Very good write up and great pictures. Thanks for posting.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:35 AM
calgarychef calgarychef is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,981

I absolutely love river based hunts,I wish we had more rivers.
Great story!
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:35 AM
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Moo Snukkle Moo Snukkle is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Stony Plain
Posts: 981

This hunt was destined for success from the beginning. Iím sure coming home empty handed would not have diminished this experience at all. Good for you for doing it on your own and congratulations on a great trophy. Completely admirable.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:50 AM
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astepanuk astepanuk is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: The North
Posts: 1,259

Great Story congrats on the Harvest!!
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:57 AM
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coxy95 coxy95 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 287

Well done and well deserved!
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:07 PM
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Albertadiver Albertadiver is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,802

Posts like this is what I very much appreciate.

You my friend have made AO Great Again!
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:12 PM
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Greatwest Greatwest is offline
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 681

Congrats on the well earned bull!! Very entertaining story. Funny how you work your arse off climbing stocking and almost connecting on a bull one day then the next day one is just waiting there for you in the open. Almost like it was your reward for the day prior.
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:22 PM
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Big Bull Big Bull is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Jasper
Posts: 1,990

Congratulations on a great trip and hunt - keeping it "old school"!
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:25 PM
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bonedogg bonedogg is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,172

killer adventure, thanks for sharing!!
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Old 10-10-2019, 12:32 PM
Gilly Gilly is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 448

It doesnít get any better than this right here folks !

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Old 10-10-2019, 12:37 PM
colt45 colt45 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Alberta
Posts: 376

Congrats on the great hunt and write up,
And pics,
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:18 PM
skain11 skain11 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: St Eh
Posts: 458

Best story of the year by far...it's a great display of when proper planning and execution combine to provide a memory for life and enjoyment for us.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:33 PM
boah boah is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 816

Shotgun. Please empty your inbox, Iím trying to buy something from you.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Devon/Spruce Grove
Posts: 331

Awesome! Thanks for sharing and making me drool for that kind of adventure.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:08 PM
Family Hunter Family Hunter is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Taber
Posts: 173
Default Epic

On my bucket list
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:17 PM
510-Gem 510-Gem is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 304

Everything a hunt should be. Very inspiring. Congrats!

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Old 10-10-2019, 02:17 PM
Bigwoodsman Bigwoodsman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 7,388

Congratulations on an Epic Hunt

Congratulations on a Fine Moose Harvest

Congratulations on writing and sharing this post with us. Best moose hunting post of 2019!

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Old 10-10-2019, 02:35 PM
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IronNoggin IronNoggin is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 2,587
Thumbs up

Simply Awesome!!
Hell of a fine tale, bull and pictures!
Well Done!!

Done the solo run on moose with a canoe in my past, but getting a tad too old to contemplate that now. Thanks for the share and rekindling of very fine memories!!

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Old 10-10-2019, 02:52 PM
czechm8 czechm8 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 164

Great hunt, great story, congrats on the fine moose! I hope you re-live the fine memories every time you enjoy a bite.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:04 PM
Ken H Ken H is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sylvan Lake
Posts: 648

Great story!! Congratulations on an amazing hunt.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:06 PM
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wildwoods wildwoods is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Location
Posts: 4,916

This very well could be my favorite thread of ALL TIME!

You are always so helpful to people hunting public land. I feel you are reaping what you've sown over the years. You are an excellent hunter and story teller. Congrats isn't enough!
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Old 10-10-2019, 05:53 PM
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hayseed hayseed is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5,342

Love it!!! There he was, so I shot him... Lol..

Huge congrats,thanks so much for sharing!!!!
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Old 10-10-2019, 07:42 PM
Sooner Sooner is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Edmonton
Posts: 8,995

Incredible adventure. Thanks for posting, nice bull.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:00 PM
Xiph0id Xiph0id is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Leduc
Posts: 1,642

pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the read
I literally did this and loved it!

I was kind of hoping it would be longer, I was enjoy it that much.
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Old 10-10-2019, 08:55 PM
alder alder is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Calgary
Posts: 569

Youíre the man. This is the stuff.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:02 PM
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sns2 sns2 is offline
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Location: My House
Posts: 11,288

Mad respect for you, Sir.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:22 PM
JTRED JTRED is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Central Kootenays BC
Posts: 420

Best hunting tale I've read this yet, a canoe hunt sounds like a great way to do it. Congratulations on a great hunt and a hard earned moose. Great pictures and write-up.

I live and hunt in the Kootenays so my back pack hunting trips into the mountains for mule deer, elk and goats are my adventures. I agree with you that it's the hunt itself that's the real trophy. The planning, packing, anticipation followed by the often gruelling work, exhilaration, solitude, and just the being there. I'm all packed up as I type, heading out into the high country for mule deer or elk leaving at 0500am and plan on being back later Sunday unless a tag gets cut.
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