Friday morning met with my buddy, and we rode up to camp. Stopped on the way for groceries.
Got to camp in the afternoon (about a 4 hour drive for me).
We sighted in our rifles between the raindrops, and went for a ride.
When we got back, my buddy decided to go fishing, since it was the last day of trout season. He brought his shotgun, and was going to take a walk in the woods looking for grouse.
I stayed at camp, got dinner ready and read a book.
After dinner we sorted out our gear, and made plans in where we wanted to start hunting.
We went to bed right around 10:00.
Just a little background:
As I had mentioned, I have been applying since NH started issuing moose permits. My dream was to walk out my camp door in zone A1 and hunt and I wanted to shoot a nice bull. There are only 15 either sex permits offered for zone A1. Being from Vt, and applying for only 2 zones (A1 & A2). I knew my odds were low that I would be drawn. With 9 preference points, I was the 9th name drawn out of the hat in 2011.
To say the least I was friggen excited!
I shot a decent bull in Vt. in 2004 My buddy who owns the camp with me has been applying to VT and NH for the same amount of time, so I called him soon after being drawn and asked him to be my second shooter, but actually I told him I wanted him to shoot the moose, and if the situation presented itself, perhaps we could shoot it together.
Rain! I know it's good hunting in the rain, but being out hunting for hours when it's pouring is the one thing I don't enjoy.
After a good breakfast we suited up in our rain gear, walked out the door and loaded our rifles. It wasn't raining too hard, so it was bearable. We decided to start with the "4 point rd" and walked into the woods. We saw some very fresh sign, with droppings and browsing, but after walking further down the tote road, the less sign we saw. We set up and called, with no response.
We walked across some old cuts, and through some hard woods, still not a lot of fresh sign.
We then headed up towards the top of a ridge. In my mind I kept thinking we are getting further and further from any good road, If we dropped something, it was going to be a long hard days worth of work to get it out.
We had planned on quartering up the moose and hauling it out. I had brought a pack frame, and my buddy had a deer cart.
Up near the top we jumped a cow from her bed, my buddy pulled up quick, but this wasn't what we were looking for. He mentioned that after day 4 of hunting, this might look a little more tempting.
The weather all day was hard rain, then blue sky and sunshine.
We saw a couple other hunters, and decided to stay clear, so we swung around and headed back to camp for a bowl of soup and a sandwich.
On the way back through a cut we found a small hornets nest about the size of a softball. With the sun out, I decided to take a picture.
After lunch, we decided to take a drive past the camp to the end of the road. My buddy wanted to try hunting up there, but when we got there, someone was already parked, and we could see them sitting about 50 yards from their truck watching a trail.
So we went back towards the camp and tried another tote road. About a quarter mile up the road we rounded a curve and came up on a big cow browsing. I thought a got a good picture of her, but my camera was focused on the branch 5 yards in front of me.
After she finally made us, she turned around and slowly walked away.
We continued on the road, and after turning a corner about 200 yards further up the road, we came across a smaller bull feeding.
Guns were up and there was a lot of whispering about if this was what we wanted to shoot. He had brow tines, but not much for palms, maybe a 3-4 year old. After a little persuasion to my buddy that this was below our standards for the first day, we decided to pass. The bull finally got wind of us, and walked away. We followed him out into the cut after him to see if there were any of his bigger buddies feeding.
The skies opened up and it started pouring. Then I saw a flash of lighting, and a huge rumble of thunder. I was thinking that it might not be a good idea to be standing out in a cut, with an rifle in my hand. Soon after the rain picked up with a small amount of hail mixed in. Luckily, that was the only lighting we saw. Within 10 minutes the rain stopped, and the sun came out. As the first day of NH moose season came to a close, we were privileged to a beautiful rainbow.
I woke up a couple of times in the night to hear the rain pouring down, but it slowed to just sprinkles as it started getting light out.
My buddy wanted to try the spot at the end of the road, so we took a drive up only to find the same guy sitting 50 yards from his truck.
We decided to go back to the road where we saw the cow and bull Saturday afternoon.
We parked and walked up the tote road. We walked out to one of the cuts where we saw the bull the previous day. Just on the edge in a small birch was a big grouse picking buds. I snapped a couple of shots as he was doing his high wire balancing act, pecking away
Nothing was in the cut, so we backed out and headed up the road further.
As we were about to cross a stream, I looked up through the woods, and spotted a big black body. My buddy is hard of hearing and I was trying to get his attention. "Dave, psst, Dave, psst, psst, DAVE!!" He finally looked at me, and I pointed up, "Moose!" We looked through the scopes, and soon determined it was a cow. I kept scanning the woods for other moose, and picked up another black form in front of her.
"Dave there's another one in front of her, we need to cross the stream and get about 30 yards further to see it".
So now in stealth mode we work our way across the rocks to get the 10 feet to the other side. As soon as we got the 30 yards further, a road branched off in the direction of the moose. I looked up and all I could see was antlers. "Big Bull!" I whisper to my buddy. "Shoot it!" he says.
"No we need to get closer, and get into position".
The big bull is facing away from us, and browsing on everything in sight. All I can see is antlers sticking out on either side of his head. At that point it was about 150 yards between us and the bull. We slowly worked our way to a water-bar about 40 yards in front of us. My buddy sat down and got a good solid position. I was to his right leaning up against a yellow birch. About that time we spot the cow at about 60 yards staring at us. She had us made, but wasn't real sure of what we were.
The bull was still facing away, and the cow was starting to get nervous and turned and slowly walked towards the bull, then disapeared in another water-bar. By now the bull had turned a little and was slightly quartering away from us.
My buddy says "I've got a clear shot, how about you?" About halfway between me an the bull were a couple of small trees, leaving only about a 4 inch hole to place a shot at the bull's shoulder. "No", I said "Not a good shot yet" We waited another minute or two and he finally took a couple steps to the left. "I've got a good shot now" I tell my buddy. "You shoot first, then I'll shoot".
He holds tight,and squeezes the trigger. As soon as he shoots, the bull takes two more steps, and then I shot. We saw him go forward off the road and then we lost sight.
There was actually two cows with him, and we saw them run off, but he wasn't with them.
We walked up to where he was standing. There was no blood, no hair, no sign of a hit.
Not even tracks of him running off. We looked and looked all over. Nothing! Our shots were at 8:30, and now it's 9:30 and we still haven't found a thing. At one point it started pouring. Now I'm thinking "Great, if there was any blood, it washed away now."
I go back once again to where he was standing, and I can see his tacks from where he walked off. He walked straight away, and up on to a trail. I know my buddy had already gone to the left on the trail looking, and I had looked to the right. I couldn't find any more fresh tracks. My only conclusion was that he went straight up the hill. I took a couple of steps , all of a sudden I could see tines sticking out of the black berry bushes. A couple more steps confirm it's our bull. "Dave, Dave, I found him!!"
What a beauty. 5 brow tines on one side, 8 on the other. 64 1/2 inch spread. 795 lbs. At that point we decide there was no friggen way we were going to quarter up this big boy. So we ended up getting a guy with a chain saw winch and slowly dragged him back to the truck.
5:30 pm, we were finally loaded up.
I will post more of the story in the NH hunting forum of the story after the story. So you can comment if you like.