Member’s Hunt: When the Hunting Gods Smile

posted on September 2, 2023
MH Hunting Gods Smile Lead

By David Willette, North Adams, Mass.

On a whim this past summer I looked up Shiras moose hunts in southern British Columbia, only because this hunt would be easy driving distance from my son’s home in northwest Montana. Why not? I figured. I sent out a few blind emails to various websites and hunting travel agents. I really wasn’t expecting much of a response from any of this. I got some early replies from the websites but they were mostly northern BC hunts, and I didn’t want to drive that far. I kind of forgot about it until two weeks later when I got an email back from Jack Atcheson & Sons booking agency. They had a Shiras moose hunt for a great price with Wade and Wilf Boardman, who I had hunted with before back in 2003 when I shot my first bull elk. The hunt dates worked out perfectly, as I was flying out to hunt the Montana general season opener with my son anyhow, and all I had to do was move up my departure date one week. I immediately booked the hunt and my flights.

I wanted to add a twist to this hunt, so I asked Wilf if I could make it a “combo hunt,” using my bow for one day, Oct. 14, then switching over to my rifle, which opened on the 15th. Wilf stated that this wasn’t a problem. Again, I really wasn’t expecting to shoot a bull moose with the bow, but again I figured, Why not?

Just before I left for camp with Wade, I mentioned to Wilf that we would probably do some scouting with the bow to locate some moose, and then go in the next day with the rifle. “We’ll see,” Wilf replied. Wade and I got settled into camp early on the 13th, so we had a few hours that afternoon/evening and Wade took me to his favorite swale, a long, narrow trickle with maybe 30 yards wide of swale grass located between two mountains. It wasn’t a very big area, but it was open and it felt and looked good. Plus, it was about 200 yards from the truck. It didn’t take long that early evening for Wade to get moose moving about, but we couldn’t see the moose if they weren’t in the swale, as the timber was thick. We played cat and mouse with a bull for over an hour, never laying eyes on him once. Darkness came and we went back to camp empty-handed but full of hope.

Obviously, the next morning we headed back to Wade’s favorite swale and right off the bat we had a bull moose nearby. Finally, about 100 yards away, we could see paddles swaying back and forth slowly working their way toward us as it fed on red willow browse. I ranged a small hemlock at 50 yards—and that was the farthest that I would shoot. Sure enough, Wade coaxed that bull into the opening and I let my arrow fly. I think the bull took a small step after I released because the arrow hit a little far back, but it didn’t matter. He walked 200 yards and fell over like a sheet of plywood. We could hear him crash and knew then that it was over. We waited another half hour and went to recover my bull. It was 9 a.m. when we got to the beast.

Afterwards, we paced off the shot distance at 44 yards and coincidentally the bull had a 44-inch spread. Because the hunt ended so quickly, I feel almost as if I got shortchanged. But you better be ready when the hunting gods smile.

Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? 
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