Every year we say it, but we are beyond lucky to be able to go hunt moose the way we do. It was another epic year with great memories, great hunters, great guides and great bulls! We were fortunate enough to share our passion for moose hunting with six hunters this year on our guided Maine remote moose hunts and I am proud to say that five of those hunters took home bulls. We hunted zones 1,2,6 and 8 this year. It was definitely one of the harder years we’ve had for moose hunting. It seems we say that every year lately, but without a doubt… it is getting harder and harder every year to get into trophy moose. Not because of lack of moose by any means, WE HAVE A TON OF MOOSE, but mainly because they are becoming more educated every year. The deciding factor these days, seems to be how hard you are willing to push yourself and how many miles you are willing to go on foot. During the October season our Guides Joel and Mark, both estimated that they had covered about forty-five miles on foot each, with their hunters throughout the week. Their hunters both harvested their bulls on the last day of the six day hunt.
As usual we hunted away from the logging roads and got back into some excellent trophy moose habitat. We can’t stress how important it is nowadays to hunt away from the roads and away from high pressured areas. Far too many guides in Maine spend the better part of the week driving the logging roads looking for a moose to shoot. For years that was all that was necessary to harvest a moose, but times have changed. There are many guides in Maine who have never packed a moose out of the woods. Instead they rely on hunting close to loggings roads hoping they will be able to winch or pull moose out whole after harvesting. I’m proud to say that all of the guides at Epic Adventures have experience packing moose out and hunt with the intention of having to pack their moose out of the woods each season. Three of the five bulls we harvested this year came out of the woods on pack frames.
Mark had a great September hunt with David and Gail from South Carolina. David and Gail were a pleasure to have in camp. I credited Gail with the quote of the week on the first night in camp. We were discussing the next mornings plans and what time we needed to be leaving camp. Gail explained she can be a little mean that time of morning but simply said to mark… “Just don’t say anything stupid” in the morning and he would be just fine! On the third day of the hunt, Mark came across where two bulls just fought minutes before. There was fresh tracks and scuff marks in the road with the typical piles of moose hair that result from a fight. Mark started racking the brush and grunting and got an instant response from a bull not 50 yards away. The bull turned out to be a nice 49″ bull that came swaying and grunting into under 30 yards. Gail put two quick shots into him and dropped him right in his tracks!! When I arrived back to camp that night with my hunter John, Mark was just finishing hanging Gail’s bull in a tree for the night to start cooling the meat down. We were all standing around celebrating and hearing the story from Gail when Mark said Gail smoked him! I quickly reminded Mark that the moose is hanging in a tree…. obviously Gail smoked him, now don’t say anything stupid!!
My hunter John and I struggled the first few days only seeing one shooter bull we estimated at 50″ or a little bigger and not being able to get a shot at him. We did get that bull responding and coming in after our sighting, but lost daylight that first night. Aside from the first night and another morning where we heard a cow bellowing, we hardly heard any rut activity in our area the first few days of the hunt. This was not typical for a September hunt and was frustrating to say the least. We had a real close encounter with a smasher of a bull on friday night but ran out of daylight. Unfortunately John was not able to hunt the last day and for the first time in my moose hunting career, my hunter did not harvest a moose. Its always tough to go home empty handed, but John was great to have in camp for the week and I enjoyed our time together, the stories exchanged, and the experiences gained. Maybe he will be fortunate enough to draw a tag again someday and we can give it another shot.
A very hard September season left me hungry for a good bull the second season and my hunters Tom and Jesse headed back to Denver, Colorado with a great 57.5″ bull! We hunted hard all week and still were not seeing much rut activity. The first week with John the weather seamed so perfect, but the second week it was just the opposite. The first morning the wind seemed to be blowing a good twenty miles per hour and I knew it would make for tough calling. I elected to hunt about a mile into a hardwood ridge I had seen a lot of fresh feed sign in and not a single boot print from the first hunting season. As luck would have it, we worked right into a cow and calf the first hour of the hunt. The only downside was they were by themselves with no bull around. We ended up going to a different area mid morning and spotted our first bull of the hunt. He was a spike horn that came in silent to my calling, an easy bull to pass up early in the hunt. For the first three mornings we hunted the area where Gail had harvested her bull the first season. We found an incredible amount of moose sign, but battled 20-30mph winds most of the time and aside from a grunt or two the first night, we never got a vocal response from my calling.
On Wednesday afternoon we spotted a small bull out feeding in a new cut about 1100 yards away. We decided to get a closer look at him and were able to stalk into under 200 yards. I was curious to see how that bull would react to my calling since I hadn’t heard much all week. The wind was blowing fairly steady in my direction and the bull never heard me calling until we were about 200 yards away from him, but once he did he started trotting right into a cow call! A great sign!! On friday morning we passed on a bull in the 35-40″ range still wanting to find a good mature bull. Up to then we had seen five bulls and six cows so far in the week. It wasn’t long after we passed on that bull when we decided to head to a different spot and got lucky and ran into a shooter bull. Tom was able to put two great shots into the bull at 245 yards. He turned out to be a beauty at 57.5″!! He had what we estimated to be 2-2.5″ of tine broken off on one side and might have just touched 60″ if he still had that!! We couldn’t of been happier after hunting hard all week!
Chris guided Gary and Gladys from Pennsylvania to a beautiful bull the third day of their October hunt in Zone 8. Luck would have it, after Gary booked the hunt with us they were also drawn for a Vermont tag this year, so they headed out of camp early after getting their moose to go hunt Vermont. This year some of our usual hunting areas in zone 8 were being timber harvested and it made it tough to hunt anywhere near the area because of the noise pollution from the equipment. It just made it incredibly hard to hear while we were calling. So Chris went and checked on some other areas and found good moose sign and called in this beautiful bull that Gary couldn’t pass up. We can’t blame him! Gary and Gladys turned 70 this year, and it was great to see them still out hunting and enjoying the woods together. A few days later they went to Vermont and Gladys ended up shooting a nice six point bull there…. Fantastic!!!!
Joel hit the woods with Frank from Massachusetts. They truly had an epic week of hunting, but they definitely worked hard for it covering about forty-five miles on foot throughout the week. They saw a record thirty bulls and forty-six moose!!! They hunted hard for a 60″ bull that Joel spotted the morning before the hunt, passing up bull after bull each day. They had two close calls with great 50″+ bulls, but were not quite able to get a shot off at either one. The last morning Frank decided to harvest this great bull when it presented a broad side shot at 275 yards. Some celebration and a short 300 yard pack job and that week was truly a week to remember for the guys and we look forward to hunting that area again next Fall!!
For Mark the October season brought just the opposite and his hunters harvested the only bull he saw all week on the last morning. He was very fortunate to spend a second October season in a row guiding brothers Tim and Rich from Maine and Pennsylvania. Tim and Rich are no strangers to hunting out of tent camps and no strangers to hunting Moose in Maine. I believe this was their fourth moose hunt they have participated in over the years and probably one of the most rewarding. Just like Frank, Tim did not harvest his bull until the last morning and I think both Tim and Frank would agree that harvesting a bull on the last morning truly gives you a hunt to remember and the whole experience from a moose hunt. You’ll experience highs and lows hunting moose the whole week and not filling the tag until the end. It takes dedication and a mental toughness to stick that out on what could be a tag you may never draw again. Luckily Tim and Rich were great sports and enjoyed putting forth the full effort logging miles each day on foot. On Saturday the area that Mark had intended to hunt was now void of noisy logging equipment and he went right into a classic moose valley where his hunter two years prior killed a beautiful bull. Luck would have it, there was a frost on the ground and not a breath of wind. Mark started calling and it wasn’t long when he got a response. A welcome response after not hearing or seeing a bull all week! That bull came in grunting and raking to Mark’s call and wound up being a dandy… Almost on script!!
I’d like to say thank you to all the hunters we had in camp this year. We couldn’t have asked for better hunters this year! I’d also like to say a thank you to Mark, Joel, and Chris for the hard work you all put in guiding! If you are interested in our fully guided remote Maine trophy moose hunts, don’t hesitate to contact us and please do check out our website for hunt details at WWW.EAGUIDES.COM
Until next year…