Our Maine moose hunt began in June of 2018, right after the annual lottery. We were contacted by Stuart Mierke. Stuart had told us he had been waiting 19 years to draw, and finally had. He was drawn for a zone 8 bull for the October season. After talking with Stuart for a while about what we offer with our remote hunts he decided to trade his permit for a September hunt if possible. We quickly got to work and found a great zone to trade for in the September season. We would be heading to the North Maine Woods.
When paperwork was finished with the swap the much anticipated hunt seemed forever away! In August we traveled up and set up cameras, checked our gear over about ten times, picked up miscellaneous odds and ends, made grocery lists, and all of the other things to make a hunt successful. We had decided to setup camp in a remote area in the zone in order to have the least amount of hunting pressure.
After months of endless texting and excitement the magical time had arrived. The guides went up early to setup camp, do additional scouting, cut firewood, more scouting.
Stuart and his subpermittee arrived in moose camp on Sunday morning, a day prior to the hunt. We got them acquainted with their tent, settled in with all of their gear, had some lunch and took off to sight in rifles. After checking over rifles we went out and did some more scouting. We like to take clients into the woods with us the day prior, especially ones who have never hunted moose. It helps familiarize them with the type of terrain, seeing moose, sign, etc.
The day had finally come. Monday morning of the moose hunt was 23 degrees. We had some great spots picked out. We pulled into our spot and walked in about an hour before shooting light to listen. We didn't hear anything. We started calling and within about 2-3 minutes we heard a bull grunting a few hundred yards from us. We were able to call him to within about 10 yards. He was a decent bull but not what we were looking for that morning. Later in the day we went to another spot and also called out another nice bull. He was about 40 inches and we chose to pass on him. Tuesday and Wednesday had high winds and rain. We still hunted hard, but only managed to call in a few bulls. We worked in close on a couple of fork bulls during a downpour which was neat to watch. On Thursday, one of the nicest days of the week we unfortunately couldn't seem to get any bulls to cooperate. It appeared as if they had vacated every area we hunted.
Friday was our day! It started off drizzling, without any wind. We walked and called up an old road for about 2 miles before we had about a 36" bull come out grunting right in front of us. Stuart quickly decided he hadn't waited 19 years to end it on a small bull. We watched that one for a few minutes before he wandered off. That afternoon we were hunting a different spot when we spotted a cow track going down into a cedar bog. We thought maybe she went in there after a bull. We let out a few cow calls and heard her respond. She called out several times and sounded upset that we were calling. I told the hunters that she was probably upset because maybe her bull was leaving to come to us. Within about a minute or two we heard grunting. He was coming FAST! We quickly ran to a better spot to get into position of where he was coming to. Unfortunatley we didn't run far enough. The bull came directly in front of us 20 feet, raking and breaking brush, all while grunting. We couldn't find any shot opening as the bushes we were behind were blocking most of our view. We could see that he was a nice mature bull. The wind suddenly switched and blew right at him. As quickly as he had come, he bolted away. My reaction was to run after him grunting in hopes to get him to turn before he disappeared deeper into the swamp. It worked! He had only run about 30 yards before my grunting stopped him, and turned him back towards us. Stuart and Shawn got into position, and waited for an opening. They picked small shooting lanes and made two perfect shots on the bull. He didn't run far, only about 75-80 yards before we found him.
All of us had felt the highs and lows of the week with bad weather, and very high winds on some days. But we never gave up, each day we pushed harder than the day before. In the end we walked 52 miles so we thought it was fitting to call this the "Double Marathon Bull". The emotion ran very high as we walked up to the old bull on the ground. Stuart and Shawn told us how much their respect for these animals had grown over the week. They encountered 5 foot high stumps from where the loggers cut during winters, showing the harsh reality of the animals living conditions during those months. We walked through swamps where man can barely go, and somehow big moose move with ease. We encountered cuts with slash piles that could easily break an animal, or mans legs.
We spent the next several hours taking pictures and quartering the bull, and packing him out. We returned to the truck sweaty, dirty, smelly, but smiling the entire time. Each of us had accomplished a great feat. It will be an everlasting memory, and taught life lessons to push on and never give up.
Good luck on your next adventure