The likeliness of seeing a moose in Southern, Minnesota is slim to none. Surfing through trail cam pictures year after year, we stumbled upon a once in a lifetime buck. Due to this magnificent buck’s antler height and width, we gave him the well-deserved name, “Moose.”
The night of October 21, 2018 was the first time we set eyes on this beast, and ever since, all I could think about was how to fool this deer into creeping within bow range. I knew it wasn’t going to be a simple task, but I was willing to go the extra mile in order to harvest Moose. My plan was to sit in one of the stands nearest to where he had been seen last, and coax him into making the wrong move, taking that extra step to be broadside. This deer is every deer hunters dream, and I was blessed to have the opportunity to chase him.
With no wind, a brisk 35 degrees and barometric pressure rising, World War 4 was the stand I chose for the first sit on Thursday morning. As the morning rolled on, several up and coming bucks crossed in front of me, keeping me hopeful for the future of deer hunting at Dahl Creek Farms. Even raccoons and turkeys came out to play. More deer had passed on by and so did the time. After several hours of constant adrenaline rush and no Moose sightings. I decided it was time for lunch. I stepped down from WW4 and picked up trail camera cards and began to quietly exit the woods, for I knew that Moose was lurking nearby.
Thursday afternoon I decided to switch things up a bit and sit on the other side of his bedding area, where he had been encountered most recently on camera. I climbed the stand ever so quietly, hung up my arrow slinger and turned the video camera on, hoping to capture footage of me harvesting Moose. The evening went by unbelievably slow. I had sat there turning my head back and forth for hours, hoping that the next time I turn my head, Moose will be in sight. As most hunters know, the closer to sunset, the more intense things get. Everything is amplified. A leaf falls from the tree fast enough to make a crunch noise and I turn my head so fast my neck cracks. I tell myself to stay calm. Sunset is at 6:17 PM and I checked my phone to see what time it was and the clock read 5:20 PM. I slide my phone into my pocket and continue peering through the woods. Do you know the “deer in headlights feeling”? Well, I saw a deer over my right shoulder down in the ravine. It was a doe. She continued to slowly make her way to the food plot to forage. I kept my eye on her but continued to look around for her rutting buck to be behind her. What seemed like hours, was actually 5 minutes and my heart rate instantly tripled. Moose was in my line of vision.
I started to panic, visualizing every shot, every opportunity that could possibly present itself. The doe continued to forage and Moose started making a scrape at 53 yards. As if my heart wasn’t already racing fast enough, out comes Fingers. Another Dahl Creek Farm MONSTER. I had a decision to make and not much time to make it. Moose or Fingers? I quickly decided that I was willing to harvest either deer, both were very mature with tall and wide antlers. The doe that Moose was trailing makes her way to the pond, and so did Moose. I planned on taking my shot when he got up to the pond. THE MOMENT IS HERE, THE TIME IS NOW. Of course Moose stops behind some thick brush. I had no shot. Fingers scares the doe away and runs past Moose. After making the bold decision to not range how far Moose is away, I drew my Mathews bow back to full draw. As I’m deciding what pin to use, he ran off. Frustration instantly sank in but having this encounter made me hopeful for future encounters with him.
The hunt wasn’t over though. Fingers was still skulking in the distance. I threw everything in my arsenal at him. First a low short grunt, and then another. No reaction. Fingers is trotting away from me every so eloquently. I hit him with a snort wheeze and for a moment he was convinced. But that didn’t last long as he continued on his way through the hidden hills of bluff country to be seen another day.
For the next few days I hunted different stands throughout our property and got to see many 3.5 and 4.5 year old deer that I let go to hopefully get bigger for the following deer season. Deer hunting is a sport in which harvesting deer is not only a blessing, but just the frosting on the cake. Being in the woods throughout the fall, enjoying nature in its natural habitat is something I wish everyone could learn to appreciate. Being with friends and family, exchanging life stories as well as hunting stories, is something we hunters will forever cherish. As for Moose, I continue to learn more about him and hopefully have another close encounter before the end of the 2018 season. The legend continues…
The lesson learned from these encounters is that you cannot control everything that is going to happen in the woods. Focus on what you can control in life, don’t waste your energy on what you cannot control.
Shoot straight, and hunt safe. Happy hunting, everyone!