Shiras Moose Disaster Chronicles vol I-IV
Round 1: So I've been trying to fill my moose tag four times now. First time there was a lot of muck and snow, the chains slipped from my tire and tore the brake line off my truck near the end of a windy mountain road. Crept back down the mountain, got tow, waited a few days for a part and went hunting again.
Round 2: too much snow to get into the back country on ATV or foot. Hunted the border and cut some tracks, never saw a moose.
Round 3: Finally a good moose was sighted while I was hanging out in camp with an outfitter who guides in the area. He said "you can shoot that moose and we'll help you get it out of here, or, you can come and guide hunting for me and find and shoot a bigger moose while you're working and getting paid for it". I pondered this because I've been a hunting guide before and I always said I'd never do it again. I finally agreed because I really hadn't seen but a few moose up until this point, I could have filled my tag, but it wouldn't have been with the moose I'm after.
Round 4: (This is where things really get good). I'm waiting to meet the elk hunting clients at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning. They're all chomping at the bit because some of them have been sitting around at a hotel for the past couple of days. The outfitter doesn't show up until 3PM. Paying clients are pissed off, as they should be. I should note that this outfitter promised them that there would be thousands of elk in the area, I had seen one elk in all my time out there.
On day one I am supposed to ride a client to the top of a ridge on an ATV and then be picked up by horses for the final ride into camp. We can't make it to the top due to deep snow so we wait as close as we can get until midnight then ride off the mountain and get a hotel room for the night.
The next day we ride to the same spot again and I hike 6 miles in 24" of wet snow to tell everyone where there my sport is so they can go get him with a horse. As soon as I get to camp I find out that the other guides are out dealing with a downed elk so I grab a horse and go out there to tell them. I immediately have to quarter the elk and get it back to camp. While loading the mules we have about 5 blowups that nearly kill me and the camp cook who is helping load the elk. The clients are pissed and we end up only getting half of the elk to camp and leaving the rest hung in trees to get when the stock calms down. That would be the ONLY elk that anyone even saw on the entire trip.
Later that night the cook walks out of the cook tent and screams "THE TENT IS ON FIRE" Everyone runs out there and sure enough, one of the sleep tents is on fire. Everyone throws snow on it and it goes out. People are not happy at this point and these hunters are smart enough to know that no tracks=no elk anywhere around.
The rest of the time the other guides are too lazy to saddle horses to take the clients to where the elk are and insist on hunting on foot the entire time. Hunting the same crappy spot over and over again, like watching paint dry. I on the other hand made my sport hike with me, hike a lot. He was great and we worked really hard. I have to add that I'm no horseman and I didn't feel comfortable leading someone else around on a horse in the snow.
After all my hunting I had seen about 12 individual moose, 5 bulls, one of them was around 40" with 8 or so points per-side. I announced that I would go and try and shoot him on Thursday and we'd pack him out whenever we could. My sport was totally cool with this because he knew as well as I did that there weren't any elk around. One of the other guides told me that I couldn't do that because he had lied to the clients telling them there was a severe storm warning and we were going to have to break camp 2 days early and me shooting a moose would make more work for him. I protested but he said they weren't going to help me which was promised by the outfitter who wasn't even in camp the whole time.
We ended up breaking camp and caching all of the outfitters gear, including uneaten food, which someone will get later on a snowmobile (this is illegal). The packers did this so they could get out of there in one load. When we reached the trailhead it was about 70Degrees and sunny. There would be no winter storm.
So now I have wasted the entire first week of elk season living in a smokey, dank, dark tent in an area with hardly any elk under the false promise that I could get my moose packed out for me. Someone brought some awful flu like thing into camp and everyone was hacking up a lung the whole time. What a freaking joke.
Stay tuned for round five, it's going to involve snowmobiles, telemark skis, and more disaster. I probably saw more predator sign than anything while I was out there. These shiras moose are being chased by wolves and they won't stand around while you walk up to them. They are wary. There is going to be a long range shot sometime in the near future.