Well, the moose hunt came up quickly. I ran into complications on my original hip surgery and had to have a revision. I was to be partial weight bearing on crutches until I saw my surgeon in September and couldn't drive. Basically home confinement! However I found a way to make it to the moose hunt last week with Jamie Lapole and her father Tony from Baltimore, MD.
But before I get into our hunting story, first let me give you some background. I have been a volunteer for Hunt of a Lifetime, (huntofalifetime.org) for 12 years, this was my first hunt with the organization. The organization was started by Tina Pattison who lost her son to cancer after he went on a moose hunt. Hunt of a Lifetime relies on donations to provide guided hunting and fishing trips to individuals under the age of 21 with life threatening diseases. Jamie has Cystic Fibrosis and had a double lung transplant 11 months ago. When she was 10 years old, she watched a Jim Shockey show on moose hunting with her dad and at the end told him she wanted to go on a moose hunt. She had to wait 10 years until she got her new lungs to fulfill her dream.
Jamie and Tony arrived late on Saturday night two days before the start of the hunt. We spent Sunday sighting in the rifle and practicing with a shooting stick. We then went for a ride hoping to see a moose, although not in the zone we were hunting. We got an early start, 4:30AM on Monday and drove into the southern section of Zone 4 in the North Maine Woods. Al Cowperwaite from North Maine Woods gave our hunting party free passage into the zone through the Kelly Dam gate. The first day we didn't see any bulls, but day two Joe and I called in a nice bull at about 40 yds. Unfortunately he didn't wait around for her to get a site picture through the scope and he slipped away. On day three, we called in a very nice bull to within 15 yds of where we were standing but she couldn't see it through the tall regrowth. We stopped the bull at 50 and 80 yds and she finally got off a shot but didn't connect. On day four we found two big bulls sparing, they were fighting like no tomorrow, unfortunately when we stopped the truck the bigger of the two ran off. The other one was about 110 yds off and once again it didn't happen for Jamie. On Day 5 a small bull presented itself however he didn't wait around long enough.
Day six presented 4 very tired hunters. We had been hunting 16 hrs a day, including the two hour drive time to the hunting area each way, and not once did Jamie complain. By the time we had something to eat we were lucky to get 4-5 hours sleep. As if the hunting experiences to date hadn't already given all of us exciting moose stories to tell, the morning of day 6 only added to them. A cow crossed the road in front of the truck and we hopped out knowing the bull we be close behind. He began grunting and raking his rack on trees giving us a chorus to listen to. He was located at about 2 on the clock dial. Then he got quiet. So I started cow calling with my home made birch bark moose call. He answered my call, and so did two more bulls at 11 and 8 on the clock dial. This went on for an hour before we finally gave up and moved on. Now Joe and I were concerned because the weather report said the temperature was going to climb to 73 degrees and it had already gone up 10 degrees while we were playing with the bulls. Moose winter hair is 1000 hairs per square inch and when it gets that warm they don't move too much. We drove about 2-3 three miles down the road when all of a sudden Joe yells out bull moose, all of us jumped out of the truck and the bull was standing 15 yds off the road looking at us, frozen in time. Jamie reacted quickly and didn't even use the shooting stick, firring her rifle free hand and hitting him in the heart, a deadly kill. However, the state gives the guides permission to back these hunts up so Joe and I fired and the moose dropped about 50 yds off the road. Jamie's moose weighed 870 pounds field dressed and it's rack had a spred of 44 1/2 inches and 15 points. We used Joe's truck winch and a chain saw to get him out of the woods. I began the field dressing and when Erik noticed I was getting tired and hot he chipped in and finished the job. Thank you Erik. We used a chainsaw winch to get the moose in the back of the pickup and off to the tagging station. We packed the moose with ice to chill down the meat in the heat of the day and drove to Herring Brothers butchering, they donated the butchering, wrapping and freezing. They too lost a daughter to cancer. The head and cape was taken to Jim Gieb for doing a shoulder mount.
This hunt wouldn't be possible without donations to the organization. They provided $400 for clothing and Cabela's gave them employee pricing. Savage arms provided a .308 rifle with a Bushnell scope that she gets to keep, Nosler provided the Ammo. Hunt of a lifetime provided the rental vehicle, gas and money for food etc. Joe and Liz Kruse provided the lodging for the party and he and I picked up the rest of the expenses. We ate moose meet most of the week with Randy providing the gourmet chef meals including moose steak, moose with macaroni, and moose stew. Jonah got up very early every morning to make us a breakfast to go. I would like to thank both of you for your efforts.
As I mentioned, Hunt of a Lifetime provides guided hunting and fishing trips for free and depend on donations to make it happen. Last year they provided 108 trips for those with life threatening diseases. So if you have a little extra money, please consider donating to this organization. I know know why they call it Hunt of a Lifetime, it was the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I am sure that speaks for everyone in the party.