In 2010, I was privileged to hunt with my 12-year-old daughter on our second successful moose hunt.
We were able to get a shot at a large 64″ Alaska/Yukon bull resting in the willows, but due to the hard walking, Hayley was unable to manoeuvre through the brush with our binoculars. We found a spot to put them on a tree to be found later. As it turns out every tree looks the same when you are trying to find a specific one. We packed the moose out and called it a good hunting season, but the binoculars remained.
When planning our third moose hunt I couldn’t decide where to go. I studied maps for days and replayed Yukon travels trying to decide where I had seen the most moose. In the end we decided to try the same general area.
Wait, we have to go back a bit.
Hayley and I had been river and ATV hunting the two previous years and got a moose. My 12-year-old daughter is not keen on diving into the gutting and field dressing of big game animals. She remained on the sidelines doing whatever she had to do to keep occupied, this included making statements like “Gross, what is that part?” or “Wow, that is a lot of blood.”
We decided that the 2011 season needed to be different; I needed help with the process. Cleaning a 1,200 to 1,500 pound moose alone is a chore for even the strongest hunter, so I brought my friend Chris who continues to hunt with me today.
Chris, Hayley and I arrived at our new spot, but were unable to find any sign of moose, so we headed back early to pack and move camp to the spot where we hunted the year prior. That evening we were in the same valley looking at a familiar countryside beautifully covered with the bright yellows and reds of fall. We decided to look for the binoculars we lost the previous year.
The brush and poor walking proved to be a problem again, and all the trees still looked the same. After an hour of walking through the rough terrain as Hayley scanned the valley we gave up and returned to the site we would call our lookout for the next few days.
But being stubborn, Hayley and I walked the area again the following day. Again, no binoculars. I was getting discouraged with the lack of moose and the missing binoculars that were under our feet somewhere.
To ease the pain of walking the horrible hillside again I decided to pick blueberries. After a few trips up and down the hillside I realized we were looking in the wrong spot. Looking up I saw a tree that did not look like every other tree on the hill. It looked like the tree we put the binoculars on as we stalked the moose. They were on the ground right beside it.
The binoculars had survived the winter, but there were teeth marks through the rubber, including one we think was made by a bear. I hurried to finish filling my berry container to get back and tell of my marvellous find. The glasses still worked great, except in temperature changes they fogged.
We managed to spot a cow and calf on the last evening before travelling home but our moose tag remained unfilled.