Moose Hunting British Columbia
Written By: Jim Kinsey
After arriving at the small Indian Village of Fort Ware, Hugh Huston, Jon Schulte and I met up with our bush plane pilot and readied our gear for a perfect day to fly into the bush of Northern British Columbia. The weather was bright and sunny. Not exactly what I was expecting the weather to be like this far north. Having filmed in the Yukon and Canada’s Northwest Territories, I knew that this nice weather wouldn’t last for long. Jerry Geraci owner and operator of Upper Stikine River adventures happily greeted us. I’m told Jerry has been hunting this area for a better part of his life and his love of the country showed in his rugged cowboy grin.
Nothing you do can prepare you for nine hours in the saddle. Not Gold’s gym, not a personal trainer and certainly not running. It is what it is, brutal and agonizing. With a late departure from camp, Hugh and I started down the trail and into some of the most incredible country on planet earth. “True wilderness” was once described to me by my friend and Master Alaskan guide Phil Shoemaker, where he was quoted as saying “animals live and die of old age often not seeing a human being their entire life”. I knew from the surrounding peaks, massive willow chocked valleys and unnamed rivers we were heading into a true hunting paradise.
Twenty-five years of waiting to hunt moose was finally within my reach as I to had a moose tag burning in my back pocket. Nosler was nice enough to send me off to British Columbia with some of their custom loaded ammunition in case the opportunity presented itself. We spent the first morning out of camp headed up to a huge valley to look for “Alces alces” A.K.A. the moose. Being Sept 16th , the Bull Moose rut wasn’t far off and I had hoped to capitalize on any nice bull in the immediate area. Along the trail moose paddles littered the valley, a great sign of the bulls this area produced. Three hours later we climbed off our horses and began glassing country so big it’s hard to find a word to describe it. Right away I spotted a nice goat that seemed approachable in a giant alpine slide. All indications pointed it was a nice Billy.
The morning of Sept 17th was cold as a thin layer of ice covered the beaver’s pond. By 1:00pm we reached the far end of the valley and I was still sore from all the riding. By 3:00 pm Tally left Hugh and I to continue glassing while she went in search of her husband Mark and client Jon Shulte who were scheduled to meet us after spiking out for 2 days. An hour later she returned with two very tired people. It seems the hike out was much further than anticipated and they were super excited to see the horses. ” Horses” Jon said excitedly. Mark was happy to see Tally safe and sound as we talked about their two-day adventure. By 5:00 pm it was time to head back down the trail and hunt our way back to camp.
Riding in the saddle on my “seventeen-hand high horse” Dumb, I had the view similar to a Texas “box-stand-hunter”. Like a mirage in the desert, a chocolate brown shape began to form. My adrenaline rocketed after a quick check through my binoculars. Moving across the meadow a large British Columbian moose emerged from the surrounding bush and began raking his antlers on a small spruce beating it relentlessly like a gladiator preparing for battle. Quickly I tied up my horse as my guide Mark and fellow hunter Hugh Huston made our way towards the preoccupied Bull Moose. Using Hugh’s rifle to simulate moose antlers I raised it over my head and began rotating it side to side as Mark called to the bull with a series of grunts. This was it; I thought to myself, a twenty-five year dream began to unfold with every closing step.
At 200 yards a second bull materialized which supported a narrower set of paddles, but with my mind set on the bull I first spotted we continued on coarse using a small spruce tree to conceal our direct line approach. Mark leaned around the tree and ranged the larger bull, which was standing perfectly broadside at 127 yards. Hugh who was filming me whispered “speed” letting me know he was rolling footage of the close encounter. I tightened the sling around my left arm for an “off the knee shot”. Lining up the big bull in my cross hairs I fired a perfectly placed shot rocking the bull with a blast of kinetic energy followed by a second and third round. Soon the bull disappeared into the thick yellow willows.
With daylight burning we quickly moved in the direction where we had last seen the moose. Soon the giant shape lying on the ground confirmed what my ears had registered just minutes before. I had my first moose down after dreaming about it for 25 years. This was on my bucket list and what a moose he was. His body dwarfed his southern cousin the Shiras moose, which is what I was used to looking at near my home in Missoula, Montana. Supporting a 45 ½ ” spread and 9 points on his left side and 8 points on his right I stood their staring at him still in disbelief at what had just transpired. Like an old friend, trusting and true, I had Nosler bullets loaded up front.
The next four days we searched for grizzly, mountain caribou, stone sheep, and moose. Hugh came close to taking a big 60″ moose right off the main trail, but with a swirling wind he wasn’t buying what we where selling. Jon and I tried to pin down the first day goat, which seemingly vanished into the “Cassiar abyss”. All of us had reached the low of the hunt by the end of the Twenty-two mile ride out of ” Beaver camp”.
With everything on track to fly out early one day early, Hugh Jon and I said our goodbyes. The three of us were sitting in the small A-frame listening intently for our pilot Mac when Upper Stikine’s very own Jerry Geraci came running into our cabin excited about something. ” Hugh go get your rifle there’s big Bull Moose crossing the river five hundred yards upstream”. Hugh and I couldn’t believe our good fortune! Running like a Marine on a mission, Hugh ran down to the dock and grabbed his rifle and loaded it with Nosler’s deadly AccuBonds. Grabbing my video camera from my bag I began to film one of the most exciting sequences I’ve ever captured!
Following Jerry’s lead Hugh and I darted upstream like two kids trying to catch the ice cream truck. Jerry called out with a cow moose call to the lovesick bull. Still out of breath from our mad dash, Hugh lined up on the bull’s front left shoulder at 250 yards. I watched the first round strike the bull. ” Whoomp”, “hit him again Hugh!”, I said still recording what seemed like a dream unfolding.
Hugh fired two more shots into the rut-crazed bull as we watched him collapse into the fast moving clear water of the Upper Stikine. Normally this is a “no-no” in moose hunting, but with a jet boat just down stream it became a “no brainer”. After some careful wrangling and clever maneuvering by Jerry, Hugh had his “Last chance bull” lying next to the dock amongst all our gear. “That was incredible!” Hugh said to me as I continued to film the recent turn of events. Going from a low to a high like that isn’t for the faint of heart! Snapping away photos I soon heard Mac’s floatplane fast approaching. Chapters in life can be described with many words, but some chapters can be written about to our best ability and still not do what we’ve just experienced any justice. This was one of those rare moments in time.
Thanks to my good friends Hugh Huston and Jon Schulte for having me accompany them on their adventure. Thanks to Tally and Mark Neudorf for helping me get my first moose. Special thanks goes out to Jerry Geraci who is the owner of Upper Stikine River Adventures.
- Jim Kinsey