National Hunting & Fishing Day - "Share the Pride" and Ride Responsibly this Season

Feb 25, 2012
This is such a challenging topic for those of us up here in the great land. I personally hunt on foot but use ATV's and other off highway means of transportation to get afield. I frequently travel from 10-60 miles off of the nearest road to hunt and frankly there is no was anyone is going to pack a moose 40 miles out of the wilderness on their backs. We have massive amounts of public land but not that much close to the road. If I take a quad in 30-50 miles then another 10 miles over tundra I can set up camp and then walk a few miles in any direction and be alone in areas that are not heavily pressured.

The flip side is the overwhelming number of people who get to an area to hunt then just drive their wheelers all over the place through it, literally "hunting" from the saddle. I think most people want to curb this behavior but the catch 22 is figuring out how to eliminate it yet still allow remote OHV access to the "true" back-country. The good thing about folks that get waaaayy out there is that they usually don't have enough fuel to hunt off their rigs all day long! For you boys down south with fire roads and such every mile or so I can't imagine why you would be out making all kinds of racket busting trails! All that is doing is wasting time better spent hunting. In fact if I had fire roads I doubt I would even own an ATV at all, just a cheap jeep with a good quiet muffler or maybe one of them electric rigs...

A last year my hunting partner and I spotted a moose about a mile away across a canyon from where we parked our quads. We left them there and took off after it on foot for a closer look. a few thousand vertical feet and a mile later we were on final stalk to where it was bedded and some bozo on a quad drove to the bottom of the canyon and started doing some dreadful rendition of a cow call. This got the bull alert and we ended up getting busted. Oh, well we thought and decided to climb on up another 1500' and get some blueberries while seeing if we could relocate the bull or possibly spot a cow that we had seen in the area since my buddy had a cow tag.

We did manage to spot the bull again in another area and stalk down on it from above. We got to about 150 yards and unfortunately found that he had low single brow tines on each antler which took him from a fork horn to a 3x3 which wasn't legal. We watched him feed at that distance for about an hour while lamenting our bad luck and glassing the rest of the valley. Eventually we see a guy in the other "hunting party" across the canyon and could tell that he had finally spotted the moose. At that distance with nothing but 10x bins I am sure he saw the same "fork" horns we did initially but he took a totally different approach to get to it. He fired up his rig and hammered the gas. All the way to the bottom of the canyon then up our side. As he got to the bottom the moose was clearly alert to him. About 2/3 of the way up our side the guy got stuck and made a ton of noise really auguring it in to the mud. At this point the moose had already started heading out into the thick stuff and was long gone.

My buddy and I are just sitting there shaking our heads and cracking jokes quietly. I guess the guy was finally convinced that his ATV was mired in enough that it wouldn't wonder off without him so he grabbed his rifle and took off after the moose. Not wanting to share the hill with the guy now that he was armed we slipped out around him and headed down the hill passing his wheeler buried up to the rack as we went. Most of our hike back we listened to him trying cow calls and bull grunts trying to convince the bull he needed to come back despite the fact that said bull now resided in a different area code! We got back to our rigs a while later and sat there watching him back at his atv working to free it. Finally free and on the move he came by our parked rigs where we were eating lunch and didn't say a thing, I couldn't get a read from the look on his face. It was either embarrassment figuring that we had witnessed that atrocity of a stalk, frustration of "working so hard" and not connecting, or possibly even suspicion that we had somehow blown his carefully laid out stalk for him...

At the end of the day the above tail isn't from a place I hunt normally, though it is a fine place to catch a few grouse or a cow close to the trail on a day trip if you are lucky enough to draw the tag. After throwing stones this whole post, it is somewhat ironic that en-route to a hunting area about a week later we had a cow cross the trail in front of our atv's then walk about 50' off the trail, stop and turn broadside... What is it they say about looking a gift-moose in the mouth? She boned out to 375lbs of yum!