Please use these reference numbers with respect.
Keeping in mind most of our clients are from eastern time zones.
Jim Testin 360 682 8645
Terry Romans 620 629 1180
Brenda Paris 830 317 3861
Al Framstead 715 458 3569
Toby Dutter 715 833-7181
Russ Caughill 905 971 9712
Stephen Dorris 731 968-5519
Jim Zepaltas 715 833-7181
Rob Buehler 715 234-7066
Terry Huff 318 680-4884
Al Horvath 715 394 5694
Bulls and Broken Bone in British Columbia
By Al Horvath
When my best friend suggested that a British Columbia moose hunt should be our next adventure, my initial reaction was. “Why in the heck do you want to shoot a moose?” “Wouldn’t we be better off heading out to a cattle ranch and just whacking a nice Angus?” That pretty much summed up my feelings about hunting the largest member of North America’s deer family. Boy, did I have a lot to learn about hunting Moose!
We were looking for an affordable, exciting experience offering good success rates. We chose an outfitter we had met six years previously when he was guiding whitetail hunters in Alberta. Aaron Fredlund had purchased a lease in Eastern British Columbia and offered moose, elk, deer, bear (both black and grizzly) sheep, and goat hunts. Aaron patiently answered our 17,000 questions and after the reference checks on him by the FBI, CIA, NCIS, and Homeland Security cleared, four of us booked a hunt.
We flew into Edmonton, then on to Grand Prairie Alberta, where Aaron was waiting for us at the airport. He drove us to his picturesque camp which was nestled among pine and spruce trees 150 yards from the shores of a beautiful lake which reflected the October colors. There were three small but comfortable cabins which could handle three to four men each, and a house where Aaron, his wife Jessica, their baby Chase and his mother stayed. There was also a building where the supplies, kitchen, shower, and mess area were located. Our guides on this adventure were Bobby, who had played professional hockey and had a laugh that could break rocks. Owen, who looked like he had just stepped out of a Canadian Mounted Police poster, and Brad who was strong and quiet, but occasionally came up with show stopper statements that put us all into fits of laughter. We would have one guide per hunter, and it was uncanny how well we were all matched up.
My friend Greg, whose idea it was to hunt moose in the first place, was cursed during this hunt. When we gathered for supper in the evenings we would relate what each of us saw that day. It would generally go something like this. Pete and Brad would tell us about the 5 moose, 2 whitetails, and a black bear they saw. I would report that we observed 3 moose, three mule deer, and a mountain goat. Steve and Bobby saw moose every day, and come to think of it, saw just about everything BC had to offer with the exception of Bigfoot, although Bobby swore he had seen one during a late night celebration in Vancouver. Bobby and Steve would recount that they saw 7 moose, a grizzly, a black bear, three whitetails, a lynx, a coyote, 5 grouse, 2 mule deer, 2 elk, 3 eagles, a porcupine, fox, 2 wolves, 6 squirrels, and a wolverine. Greg and his guide Owen would just shrug and say “nothing”, “well that’s not really true, we saw a raven at 11:30.”
None of us had experience hunting Moose, but in checking out some racks that were taken by previously successful hunters, our energy, excitement, and adrenalin levels soared. The sheer size and variation between the racks was amazing. In British Columbia, a legal bull has to have three points on one of the fronts, or 10 points on a side. A person can encounter a huge bull that doesn’t fit that point combination, or a small bull which does, but doesn’t meet the self imposed standard Aaron holds to, which is that he wants his clients to kill moose in the 50 inch class.
Our guides turned out to be the best we have hunted with, and each of them worked hard to get us opportunities. The rut was still on, and our hunting method consisted of putting as many footprints onto the Canadian landscape as we could while working through thick cover calling to bulls.
Aaron turned out to be my guide, and on the afternoon of our third day we were hunting a hillside of mixed pines above a willow drainage. We spotted a cow at about 65 yards, and froze in place as Aaron called to pull out any bulls that might be with her. She didn’t have any associates, and obviously didn’t hear anything coming from us that interested her, so she turned and moved off. We hadn’t gone far when we saw that the ground all around us looked like it had been rotor tilled. There were tufts of moose hair lying in patches and the trees were scraped, scuffed, slashed and broken from a recent fight. Aaron said “look at this” as he bent over and picked up a 13 ½ inch piece of broken antler, “there are some really aggressive bulls in here.” We continued on and 30 minutes later, Aaron moved over to the edge of the hill and looked down into the willow valley. He quickly pulled back, turned, and ran back in my direction indicating that there were two bulls down below us. We hurried to get ahead of them and keep the wind in our favor. As Aaron called and raked the brush around us with the shoulder blade of a Moose, we heard a bull grunting and coming our way. We moved back and forth and up and down to keep the bull from coming in downwind of us. We could hear him raking trees and brush and grunting as he attempted to investigate this new rival. My heart was racing as Aaron called and the bull continued to respond. We could hear him getting closer, and that tension wire was drawn tight as he slowly worked his way towards the top of the hill. When he finally popped into sight at 35 yards my heart was pounding like a nail gun. Aaron was trying to determine if the bull was legal, and I was trying to pick an opening in the thick brush while wondering what I’d do if this bull decided I was the cow he had been looking for all his life. This animal looked as big as an elephant to me, but Aaron whispered “he’s too small, let him go!” The bull got downwind of us and turned and crashed back towards the willow bottom he had come from. I was sitting there in disbelief wondering what the heck had just happened.
Aaron took off indicating there was another bull and that we needed to move quickly and go work him over. We were ripping along the hillside, and could hear the bigger bull across the drainage calling and thrashing trees. Aaron was doing everything he could think of to enrage this bull and make him show. We caught glimpses of him and heard him chasing off another bull, and saw flashes of some cows that he was protecting. He would answer but just wouldn’t come any closer. As we made our way further down into the drainage, we heard yet another bull calling from a different direction. We froze in place between two competing bulls. Finally, after some coaxing, the new bull stepped out at 100 yards. Man, Moose are huge. I was shouldering my rifle when Aaron said “don’t shoot, he’s a dink.” I asked, “are you sure?” Aaron shot me one of “those” looks. Heck, this moose was the size of a freeway billboard, and we were looking for the big one? This bull was legal, but didn’t make the 50 inch mark, so we passed on him.
We continued working the larger bull, but no matter what tricks Aaron tried the big bull wouldn’t leave his cows, or give up the high ground on the other side of the drainage. We could hear him grunting and making sounds I can’t even describe other than to say they weren’t welcoming sounds. We had been at this for over two hours and now with sunset approaching, Aaron decided if the bull wouldn’t come to us, we would have to “charge him.”
Heck, I was hearing bugles and having visions of General Custer as we slipped across the drainage aggressively calling while moving up to attack this bull. We were crouched down and bent over, as we ascended the slope in single file. We must have looked like one of those comedy stage cows, and you all know what end of the cow I was playing. Light was fading fast as we tried to stay behind whatever cover was available. We were close and could hear him thrashing brush and trees, and could actually see some of the tops moving. Finally, as we neared the crest, we could catch glimpses of him behind a thick screen of spruce, aspen, and brush. I was standing behind a large aspen, and Aaron belted out a call and whacked that shoulder blade. The big guy just couldn’t stand it anymore and bulled through the screening cover towards us. Aaron said “he’s 50 and legal, take him”! I shot at about the word “take” as the bull was turning slightly to my left presenting a front shoulder as he cleared the thick cover. The target was a 1200 pound 7 foot at the shoulder highly agitated Bull Moose that owned the high ground and was looming over us like Godzilla or one of those other science fiction monsters. The .300 short mag crumpled the bull and he seemed to go down in slow motion, like the demolition of a 40 story building. We quickly moved up to insure he stayed down, and that’s when it dawned on us that the bull lying 7 paces from where I had taken the shot! This was maximized excitement in fast forward, an unbelievable split second of adrenalin filled exhilaration. I was absolutely stunned at the size and dimensions of this massive bull. As we stood there reliving the moment, we were overcome with relief and happiness. Aaron pointed out that one of the bull’s front points was broken off. I told him that I didn’t care and I thought he was absolutely awesome. He reached into his pack and pulled out the piece of antler he had found about a mile and a half from where we were. After a few attempts, this lost piece of the puzzle fit perfectly into the broken remnant. We were stunned and totally amazed. What are the odds of finding a broken point, keeping the point, then killing the bull that lost it all within a couple hours? Aaron looked at me and said, “You know Al, he’s not the biggest bull we’ve taken, but this was definitely the coolest!”
After quartering him under flashlight, we hiked out and didn’t get back to camp until around 10:00 p.m. Everyone figured we had put something down, and they all stayed up to hear what happened. I told them right then that I hoped my bull would be the smallest one we’d take. Man, of all the wishes I’ve made, this was the one fate granted!
My friend Steve shot a beautiful 51 inch bull two days later. The bull came to Bobby’s calling and stepped out near dusk, at about 35 yards. Steve shot, and as the bull ran past he shot again and put him down 15 yards away. Pete had also been seeing a lot of bulls and had passed on a huge bull, because of a bad shot angle. Greg and Owen hunted hard right up until the last day when Greg shot a huge bull as it ran across a cut line at about 125 yards. The bull was over 53 inches with a drop tine and tremendous mass. It was truly an outstanding Canadian moose, and a reward to perseverance and hard work. His curse had been lifted!
We enjoyed this trip, and we all gained a new respect and appreciation for moose hunting. If you are looking for a great hunt, forget the Angus, and take a crack at a moose. We had excellent guides, good facilities, and we made good friends with some wonderful people. Aaron and his crew did everything they could to make our hunt a success. They have great country and worked tirelessly for us. There are horses available, but our group used trucks and 4-wheelers to get to jumping off points. If you are looking for an adventure, give moose during the rut a try. Anyone who wants to see some incredibly beautiful country, and explore hunting any of the species mentioned, should contact Aaron or his lovely wife Jessica or visit their web-site at: www.huntfgs.com
6 Belknap Shores
Superior, WI 54880