Electrified by the Bellow of a Bull Moose

Day Two at Northeast Carry

(Please read Day One – Searching for Moose at Northeast Carry – in the previous blog post, before you tackle Day Two).

I am freezing in the back of the Moose Ridah. We’re parked at an intersection of two woods roads. It’s pitch black, before the crack of dawn, nothing moving, eerily quiet, when from somewhere in Ed Pineau’s pants I hear, “50 pointer! Number 7 Road!”

Ed wildly searched his various pants pockets, trying to find the walkie-talkie that had just broadcast his brother Norm’s voice. Ed didn’t hear what Norm had said, so I repeated it in a shout: “That was Norm! He’s seen a bigggg moose! 50-inch rack! On Number 7 road!”

And with that, I leaped out of the back of the truck and sprinted up the road where Mike Pineau and Kevin Stewart were sitting, trying to call in a bull. We quickly gathered in the truck and sped off for Number 7 road where Norm was posted.

When we arrived, Norm was standing in the road, pointing into the woods. A group of hunters around the corner had shot a small bull, and shortly after that, Norm spotted a huge bull crossing the road.

Mike started calling and immediately, just 100 yards into the woods, a bull bellowed. Oh my God! He’s coming for us! It was electrifying!

And suddenly I got it – the excitement, the anticipation, the adrenalin, the amazing experience that is moose hunting in Maine.

Preparation

The Pineau boys have taken 27 moose from their Northeast Carry camp, so they’ve got this down to a routine. This is a major project, requiring lots of equipment including saws, come-alongs, chains, a lot of rope and much more, many days spent scouting the area, a snowmobile trailer for transporting the moose, the Moose Ridah hoisted onto the back of the pickup, a butcher shop standing by in Livermore Falls – and enough food to sustain the group for six days, if necessary.

And it almost was. That big bull on Day Two bellowed once and left the area. So it was back in the truck for another day of riding the roads. But now, they couldn’t keep me out of the Moose Ridah. I was pumped!

Usually one other guy would join me in the Ridah, and we spent much of the time sharing stories while staying alert for moose sightings. Many of mine turned out to be very large dark stumps. But occasionally today, we did see moose. That’s when it was my job to pull on the rope that dangled down from the Ridah and through the driver’s window. When I pulled, the driver stopped. Quickly. Hang on!

Mike told me that before they built the Ridah, he rode on the tailgate, watching for moose and trying desperately not to fall off. Glad I missed those hunts!

As we ride the roads, Ed or Mike, in the Ridah with me, would point out, “We got a moose right here once,” and “Here’s where we got a nice bull three years ago.” Very impressive, especially when I was on my first moose hunt.

Near the top of a hill, I heard a loud snap, told Mike, and he pulled the rope, bringing the truck to a fast halt. Ed and Kevin jumped out of the truck, and I pointed up into the woods, where I’d heard the snap.

Mike and I jumped out of the Ridah, and I walked up the road a ways with Kevin while Ed and Mike walked the other way. A few minutes later, I heard Mike making his cow call – from up in the woods. I am amazed that he got up there so fast – until I turn to my left and see him standing a couple hundred yards away in the road. It was the moose that was calling! And my gosh, she sounded just like Mike!

That call helped the guys decide the moose was a cow, but we stuck it out there for a while, hoping she was with a bull. The moose stayed put up on the ridge. But it was exciting!

We spend a lot of today on high ground, where the views are jaw dropping gorgeous panoramas of mountains, lakes, and foliage at its peak of reds and yellows. We also saw a Golden eagle, some kind of owl, a lot of Canadian jays, spruce grouse, and what seemed like thousands of juncos – plus more Ruffed grouse that the guys would not let me shoot. Not until we got our moose.

But there was no moose today – except in the evening’s meal featuring moose meatloaf. Very very tasty. I also enjoy a couple of ice cold (left outside) Shipyards – respecting the Pineau’s sound requirement that no alcohol is consumed until the day’s hunt is concluded.

Up next: Day Three – Finally, I get to shoot some grouse. To be Posted on November 6.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.