Good Grouse Almighty! Moose Hunting’s Exciting!

Day Three of our 2012 Moose Hunt

 (In previous blog posts, please read Day One – Searching for Moose at Northeast Carry, and Day Two – Electrified by the Bellow of a Bull Moose, before you tackle this Day Three column.)

I awaken to the smells of bacon and coffee and the sound of a crackling fire. This is my idea of hunting camp. Norm is the breakfast chef and he even cooks our eggs to order. Superb!

Conversations in hunting camp are always interesting. We covered, of course, previous hunting and fishing adventures. We also argued politics, lamented the Red Sox. The talk was often brutally honest, with no egos present. If you can’t stand ridicule, hunting camp is not for you.

Before we hit the roads again this morning in search of a huge bull moose, we engage in a conversation about “malicious compliance,” which means doing something that you are ordered or required to do, when you know it’s the wrong thing. That will be the subject of my editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel sometime soon!

It had rained hard the night before and I thought, as I climbed up into the Ridah before dawn, how far I’d come in two days. On the first day, with temperatures in the mid-40s, I was freezing in the Ridah and rode there for only a short time. On Day Two, when we started spotting some moose, I was happy and comfortable in the Ridah, in mid-20 temperatures.

For the last two hours today, I am alone in the Ridah, in a downpour, a big smile on my face. Everyone else is hunkered down in the truck. Every once in a while, they stopped and asked if I was ok. Of course! I loved it!

Mid-morning, I spotted a small cow up ahead in a chopping, pulled the rope, turned to my left, and was astonished to see a very large bull standing broadside, 30 yards away. Kevin was already out of the truck, taking aim, when I glanced his way. The bull stared. Kevin aimed. The bull stared some more. Kevin put down his gun. The bull continued to stare at us. And then, eventually, he wandered off.

At an estimated weight of 700 pounds, but with a relatively small rack, he was determined to be significantly short of the huge bull we were hoping to get. Ed called it “only 700 pounds” and said it was “identical to my moose last year.”

If I’d been the shooter, that moose would have been down, quickly. I thought he was massive! Actually, he was massive.

Finally, today, my whining about shooting grouse got to Ed and he let me give it a try. I’d noticed a grouse just off the road as we passed by. When Ed turned the truck around a couple hundred yards beyond that spot, I asked if I could get out on the way back and shoot the grouse, and he finally relented.

But I got out of the truck in the wrong place and couldn’t find the grouse. Then Mike rolled down his window and told me the spot was about 75 yards up the road. I got back in the truck, road up to that spot, and saw the grouse scampering under the root of a big stump and disappearing.

Ed got out, saw the bird, and pointed it out to me, but as hard as I stared, I could not see it. “It’s right there,” he said about six times, pointing to the bird. Nope, couldn’t see it. Finally, frustration setting in, Ed said, “Give me the gun. I’ll shoot it.”

“No way!” was my exclamation (or perhaps something a bit stronger). “It’s right there,” he nearly shouted, pointing to the stump. Thinking I saw a bit of movement to the side of the stump, I aimed at that spot and fired. Then I had to get around a lot of water in the ditch between me and the stump. And when I finally got up to the stump, I found two dead grouse. I’d gotten two birds with one shot, and didn’t see either one!

“Good guiding,” I told Ed, proudly holding up my two birds. I would get two more that afternoon to complete my daily limit, and returned to camp very contented, even though we didn’t get a moose today.

The moose roast at dinner made up for that!

UP NEXT: Day Four – “It’s a Cow!”

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.