I was standing at the ready with a shell in the chamber and my finger on the safety when I heard the most gosh-awful sound of my life - the bull of my dreams was responding!
You could hear the giant moose turn around in that alder thicket and it sounded like King Kong coming straight toward us. It was a bit unnerving. George grunted again softly, steering the excited giant to us! We could tell the bull was going to emerge within 30 yards of us, and I stood at the ready while George hunkered down. Just as sure as George had predicted, that randy moose emerged from the bushes ready for a fight! He looked straight at us, put his head down and started rotating his massive headgear. The big bull wanted to make sure we could see exactly how big he was.
Late August 1995: I flew to Aniak, Alaska (where George lives) via Anchorage. I was met at the Aniak airport by one of George's associates. I was very well taken care of. I still wasn't there yet. Next I had to board a float plane to fly out to some unnamed lake where I was to meet George. George had already been in the field a couple days setting up camp and scouting. He got me all worked up when he told me about 2 different brown bears he had seen the day before. One he considered to be at least 9 feet square.
We spent the first day of the hunt just as we would the next several days. Basically glassing all day in search of large trophies. We saw plenty of animals. We saw caribou everyday, some of them quite impressive. Many of them at very close range. One bull caribou that we watched for two days might of made the Boone & Crockett record book, but I wasn't really hunting caribou, and we believed a large brown bear to be nearby on that same mountain and we didn't want to spook him. George's best estimate put the caribou probably scoring somewhere around 390+. The weather was miserable most of the time. We stuck at it, but the days sure were long. George is absolutely relentless ; when you book a hunt with him, you're going to hunt, no "ifs", "ands", or "buts" about it. No amount of whining or pleading would convince him to let me stay in the tent while he went out and spotted game. Seriously, George inspired in me a desire to go out and hunt. He was a tremendous guy to be with in camp, and I felt a real comradery developing between us. We saw brown bear sows with cubs, but neither of the big bears that George had seen days before. There were plenty of huge tracks along the creeks and lake shore made by large bears traveling alone (some of which were a full 9 inches wide) but we couldn't seem to find the bears who made them, at least not in the beginning. On the morning of the 7th day we climbed up to what was going to be our glassing hill for the day. As soon as we sat down, we spotted two moose below us about 400 yards away. One was a cow and the other a young bull to small to consider. Shortly after, we saw another bull moose very close to us, but he too was too small to consider taking. Later while we were eating lunch, I saw something that appeared to be a huge deadfall out in a small meadow, but I was pretty sure it hadn't been there just a moment before. I asked George about it who at the time was eating his sandwich a few yards away and looking at something else. The spotting scope was next to me and George suggested I take a look through it.
"George, you better come look! It's a bull moose and he looks pretty good!"
About 100 yards from this bull were two more bulls
laying down. After looking over the bulls George got pretty excited and
said," John, those are damn nice moose, everyone of those is a wall
hanger." Just then, the biggest of the three got up and walked over
into a very thick alder thicket. George estimated him to be about 65 or 66
inches wide, with large palms. The bull was a long ways from camp so we
discussed at length whether we should go after him or not. If I took him,
I probably wouldn't get a brown bear, but then again it was the biggest
moose I had ever seen live, or in any hunting camp taken by any hunter. I
could hunt the rest of my life and not get another chance at such a moose.
After careful consideration, and challenging George's manhood, we decided
to go and get one of those moose. Even the two smaller ones were over
"What do you think, George?"
"Well, lets go up and try for the big boy and if we can't get him, we can come back and you can take one of them."
I said to George," The big one is somewhere in the alders up the hill. How are we going to get him?"
"We'll try and call him" George replied quickly.
"George, how are you going to do that, the rut isn't in."
George looked at me sort of cocky and said, "he doesn't know that, he's only a moose!"
I laughed, and covered my mouth so the other moose
wouldn't hear me. We then walked several hundred yards up the hill through
alders. We came to an opening running up the hill. We followed it up a
ways until George stopped and said that we should try from right there.
George cupped his hands over his mouth and started
some pretty weird noises, known to him as cow bawls. He also used
several lower pitched noises that sounded even weirder. The big bull
thrashed brush and trees as he came towards us. It sounded like he was
tearing down the forest! Far reaching antlers first, then a massive body
too, stepped out from behind the trees!
I hesitated for a moment because of the bush in the
way, however I could clearly see the bull's outline through the bush and
he was only a matter of a few yards away. George urged me on, so I fired
into the bull's other shoulder. The huge animal collapsed instantly, and I
could swear I felt the ground shake as he collided with the earth. George
and I stood over the fallen monarch in awe. We both realized and
appreciated this great animal and the magnificent trophy that he was. He
turned out to be 67" wide with very large palms.
"I'll keep up with you as long as you give me time to catch my breath before I shoot!"
"No problem, we should be able to have a nice
rest before you actually shoot him," George mumbled as he started up
the mountain. It seemed like we literally ran up that mountain, but we did
make it there in exactly 45 minutes. After shedding our packs right below
the rock outcropping, downing some much needed water, and catching our
breath, we advanced another 75 or 80 yards to just below a small gradually
sloping knoll. George whispered, "Now inch your way out over this
knoll and see if he's still there, when he's in the right position, let
him have it. I'll be right there beside you!"
Webmaster's note: This story was provided courtesy of Alaska professional hunting guide George Siavelis of Aniak.
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