Good morning, it’s day 8 and it’s another moose hunting day. The weather is absolutely spectacular as you can see around me. It’s some departure from the rain that we had at this time last year, but funnily enough it’s roughly the same time we killed our moose. Now, a bit of a difficult last night, didn’t sleep too well, back feeling a bit sore I think it’s just the accumulation of hiking and packing that’s kind of catching up with me in my old bones. But, Steve first thing as usual has spotted a moose out there on the ridge overlooking camp, about 800- 900 yards away. I can’t see, there’s three or two times on one side, you know we need to make sure it’s a legal bull before you harvest it. We’re gonna pack up now and get a bit closer about 400 yards closer, sit upon a knoll and then have a look and see what the day brings. But, we couldn’t ask for better weather for glassing, but unfortunately you can ask for worse weather than packing so fingers crossed it’s gonna be our bull, but so far the sun’s looking very positive. Steve as is normally the case saw one of
the bulls that we’d been looking at yesterday a little bit closer in about 800 900 yards across the valley. He’s gone into a thicket, I can’t see if he’s two or three brow tines very important to make sure that it’s either minimum 50 inches wide or has three brow
tines, if you can see three brow tines and it’s a legal bull. What we’re going to do now is while Steve’s got his eyes on the older patch the bulls gone into, I’m gonna go and set myself up on that little knoll about 400 yards away, half the distance between us and the bull. Even if I can’t get eyes on the bull at least I can get eyes on the thicket we can see your way around it and once you’re in position then Steve can come and join us and we can make a plan from there. But, it’s the closest we’ve been I think we’ve seen a lot of animals here and I think our first real opportunity is getting a bull down. So, not a moment to lose. So, made our way down to the high point, which is just opposite the saddle where we saw the moose. Now, the wind is kind of blowing across my left shoulder here, so I’m gonna try and get a little bit further round onto the far ridge see if we can glass up behind
those elders, can’t see anything at the moment, but there’s a lot of space around and a lot of meadows. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t got out. Wildey’s making his way over, I don’t know what he’s seen yet, obviously is no way of communicating between us, but I’m sure he’ll let us know if he’s seen him. Move off to the left or the right by the time he arrives. The key thing now is to kind of hunker down get ourselves in an elevated position, see if we can pick apart those elders and see if we can spot that bull. Now, can we if he’s a legal bull or not. Because once you can make that judgment we can then make a plan as to how we approach him. But, so far so good, it’s about 11 o’clock in the morning still got plenty of the day left. So, we’ve managed to make her way up onto the ridge, which is pretty close about 500-600 yards maybe from where we saw the moose. Now, he’s disappeared into some elders, so he shifted around positioned see if we can see at the side and actually it’s not just an elder patch in between, there’s quite a deep gully that he’s kind of stepped into. Which means it can moved his way all the way down this valley and we wouldn’t know where he is. Once we got a bit closer I’ve got a spotting scope on him I can see two brow tines on each side, which means that a long as he’s fifty inches he could be legal, but he didn’t look wide enough to make 50. So, probably not a legal bull, but another year he’ll be legal. So, what we’re gonna do is we know he’s here, he’s been milling around for most of the morning, he hasn’t seemed to you know panicky, but what he has done is he has disappeared into some thick undergrowth. We can see this spot from camp, what we’re gonna do is head back, get some lunch, maybe go I’m set up on the knoll see if this one comes out later, so we’ve still got a good view of him and there was one between two waterfalls a little bit further down we glassed yesterday, he looks a little bit bigger, of course he’s a bit further away. You never know he might be able to do some call and get him to call in. You’ve had a pretty good moose call this morning and as you can see the hills are now alive with animals after that cow call. Because we’re not sure, we’ve got limited time best to see what else is down there and something else may have popped out. Problem with being so close to this, which of course got great visibility but, we can only see this I think if we get bit further up back towards camp and then bit further down the valley that’ll open up a lot more ground to us and with this sunshine if there are puddles out we should be able to see. So, good morning so far it’s been worth the effort coming up here at least we also know that it’s reasonably flat down here, there’s not too many gullies to climb over so if we harvest one here it’s gonna be reasonably straightforward pack. So, there’s a morning shift, let’s go get something to eat and the try again this afternoon. That’s a good idea. So, while I’ve got a few spare minutes in between glassing and chasing moose I thought I’d just have a quick rundown of the rifle I’ll be using. Now, this is a Sauer 404 XTC, the C standing for carbon because of this beauty, this is a hand layered carbon fiber stock, all protected in a synthetic resin, so it’s pretty rigid. It weighs in around 6.1 pounds, so it’s pretty lightweight, 2.7 kilos for those of you working in metric. So, I use the XD version of this rifle in Alaska last year, which has the synthetic stock and I got on really well with it. I love the ergonomic grip, it’s got an adjustable cheek piece as well, so you can raise the comb height to fit your eyes straight behind the scopes, good for addressing the target straight away. Cold hammer forged steel barrel, this one’s fluted for further weight reduction. Can’t see it at the end there because I’ve got tape over the end of the barrel, but it’s also got an M15 by 1 thread in case you’re using a moderator or a muzzle brake. I don’t particularly like using muzzle brakes because they make my
ears go a little bit tinny and the great thing about this carbon fiber stock is not only is it rigid it also absorbs quite a lot of recoil as well. From shooting 300 Win Mag this time, it’s reasonably punchy not as punchy as a 338 but this stock has been soaking up quite a lot of the recoil, which is good to know because when you’ve got a lightweight rifle there isn’t as much mass to absorb recoil from a fairly heavy cartridge, Now, the trigger settings has got four different weights of pull, 550 grams, 750 grams, 1000 grams and 1250. This is set on 750, which is still quite light I like to have a little bit of feel of the trigger, it’s got a nice wide blade, but I don’t want it going off and expectedly. It’s perfectly customisable to you. Now, the great thing about the Sauer 404 XTC is it’s modular. You can take out the tool from the fore-end, put the tool in the stock there and the for-end comes straight off. That means you can change the barrel, there’s 1, 2, 3 screws there you undo those, swing the locking lever down you could take the barrel out and then put that back on again. So, If you want to shoot one rifle, lots of different calibers then this is a perfect solution for you. The scope it’s actually fitted to the XTC using one of these Sauer saddle mounts. It’s quick release, so you just swing the two levers back, swing them forward and the whole scope comes off. Once again just swing it back, on push the levers around and there you have it perfectly back on 0. This has been on and off this rifle several times, you got to be a little bit careful because this receiver here is aluminium and steel so you got to make sure that you are lining it perfectly before you tighten it up, but otherwise it’s comes straight back onto zero every time. Now, bolted on top of that we’ve got one of these new Hawke Endurance WA scopes. This is a 6×24 by 50 LRC reticle, which is long-range centerfire. Now, that’s got several different aim points on the reticle and you can adjust those to suit your ballistics perfectly. It’s a zero for a 100 yards maybe if you want to shoot out to 600 hundred you put your 600 yard pin on 24, adjust the magnification and all of the rest of the aim points from 100 out to 600 will be taken care of. As usual with Hawke it’s pretty solidly built, it’s got a 30ml mono tube construction for ultimate rigidity, it’s got 18 layer optical coating for maximum light transmission, it has a side rear stack controlled 6 level of illumination reticle. Also on the saddle you can see it has the focus adjustment and these really cool adjustable elevation and windage turrets, which are quarter MOA. So, everything you need is adjustable to hand, which you’ve also got a 4 inch Magnum friendly eye relief and this fast adjust ocular valve, just make sure you get the perfect crisp image through the scope. The end is also threaded for a variety of different accessories, I use a flip up cover you can also get a sunshade adapter for that as well, but all in all pretty good package. Now, of course this is a premium price rifle and this is a budget price scope, but together they seem to be doing the job perfectly. We didn’t have to take a pretty long shot in the caribou the time, it’s only out 130 yards, so I had to wind it right the way back to 6 magnification just to make sure a good good sight picture. But, so far it’s working really well. Now, Sauer provide lots of different accessories, there you can see we’ve got the rifle sling here. There is a multi-tool in the rear quick release, which you can use for taking off the rear stock as well. So, all in all, lightweight, compact perfect for hunting in the mountains, supremely accurate and so far has delivered of certainly on the caribou front. All we need to do now is find a moose. and as if by magic not one, but two mature bulls appear. I punch in close with a spotting scope trying to pick out the balls defining characteristics while Steve scans the ridge for more animals. The bright sunshine creates a somewhat unhelpful heat haze, but we patiently observe waiting for the right animal to
step out. And then the monster steps in view. This huge bull is exactly what we’ve been looking for and is undoubtedly the big one we’ve seen high in the mountains over the past couple of days. During the pre-rut period, I tend to use calls sparingly to spark a bull’s interest. But, Wildey has a couple of new tricks he’d like to try out. Whilst the bull responds positively to the cow call, it certainly did not like the sight of the white meat bags and runs back into the mountain. I watch his progress intently through the spotting scope hoping and decides to stop and look back But, to no avail. This bull is definitely bugging out. I gather my thoughts and tried to piece together a new strategy. This bull is just too good to let go this easily. I quickly grab my pack and head down the valley to assess our options, anxious for one last glimpse of this monster and a ray of hope for tomorrow. Time is wearing on, it’s about 530 and we’re way down the valley now. Of course that moose bugged out, it came along the ridge probably about 300-400 yards maybe and disappeared over. Now, come down the centre of the valley to look at what our options are. Further down the valley we get, the thicker it gets choked up with willow. Now, it’s not impenetrable, but it makes it tough going and of course the darker elder there is pretty much no go. There are a couple of places that we can go up, but to be honest I think I’d rather leave it until tomorrow, it’s going to take a couple of hours to get up onto the plateau by which time we can be starting to get a bit dark and we’ve still got a couple of hours to get back home. So, it’s a real disappointment for me, that’s a moose of a lifetime and it’s definitely 70 plus inches, it’s just about patient, he responded well to the call the white game bags kind of scared the bejesus out of him when he took off down the valley, over this ridge is another bluff and that kind of disappears away into another valley beyond. So, I’m pretty sure he’s made it out of the valley, but you know never mind there’s other bulls in here, the one that was with earlier much smaller bulls, I’m sure you saw. Might go 50 inches, but he had 3 brow tines on one side. It’s in times like these you can feel a little bit disheartened, but that’s hunting, you know there’s a big country out here. There’s some big animals, but there’s also a very tough to get into him. He’s as big as he is because nobody’s managed to outsmart him just yet. We’ve still got a couple of days, probably one more day realistically, particularly this far out, cuz it’s gonna take a while to pack it back in, but I think we’re going to have an early night, see if he’s kind of come back down, he was with a younger bull earlier on, see if we can bring back in and if not we’ll keep an eye out for black bear. But, bit of a sad end to a tough day, but you know that’s the way it goes and there’s a hell of a journey back to camp, so suppose we better get going.