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Article Contributed by Field Staff Writer S. Stone.
This year, my annual hunt into central British Columbia, was a little different then past years. This year would see me heading out in search of moose with the bow, solo. Because of work commitments I could not head out for the rifle season and this also meant that the time I was able to get off didnâ€™t coincide with my hunting partnerâ€™s time off. I took this as a great opportunity to experience two firsts for my hunting career. The first was to go on an extended solo hunting excursion. Although I typically hunt solo, most of those hunts are either day trips or long weekend getaways. This was going to be my first extended trip that would see off hunting solo for ten days. The second opportunity being the chance to take my first moose with my bow. This is something that I have wanted to do for some time and here was my chance to attempt to do just that.
My adventure began September 29th. After finishing work for the day I loaded my truck and headed to the ferry terminal. The two hour ferry ride from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland started my journey. Then a 14 hour drive through the night had me arriving at my camp site just after 9am the following day. I was greeted with birdâ€™s egg blue skies and warmer temperatures than expected. I got my camp set up and headed out to collect some firewood and to do a bit of scouting before moose opened the following day. I took it easier for the rest of the afternoon, spent a bit of time fishing, double-checked my pack and then headed to bed early, anticipating what the morning would bring.
Opening morning had me up well before first light. I made my coffee and re-checked my pack, again, making sure I wasnâ€™t forgetting anything, then was off for the morning. I planned on hiking into a small lake near my camp. I climbed to a higher vantage point to wait for first light before slowly making my way towards this small lake. As I made my way I came through some thick brush only to bump a moose from its bed. I was only able to see its hump as it disappeared into the thick underbrush. Disappointing, but none the less a good start to the day, knowing that there are some moose in the area. Once I reached the lake I made my way h along the shore to a vantage point that allowed me to see the full length of the lake but still stay hidden and I began to call. After about 20 minutes I noticed movement at the far end of the lake. A cow and calf had decided to come down to feed in the lake. I watched them for the next hour and a half while continuing my calling sequence, which didnâ€™t seem to bother them any. The remainder of my day was quite uneventful, but I was optimistic for what was to come as this was a great start.
The following morning I woke up excited as I was the first. After seeing several moose the first morning my expectations were high. I decided to head to a different area in hopes of finding a bull. Driving to my starting point another cow and calf jumped up onto the road and gave me a chance to study them for a while. After they disappeared back into the timber I continued on my way. I parked my truck, slung my pack and began slowly making my way to another lake. I got settled in and began to call. Despite seeing a fair amount of sign I didnâ€™t see anything else for the remainder of the day. Tomorrow I will head back to the first spot to see if it perhaps has better luck.
Next morning I awoke to a big drop in temperature and to heavy fog. It was -5 Celsius and a heavy frost covered the ground. My hope was that the cooler weather would get things moving a bit. I headed back to the lake, from the first morning, and began to call again. The fog was so thick that I could barely see 20 yards in front of me, even in the heavy timber. I decided the best course of action would be to back out of the area and try another spot above the fog. I was greeted in the new spot by a whitetail doe and her fawn. It was good to see something moving again.
As I carried on through some open grass fields I spotted three mule deer off to the side in front of me. I brought up my binoculars and quickly noticed that it was a pair of young bucks and a doe. Knowing that I could not get closer, due to the open nature of the field, and put down my bow and unstrapped my rifle from my pack. I waited for the larger of the two bucks to clear the other deer. The smaller of the two bucks slowly made his way off and the started to follow. This left the larger buck by himself. As he eventually turned to follow I had my opportunity. I slowly squeezed the trigger and my site picture of the deer disappeared as my rifle fired and recoiled. As I regained my site through the scope I saw the deer drop instantly on the spot. I made my way to where the deer was lying and the other buck was still milling around with the doe. After cutting my tag I had an easy drag through meadow to an area where I could get truck to load up the buck.
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Excited, having taken a nice buck, I was optimistic for what the remainder of this trip would have in store for me. I made it back to camp to hang the deer and remove the hide. As I worked on getting the buck cleaned up a gentleman drove into my camp. He was working in the area and wanted to inform me that over last two days he as seen a large black bear hanging out less than a hundred yards from my camp. Now I am always conscious of bears, as there are both black and grizzlies in this area, but I will be even more vigilant knowing that there is one so close to camp especially now that I have an animal hanging. The rifle slept a little closer to me that night.
Make sure to read Part 2 of A Solo Hunt In British Columbia