September Shiras

By Mike Magalsky

September ShirasMike Magalsky
Idaho, 2009, DIY, Public Land

The aspen leaves shivered and the September breeze cooled my damp face. Within a dozen yards, the giant bull moose stood facing away from me, nipping leaves from an aspen sapling. His black belly, full of the day’s forage, bulged beyond his ribs. His bed of matted grass was just to my left and only a small aspen separated us. Gripping my bow with arrow nocked, I waited. Suddenly, he spun his head around, looking toward me over his massive rump. My heart bounced wildly. Would he bolt? Would he charge?

Months earlier, I had drawn a coveted Idaho moose permit in an area that also has a good reputation for a prime archery elk hunt. The two seasons overlap from late August throughout September, with the any-weapon moose season continuing well into November. My longtime hunting partner, Larry, and I decided to try our luck in this new territory. Since the unit is more than a five-hour drive, we decided to hunt elk early in the season and scout for moose simultaneously, rather than make a dedicated scouting trek. We would pack in a spike camp on opening weekend.

I explained our grand plans to my father. His solemn response struck me. “I wish I could be there.” My father had passed to me his love of the outdoors and hunting. At age five, I remember watching him harvest a whitetail buck. That was to be his final big game kill, as he fell ill the next year and has been confined to a wheelchair these 30 years since. He would have to live this hunt vicariously through me.

On that first weekend, Larry and I found elk, but no moose. A local sheep rancher we met said elk and moose populations were up this year according to his informal research. He said wolves hadn’t made it to that area yet – good news for ranchers and hunters alike. Still, after several more days and multiple encounters with elk, not a mature bull moose was found.

The next week, Larry opted out of the hunt, but another friend, Russ, came along. We had some elk encounters, but the high temperatures drove them into deep timber and silenced their bugles. One particularly evening we encountered another elk hunter who had spotted a “toad” of a moose during a scouting trip. He was eager to tell a moose hunter of his sighting.

September Shiras

For a full account of Mike's adventure, go to page 28 in the July/August 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.