Making Memories

By Jason Stafford
Idaho, DIY, Public Land

Jason Stafford - Making MemoriesJanuary/February 2013 EBJ (Issue 75) - A low growl erupted from the dense underbrush mere yards away. I looked at my friend, Blake Stinson, and saw that his eyes were as big as saucers. He nervously whispered, "You called in a grizzly bear.”

I smiled and looked back at my dad who was running the video camera to make sure he was capturing all the action. After all, I had my dad to thank for being addicted to moose hunting. I remember vividly the year Dad drew his once-in-alifetime moose permit in our home state of North Dakota. Dad put his one moose permit to good use and tagged a giant bull that still stands as the second largest moose harvested in North Dakota.

When the bull growled again, I decided to head into the heavy cover to see how he would respond. Blake just knew I was going to get mauled by what he thought was a bear tearing up the brush. I grunted with my voice as I moved toward the bull. He had enough and vacated the area as I followed his progress by the sound of breaking branches. I knew there was little hope at getting close to the bull because the loud growls he was letting out were actually his way of warning other moose that danger was nearby. He was coming in on a string to my cow moans, but an errant swirl of the wind filled his oversized snout with human scent, putting him on guard.

I couldn’t believe I had called up a bull in the first ten minutes of my 14-day Idaho moose hunt. The terrain in northern Idaho consists of heavy stands of timber with very dense underbrush that makes spotting animals at a distance impossible. During my research for this hunt, I talked with several people who had successfully hunted this area. Their hunting methods were all the same — find fresh moose tracks crossing one of the many logging roads and attempt to call the moose in for a shot.

In July, my daughter Baylee and I made the nine-hour drive to my moose unit for a long weekend of scouting. Over the next four days, we saw five cow moose while learning the area’s road system and locating a good place to establish camp when we returned in late September. We found plenty of moose tracks, but unfortunately saw just as many wolf tracks. I enjoyed watching Baylee shoot her bow for hours on end. On the third day of the scouting trip, we located a cut-over area that was absolutely overrun with ground squirrels. I thought I would never get Baylee to leave the area as she flung arrow after arrow at them. Eventually, she either lost or bent every arrow she brought, so we set out to look for moose. At the end of the trip I was a little nervous after not seeing many moose but I hoped the weather would cool off so the bulls would be rutting when I returned. Over the next couple of months I kept in touch with a couple of guys that frequented my moose area while they were scouting and archery hunting elk. They we seeing some small bull moose and one decent one on a regular basis but the weather was still extremely hot.

September 29th finally arrived as Blake, Dad and I loaded the trucks and headed west for Idaho. This would give us two days of scouting before the season opened on October 1st. We set up camp in the spot Baylee and I found in July which contained two large salt licks within 100 yards of our tents. Rumor had it there was a large bull moose using these salt licks so I put a trail camera on the larger of the two licks.

Jason Stafford - Making Memories

For a full account of Jason's adventure, go to page 18 in the January/February 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.