Shivering Horses & Lack of Quarry

By Matt Nistler
Montana, DIY, Public Land

Shivering Horses & Lack of Quarry - Matt NistlerJuly/August 2013 EBJ (Issue 78) - Spring in snow country is always a display of breathtaking splendor, a call to action for all living things. As nature becomes engrossed in its rapid succession of new life, I get a haunting feeling that I am being passed by an endless stream of runners and somehow I am losing the race. This high-speed world catapults me into a matching intensity. I would not miss it for anything!

Amidst this spring chaos come the Montana special draw results and so I found myself in a stupor peering at the word successful on my monitor. I had drawn a Shiras moose tag in my home state of Montana. I was very familiar with the area that I had drawn and have encountered moose there in the past. The thing that attracted me to the area was the lack of roads. A large part of the area is wilderness and the majority of the remainder is roadless except for a very large private holding that spans nearly the width of the unit. The inherent risk associated with an area like this and a personality like mine is the desire to explore it all… right now. This was my kind of hunt, one that helps even the odds between prey and predator.

I understand the need for hunting in areas where opportunity harvest is most prevalent, but to me the trophy is more in the memory than the head. Something about whole animals in the back of pickup trucks just doesn’t inspire my primal need for the chase. I am one of those guys that really beats himself up when chance or poor planning puts me in the field near other hunters. I literally go to great distances to assure a good level of separation. Under these circumstances when chance does bring me across the path of another hunter all I can do is respect the commitment that was made to put them in these places of coveted solitude.

My wife Carolyn often accompanies me into the woods. Carolyn understands my passion for wilderness areas and has long ago ceased to question the multiple-hour treks or rides into areas we hunt.

With moose season approaching I spent many hours trekking through the unit looking for moose and or moose sign. Fortunately, archery elk opened two weeks before moose season, allowing me to scout while elk hunting as well. It had been a very wet spring and summer and the moose were in high alpine basins in hopes of evading the bugs. As opening day drew nearer I became increasingly concerned that I had yet to see a quarry worthy of pursuit. I doubled my efforts to wear out boot soles, saddle leather, and horse shoes on an ever-escalating quest to find my moose. This led to many miles covered on foot and horseback. Afterwards, I classified most all of these miles as mooseless.

Shivering Horses & Lack of Quarry - Matt Nistler

For a full account of Matt's adventure, go to page 58 in the July/August 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.