Mooseingitis

By Bill McEwen
Idaho, 2010, DIY, Public Land

MooseingitisAugust/September 2011 EHJ (Issue 126) - In June 2010, my family and I were sitting at the dinner table with some great friends in Bellevue, Idaho. We were discussing our plans for the fall hunting season when my friend, Bruce Weber, became frustrated with the fact that once again all of my plans revolved around moose hunting. Bruce said, "Something is wrong with you. I think you have mooseingitis.”

He was right. Just the previous fall, I had spent almost all of my hunting time spending three weeks hunting moose in Montana.

This particular affliction started in 2006 when I drew a moose tag in my home state of Colorado. I had a fantastic experience on that hunt. I was captivated by the thrill of seeking rutting bull moose in the dense timber and swamps that they call home. I was desperate to hunt moose in the other western states. I was lucky to draw in Montana in 2009 and then I applied for a relatively easy-to-draw tag in Idaho in 2010.

I was excited to draw the Idaho moose license, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Scouting wasn’t an option because of the 1000-mile distance from my home in Colorado. I had researched the area fairly thoroughly before I applied, and although many people said the moose population was struggling in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, I figured I’d rather be moose hunting than waiting years to draw a tag. I also had always wanted to hunt the famed Selway-Bitterroot. Here was the perfect excuse to do so.

After drawing the tag, I did as much research as possible from home and formulated a plan. I decided to pack into the backcountry for the first week of the season, which opens August 30. I would make a second trip of up to two weeks during the rut, if needed.

Late August rolled around in no time and I headed for Idaho. With all the rushing around just before the trip, I somehow misplaced my license. In a panic, I called Idaho Fish and Game. I didn’t have time to wait for a replacement in the mail and I would be passing through the civilized parts of Idaho on the weekend when the offices were closed. The gals in the Salmon and Boise offices went out of their way to help me. The end result was that I got a replacement license in Salmon on a Sunday. I know it’s fashionable to badmouth wildlife agencies in general, and Idaho Fish and Game gets more than their share of that, but over several months of planning and hunting, I had the pleasure of talking to many Idaho Department of Fish and Game employees including office personnel, biologists and game wardens. All of them were very knowledgeable and extremely helpful. The same was true of numerous Forest Service employees who gave invaluable information regarding roads, trails and campsites. Many thanks to all.

Together with friends Jim Ferguson and Jim Liden, we took three mules and a horse twelve miles up a trail to a remote lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. We spent a week there exploring the area. It was a great adventure filled with juicy huckleberries, tasty cutthroat trout and bugling elk. The scenery alone was worth the trip. I saw a few moose, but without the rut, the big bulls were hard to find. It was a great adventure and I was thrilled to be coming back in just a few weeks.

Bill McEwen

For a full account of Bill's adventure, go to page 38 in the August/September 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.