"What's that?" Madonna asked as we drove up the forest road. None of us in the truck saw what she saw. "Probably nothing," she said. "Keep driving." Maybe it was the shadow of a willow bush or a stump. But something told me to back up. When I did, I saw a huge bull moose in a willow swamp, slowly walking away from the road. I'm no stranger to moose hunting, and quickly realized what I was looking at. This was a world class bull. Larry Weishuhn was in my truck, and he was as impressed as I was. Larry also had a moose tag, but in a unit adjoining mine. We were both fortunate to have drawn Colorado moose tags.
It was the day before the five day moose season. The elk season also started the next day, and there were literally dozens of hunting camps scattered about in the timber. We were hunting public land on a national forest, and hunters were everywhere, but I knew there was only one other moose hunter in my unit. I wondered if he or she too had seen the bull.
It was a sleepless night. All I could think about was that huge bull. Though we hunted hard in the general area where we'd seen the giant, he never showed himself the first day, though I'd passed up two other bulls.
The hunt was during the moose rut, and I called in several bulls the next three days, but the big one never showed again. It was a profound dilemma. Moose hunting in Colorado is offered only once in a lifetime -- if you get one. Otherwise, you can apply again in the future and try to draw another tag, though chances were slim to none that you'd ever draw one.
I decided to shoot the first bull I saw on the fifth and last day of the season. You guessed it. I never saw one, and went home with no moose. I was disappointed, of course, and regretted passing up a couple of the bulls I'd seen. But I kept hoping the monster bull would show up. Larry Weishuhn got a modest bull in his unit, and went home happy.
But there's an amazing sequel to my story. I learned later that the huge moose had been killed in an adjacent unit on the opening day. I'd been hunting a ghost! That bull scored number one in the record book rankings for Colorado. I knew it was the same bull I'd seen because it had a couple distinctive points on his rack that were easily recognizable. The hunter who killed it sent me a picture.
So it was with great joy that I learned that I drew another moose tag in Colorado. I'd been applying for about 17 years after that first failed hunt. Will I hold out for a huge bull this fall? Nope. I have all the moose trophies my walls can accommodate, and my primary objective is moose venison, which, in my opinion, is fabulous. Stay tuned for the results of this hunt. Good news is that the season is now two weeks long. Should be plenty of time to get the job done.