So for the rest of the story: Just like the rest of you hunters out there, checking picks (on line) in June is a much anticipated event. Some of us may approach that event with positivity and others log in assuming that we didn't get drawn for anything - but there is always next year. Well for me, the year had come - the pick had come - it was my turn - I would be hunting moose in November in Washington! And so I began to prepare; I scoured through hundreds of threads on Hunt WA looking for information on where the bulls hangout in 49 Degrees North. I talked to friends who talked to friends, I listened, I took notes, I shopped for a few essentials and I was ready! 49 Degrees North has a reputation of 100% success rate, I assumed that I would drive up on a logging road and have a moose jump in the back of my truck...so it wasn't quite that easy. In mid-October I made one scouting trip over to the unit. Scouting went dismal, in part due to the high traffic since it was deer season and also because there was a significant windstorm in the area. So while I was able to get the lay of the land, and while I did see signs of moose, I did NOT actually see a moose. I have to admit, I was slightly discouraged.
A few weeks later, on Saturday, October 29th I packed up my truck and made the 5 hour drive to 49 Degrees North. As most hunters would admit...While only the hunter with the tag pulls the trigger, it takes a team to get the meat in the freezer! I was fortunate enough to have a coworker; Scott (AKA fillthefreezer) accompany me on this adventure. Not only was Scott willing to take a week off work, he was an accomplished hunter, could hike up a hillside like a mountain goat, has all the cool stuff that single guys without kids have and he was just as excited as I was. Every hunter needs that perfect hunting companion...and Scott was mine (one of mine). I was equally as lucky to be acquainted with Ben (AKA benhuntin). Ben provided amazing intel on the area, I really think Ben's DNA would show that he is part moose. Ben joined Scott and I on a couple of days. So Scott and I set up our base camp tent/tarp system and while it might be slightly rudimentary, it got the job done. So we had Saturday, Sunday and Monday to do some aggressive scouting - driving on logging roads and doing a fare amount of hiking off road, however the weather for those three days made scouting challenging; it was incredibly wet and a max vis of only 100 yards made glassing impossible. On Tuesday, November 1st, we did some hiking in the highlands (and the dark) only to find that the fog was still with us - we were forced to head back down into some low land areas where, finally, we spotted a small bull and cow (too soon to settle). After 9+ miles of hiking we called it a day. On Wednesday, we started scouting low and went high. We were relieved to see that the fog had cleared, and so we headed up (in elevation) until our next obstacle was snow. We turned back when we were driving in 6"-8" of snow. After 6+ miles of hiking and miles and miles of driving on logging roads we called it a day. Again, I have to admit, I was discouraged. On Thursday Ben joined Scott and I and with a fresh approach we hit it hard. Within three hours we had seen six bulls! I had my eye on the largest of the six bulls and so we began to stalk my pick. 30 minutes later we popped out on a ridge 500 yards away from my target. We crept up on him until the range finder registered at 420 yards. The moose was bedded down while we set up the spotting scope and discussed shot placement. Finally I assumed the prone position, took aim (and a breath) and while I slowly exhaled I squeezed the trigger....his head dropped and it was done.
I have always been a believer that hunting is a team sport and this kill only reaffirms my philosophy. Scott was as equally vested in this hunt as I was - he loves the outdoors, has an incredible knowledge of wilderness training. And Ben...'Ben is the Moose Whisperer'. Ben has an intense passion for moose hunting and seeing that he lives in close proximity to the 49 Degrees unit he knows that land like no body does. Both Ben's and Scott's assistance, support and knowledge was invaluable and I am forever in their debt. I also want to put a shout out to my brother, Bryan (AKA Falcon). Bryan was great enough to lend me some of his gear and I appreciate his enthusiasm and (moose) wisdom. And not sound corny, but I would also like to acknowledge my wife (AKA Tina). Not only did Tina share in my excitement from the beginning - back in June, but without her, Scott and I would have had absolutely nothing to eat for the six days we spent in 49 Degrees North. I appreciation Tina's constant encouragement, especially the first few days when my doubts and frustration set in. My wife is my life long partner...hunting and otherwise. And so I am blessed enough to have my Once In a Lifetime moose story. I hope all you out there get the opportunity to write your story.