Over the years, I’ve seen various versions on the Skeena region bull moose general open season. Until quite recently, it was a week-long event, where every other road you turned down seemed to have a hunting camp set up on it. Before and after the season saw a parade of hunting rigs rolling down the highway, with everyone from the local day hunter to the big shiny caravans of side-by-sides and trailers from the Lower Mainland. It seemed to be the same story every year: lots of hunters spotted, not so many moose.
A few years ago, the regulations changed. The seven-day season was traded for a three-day season smack dab in the middle of the week. Around my hometown, this has translated to what seems to be less people traveling into the area, and more locals hitting the backroads, even if it’s just for an evening hunt after work.
This year, the weather was unusually cool for mid-October. Packing up for a few days of hunting with my dad, we had gear for every temperature. Heavy wool and lots of base layers for below-freezing mornings out in the tin boat and lightweight camo for when the afternoon sun beat down on our backs and we were hiking through the timber. A couple of pretty heavy snowfalls days prior meant that even if we didn’t see a moose (as has been the case for many years), we would know if we were in the right area.
We split our time between hunting lakes and creeks, hiking through old cut blocks and timber, and afternoons covering ground on the backroads. Crisp, clear mornings gave way to flurries in the afternoon, and cool evenings with swirling winds that made it difficult avoid getting busted.
Typically, my moose hunting involves a lot of people watching and not so much moose sighting – so we were thrilled to spot a cow moose on the first day, way across the valley from us. Not what we were after, but a good way to start the trip; and sometimes, that’s really what it is all about, keeping the spirits up. Our second day we saw a few other hunters, but nothing like in years past. If it weren’t for the quad tracks running up and down various spur roads, you could almost imagine you had the whole place to yourself.
We had a later start our last day, so we worked our way up to higher elevation to get a good vantage point and cover some ground. Fresh tracks in the snow caught our eye, and we played a little game of cat and mouse with what we thought might be a small bull moose. Trying to work the wind to our advantage, we did our best to catch the moose out in the open, to see if it was even worth pursuing further. Unfortunately, the wind busted us once again, and we simply ran out of time to follow the tracks further.
Despite another region 6 open season coming to a close with no tags cut in our camp, I wouldn’t trade the time spent out there for anything else. Hunting has always been more about the adventure and spending time with the people closest to you, and I’m already looking forward to next season – maybe we will be able to seal the deal in another year!