Two Giant NH Bull Moose – Two Hunters Friendship

I am Alan Mikoloski, 52 and my friend and hunting partner of 17 years, is David Deluca, 56 and we are neighbors in Nottingham NH.  This story starts 11 years ago in 2002 when David’s wife Margaret  drew an either sex tag in zone G ( her first year hunting ) after hunting everyday of the season and driving the 4 hour round trip every day, they had a couple close calls with a big Cow on the first day and a big Bull on the last day, but sadly ended without taking a moose.

In 2003 I put in for the same zone as my first choice since they had scouted many spots and to our surprise I was rewarded with an either sex tag for zone G.

David and I made a couple preseason scouting trips a few weeks before the season and saw a 2-3 years old bull on the first trip and a very large bull on the second and David was able to get it on video.  We went to same that spot opening day 2003 and at 7:00am spotted a couple moose about a half mile up a clear cut ridge and after hours of stalking and calling finally caught up to what turned out to be a 4.5 year old bull in front of a smaller one about 2.5 years old at noon time.  They were 150-200 yards away at the edge of an over grown clear cut and on the bottom of a ridge and we were afraid they were headed up the ridge.

Moose Number 1 2003 – Alan

I opened fired with my Marlin .444 lever action and hit the large bull in the upper leg and hurriedly fired a few more rapids shots and since he didn’t go down right away, David who was filming, put down his camera and dropped it with his Winchester .270.

Dave and Alan 2003 Moose cropped small size

After confirming it was down for good, we were lucky enough to find cell phone coverage to call his brother Dana who was bow hunting across the state ( he was the video man the year before ) and he dropped everything to drive the 2 hours to meet us in the woods thanks to the miracle of GPS and two way radios as cell coverage was sporadic.  Before he arrived, we made our first hike a mile and half out to the trucks for more supplies to cape and cut it up to pack out on our backs.

At the trucks, luck shined on us again when we meet a bear hunter named Dave just about to enter the woods and hired him on to help us pack it out.  With the four of us going back and forth, it took us 12 hours to finally get the last of the moose in the truck.

Many thanks to Dana and Dave from Dorchester without who’s help would have made this a much longer ordeal!

A 2 hour ride back home and up early in the morning to take it to the Durham Moose check station and then dropping the meat off to the meat cutter who estimated the dressed weight of the animal at 1000 pounds by the amount of meat we had.  Then a 1.5 hour ride to Dave’s Taxidermy  in Weare NH to get it shoulder mounted as my wife Deborah loved the idea of hanging it in our new addition cathedral ceiling living room next to my 8 point 176 lb buck on the wall.

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About eight months later we picked up the mount at Dave’s Taxidermy and what a beautiful job he and his wife did on it.

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After helping my wife and I hang it on the wall, I told David that if I drew another tag (after the mandatory 3 year waiting period to enter again) before he did, I would let it be his chance to get a trophy for his wall. (Editor’s Note: And he did!)

The Second Moose 2013 – Dave’s Moose on the Magazine Cover with Alan

Well, lady luck came back this year, 10 years later as I (Alan) drew another tag for zone G and for either sex.    After a couple scouting trips without seeing any moose and our original clear cut area chocked full of 16 foot high saplings we needed some local help.

Thanks to a story written by Dana 10 years ago that I just read for the first time a couple weeks ago, I was able to get the full name of the bear hunter that had helped us out and I was able to get in touch with him.  After meeting him only once and now ten years later it was like talking to an old friend again.  Dave was happy to hear of us coming back and gave us some tips on areas to check out and to my surprise told me that he had a camp in the area and offered for us to use it.

There’s that luck thing again!

David and I made one more scouting trip and also checked out the beautiful steam side camp and we made a call to Dave to tell him we would be up the evening before opening day and were ready to stay as long as it took to get the job done.  After not seeing any moose on our scouting trips along with our first day hunting, David and I made the decision that with the moose population being way down this year, we would take the first mature animal we got a good shot at being a bull or a cow.  The second afternoon we were walking some old logging roads and spotted a dark spot about 50 yards up a ridge that was think with 4-6 inch dia. beech trees.  After checking it out in our binoculars we determined that it was a mature cow but she was facing away and we had no shot at her forward of her hind quarters.  After about 10 long minutes of waiting, she slowly started to move away and I could see her nose then her long face through the scope on my .308 Remington bolt action and had the safety off and David did as well.  We decided not to take the chancy shot due to the thicket of tress and branches and she slipped away and we could not catch up to her before she moved into another thicket even higher up the ridge.  We came so close to going home early again with a lot of tasty meat for our families.

The next day we spent the entire day stalking up and down ridges and low lands and did not see a Moose and only spotty fresh sign.  Day four Oct. 22, 2013, I was feeling like this would not be a good  year to take a moose and was kicking myself for not taking a head shot at the cow two days earlier.

We drove further up the mountain logging rode and found some fresh tracks from several moose by the road.  We bailed out and headed up the over grown skidder road and hunted it carefully for about 3 hours. We saw lots of fresh sign, but could not spot a Moose even after David’s cow calling that he had been practicing every since I drew the tag in June.  We regrouped at the vehicle for lunch at noon as a light rain started.  Rather than go back to camp and wait out the rain we moved down about a quarter mile and headed up another skidder road and zig-zagged our way up to the top of the ridge seeing ever more fresh tracks and droppings than in the morning.  Still no Moose to be found!

That missed chance on day two was nagging at me again as we headed back down the ridge on another skidder road making plans to hunt closer to the road for the last couple of hours of the day. 

Half way down the ridge, looking over a briar and grass covered wash bar across the trail to prevent erosion, I spotted a moose antler about 70 yards below in a clearing!

“IT’S A BULL..IT’S A BULL…IT’S A BULL” I whispered to David.

We quickly determined that he was bedded down with his head up facing to the left as the wind was coming up the ridge and he had no idea we were there.  David turned on his HD camera he had mounted on top of his scoped Winchester .270 bolt action and I told him not to take any chances and to shot him while bedded down and I would back him up if a follow up shot was needed. 

David only had the upper part of his lung area to shot at and fired and hit his mark, but the bull immediately started to get up and I fired and hit him at the base of the neck and he dropped like a rock! 

Moose from front with 2 rifles& shed1 small image

As David continued to film, we started to slowly move down the ridge, it was then that we realized that there were two more bulls about the same size standing behind him about 20 yards away!  Dave continued filming the other two big bulls and the downed bull too.

As we walked closer the other two bulls finally moved on after about 10 minutes.

After studying the beautiful animal with his black coat and dark mahogany 17 point rack, David took more video with his with HD camera along with a many still photo’s.  Finally, after four long hard days of hunting and a bit of that old luck, the hard part was just starting.  We field dressed it and then placed an orange vest on the antlers and we started to make our way back to the truck for more supplies as the sun was now setting.  David had brought about 10 red reflectors and marked the trail every 50-75 yards back to the road about 800 yards away through low brush and some alders.  We had lined up a Guide we had meet the day before to drag it out with a chain saw winch, but he bailed out on us after spending longer than anticipated pulling out another Moose a half hour away.  After a rest at the truck we loaded up my 2 wheel deer cart in the dark with extra supplies including; a rolled up plastic deer sled, frame pack, bone saw, extra knives, knife sharpener, game meat bags, tarp, lantern, rope, bungee cords, food and water.  We made it back to the Moose to find that frost was already forming on the ground as the temperature dipped below 35 degrees.

We could not budge the animal and had to cut it in half at the 3rd rib to remove the back half.  We then began to cape one side of the shoulder and then removed that shoulder.  This allowed us with much effort to turn him over and to do the same to the other side with many breaks to rest and have a snack and water to stay hydrated ( a lesson learned from the 2003 Moose hunt where exhaustion and muscle cramps set in towards the end ) .

Caping and Packing the Meat Out -Taking our time to cape all the way to the base of the skull,  it took 3 – 4 hours due to the weight and bulky antlers even with just half the animal.  After finishing the cape, I boned out the back straps and the rest of the meat as we used about 10 game bags to protect all the meat .

The first trip out was with a hind quarter strapped to the plastic sled that I pulled and David loaded his frame pack to the top with meat.  It took about a 45 minutes with flash lights to follow the reflectors back to the truck.

After loading the meat into the back of my truck, we warmed up in his truck and drank more water and iced tea along with some food ( pop tarts never taste so good! ).

A half hour later we made our way back up the dark ridge for another trip.  This time we loaded the deer cart and the pack and half way down to the road a wheel came off the cart as the pin holding it on the axle had a finger loop in it for breaking down the cart,  but the loop caught on the brush and pulled out.  Anticipating such a problem, the day before we left home,  I had grabbed a couple regular cotter pins and taped them to the frame of the cart and cut them off and we managed to get the wheel secured back on the loaded cart.  Every trip we repeated our routine of warming up in the truck and eating anything we could find including candy bars, apples and chips.  The next trip was just like the last with the other wheel coming off halfway down and we used our last spare pin managing not to drop it in the brush in the dark.  Without those spare pins our night would have been much, much longer.  As we headed up for the last load the sun was coming up and after packing up all our supplies and cleaning up any trash, we both grabbed an antler and loaded the head and cape onto the cart and David secured it down with rope.  Half way down we stopped and David set up his camera on a log to video our final decent out of the northern woods for his son Daveo to use when he would edit the footage David had taken over the last four days and the preseason scouting trips.

 

Finally at the road for the last time, we placed the handle of the cart on the tailgate of my truck and climbed up and we both grabbed an antler and with one last burst of energy, we pulled the massive head into the bed of the truck and closed the tailgate.  After David tied it down to protect the antlers from hitting the sides of the bed, I looked at my watch and it was 8:40am Wednesday morning, 17 hours after those two rifle shots Tuesday afternoon that completed out quest to get a second trophy Bull Moose.  We now had a 2 hour ride home not including a 1 hour stop over at the New Hampton Moose check station were the NH Fish and game Biologist determined the Moose to be 7 1/2 years old by pulling and analyzing a tooth.  We also were met and interviewed by Ed Hale of the New Hampshire Rifleman on-line Magazine.

Editors Note: This was a story not just of the great Moose Hunt’s but of the terrific friendship these two hunters have.  It was very gracious of Alan to give Dave the kill shot  for Dave’s Mount. As I understand it from Alan, he has a doe already and another tag to fill too. Guess these guys aren’t buying much beef at the grocery store!

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About Ed Hale

I am an avid hunter with rifle and Bow and have been hunting for more than 50 years. I have taken big game such as whitetail deer, red deer, elk, Moose and African Plains game
such as Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Blesbok, and Impala and wrote an ebook entitled African Safari -Rifle and Bow and Arrow on how to prepare for a first safari. Ed is a serious cartridge reloader and ballistics student. He has earned two degrees in science and has written hundreds of outdoor article on hunting with both bow and rifle.