September 18, 2023
In 2021, my good friend Darryl Amason was able to realize his goal of arrowing an Alaskan moose. That hunt didn’t lack for adventure and excitement. Darryl and I had located a good bull and snuck to within 300 yards. The rut was in full swing, and the bull had a cow with him. Our plan was to stalk a little closer, then for me to call the bull into bow range of Darryl.
Just when we were both feeling like, “we got this,” I felt a slight breeze on my neck. The topography of the land was funneling the wind toward the moose, and it didn’t take long before the gig was up.
A couple days later we were blessed to be looking through our binoculars at another nice bull, also accompanied by a cow. The wind dictated that we stalk toward this bull from right to left, so we navigated around a large lake to get closer to the bull.
When we were about 500 yards from the two moose, Darryl and I noticed that the wind was slightly different. It was doing the same exact thing as on our previous failed stalk, and we feared a carbon-copy result if we approached any closer. Without even discussing it, Darryl and I both knew what we had to do — backtrack all the way around the lake to approach this bull from the other side.
When we finally made it around the lake and were within a couple hundred yards of where we thought the bull was bedded, we both donned waders before easing into the water at the lake’s edge. Walking in the water made our approach completely silent. Had we attempted to sneak closer in the thick brush, I am certain the moose would have heard us.
Upon reaching our predetermined spot, we stopped. My plan from there was to slowly and quietly climb a short distance up from the shoreline and then set up to call the bull. Darryl’s job was to stay in the water and continue another 40 yards along the shoreline, at which point he was also going to climb up the grassy hill. This would put Darryl in the best possible position for a shot once I started calling. Before we parted, I emphasized to Darryl to take his time and go extremely slow. The moose were close, and we didn’t want to risk spooking them. We had plenty of time, and they weren’t going anywhere.
I got settled into a good calling spot, and then waited until I could see Darryl get next to a stand of small trees directly across from me. When he looked over and gave me a thumbs up, I knew he was ready.
The instant I started raking the brush, the bull grunted and started coming. As the bull was getting closer, I was expecting Darryl to shoot at any moment. Every second, the sound of tree limbs breaking was getting louder and louder. Then I could see the trees and brush moving, and suddenly the bull stepped out, literally 10 yards from me. He towered above me, as I lay flat in the tall grass to keep him from seeing me. He looked and listened for the “intruder” bull that he thought was there. The wind was perfect, and even with the bull so close, he never smelled me. Eventually the bull retreated and headed back in the direction of his cow.
I couldn’t believe what had just happened. We never could have predicted that the bull would walk just above Darryl and not offer him a clear shot, let alone come so ultra-close to me afterwards.
The bull wasn’t spooked or alarmed at all, so I just stayed where I was. I decided to have a snack, drink some water, and give the bull some time. I couldn’t see Darryl, so I didn’t know if he was doing the same, or possibly even off stalking the bull on his own. After about 30 minutes, I decided to call again. What did we have to lose?
When I started raking the trees again, the bull grunted, and I could hear him coming through the brush toward me again! At the same time, I heard Darryl climbing toward me from below. When I finally saw the bull’s antlers, I could also hear Darryl struggling to get into position.
When the bull busted out of the trees right beside me, I stayed low to the ground and remained still. Watching the bull out of the corner of my eye and trying to hold my breath, I waited. Then, I finally heard it: Darryl’s bow went off, and I saw his arrow hit the bull perfectly behind its shoulder.
On September 19, 2021, the bowhunting script finally played out perfectly for us, and Darryl got to check a box off his bucket list. His moose later scored 196 4⁄8" P&Y.
In 2022, Darryl and I were back at it again, and we had located a bull and two cows hanging around a long, narrow lake. As we set up our tent, the excitement was building. We hoped to get some more close-range moose action, like the year before.
The next morning, we slowly made our way uphill to a vantage point, and it didn’t take us long to locate the shooter bull. We stalked around the lake to get as close to the moose as we could. When we ran out of good cover and determined that the wind wasn’t ideal, we stopped — there was no need to get in a hurry and push the issue.
It was still early in the day, so we got comfy in our observation spot and waited. I set up my spotting scope, so we could see the bull even better. He was bedded with two cows on the far end of the narrow lake, about 500 yards away. When he would turn his head, we could see that he had wide antlers, which produced a wide smile on my face. I told Darryl that all we could do was sit, wait, and let the bull make the next move. If we couldn’t get in close to him, we would just try again the next day and hope for better luck.
As the day wore on, Darryl and I took turns resting and keeping tabs on the moose. I supposedly got a better and longer nap than Darryl did...at least that is what he claimed.
Later that afternoon, the three moose started moving around and feeding more than we had ever seen them do before. Over the course of that day, the wide-antlered bull never strayed too far from his two cows. But as the day wore on, I noticed he was slowly getting farther away from his cows. He was still on the other side of the narrow lake, but he was starting to move in our general direction. Behind us, the lake necked-down to its smallest point, so I told Darryl if the bull kept coming down the shoreline, I wanted to hustle back and get set up by that narrowest spot in the lake.
With the rut in full swing and the wind in our favor, I was optimistic we could call him across the lake to us. The bull’s pace increased slightly, distancing himself even more from the two cows, and he now appeared to be committed to walking down the shoreline. We needed to hurry, so we left all our gear where we stood, except for my bow and our moose decoys and calls.
We could now hear the bull grunting with every step he took. By the time Darryl and I got into position at the narrows, the bull was almost there, too. A steadily walking moose, even at a slow pace, can cover some serious ground!
Darryl was behind me and couldn’t see the bull. I wanted to let the moose get directly across from us before we started calling. When the bull got there, I gave Darryl the signal to start calling.
The bull instantly looked in our direction when he first heard Darryl’s brush-thrashing and calling. Without hesitation, the bull then turned and started across the lake toward us. I was set up about 20 yards in front of Darryl and had a cow moose Ultimate Predator decoy on my bow. Because of the slope of the hill, I lost sight of the bull for several minutes, but the sounds of him grunting were getting louder and louder. The excitement of seeing a big bull coming to a call with his antlers swaying back and forth is intense!
When the bull saw my decoy and thought I was a cow moose, he kept coming closer and closer. Shooting a bull moose that is facing you, especially with a bow, is not a good idea. But at only seven yards and still facing me, I was running out of options.
Finally, the bull turned to his right and looked in Darryl’s direction, thinking Darryl was his unseen rival. When he took two steps toward Darryl, a quartering-to shot opportunity appeared. At only seven yards, trust me when I say that a mature, rutting bull moose looks BIG!
When my arrow hit home, the bull instinctively charged toward Darryl, and he had to quickly jump out of the way to avoid getting run over. We found the expired moose about 100 yards away. My 2022 Alaska-Yukon moose scored 183 3⁄8".
The excitement of calling these massive beasts into ultra-close bow range is exhilarating. It is one of the most fun animals there is to bowhunt, when the rut is going well and calling is effective.
Like all big-game bowhunting, though, it’s not easy. And the work really begins once you get a bull on the ground. The size of these animals and the weight of the meat that must be handled and transported can be overwhelming. But, if you’re up to the challenge and not afraid of a little work, then this is one extreme and adventurous hunt that can be a dream come true for a persistent bowhunter. Darryl and I proved this by taking good back-to-back bulls.
The author is a highly accomplished bowhunter from Alaska. He is only a handful of animals away from completing his third archery Super Slam. No one else is close.
Author’s Note: My equipment on these hunts included Mathews bows, Victory arrows, Muzzy broadheads, Schaffer bowsights, a TightSpot Quiver, a B-3 Archery release, Side Hill Archery bowstrings, KUIU clothing, and Ultimate Predator Decoys.