Monday morning. Foggy, wet. We waited at the edge of a bog bull moose have been frequenting. Kenny Jipson and my husband Steve continued along the edge of the bog while Melissa Olesky and I sat down to listen. I probably picked up the tick I found working its way into my neck while sitting in this spot. Something, probably deer, walked behind us. There were no answers to my calls. We met up with the guys and headed for a new place.
We drove through a quickly regenerating clear cut. It’s the perfect place for moose. I called and a bull grunted back. Kenny loaded the rifle while Steve and I headed down a path to call and rake. The bull must have been with a cow; his grunts got further away until I couldn’t hear them anymore. Cows don’t like to share their bulls and will pull them away.
I called at the next stop and got a quick grunt in reply. “Let’s go get him,” I told Kenny. I called. A cow answered, and then a bull. I called cautiously, not wanting the cow to lead the bull away again.
Ten minutes into our pursuit Kenny said, “I think it’s a hunter.” He was right. Every grunt and bawl was exactly the same. A hunter with an electronic call was answering me. A second hunter answered my call with the same electronic call in the afternoon, and we recognized it immediately that time. That was it for the day.
I stayed home Tuesday morning while Kenny and Melissa (who is my sister) headed to the area around the Amazon Road. There are a lot of fresh cuts out there. I missed Melissa’s call at 9 am when the stupid phone wouldn’t respond to my swipe. I called her right back but by then she was on the phone with someone else. “Did you get him,” I asked on voice mail. A few minutes later she called back, out of breath and excited.
The drive to them seemed to take forever even though they were less than 10 miles from my house. I arrived to see Melissa picking her way across a slash pile. Erik McLaughlin, Kenny’s nephew, was already there with the trailer, ATV, and a tool I’d heard about but never seen used. Kenny and Eric’s bright orange hats stood out through trees. The bull walked a few feet into the trees and dropped.
And then, as they say, the work began. Kenny had the paunch out when I got there. Melissa and I held the body cavity open while he finished the job. Melissa isn’t a hunter. Field dressing anything is completely new to her. She backed out once when her hands were cramping but she stuck it out through the tick crawling off the moose close to her hand, and through the smell. There are lessons to be learned through hunting. She’s learned a new skill she never expected to need. Maybe she’ll become a hunter after all. I hope so.
This is how meat starts out. Whether you hunt for it or shop for it at the grocery, it starts like this.
Kenny and Erik unloaded the ATV and hooked the “tool,” a bed liner for a pickup, behind the ATV. Brian Donaghy told about the bed liner when Erin and I were on our moose safari. I was eager to see it in action. Kenny drove through the ditch, up the bank and into the slash pile with the bed liner bouncing wildly off logs, sticks and rocks. It got caught on one small log but bounced off everything else. They pulled the moose onto the liner, tied it securely, and dragged the moose and liner to the truck. It pulled so smoothly that the four of us could have dragged it out without the ATV.
Moose hunters stopped to talk about their experience in the woods so far this week. Some chatted by the side of the road and others walk in to see the moose. Kenny had his moose so I told one pair of hunters a good spot to find a 10 point bull.
The bed liner made quick work when Erik’s hunting group shot a 561 pound cow on Monday, and again with Kenny’s moose. Logan Jipson was hunting with his dad, Rick Jipson (who is Kenny’s brother) when he shot his 640 pound bull late Wednesday afternoon. Logan didn’t need the liner. He dropped his bull with one shot while it stood at the edge of the gravel road.
We stopped while Kenny checked the moose and ATV to be sure they were still secure during the bumpy ride. Bear hunters from Pennsylvania who are hunting with Tomah Mountain Outfitters in Topsfield stopped to see the moose. It was nice to get to talk with them.
Before anyone complains about three permits in one family, the folks live in three separate homes. They had one permit per household. Congratulations to everyone!
I went back to the paunch later with two of the hunters we meat earlier in the day. I was going to drain the bladder and use the urine in the same way we did during the moose safari. Bob and Roger are having a hard time getting the moose they’re trying to shoot out of the woods far enough to make a clean shot. Four hours after leaving the paunch, this is all that was left. Coyote and crow tracks told the story of what feasted on a free meal.