Scott Hergesheimer writes, "The cold mountain air felt good in my lungs as I crept along the lakeshore. At 8,300 ft. elevation on a special draw moose hunt everything feels good!
There were pockets of two day old snow scattered about the timber along the lake. In the patch of snow before me were the tracks of what appeared to be a bull and cow moose.
In 2008, I had drawn a goat tag for an area close to my home, now in 2009 I drew a bull moose tag. If I draw a bighorn sheep tag next year, I'm pretty sure my buddies aren't going to talk to me anymore! My moose tag was for an area in southwestern Montana. Being from Great Falls, some 250 miles away, I was somewhat familiar with the hunting district due to the fact I have family in the area.
The afternoon of October 3rd, 2009 was my 8th day of hunting as I studied the fresh tracks in the snow. I had seen some moose on previous days, but not the mature bulls I had been hoping for. The tracks veered to the left heading into the light wind toward the lake. I decided to go to the right in a big loop and come back on the track along the lakeshore with the faint breeze in my face. The sun danced in and out from behind the clouds as I rested on a huge boulder looking over the glass-like lake. The trout were making plenty of fuss over the afternoon hatch. I glassed up into the 10,000 ft. peaks and watched several mountain goats grazing on the steep faces of the giant stone castles. It was almost surreal being that high in such a magnificent place with such an astonishing vista. The cold steel of my Sako rifle flashed me back to reality as I grabbed it to proceed along the lake. With the calm serenity of the afternoon, I let out a cow moose call knowing it would carry for a great distance. After a brief wait, I crept up along the shore and called again. My whole body went cold as the sound of a bull moose grunt penetrated the mountain air. The grunt came from straight ahead of me. I chambered a round in my Sako .300 WSM and returned the grunt with a grunt of my own. The bull instantly responded. I tiptoed fifty yards up the lake through the boulders and Christmas trees when I heard another grunt. Peeking around some large rocks and saplings, my heart jumped out of my chest as my eyes looked upon a giant white moose paddle jutting from behind some 8 ft. pines. I raised my Leupold binoculars and counted 11 points on the right antler and 10 on the left. I guessed his spread to be near 40 inches. I could see a cow bedded in the trees just in front of him and to his left. Ducking low behind the Christmas trees I gained my composure and assured myself this bull was a shooter. Slowly raising up, I could see there was no real shot opportunity where the bull was, facing me at 60 yards, in the trees. I ducked back down, grunted and raked the pines with a good sized stick trying my best to be another bull moose. Raising back up, I could see that it worked as the bull emerged from the trees like a fearless gladiator entering the arena. He staggered and swayed his massive rack as he walked toward me. At 48 yards he had cleared the trees and the green light in my mind turned on. Even at 3.5 power on my Leupold scope, all I could see was his thick chest as my finger got heavier and heavier on the trigger. The big bull staggered and fell at the report of the rifle. He then rolled and tried to get his feet under him as the second shot put him down for good. As I stood there watching the dead bull, the pure majesty and power of the moment with the wilderness around me completely engulfed every sense of my body. This is as close to God as a man can get I thought to myself. Still mesmerized by the previous moments, I was snapped back to reality by the feel of a snowflake on my cheek as a few flakes began to lightly float to the ground.
I knew a storm was to blow in over the night and at this elevation you can bet anything that CAN happen, WILL happen! I took photos and got to work with my knives. With an hour and a half of daylight left and 3.5 miles to the trailhead, I knew this big bull would stay at the lake one more night and I'd return in the morning with help. The next morning there was 8-10 inches of
snow on the ground, which made it difficult to get up to the bull, but my brother-in-law, Wayne, and I scratched and clawed our way to the lake. We were able to get the bull to the ATV'S and get everything out in one trip. It was a good thing we got out when we did, because it snowed for the next 24 hours without stopping! There really is something to say about taking a B&C animal on a public land, do-it-yourself hunt. I don't have the words, but I know for me that day will always be with me.
I scored the bull at 161 0/8 gross B&C, but will have to wait for the 60 day dry time for the official score."