I got back from Carson City Nevada, after three days of filming
of my step-daughter's wedding at 10 PM August 19th.
My camper was already loaded and my Prowler was hooked up on
the trailer. Moose season was opening the next morning and I
had to be in camp. I was up before day break and out on the
trail. Day light found me miles back on a muddy trail with a
lot of places where the water, in the many mud holes, was 2
feet deep. Thick brush and timber were my companion. Neither
were as bad as the head-high bear grass that grew everywhere.
Visibility was down to the bumper of my ATV most of the time.
I rode standing up most of the time so I could see over the
The reason the grass is called "bear grass", is because
they use it to stalk moose and moose hunters. They don't need
to see their prey to stalk it. It always gives me a nice feeling
when I'm walking or riding through the stuff. Lin was coming
to camp in a couple of days. She was driving her mother from
Carson City back to San Fran, but for now I was on my own. I
don't hear like I could when I was a youngster, even with the
hearing aids. That isn't kool in bear country. It keeps me a
bit on edge. Top that off with glasses splattered with rain
and mud, and it gets down to good old unsafe for a old codger
to be poking around out there.
Bears sometimes will blow or chomp their teeth when they are
mad about something. It usually isn't a good practice to overlook
such warnings, provided that you "hear" them.
The best time for the big bulls to be seen was just before dark.
I knew if I was going to bag one, I would have to be out there
till pitch dark.
Many nights found me miles back in those ugly swamps, and muddy
trails far after it was safe. I knew if I got stuck or broke
down, I couldn't walk out. The worse part was I really couldn't
call for help because I wouldn't be able to tell anyone where
I was. I did carry my GPS, but it could only tell me the direction
and position. Lin didn't have a GPS in camp to co-ordinate my
location. Luckily I didn't have to use the thing. Lin also wasn't
able to go out on the trail due to her back problem. She had
just gotten an epidural spine shot in San Fran., and had doctor's
orders to not do anything. My brother, Gibby, and his wife Linda,
came in to camp with us the second week. It was good to have
a hunting partner.
Their first evening in camp, I drove them out to the muddy trail
that I had been pounding for a week. Ten minutes later, Linda
shot a nice bull. I hadn't even SEEN a shootable bull all week!!
It was so close to camp that I went and got my ATV trailer,
winched it in, and drove back to camp with the whole moose in
back. We saw several big bulls just before dark, but we couldn't
make out how big the horns were. The law says 50 inches wide
or more, or three brow tines.
I learned long ago that if you can't be sure, you just don't
shoot. I have let a lot of big moose go free because I wasn't
"sure" enough to pull the trigger. One evening a very
big bull and a cow ran almost through camp, but Lin and Linda
weren't able to see the horns well enough to make a shot. Gibby
and Linda had to go back to work on the 10th. of Sept., which
left me to hunt alone again. The last couple of weeks of moose
season is mostly restricted to no vehicle travel for moose hunting.
That rather stupid law left me with having to walk from camp.
I had hung two tree-stands a quarter of a mile from camp so
I'd have a way to get up out of the way of the bears. It also
allowed me to be able to see over the tall grass.
Many wet, cold mornings found me walking through the grass and
heavy brush, before it was light enough to be doing it. It's
just one of those things that you have to do if you want your
My tree-stands and camp were in a natural moose pass. It was
a brushy, timbered ridge surrounded on three sides with swamps.
We had taken several moose there in the passed years. This year
was to be different. The land was owned by the University of
Alaska. For reasons known only to them, they decided to bring
in helicopters and do some sort of seismic work the last week
of moose season. Needless to say, they drove every moose out
of our area. Since I couldn't drive, it left me hanging in tree-stands
for days with the moose over on the next swamp. My brother and
I always share all expenses and meat, so half a moose is plenty
for Lin and I. We did get skunked, but Lin and I had a chance
to pick a lot of wild currants, rose hips, and crow berries.
During one berry picking event, I was walking on a large pile
of logs picking currants, that had grown up between the logs.
The bears get the easy ones and are too lazy to climb up on
the log piles. I was coming down off of the logs when I stepped
between the logs where the ground was supposed to be. WRONG!!
It was a deep hole instead. I fell down on to a log that had
a branch sticking up. The limb broke and jabbed into my back
below my ribs. If I had not been wearing a shirt and vest, it
would have penetrated my back and left me in a real mess.
I can't afford to cut or scratch myself due to the blood thinners
that I take for my three nice stints in my heart. I bleed very
badly. We were way back in the hills when that happened. It
was the only day that neither of us had our cell phones. I'm
still wimping around about my sore back. I still have a chance
to go back out in the late season, but I don't know whether
I will or not. Mean while I'll just lay around and lick my wounds
and dream about next year.
George Bubba Hunt, author of The Wilderness