Moose Hunting: Different Seasons, Different Tactics

By Hal Blood
Keep in mind that the days of road riding to shoot a moose are long gone. There are plenty of moose to hunt, you just have to be willing to get into the woods and go after them.
It seems like summer is just getting started and all of a sudden, the days are getting shorter again. Such is life when you live in the north country. May’s weather this year was the craziest that I’ve ever seen since living in the Moose River valley for 30 years. I was teaching my deer clinics during the month of May, so I was in the woods for most of the month. Early in the month, the temperature was below normal, culminating with 2 days of snow at the end of the first week. It stayed cool until the middle of the month and then as if a switch had been flipped, a heat wave arrived. It was bad enough to have 80-degree temperatures on memorial weekend, then a few days later, the temperature rose to above 90-degrees. The buds on the trees, went to full on leaves in about four days! Once June arrived, it was back to seasonal temperatures again.
The heat and green-up was a big help to the moose and deer, as the nutrient rich food was everywhere and helped them get their bodies back in shape after the long winter. A side benefit of getting their bodies back in shape early, is that the doe’ and cow’s get a boost before birthing time begins. The buck’s and bull’s will grow their antlers quicker and will end up being bigger after a tough winter. I have seen more bulls along the roads this year than the past few years and their antlers were already starting to palm out by early June. It will be exciting to see if the antlers end up larger than usual.
My deer clinics were once again a great time for all involved. I had some great groups who were eager to learn how to scout and hunt in the Big Woods. We roamed the woods learning how to find signpost rubs and how to unlock the key to finding where the big Woods buck’s travel about through their territory. I look forward to teaching other hunters to become not only better hunters but also better woodsman.
By the time you read this, some of you were lucky enough to draw a moose tag. Congratulations to all of you that did, and I hope you have a great hunt. Keep in mind that the days of road riding to shoot a moose are long gone. Yes, a few people will always get luck and see one form the road, but why would you leave you hunt to abstract luck. Moose have become more skittish over the years and don’t hang around where there is any kind of activity. There are plenty of moose to hunt, you just have to be willing to get into the woods and go after them. This might involve packing them out, but the extra work will be well worth the reward. I recommend that you do some scouting, but don’t waste you time scouting in the summer. Moose move around and the bull you spotted in august might be five miles away but the time the season starts.
Another thing that most hunters don’t realize, there is a big difference in the way you should hunt each season. The September season is the beginning of the rut, and the weather hasn’t started to cool very much. This is the season when calling works the best as the bulls are anxious to find a receptive cow. Moose will be in cool wet areas this season, not out in the clear-cuts with the sun beating on them. The October season is after the rut and the bulls are tired. With enough calling you can get a response but don’t expect a bull to come charging in. they don’t want to fight unless they are the dominant bull in the area, and will more than likely sneak in down wind if they come at all. If they are around any clear-cuts this season, they will most likely be the cuts hidden in the out of the way places. Still hunting and spot and stalk works better this season. Bull calling is also more effective this season as the bull are starting to bachelor up for the winter.
Well, I’m sure the summer will be short as usual and before we know it, deer season will once again be upon us. Until next month, Good luck on the trail!

Hal is a Master Maine Guide and Author. He lives in Moose River Maine with his wife Deb, Hal can be contacted at [email protected]

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