In the wilds of Ontario exists one supreme king who rules over all of God’s creatures. He stands tall and proud in total control of this rugged boreal forest he calls home. A mature specimen stands 6-feet at the shoulder and an incredible 9-feet to the top of its head. He is noble, stealthy and perhaps the most highly sought-after game animal in all of North America.
If you guessed the majestic bull moose, you would be correct. But how does one pursue and eventually harvest one of these incredible beasts? For a crash course in hunting trophy bull moose, you must contact Chris Porter of Dryden, Ontario, a man whose taken his fair share, with a little help from his partner of course.
There is one particular ‘Bullwinkle,’ however, of which Chris is especially proud. He encountered with this one-of-a-kind behemoth on the last weekend of the 2000 moose season is a day he will not soon forget, in a year where everything just fell into place!
Chris’s hunting partner, Al Hymers who was also the team’s head moose caller, crafted the perfect plaintiff cow call – one that piqued the curiosity of big bulls and really got them excited. Most hunters agree that traditional moose horns, when used properly, will make or break a moose hunt. One thing for certain; Al had his call down pat and it was bringing-in those ol’ droopy jaws from all around. Case in point…
The previous weekend of the archery season had already produced incredible moose action. The duo had five bulls come to Al’s call before nine o’clock in the morning. The largest was more than respectable, sporting a set of antlers approximately 50 inches across. Unfortunately, the big boy had not approached to within a comfortable shooting distance for the crossbow.
Of the other four moose that came to visit, three young bulls were coaxed to within 15 yards but were not the calibre the men were looking for. As the duo entered the final week of crossbow season, they had high hopes of duplicating the action of the previous weekend. Chris spent most of the afternoon laying out their setup for the morning’s hunt. Their tag-team strategy was a simple one – have Al, the caller, lure a big bull into shooting range for Chris.
Chris positioned himself in the hollow of a small hill in the middle of a meadow. The grassy meadow was about 50 yards across with a small stream running the length of it. The men cleared two shooting lanes and placed a black canvas cut-out figure of a cow moose in the branches of an uprooted tree. With the stage set, the duo exited the area in anticipation of the next morning’s hunt.
The following morning, before light, they crept into the hunt area like cat burglars exiting a crime scene. The thought of taking a big bull filled their heads. Chris repositioned the moose decoy and liberally applied cow-in-estrus scent as an added attractant. He found an ambush location at the root of a fallen white spruce about halfway across the meadow.
Al found a good vantage point downwind from where to put his moose horn into action. He began working his magic with the moose call. The forest came alive with the sound of music, and the tag-team strategy was set to go. The plan was to lure the unsuspecting moose towards the call, drawing them past Chris’s shooting location.
“Awvwwhhhhh, Awwhh, Awwhh,” Al’s nasally cow-bellows echoed off the nearby ridge and reverberated through the meadow. The morning was ideal, and the calls were perfect! As the morning wore on and the fog lifted there was no sign of moose yet. The only thing that kept Chris’s hopes up was the change in spacing, and frequency. of his partner’s calls. Al’s calls were usually 30-40 minutes apart but for some reason were now more frequent. “Does he see or hear something I do not?” Chris wondered, sitting up in his perch.
Generally, if a bull responds to a hunter’s call, a good caller will answer back to entice the bull into approaching. Maybe that was the case here, but since Al was out of view, Chris had no idea. Then he heard it – a definite cracking sound emanating from the top of the ridge to the east. Suddenly, a ghostlike figure appeared on its way cautiously down the slope.
“Here we go,” Chris thought, gripping his trusty crossbow firmly. He could only watch in awe as the enormous beast lumbered into the meadow in all his ragged glory. The animal was huge! Chris estimated the rack at easily 60 inches wide – a taker to be sure!
As the monster bull approached with his head rocking back and forth, the hunter’s heart rate soared! Chris tried to regain his composure and keep his mind on the job at hand – making a clean shot with the crossbow when the bull was within range. Chris was so nervous he felt sure the moose would hear his heart pounding from that distance.
The bull continued towards them in the manner expected of a monarch of his stature. With a cadence of three or four steps at a time, the animals stopped only to let out a spine-tingling grunt. At an distance of 30 yards the moose halted, first looking in Al’s direction then back at Chris. Donned in full camouflage and sitting motionless, Chris knew he could not be detected, but that did not lower his heart rate. After an agonizing minute-long standoff, the bull made its way closer.
Standing at a mere 20 yards out and quartering way, it was now or never! Holding his sights steady on the bull’s vital zone, Chris squeezed the trigger of his trusty Excalibur crossbow. Thwack! The arrow found its mark and the great beast travelled only a few yards before falling.
The showdown was over and Chris could not believe what had just happened. As he made his way over to the once-in-a-lifetime moose, his entire body was trembling. The bull’s immense size was beyond description and his symmetrical antlers spanned an incredible 61.5 inches.
Al finally arrived, grinning from ear to ear. “Looks like our tag team really paid off big this time, eh?” Chris, still speechless, simply beamed. The elated duo spent a long period admiring their fantastic trophy.
Chris Porter’s crossbow moose was officially scored for the Boone & Crockett Club (B&C) at 198 4/8” B&C, making it Ontario’s largest moose ever harvested with a crossbow, and one of the biggest of its kind in North America.
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