Mick Bohanis doesn’t have to travel far to find trophy moose territory. A quick stroll into Micks ‘Back 40” has already yielded numerous additions to his growing trophy room! This bow hunters walls are teaming with impressive moose racks. Every September, Mick and a few friends take the familiar turn onto Dog River Road, past the Dog River Conservation area, which takes them to Bullwinkle’s neighbourhood. “This is truly God’s country up here,” Mick boasts. “This land is where the men are men, and the moose are nervous!”
Moose Hunting Season – 1997
The 1997 season is especially memorable. That’s when Mick put arrows through two droopy-jawed giants that sailed into the Pope and Young Club’s (P&Y) record book.
Pope & Young Club History
The pivotal hunting club, founded by Saxton Pope and Arthur Young in the early 20th Century, is recognized by many as the foundation of modern bow hunting. In 1911, Saxton Pope, a physician from California, treated a indigenous man named Ishi for tuberculosis. In the months of treating Ishi, a member of the Yahi people, the doctor (also an accomplished writer) listened and learned of this primitive hunting technique the Yahi’s used, with bow and arrow. Doctor Pope was so taken by Ishi he wrote a book called; Hunting with Bow & Arrow based on his stories, which many believe sparked the beginning of modern bow hunting as we know it. Saxton Pope and Arthur Young went-on to form the Pope & Young Club as a way to promote modern bow hunting, and also to recognize the largest animals harvested through this technique. The club promotes conservation and ethical hunting techniques.
Record Bull #1
The hunt for Mick Bohonis’s first P&Y bull — a 50-incher — began one morning on the edge of a timber cut. Mick was hunting with Ray Bissonnette that day. The cut was adjacent to a picturesque beaver swamp that had yielded several nice bulls in seasons past. While Mick did the calling, Ray climbed atop an uprooted tree. After two hours with no responses, a discouraged Mick walked over to Ray and told, him that he was going to move closer to the beaver swamp before resuming. He hadn’t gone far when he glanced back to see Ray motioning that a moose was approaching. He strained to see or hear the hidden moose, but he couldn’t.
Assuming that the animal was still at a distance, Mick continued slowly toward the swamp. Ray began waving frantically then, doing his best to tell Mick to get down and get ready! Taking his partner at his word, Mick knelt and prepared himself for a shot.
In a matter of seconds, a huge bull materialized 30 yards in front of him. Mick was ready when the great bull turned broadside and continued moving toward where the hunter had been initially. A low grunt from Mick stopped the bull long enough. Although the 100-grain broadhead passed cleanly through the brute, it did not fall. Instead, it began retreating. Another grunt stopped him again, however, and Mick connected a second time from 60 yards!
The impressive bull only travelled a short distance before collapsing.
Bull No. 2
Mick was at it again four days later, back at the old timber cut with Ray and another friend, Al Sqissatto. Mick was hoping that either Ray or Al would take their first bull, and he would do the calling. It was extremely cold that morning, and the men were bundled up in several layers of warm clothing. Mick set up on a steep knoll, and Ray and Al were posted downwind from his calling position, 40 yards apart and eager to get a crack at a moose.
Just as Mick completed his second series of cow calls, the sun started to peek over the horizon. “What a glorious morning this is to be alive,” he thought, placing his trusty moose horn on the ground beside him. As if on cue, the unmistakable sound of antlers crashing in the trees could be heard from up the ridge. All three hunters could plainly hear the big bull making its way toward them, cracking branches on the frosty forest floor as he came nearer. All three hunters could easily hear the bull’s every step. To coax him, Mick added a few more subtle cow calls. When the bull stopped ‘en route’ in a stand of cedars, Mick knew that it must be a mature bull.
The moose remained in the cedars for 10 minutes before Mick decided that challenging the old- fella would be the best strategy. After Mick gave a few short “immature” bull grunts, the standoff ended abruptly. Obviously angry that a young interloper was attempting to woo his cow away from right underneath his nose, the bull began grunting loudly and raking his huge rack through the brush. Judging by the commotion the bull was making, Mick fully expected it to circle downwind into the laps of his friends. Yet the angry bull threw caution to the wind and rushed directly for Mick. “The hair stills stands up on my neck when I think about it,” he declared. “I knew that I was in trouble when I figured out the bull was actually coming right at me!”
Mick had no choice but to nock an arrow and prepare for the mad bull’s arrival. He glanced over his shoulder at his two partners to see the freaked-out expressions on their faces. Mick’s own must have mirrored theirs. When the great bull crested the edge of the knoll where Mick was hiding, it was barely 15 yards from the stunned hunter.
“I have had close encounters with black bears and white-tailed deer, but never have I seen the fury of 1,300 pounds of rutting plywood head within spitting distance,” Mick said. He can barely recall pulling back the string on his 82-pound bow. With the huge bull staring into his eyes at only 8 yards, Mick released and sent an arrow through its heart. Upon impact, the beast swung around like an out-of-control carnival ride, smack into a birch tree that was easily 10” in diameter. The moose crushed the tree like a matchstick and exited the scene as quickly as it had arrived. Mick’s heart was pounding almost as loud as his partner’s cheers. He had witnessed everything!
When Mick finally approached his trophy, he realized that it was even bigger than his first that year. The massive rack stretched more than 56 inches, and its symmetrical palms helped it to achieve a Pope & Young(P&Y) score 40 inches better than the first bull’s tally. Not a bad set of trophy moose taken mere 4 days apart.
Enjoy hunting Northern American big game? Check out other great feature on hunting Canadian black bears.