Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tajeeda Lakes Moose Hunt

It really was a perfect grouse hunt. The misnomer was calling it a moose hunt. As a moose hunt it would best be described as a great vacation in Hawaii except it rained . We didn’t get a moose.  4 guys with guns and one cockapoo, we terrorized the grouse population.  Three or more grouse a day fell to the great hunters.  Countless more genetically superior grouse, ran or flew away quickly rather than their usual playing dead in plain sight routine.  I fear we’re genetically altering the stock.
Tajeeda Lakes is a truly beautiful place for camping.  Such a picturesque lake surrounded by spruce and pine.
“There use to be countless moose there,” my friend Chilliwack friend had said, “ we stopped hunting there a decade back as the moose population declined.”  However, Luke and I had won the group hunt “Cow Tag” lottery.  Spike fork or immature moose were open to all as were calves. It should have been a ‘slam dunk’ .
“I’ve been all over this area,” said the negative neighbour who left the next day, “I”ve seen no sign at all.”
We would see saw  of sign, trails, bedding, rubbings,  just none near the roads.
The pipe line crew member said, “All the construction crews and hunters have pushed the moose away from the roads.  We’ve seen them from the helicopter but they’re not coming out because of the traffic.”  There was a lot of traffic, hunters, pipeline workers, guides, and maybe zombies,  a few aliens,  perhaps a vampire or two.  No neighbourly moose.
Luke saw a spike fork the first day but it was moving too fast for a shot. Not at all the kind to stop and chat.  I saw a couple of moose during the week but they literally mooned me. Keeping their heads down, they just exposed butt and sides.  I couldn’t take a shot for fear they were an old bull.
“It’s the heat. They’re not moving around because the cold hasn’t come in as yet.”  The local guys who’d hunted the region for years had the best explanation.
And wolves.  “they’re eating the calves., forcing the mothers into the hills.”
We had my Keystone Energy Toyhauler RV set up for comfort, a great hunting mobile.  I slept in the comfort of my own bed.  Tom took the couch in the living/dining room.  Luke and Shawn had the bunks in the garage.  Lots of propane heat for warmth and propane stove for cooking. Tom out did himself cooking excellent meals the whole week, really taking the camp cook role to heart.  
One evening ,Tom and I saw a lynx one.  Lynx aren’t a common cat.  I felt even more blessed to see another one later in the week.
A wolf ran along the road ahead of us one night, big furry tail and distinctive loping gait.  Shawn and Luke found a wolf shot in the woods and took the tail.  The carcass was already decomposing but the tail seemed like something to add to a wall.  The excess of wolves these last two years has resulted in a bounty on the animals. I’ve seen more recently than I’d seen in decades before.  The ranchers are really disturbed by the killing of their young. The wildlife management folk say they’re negatively impacting the young of the deer and moose populations too.  I only shoot what I eat, so to date haven’t taken much notice, but when a coyote stalked Gilbert, I seriously considered shooting it. I scared it away instead.  Coyotes are notorious for ganging up on domestic dogs. I don’t know if wolves are a threat.  If anything a few years back in winter, I was more interested  when they were circling me.  I was returning to my ATV.  When I cranked up the motor, the wolves left me alone.  I remembered Dad telling me of the wolves that surrounded him one night in the north forcing him to shoot one.
Luke and Shawn had towed the AB Profile boat with Honda 20 hp motor behind Luke’s truck.  We all enjoyed getting out no the lake. I shot a duck.  Tom and Shawn fished, but weren’t so lucky.  One moose mooned me from the swamp on the other side of the lake. I’d hoped to surprise a moose by sitting out in the water watching the shoreline.  Again, without a view of the moose’s head ,I couldn’t know if shooting it would be legal.
I certainly enjoyed exploring the region on my Yamaha Kodiac.  After sitting in ambush at dawn I’d stalk abit then go off in the afternoon road hunting on the ATV.  Gilbert road was always with me but Tom rode on the back a couple of times. When the rain was really bad we took the Ford F350 truck which made sense to Gilbert who loves the warmth and comfort of the truck. Table trail went forever as did Crocker.  Great ATV rides.  Each trip netted a grouse or three as well as great views of the autumn north.   The fresh air, sights and outdoors are truly a tonic.
Hiking, I got totally trapped in alder branches one morning trying to hike to a clearing near a marsh.  An hour later back tracking I felt like I’d done an Olympic work out. I could hardly lift a leg for the rest of that day. Each night I’d collapse on return to the trailer and after dinner sleep the night away.
Luke, our resident arsonist made great fires  which we all enjoyed.  We ate smokies on buns on the picnic table and other meals outside.  That’s the joy of good weather, not the best for hunting but terrific for enjoying the camp.
I’d run a pump and hose to the lake so had running water in the RV. Thanks to the inbuilt cummings generator we had a built in battery charger and electricity so we could run things like pumps.  The propane heater kept the inside warm.  The only real deficiency was maid service. With Gilbert and the guys tramping dirt through the RV the floor got pretty gritty.  Maybe a floor cleaner robot that could make it’s way around boots and guns and dogs could be something Travelhome or Cabelas could look into supplying. Otherwise the RV was fantastic.  I had a couple of showers and so did the guys. If we’d stayed longer we might have needed a laundry service. There’s a lot to be said for a 5 star hotel like the Marriott with all it’s services but short of that we tolerated roughing it in the wilderness not too badly.  I didn’t do any dishes so I think between Tom and Luke that was taken care of.  Everyone seemed to be doing something useful when I was cleaning guns and sharpening knives.  Shawn cleaned a lot of grouse.  Gilbert employed Tom as his personal ball thrower but let others contribute to such priorities.
All in all it was a great hunt.  Too bad about the name.  I think in future we’ll not designate these as ‘moose hunts’ till we see what we succeed in shooting.  That way it won’t detract from the obvious fun, camaraderie and excitement.
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