Moose Hunter Diaries (2012) – Day 1 – The Long Way to Camp

It`s that time of year again!  This is the fourth year I`v e decided to share my diary from my moose hunt.  If you`re interested in reading them first as these posts (including this one) will contain spoilers for previous years.  You can find them here: 2009, 2010, 20

Regular readers will warn you that these posts can get very long; the journal is intended to be raw and is my best attempt at archiving the experience of a hunter.  They are far more about the day-to-day rambling of existence rather than poished pieces we clean beginning, middles and ends like you would read in a magazine.  The journal will be posted over the next 8 days and is posted exatly one-week after it was written.

Lastly, if pictures of dead animals are posted, they will be below the fold (i.e. you`ll have to scroll) and there will be warned in advance.

 

Moose Hunter Diaries (2012)   Day 1   The Long Way to Camp October

Day 1; Off to Camp

It`s been a remarkable week.  I`m exhausted in every way I can imagine and the world outside seems to be the same.  It`s grey and raining lightly.  You would think the sky wants to rain harder but it just can`t be bothered.

The week before the Moose Hunt is the busiest working week of my year.  27 Executives from the company I work for endure a marathon training week.  While some corporate cultures make these `retreats`more about relaxing and resting, ours is more of a marathon.    Most days were intensive 10-hour workshops and 3 of the 4 night included dinner afterwards.  Our entire team has been in a hotel for the last two days and have pushed the intensity even further.

This type of week may not be everyone`s idea of `fun`but I love it.  And, I suppose I should; I facilitate the week and set the pace.  And it really has been a remarkable week.  But that isn`t changing the fact that I`m exhausted.

I`ve also lost most of the use of my voice.  I had a small flu before the Thanksgiving weekend and my vocal cords were worn down by it.  Although I recovered from the flu on time for our conference, my voice was still a little raw at the start of this week.  After facilitating for the last 4 days, my throat is sore and words are few.

I think I`m the last of our team in the hotel.  Most left earlier in the morning to get home to their families and their weekends.  I stayed at the hotel to tie-up some loose ends at work as well as write a few blog posts so their will be content when I`m in the woods.  I wrote 6 articles today (part of 10 that I`ve written overall) to keep the daily posting tradition alive.  It`s not something I`m manic about and I`ve considered writing less than daily (including a brief period this week where I considered not posting during the hunt) but it`s what I do for now and for the foreseeable future.  This February will mark 1,500 days of consecutive posting and I`ve been holding on to that number as a goal for a little while.

I really hadn`t thought about the hunt an awful lot before this morning.  Dana and I were at the camp for Canadian Thanksgiving (last weekend) and I left a lot of hunting gear up there.  I didn`t write a list of what was there (or what I`ve packed) so I`ve found myself making multiple  lists this morning.  One covers the things I had to do (and completed) for work, the other captures the list of things  I need to get before heading into the woods.

My hotel is less than 2 hours from Huntsville.  By the time I had completed my errands (stuff like beer, booze, snacks, boots, a whistle, light gloves, batteries and more), the trip took almost 5.  Unlike last year, I was very prepared for a meandering day and didn`t feel like I was running in quicksand.  It was slow and steady.

As I slowly made my way to Huntsville, I spent a lot of time reflecting on last year and looking ahead to this one.  Last year was the third time in almost 50 years that our camp didn`t harvest a moose.  It`s also the first year that Dana and I have not purchased meat for home at a grocery store (though we have purchased some through small butchers and farmers).  We`ve eaten a lot of vegetarian meals over the winter (more than normal).  It`s the first time, as an adult, that I remember the hunt tangibly affecting how we`ve eaten.

Once I completed all of my errands, it was time to drive into camp.  It`s a slow drive down a logging road to find our cabin; the 13 kilometer (about 10 mile) trip takes 45 minutes to an hour.  Our cabin is fairly isolated so it was a bit of a surprise to turn a corner and suddenly find a traffic jam.  Two vehicles, both hauling trailers, were making their way down the road (as seen in the photo at the start of this piece).

Cars like this are called `road hunters.`  They are groups of people who hunt and camp on public land.  It`s perfectly legal and many people do it but they are often met with resistance by people with cabins.  We`ve spent months preparing for the hunt and years studying this land (my Father has hunted it for more than 40).  A road hunter can throw your entire week into chaos by camping places you normally hunt or competing for areas that you had planned to go without knowing they were coming.  They are simply an unpredictable variable that can wipe out weeks of preparation by choosing the `wrong` camping spot.

As the trucks noticed me, they offered to let me by.  I opted for another option – I slowed down, stopped the truck and got out.  They followed suit and we met on the road.  A quick greeting transitioned into a feeling out process with both parties trying to find out where the others were going to be.  They were swift in letting me know where they were going and I confirmed that we would be well out of each others way.  The tension quickly disappeared and we wished each other luck and moved on.

I pulled into camp around 5:00 in the middle of a persistent rain.  They guys were huddled within the cabin and the mood was light.  I was the tenth guy to arrive (2 more are coming tomorrow).  As Sunday is the only morning that the alarm won`t be set for early, tonight is a party night.  It will be a night of stories, bonding and getting caught up with my Father and friends and may last into the wee hours of the morning.  So, for now, it`s time to stop writing and time to join the `tribe`…

Comments

  1. I read last year’s story, but I have a couple of questions. Have you calculated the time/time expenses versus the meat you do harvest? And why moose vs deer or elk. I’ll read up on the past posts to see if it is answered there, to save you the hassle of responding. :-)

    • Laura,

      Great questions – and future post ideas too!

      Short answers:
      1) Cost. Compared to meat at the grocery store, it’s very expensive. Compared to meat at a small butcher, it’s still very expensive. Our camp charges around $650 for each member to hunt. That covers your licenses and up to 4 weeks of meals (1 week of moose, 2 weeks of deer and several work weekends) as well as accomodation, gas, propane, ice, insurance, etc. Because I hunt 1 week, the cost is around $100 per day (although some of that I would have spent eating at home anyway). That doesn’t include equipment, getting there, guns, etc… My Father, who is retired, spends all 4 weeks there so the cost is very low. And, of course, we aren’t guaranteed a harvest… :)

      2) There are no elk in our area so the choice becomes moose or deer. If I had more time off, I’d do both. During Moose hunting the entire camp is there the whole time (deer can have only a few guys) and I enjoy the camradarie/ extended family so I go with them together. Theres a variety of reasons they all are there at the same time for moose, including: it’s 1 week (deer can split them up), it’s a bigger animal (which helps draw the hunters out), the weather is often nicer and deer hunting was only every second year in the 1970s so the guys just committmed to the annual moose hunt…

      Great questions, hope I’ve answered them! Keep them coming… :)

      J

  2. Stopping to chat & figure out where each other will be located seems a very sensible & careful thing to do! Enjoy your stories :)

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