Moose Hunting in BC Cariboo Area – Bull Down!

This year I was fortunate to get a Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) draw for a Bull Moose in the Cariboo region of British Columbia (MU 5-15). The draw odds ended up being 1 in 19, so I was pretty pumped about that! This would be my first moose hunt and I was thankful to have my good buddy Will willing to partner up and share his hunting setup to go after one of these beasts.

The LEH was open for 14 days: October 1 – 14. We decided to book the first week of October, so planned to arrive on September 30th and stay (if necessary) as long as October 7th.

Jesse with BC Bull Moose

Cariboo Region Moose Hunt

We arrived and setup base camp on September 30th afternoon. My moose tag was not legal until October 1st, so this gave us an afternoon to sight in our rifles and do some initial scouting.

On the first scouting afternoon we came across a large Lynx on one of the logging roads. He didn’t seem to mind us as he was likely chasing after a grouse or rabbit. We also spotted a massive black bear on the adjacent mountain we were on. We would later on go after that bear as Will had a bear tag and was pretty pumped to go after this one. We spotted this guy a few times across the mountain but we could never get eyes on him when we got onto the actual mountain the bear was spotted on. I guess those big black bears don’t get that big without being pretty smart.

When we arrived the weather was certainly not conducive to hunting as most of the week was warm 20+ degree days and the evenings were warm and had a bright full moon! I’m sure the animals were laying low and moving around at night. So it created some pretty tough hunting conditions to find animals.

canam side by side - moose hunting

Day 1

On October 1st which I would say call “Day 1” we ended up having one of the most eventful days. We found a lot of fresh moose sign near the top of this mountain and we setup a bunch of moose urine dipped in tampon’s all over the mountainside. This ended up working pretty well as it fired up the one big bull on this mountain as Will called him in. Unfortunately at that time, I was around the next cut block as we expected a moose to come down in another location but it ended up coming through some thick narrow area right at Will. Will got a few photos of it on his phone and didn’t shoot it as we made a pack that he wouldn’t shoot any moose on day 1. Anyway, we wondered if that missed opportunity was going to be a massive regret.

Day 2

We focused again on that same Bull and tried to call him in again. I sat in one spot and called all morning and until early afternoon. Perhaps he was on to us and now knew our calls as he was not responding at all. Will and I regrouped together for the evening hunt and tried again calling him in on a lower section of the mountain but again to no avail.

BC Region 5 Landscape

Day 3

We decided to try another mountain just across from this initial one. This was a beautiful area we had rolling hills and small mountain areas. The Fall colors made it an absolute masterpiece to glass and spend a morning. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any animals on that new mountain.

In the afternoon-to-evening hunt, Will and I decide to go back to the mountain with the spotted Bull and try to represent a competing bull and use only bull grunts and thrash around in the bushes as we walked around the mountain. This also produced nothing. We both hiked all over that mountain and found fresh sign, his beds and scrapes but never laid eyes on him again.

One little eventful thing that happened on this hunt was I ran into a sow Grizzly bear and 2 cubs on the path. Thankfully, they were going the opposite direction. We both surprised each other as we were within 75 yards, she stood up on 2 feet and looked me up and then jumped into the bushes with her cubs. That definitely had me a little concerned and kept an eye over my shoulder for the rest of that walk.

Day 4

This day we did another change up and went to a completely different area. It too had some long views and we found a perfect calling location that should have produced a bull moose. Instead we saw a decent sized sow black bear and nothing else. It was at this point Will and I figured the moose rut had not really begun in full force yet. And as I mentioned earlier the weather conditions were still not ideal.

From that beautiful mountain we decided to pull a big audible and drove 2.5 hours to Cariboo Lake and Cariboo River area to call moose there. This was at the bottom of my region area, and Will had some success here in the past. Apparently, Cariboo River is a great place to have a boat to hunt from and access really remote hunting locations in this area. Perhaps for another time, could be a perfect Porta-Bote scenario.

Anyway, the 5 hour driving audible didn’t produce any moose sightings but it did give me a great overview of the area. I got to see a lot of country in the Cariboo area and will certainly remember for future hunts!

Jesse hunting mask
Jesse hunting Region 5

Day 5

The rain moved in on day 5 which was probably a good thing to get the animals moving. We started up high on the mountain but the rain, clouds and fog got pretty thick so we decided to come down lower. On the way down we ran into the guy working forestry roads as his hose blew out, we offered him a ride down. From that interaction he mentioned seeing some Bulls in the marsh area down at the bottom. We hadn’t seen anything there previously but that ended up changing everything for us, as we’d focused heavily on the upper sections of the mountain.

We went directly to the marsh to scout it out and spotted 3 cow moose which was incredibly exciting and encouraging! We watched as the crossed the marsh and went back into the bush. We did a quick scout of the area and then headed back to base camp to come up with a plan. Will ended up dropping me off at the marsh at 2:00 pm where I’d keep a look out for any early Bulls showing up and he’d join me for the evening hunt.

At 4:00 pm the first bull came out solo. I didn’t identify him as a bull right away as his antlers blended so well into the bush behind him. At the same time some sort of barking (dogs, wolves, coyotes, who knows) way off in the distance spooked the Moose. So I never got a shot, plus the moose was behind some thick stuff at about 300 yards so wasn’t a good shot. But it was encouraging to see my first bull on this hunt!

 

 

Will calling Cariboo Lake

Moose Down!

Around 5:30 pm Will joined me, and shortly after 6:00 pm 2 cows and 1 spike bull moose emerged from the thick stuff. They too acted really spooked and slowly ran across the marsh. That’s where I took my shot and on the first shot I nailed the bull in the upper vitals area. The shot paralyzed him as he didn’t move, I rushed and missed the 2nd shot, and the 3rd I took a little longer and put it in his neck. He dropped like a rock. It was an incredible feeling.

It was about 30 mins from sunset, and we had a marsh of water to cover to access the moose. We discussed a plan and decided we would need to go back and get Will’s raft to retrieve the animal. The drive to camp was about 20 mins each way so 40 mins later it was already dark. So we inflated the raft in the dark. It was pitch black now, and we put up some headlights on the shore for reference. We did take some basic compass readings on the location of the moose.

When we got across the water the marsh ground was super soft with our feet sinking in at least a few feet. Thankfully the grasser area were the moose went down was much more firm. We found the moose shortly after 7:00 pm. Will did a masterful job in showing me how to gut and quarter the moose. We put it all in the raft which went fairly well on time.

It wasn’t until we got the moose across the water where we had some pretty physically challenging times. As there was a really steep incline back up to the road and side by side. We ended up using the Can-am winch to haul up each quarter on a tarp with one of us holding onto the meat and tarp so it didn’t get the meat dirty. For the most part it worked, we ended up getting the entire moose and all the gear into the side by side about 15 minutes before midnight. Once we got the quarters back to base camp we skinned them out to be able to cool the meat as much as possible. The evenings were still very warm so it was important that skinned the meat and placed them on Will’s truck to help air them out. For the best results for your game meat you have to cool it down ASAP! We also covered them with a tarp to protect from the rain. All in all, I believe we wrapped up all the work and hit the sack around 2:00 am.

 

 

Spiked Moose

Day 6

The next day we had an incredible Moose breakfast with fresh moose backstrap, eggs and bacon. That was incredibly rewarding! Immediately after that we started packing up and tearing down base camp. That took at least until noon the work never ends!

From there, we had to make a big detour up to Prince George (approximately 3.5 hour drive – round trip) to pick up some Caribou meat from the butcher from one of Will’s previous hunts. From there we needed to find a butcher to drop our own moose off at. This is right before Thanksgiving (Canadian) so we couldn’t find a butcher anywhere near Vancouver that could take our moose. It was crazy! We called a bunch and ended up finding a butcher in a tiny town called Horsefly. The butcher was setup on a nice German/Swiss ranch. The butcher looked clean and had a great setup, I felt confident in them. Anyway, we left the moose with them and continued our return home making it as far as Cache Creek before crashing in a motel. 

Day 7

We drove the rest of the trip home from Cache Creek and spent a bunch of time washing/cleaning the trailer, side by side and truck in Chilliwack. Met some friends to drop off the shared Caribou meat in Langley and continued on. Once we returned home, unpacking everything was a pretty big chore as well. So it was early/mid afternoon by this point and I was beat! I’m glad we got the moose when we did as this was the last day and I can’t imagine doing everything we did in a shorter period of time. 

Jesse at Cariboo Lake
Will calling Cariboo Lake

Watch our BC Moose Hunt on YouTube

I’m really proud of this 42 plus minute video of our Moose Hunt. I took a ton of video footage and even captured the kill shots. It was a ton of work but I’m glad I have it as a memorable video to share with my family and even relive myself. 

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