Calling Monster Moose

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Use these tried-and-true calling techniques to bring big bulls within shooting range

The gigantic old bull was grunting and coming towards us as if he was on a string, with what looked like two sheets of plywood for antlers, swaying his massive head from side to side as he crossed the field on a crash-course with us. It seemed like the sounds of the love-sick cow call I had been mouthing was working perfectly and if the big brute continued on his path he would end up right in our laps!

All of a sudden, we heard crashing to our right and a second bull appeared out of the bush with a chunk of brush caught up in his antlers. It was a sight to behold and now we had two bulls on the go! The rutting action was hot and the two of us were shaking like leaves and giggling over how we had these two bulls fired up.

I had a smallish moose shed in my hand, raking it in the trees and trying my best to imitate a big bull that was putting on a show for the a cow he was trying desperately to impress. As I gave the trees and surrounding willows an intense work over, I was also giving a few deep grunts from the pit of my stomach. This seemed to really put the afterburners on these two bulls – they both seemed to put it in overdrive to try and cover the real estate between us in an instant.

Hunting moose in the rut is a blast, as the calling season is the most exciting time of year to hunt these giant beasts. When the rut is on hot and heavy, they can certainly be the easiest animals to call in and there certainly isn’t much that’s more thrilling than having one of these freight trains coming right at you. I know it always gives me a powerful rush of adrenalin and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up almost every single time.

If you’ve never taken in a little moose-calling action, it is something you surely have been missing. With a little proper instruction, some good moose hunting DVDs or just having the chance to listen to some moose in action, pretty much anyone out there can voice a decent moose call. This makes a moose one of the easiest animals to call. Of course, the bigger the bull, the smarter they can be and the harder they are to fool. Moose are just like any other animal in respect to their vocals and no two will sound the same, so don’t feel like you can’t make that perfect sound with your voice.

Practice makes perfect and getting out for a little trial-and-error action calling with some moose will definitely help to show you what works and what doesn’t. Play around to achieve your best results, with the lengths of your calls, how many calls you make and how loud you make them. There are days when they will just not co-operate, like any other animal, but remember that when the moose are in the peak of the rut, it isn’t that hard – they will come to practically any call you attempt. I’ve mouthed the most horrendous call, which sounded something like a wounded jackrabbit crossed with a hyena; shaking my head in disgust at my feeble attempt, I heard a branch snap behind me and turned to have a nice bull moose staring me down! So don’t get too caught up in trying to make a perfect moose call, just get out there.

Here are two techniques that have worked well for me, sometimes on their own or in a situation where using a combination of the two is the ticket. Sometimes your best bet is to play around to find exactly what it takes to get the bulls to respond. Experiment with different tones and pitches to perfect your sounds, as well as the lengths of your calls and time between them. No two scenarios are the same.

The first technique I like to use is imitating the sounds of a cow. If you have a bull anywhere in the vicinity, he will almost always come to your call during the heat of the rut. Use your voice to make a short, four or five-second “ERRRRAH” sound. I usually cup one of my hands to my mouth to allow the sound to carry a little further or try to make it appear to sound like it’s coming from a certain direction. I also like to use both hands cupped around my mouth while calling, and then flare my hands out by opening them a little to get the sound to travel a greater distance. Some hunters will make a birch-bark-type funnel to call through, or whatever else to get the sounds to carry even further.

The second technique is to imitate an aggressive bull, to challenge other bulls with a grunt type of call. Use your voice to make a type of “OOOOOO-WAAH” sound. Similar to the cow call, make about four or five of these calls, about a second apart, with a lower voice. During these sequences, I also like to rake a moose antler, big stick or a shoulder blade in the trees and willows to mimic a bull raking his antlers. Just try not to sound too aggressive or loud as you can be too overpowering, scaring some bulls off. But depending on the scenario, a combination of these two techniques can trick a bull practically into your lap and well within shooting range.

Of course, spending your time and your efforts in prime moose country will make your chances of success even better. Depending on the type of geography where you are hunting, this will dictate how well you do. In the prairie-type farmland country I now live in, I prefer to look for willows and swampy terrain, usually the thicker the better is where you will find these big beasts. If you are hunting more foothill type of terrain, look for the low-lying areas, bog-type country with swamps in the valley bottoms, as these are most likely spots where you’re going to find the moose. Beaver ponds in any location will usually harbour a good population of moose and calling off the edge of an opening along water will allow your calls to carry further and help to enhance your chances of success.

To help us as hunters, there are some great products on today’s market for scents that help cover up your human smell or to lure moose in. I’ve also used a tempting product called Moose Munch when I’m hanging cameras in moose country. This product is a sweet-tasting vegetation spray that I use on the leaves and branches in front of my trail cameras. It always seems to stop the moose on a dime while they’re cruising through the area, unable to resist the temptation to check it out.

Calling moose is a total rush of adrenalin, but of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that the meat is as good as on the table. It seems like those bigger bulls will almost always find a spot to hang up, where their vitals seem to magically remain protected behind some willows or brush. The trick is to get them to commit themselves into a shooting lane. As you will usually find these big boys in the thickest, tangled jungle of bush, it can be tough and sometimes you will have a stand off on your hands, waiting for their next move. Make sure you keep your focus and remain ready, as your golden chance can materialize in a split second. Just remember that if and when it happens, they can come quicker than a freight train barrelling down at you and, believe me, it can be extremely intimidating!

I love to get out for some calling action whenever the opportunity arises even when there isn’t a tag in my pocket, to hone my calling skills and hopefully have the chance to get some great pictures and video. In the farmland country I’ve called bulls in from over a mile away, watching them cross wide open stubble fields on a run with drool dripping off their chins, vocalizing back to me the entire way. It is such a thrill. The more time in the field and the more practice you can get, calling and listening to their responses will make you a better caller. So get out and give it a whirl… I don’t know if there is much that is more exciting than getting out for a day in the field calling for the monster moose rush.

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