Being a bush pilot certainly has its perks, aside from acquisition cost, operating cost, and of course, everything that goes into achieving a PPL and maintaining it. From this investment of time and money, we have been able to put eyes on bulls many wouldn’t have ever seen. The bull in this case was named “Yukon.”
During an aerial survey, we put eyes on one of the largest bulls I had seen in almost eight years. It was two days before the September hunt when guide/manager Dana Valleau and I were surprised by the sighting of the massive bull. Looking down, they always look bigger. However, it was clear he was not your average bull.
The September bull week did not come with the success of harvesting Yukon. Even with the general knowledge of his whereabouts, it was still hard hunting in the big woods of Northern Maine. Animals move, and we are limited to the abilities of our customers and uncertain weather conditions.
As we neared the October week of the bull hunt, we were on an aerial scouting mission doing a pass around where Yukon lived. I turned to look behind me over the strut of the Aviat Husky and couldn’t miss the unmistakable large pans of the bull dubbed Yukon sticking out on the ocean of green forest. His great pans and amazing fronts supported a 55.25" wide rack, making him close to, if not over, the 200" mark. It’s a mark that runs deep in moose hunting for Eastern Canadian bull moose. There has only been one bull to achieve this in OMM’s 20+ year tenure.
The client for the October hunt was Jeff Hintz. This would be the second Maine moose hunt that he would be on. Jeff, a Wisconsin resident with ties to New England, had been on a past hunt with a good friend from Maine without success. From that day, Jeff continued to apply for the coveted Maine moose tag for 13 years.
On the first morning of the hunt, accompanied by my helper and client, we headed to the area where Yukon was last seen. My wife, Katie, also had been drawn for that week. As an outfitter, understanding priorities is very important. I knew that this was a bull that needed my attention. He was truly special. That being said, I don’t remember feeling lucky very often over the decades, except on this day.
After a one-mile walk and looking down the straight part of the road at 6:04 a.m., just 10 minutes prior to legal shooting, I saw a moose broadside in the road through the Swarovskis at about 250 yards. After looking, it was apparent that this was a very big bull. We were able to walk within 150 yards. After setting Jeff up on the sticks, I asked him to look through his scope and give me the reaction of the bull as I called. Being slightly dark still, that would give me a read on other animals, mainly cows that might be with the bull. After a series of grunting, the bull looked our way and quickly back to the right side of the road. We then focused our eyes there, which revealed two cows. It was clear that we would be able to walk up to less than 100 yards for the shot. At 6:17 a.m., only three minutes into legal shooting, the bull was on the ground.
It was a surreal moment and one that will be remembered forever. It was also a moment that will be remembered as the easiest hunt for the biggest bull of my career. It wasn’t a 200" bull but very close at a gross score of 198 2/8" and a net score of 194 3/8" B&C.