Close Search

The Loser and The Winner

April 2022
Story by Nathan Theriault
Hunters: Scott Whyel
State: Maine
Species: Moose - Canadian

At around noon in early September of 2020, my 2-year-old daughter, Autumn, and I parked alongside an abandoned logging road to meet up with one of my team members. The temperature was about 70 degrees. With Autumn packed on my back, I hiked to strategic spots, checking game cameras along the way with guide Aaron Gentry. He had been scouting the area for several bulls the OMM team had been watching over the last couple years. Moose activity was abundant.

After completing the camera checks, we returned to the truck and were headed back to the lodge when something caught my eye. Down a dead-end road, two big, dark objects which looked like a bull and a cow came into view. Aaron pulled up behind me and approached my truck on foot with his binoculars. After closer examination, the objects were found to be two giant bull moose fighting. In wonder, I looked at Aaron and said, "Let’s go!" I put Autumn on my shoulders, and we walked up to about 50 yards away from the fight. After taking pictures and video for a bit, Autumn thought it would be fun to cover my eyes. After I told her I needed to see, she thought it would be even more fun to stick her fingers in my ears. We laughed, and I passed her to Aaron.

To continue an amazing encounter, I closed the distance to 20 yards as the giants remained in battle over a cow in heat. The larger fighting bull was one I had watched from the airplane and trail cameras for at least four years. A client had shot and missed it the year before.

The next day, I took to the air in OMM’s Aviat Husky bush plane with aerial photographer Roger. We located the winner of the fight standing proud with its cows. To my surprise, it wasn’t the much larger and fortunate 2019 survivor. The winner was the smaller, yet respectable 50" bull. Aaron got close to harvesting "The Winner" during the 2020 hunting season, but no deal.

Over the winter of 2020-2021, Roger and I photographed The Winner from the air several times. With snow on the ground, we saw it 800 yards from where we had witnessed the fight. Two days later, it was three miles away with several smaller bulls and a cow.

When spring arrived, the OMM team made a big push to locate the sheds of The Winner. "The Loser" became a ghost to the point where we considered the fight might have ended its life. We hiked many miles on foot trying to narrow down The Winner’s winter residence. We sorted through sign left on trees and on the ground. Then, we struck gold! Bryce Morrison, a full-time OMM guide, located one side of the antler. The next day, I found the other side only 70 yards away. It wasn’t the impressive rack of The Loser, but it was still a key piece of evidence for the 2021 hunt.

The fall of 2021 arrived, and I was relieved and delighted to capture multiple photos of The Loser on several trail cameras. It was bigger than ever. Although we were happy to hunt both bulls, OMM’s team had not seen The Winner since winter. Aaron was to be the guide who would continue pursuing the larger bull.

The September hunt ended without a shot at either of the giants. As I was completing an aerial survey the day before the October hunt, I put eyes on a giant bull. After a closer look, it was indeed The Loser of the fight from 2020. Thus, we went into the October hunt with high anticipation.

Scott Whyel had submitted entries in the Maine moose lottery for over 11 years. In 2021, he was fortunate to win a coveted tag in The Loser’s WMD. Aaron and Scott headed to the last sighting of The Loser. Soon, they approached a promising spot, and the excitement level was at an all-time high. Suddenly, snapping branches were heard. After a few moose calls, the bull began to move closer, raking lightly to let its presence be known. The forest was selectively harvested just four years earlier. This was helpful as the hunting party could see a good distance. Aaron spotted the bull walking and occasionally grunting softly. Scott positioned for the shot, and when the time was right, Aaron told him to fire when ready. The shot rang out, and the bull disappeared. The two discussed the shot and decided to move slowly to the last known location. As they crept over a knoll, the team was struck by an overwhelming feeling of joy upon seeing the bull, affectionately called The Loser, lying motionless.

Observed for four years, The Loser was an amazing example of the species and supported a 55" rack. It was clearly not a "loser," and it will be respected and admired for many years to come. After the 60-day drying period, the rack scored 171 1/4" net and 177 1/4" gross. What a hunt and an amazing ending to a great story!

But, has the story ended? As I look at the sheds of the winning bull hanging on the wall in the lodge dining room, I wonder, "What about the winner?" Then, I thank God for 2022 moose season.

I am the owner of OMM Outfitters, and we are dedicated to helping clients make great memories and meet and exceed their lifetime goals. OMM is an education, entertainment, and hospitality company providing extraordinary outdoor adventures, including great service, world-class outfitter standards, attention to details, high quality, even perfection in every aspect, including the food and lodging. All with a smile!