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by James Swidryk a.k.a. jamesfromjersey Last updated: 2009-12-01 22:27:19
The time was almost 10 years ago, September 1999, the place was somewhere in the Wasatch Mountain`s of northern Utah,and the goal was to take a Shiras, bull moose using my FA`s 454 Casull. The start of this hunt went back 5 years prior, when on an elk hunt in the same area I saw nothing but moose and reasoned that taking one with a handgun would be a "piece of cake" but as every member knows that when it comes to hunting, what you see is not always what you get.
Equipment: The airlines had to check 3 guns in my luggage and none were rifles. Number one
was my "pre muzzle brake" Freedom Arms in 454 topped with the discontinued but excellent Redfield 2x6X and two S&W`s, their Model 29 Classic with a 5" barrel and their version of the Model 60 in 38 Special that had a 3" heavy underlugged barrel with adjustable sights.I had saved two boxes of the original 260gr JFP ammo that was then being offered by Winchester because they shot better at 100 yards then the newer brand.
The Model 29 was shooting a handload with a 300gr cast flat point bullet and the Model 60
was loaded with factory 130gr jacketed solids. Another piece of equipment that came in handy was a tall pair of collapsible shooting sticks as a rest for my 454.
Day four started the same as the last three as we would drive to a new area and then walk the mountains for a spot and stalk with the only problem there was nothing to stalk.
"Bullwinkle" was the term I used to describe the type of moose we saw as three days went by and nothing shootable came into my sights. I remember telling my brother that we may go home empty handed if our luck does not change for the better.
Lunchtime had us back in camp and when we finished eating I was drawn to a spotting scope someone had mounted on a tripod that was standing at the edge of camp. Focusing in on a clearing about a mile or so from our location I picked up movement and counted about four cow moose. My guide was nearby and I told him to have a look when he yelled for us to jump in the truck adding that there was a decent bull in the group.After a few minutes of driving he came to a quick stop with me thinking this is where we will begin our stalk of the bull seen from camp when my guide quietly told me to get out and shoot my moose. A second later I spotted movement about 60 yards away with a bull moose chasing a cow. The shooting sticks set up quickly with my 454 in a steady hold but my instinct said to hold off the shot as the bull was spooked from the truck. At that moment my guide was worth every penny I paid as he let out a cow moose call that stopped the bull in his tracks to see where the other cow was. Next was a picture I will never forget with that magnificent Shiras bull stopped on a small rise with his left front leg drawn up as he quartered away from me.
My shot was smooth with the crosshair at the back of the ribs as I fired a second round before I lost sight of him going into the heavy pine forest. My heart dropped a little when I reached the spot he stood at my last shot and could find no blood. It dropped a little more when I stepped behind the pine tree only to see a vast empty forest.But wait...whats this?? From the corner of my eye I picked up movement when low and behold there is my moose, down behind a dead fall making the last moves of his life. Thank you God....
My moose went down quicker then any whitetail I've ever shot and after gutting the animal, one look at the hole through the heart was the reason why. I then realized that when I made my first shot the moose was on a small rise with the bullet entering at the rear bottom of the left rib cage, going through the heart and stopping at the right shoulder. The bullet performed perfectly with a loss of only 1.0 grain in weight and a slight flattening of the hard lead nose making me think of that often used gun mag quote,
"it could be loaded again". He was an average Shiras bull with a spread of 36" which was good enough to get me the number one handgunned Shiras moose award from the North America Hunting Club for 1999.
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