Editor’s Note: Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones, the hosts of “Driven with Pat & Nicole” (www.drivenhutner.com) on the Outdoor Channel, have been married since June, 2012. They don’t hesitate to look danger in the face and never flinch. They rely heavily on their Mossy Oak camo to make them appear to be invisible to the critters they hunt. At 110 pounds and looking like a fashion model, Nicole is the last person you’d expect to stalk a lion, shoot it with a bow, jump out of an airplane from 12,000 feet, ride a jet boat down a raging river, crawl through mud, eat dust and climb mountains to live the Mossy Oak obsession. Nicole admits, “I’m an adrenaline junkie. Just like my husband, I’m driven to hunt.”
I always wanted to hunt moose. I grew-up in southern Illinois and never had seen a moose. Even in Minnesota where Pat and I lived, there were moose, but I’d never seen one. Pat had hunted moose several different times, and he wanted me to have my dream of taking a moose with my Mathews Monster bow. So, when Joel Wilkinson of Ceaser Lake Outfitters in the Yukon Territory invited us to come film a moose hunt, we jumped at the chance. We planned to go up after the rut had ended. We flew to the Yukon to start our 10-day hunt, which usually took about 16-days from the time you left your house until you returned to your home. Since there were no washers, dryers or any-other amenities, we had to carry a lot of gear with us, besides our camera gear. Seemed like we had to bring almost everything we had for hunting.
Because we were hunting post-rut, Joel wasn’t sure we’d be able to get close enough to use my bow or if I’d have to use my Thompson/Center rifle. Pat and I both had moose tags, but Pat wanted me to hunt first, since I never had shot a moose. We had a 1-1/2-hour truck ride from Joel’s house, then a 5-hour 4-wheeler ride to get to the boat, then a 30-minute ride to reach the cabin. I like big-game hunts too for the adventure of getting to and from our hunting area as well as having the opportunity to take a big-game animal with my bow.
When we got to the cabin, Joel’s dad, Terry, was there cleaning-up the cabin, because he’d been guiding another group of hunters who just had left. We were going to be the last hunt of the season. This was an extremely-small cabin with no electricity, no running water and no inside bathrooms. I had no problem facing a male lion at 25 yards and shooting him with my bow, but I have a terrible phobia of mice. I didn’t know until later that Pat already had told Joel about my mouse phobia. He told Joel, “Don’t tell her if you see, hear or find a mouse. Otherwise, we’ll all be miserable.” But when I heard something rustling, and I asked what it was, Terry said, “Oh, don’t worry about that, it’s just a mouse in the trash can. He’s one of many.” I started screaming and crying. Joel went to Terry and told him about my mouse phobia, so Terry said, “Don’t worry about the mouse in the trash can. I’ll carry it out, and you won’t have to worry about mice.”
We were sleeping on foam cushions. When I investigated my cushion, I could see where mice had burrowed into the foam. I thought to myself, “There has to be more than one mouse in this cabin.” Since we didn’t have any electricity, I got a flashlight that attached to my head and slept with it all night. When we got to camp every night, I ate and went to bed quickly. In the middle of one night, I heard a noise, sat straight up and screamed, “There’s a mouse in here!” Joel said, “That’s just the fire crackling and popping. Go back to sleep.”
For several days after we arrived, we got-up at daylight and traveled 80 miles in the boat searching for moose. We broke camp records for the most moose spotted in one day and the most miles traveled in a day. Joel was also able to call in a beautiful bull moose. We were right on the river bank as the moose came in splashing water, as he followed the call. We got him to within 25 yards, but before I drew my bow, Joel said not to shoot. Pat said, “Are you kidding? That’s a beautiful moose, and we have great footage.” Joel said, “You’ve come all the way up here to the Yukon to get a trophy moose. I want her to take a really-nice trophy, and we can do a lot better than this moose.”
We hunted hard for several days. Joel suggested we pack enough clothes for one night and go to another cabin. Joel said, “Just to make sure there are no mice in here, I’ll set a few mouse traps.” He set a standard mouse trap and got a 5-gallon bucket, filled it half full of water, put a ramp up to the top of the 5-gallon bucket and put peanut butter on a piece of string, so if a mouse smelled the peanut butter he’d walk up the ramp, try to walk across the string, fall off and drown. We left our first camp and spent the night at the second. We didn’t take a moose, so we came back to the first cabin. When we got to the cabin, I went straight to the outhouse. I saw Pat going into the cabin ahead of me. He then came out with the 5-gallon bucket and announced, “You were right. There was one mouse in the cabin, and he’s in the bucket. Now you can sleep better tonight.”
After we hunted around the first cabin, we decided to go back to the second cabin and hunt a few more drainages. We had several close encounters. Finally, Joel said, “The rut is over. We’ll probably have to stalk a moose. I think you should leave your bow at camp and take your Thompson/Center rifle.” On the ninth day, when we were floating down the river, we spotted a monstrous bull. Joel said, “Nicole, that’s the bull I want you to take.” We parked the boat, got out on the bank and stalked the moose that was across the river. The moose was between 80- to 90-yards away. I was shooting my Thompson/Center rifle with the .300 Win Mag barrel. When I squeezed the trigger, the big bull dropped in his tracks. As I walked-up on the moose I’d just shot, I couldn’t believe how big he was. Joel estimated his rack to be 60-inches wide. We’d had close encounters with moose all week long, but I didn’t really understand how big they were until I walked-up on that bull
On the way to the airport after the hunt, I was talking, and I said, “Can you believe we really caught that mouse that was in camp with us?” Pat snickered and said, “You thought we caught one mouse. The first time I emptied the 5-gallon bucket, it was solid gray with dead mice. There were more than a dozen mice in the bucket.” The second time they set-up the bucket, they caught at least a dozen more. This hunt wasn’t just a moose hunt, it also was a major mouse hunt.