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Hunting a Moose with Dad

provided by John Phillips

Every outdoors enthusiast needs to read this blog before it’s too late for him or her to impact a daughter, a niece or some other female to love being outdoors. Mossy Oak Pro Donnelle Johnson of Franktown, Colorado, spotlights something that many of us overlook and don’t do – take our girls hunting and teach them a love for the outdoors. Johnson has been a Mossy Oak ProStaffer for 9 years, speaks at numerous hunting seminars each year and owns with her husband HuntData LLC that many hunters depend on for information to know the best places to hunt, how to hunt them and learn their elevations, hunter density success and percentage of public lands. HuntData includes information on hunting sheep, goats, moose, elk, mule deer and antelope in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Washington and California. A well-established elk hunter, Johnson has been hunting for 30 years.

moose in fog 

My dad lives in Oklahoma, so when I asked him to go on a moose hunt with me in 2020 near Walden, a suburb of Calgary, Alberta, I totally understood why he was hesitant to come that far, since he wouldn’t be actually hunting with me but staying in a nearby town. But I also knew he wanted to be there with me for this moose hunt, and I really wanted him to come. I was impressed that Dad would make that long trip, not knowing whether or not I’d take a moose. And, if I did harvest a moose, that he’d be willing to go with me to see my moose. Dad’s coming meant the world to me. 

When I first started talking to my dad about going on my moose hunt, he said, “Donnelle, I’m 85 years old. What am I going to do on your moose hunt?” I laughed and told him that he could sit at a coffee shop at the nearby town of Walden, drink coffee and network with people. “Dad, that’s what you’re really good at doing.” 

So, I kept on calling my dad and asking him to be with me on this moose hunt. However, he had a lot of tax work to do, so he couldn’t arrive until the 20th day of my hunt. Every time I called before my hunt, Dad would say, “I’m filing extensions for tax returns. What do you expect me to do when I get there? I can’t hike up a mountain with you. You know I had back surgery last year.” But I told him, “Dad, I just want you here with me.” 

Donnelle Johnson and her dad with mooseI was hunting in Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and staying in a cabin there. I hunted for 20 days without seeing a moose. Then on the 20th day of my hunt when my dad arrived in Walden near where I was late in the afternoon, he went into the restaurant to get something to eat and have coffee. My dad never meets a stranger. He can make new friends on a trip to Walmart. He enjoys talking with and making friends with new people. 

Someone he met at the café on the 20th day of my hunt said he’d seen a nice moose up Republic Creek. He even dropped a pin on Google Earth to show the exact spot. My dad called at 10 at night. I was excited to hear from him. When he told me to go up Republic Creek to take a moose, I didn’t hesitate to change my hunt plan for the next day – my 21st day. My dad felt strongly that the man he’d met had spotted a good moose in that area. Since I hadn’t seen any moose, and my dad had come all the way from his home to be with me, I felt I had to follow his suggestion. The fun started when I tried to help Dad understand how to send me the map with the pin marking where the man had seen the moose. I never did receive the map.

I used the mapping system that my husband Dave and I had developed, HuntData, to try and determine where that moose should be. I picked out two possible spots on my HuntData map. I went to the first place but didn’t locate a moose. However, as I went up Republic Creek on the 21st day of my moose hunt, I located a nice bull moose that my dad had said would be there near the second spot on my map. I made a good shot with my bow and double-lunged the bull. Instead of following the blood trail afterwards, I went to Walden, had breakfast with my dad and took Dad with me to follow the blood trail. My dad is a lowlander from Oklahoma, and he kept asking me as we went into the woods, “How can I help you with this moose?” I told him all about finding the moose and making my shot. I think he was more excited than I was. 

Once Dad saw my moose, he gave me a big hug and told me how excited he was for me for taking that bull by myself and following his instructions. I’d called my husband and my son and asked for their help. They arrived to help my dad and me find the moose. I rediscovered the fact that a village was required to locate a downed moose and get that moose out of the woods. Dad pitched right in and helped us to field dress the bull, caping it and cutting up the meat.

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