Don Meredith Professional Writing
Services

Team Mooseby Don H. Meredith © 2004
(published in the 2004 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations)

planning the hunt

A few years ago, a friend of mine who studies socio-economics—or the how and why people do the things they do—invited 20 or so moose hunters to meet with his team of researchers and discuss what it means to hunt moose. We all gathered in a room in Edmonton and talked about why we were so committed to devoting a week or more of our time each year, a substantial portion of our paycheques, and our energy and skill to stalk the wily slobber nose through the fall forests and muskegs. Although the study itself was interesting, I was fascinated with the wide variety of people in the room. We were from different "walks of life" but with a similar passion for the outdoors and specifically moose hunting. What was particularly interesting to me was how similarly we chose the people with whom we hunt.

Going on a hunting trip by yourself is never the best idea, but you can do it when you're hunting deer, sheep or antelope. Once you bag an animal it's good to have someone help you haul it out, but it's not necessary. With moose or elk, you need help just to field dress the animal properly. Thus, moose and elk hunters hunt in groups and share in whatever is bagged. Individuals may hunt by themselves, but they call the group together when an animal is down.

However, choosing members of your hunting group or trying to join an already established hunting group can be a daunting process. A long established moose hunting team is often like a college fraternity or secret society where each member knows the special handshake, the inside jokes and the foibles of the other members. They can be very reluctant to add another member unless 1) there is room for him, 2) the person comes highly recommended by at least one of the members, and most importantly 3) he qualifies as a member.

What qualifies a person for membership varies from group to group. Some aren't so picky, others are. Friendship is often the first requirement. Taking a total stranger hunting can be risky. You want to know something about the guy, that he acts safely, that he thinks and acts along similar lines to other members of the group. For example, you need to know whether a prospective member respects the law and regulations or will be likely to present the group with a legal problem that may be difficult to solve.

Probably like most groups, our moose hunting team has evolved over the 30+ years we've been together. At first it was just two of us who had never hunted moose before. We talked to other moose hunters but we mostly learned by trial and error—not the most efficient way to do business. Eventually we expanded to three and sometimes four members—all who brought some added expertise to the team. Sure enough our success increased. Some people only hunted with us for one season, others stayed longer. Some left because they determined that moose hunting or staying in a tent for a week, or both, wasn't for them, or they just didn't fit well into our little group.

"Fitting in" is important. We have a few unwritten rules that must be followed to stay on our team. First, you've got to have a sense of humor. Moose hunting can be a very frustrating business, depending on the licences drawn, the weather and the amount of game seen or heard. If you take it all too seriously you don't belong on our team. Some visitors to our camps have described our particular brand of humor as "warped" but sometimes being warped helps deflect the curve balls mother nature enjoys throwing our way.

Second, you've got to "pitch in," make a contribution to the effort. We're not just talking about the hunting here. It's assumed everyone will hunt to the best of their skills and abilities. We also require that you do your part by sharing vehicles and other equipment, helping with camp chores, doing your share of the work when an animal is dressed and hauled out of the bush, and following up the hunt by attending our meat butchering session.

Over the years, three of us have formed the hard-core nucleus of our team. As such, we each fill several roles that make our team function as one.

Leader/Organizer

Someone has to take charge to make sure things happen. This job passes from one person to the other depending on the timing and circumstances. One person might prod the others to start the planning, beginning with making applications for the draws. Another will take charge in camp, making sure we get up at the appointed hour to be at our posts when legal hunting time begins, and to direct traffic when a carcass needs to be cut and transported.

Cook

There are two things I require when I return to camp after a day of hunting: a warm and dry place to sleep and a hot meal. Our camps are designed to provide these needs. We don't designate a cook because we are too small for one to be needed and we each more or less fend for ourselves. We share communal staples but we are each responsible for our own food items. I know, this involves some duplication of effort but it works for us (that is, there's room around the fire for three cooks), and over the last few years we have been experimenting with a few common meals that have been agreeable to all.

On larger teams, however, a cook and common meals may be required to ensure everyone gets fed in a timely manner. The role of head cook is often passed from one member to another.

Mechanic

Although not a necessity, having someone with some mechanical knowledge and skill is a useful member of any moose hunting team. With all the motors and vehicles used on a hunt these days, it's a boon to have someone who doesn't mind rolling up his sleeves and solving mechanical problems as they arise. We have one such member on our team who, along with his ample tool kit and box of chains, has saved our bacon on numerous occasions.

Keeper of Knowledge

This is a role in which we all participate. First of all, there's the collective knowledge that the team has gathered from its experiences over the years. Each of us remembers varying portions of that knowledge and often bring it forth in conversations around the campfire. Second, there's the specialized knowledge each of us brings to the team. One of us is the go-to guy for answers to questions about the hunting regulations and the law. Two of us are trained biologists with knowledge about the biology of moose and other wildlife. Another lets us know when we're getting too serious. We all bring a wide knowledge of bush experience and lore.

All of these roles and contributions come together to form a unique team that has worked very well over the years. We don't always score a moose, but we always have a successful hunt.


Top of Page


Check-out Don's adventure novels:

Grizzly One
The Search
for Grizzly One
Dog Runner
Dog Runner