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Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
Athlete Insider: Donnie Vincent
Black Giants of the North
Author: Dustin Lutt
Oct 11, 2011
I remember when my dad came home from his first moose hunt in ‘96. I was just a little kid and in complete awe of his stories, of his footage, and of the Yukon Moose rack that stood taller than me. He continued his crusade for moose, and later harvested a great Shiras in Wyoming. Again, I was flooded with stories and footage and memories and awe. It ignited a passion within me to one day hunt these majestic giants.
I never imagined I would get the chance to join my dad as he hunted for the last of his three moose subspecies. My profession as a videographer and photographer blessed me with the opportunity to document his quest for Canadian Moose in Northern British Columbia.
After admiring dad’s photos and researching other moose hunts, I always imagined myself among frost-covered willows, next to a lake or river, surrounded by golden aspens and tall, dark spruce, watching a rut-crazed bull stir the fog with his paddle horns. Puffs of of steam would roll from his nostrils as he let out deep, guttural grunts. I'd feel blood pulsing though my fingers as they wrapped around my bowstring, the dark giant closing the distance. It's what my dreams were made of.
When we landed on Turnagain Lake, home of BC Safaris, it looked like the pictures I painted in my head as a child; yellow aspens surrounding the flat-as-glass lake, the rugged Cassiars looming in the distance.
We were immediately greeted by our guide Jason. No time to waste. We went about saddling and packing our gear on a well-seasoned string of horses.
On our 15-mile trek into the mountains, I grew infatuated with the landscape; rushing streams of frigid water, thick forests of spruce, and boggy meadows of Artic Willow.
The entire first day was spent riding trail and setting up the camp that would be our home for the next nine days. The day's work had us sleeping soundly as the light faded away. Like a little kid, my dreams were filled with visions of how the hunt would unfold.
When we woke at first light, I saw a vision completely different from my dreams. The landscape from the day before was covered in a coat of white, making the image of it even more elegant and beautiful than what my dreams could create.
After a quick breakfast, we saddled our horses and rode out. Rather than heading to the meadows in the bottom to start calling near the lakes as I had expected, we went up high. After a good hour we reached the pass where we planned to spend the morning glassing. We tied off the horses and walked to the edge of the mountain, hoping to find a couple nice bulls in the valley and make a move on them from above.
But our plan was eclipsed by the fog and snow. Clouds socked in all around us, and our sight was limited to a few hundred yards. We got comfortable and glassed what timber we could see in hopes that the front would push through. The three of us sat and stared at the faint timberline below, and it appeared there was nothing to see but falling snow.
Dad figured we might as well spread out to cover more area. He got up and disappeared into weather as he clambered down the edge of the ridge. Minutes later, he reappeared, backtracking at a fairly decent pace. As he got closer, I could see a familiar squinted grin on his face.
When he got close, I said, “Well?”
“Yup,” he said, followed by more grinning.
“Is he big?” I asked.
“Yup.” He kept grinning as he nodded toward Jason.
We quickly gathered our gear and followed Dad to take a look at his find. Through the dense snowflakes, just a couple hundred yards away, sat a bull moose bedded with a cow. Jason studied the bull briefly before telling us it was a bull well worth going after.
The snow made great cover as we closed the distance. Soon we were in the thick spruce, where we could gain ground even faster without being seen. Before we knew it, we were within a hundred yards.
But now we had a problem. The wind had shifted and through an opening in the timber we could see that the bull and his cow were on there feet. The cow was getting edgy. Instinct kicked in for Jason to grunt at the bull and start breaking branches. The bull immediately turned towards us and responded with intimidating grunts. You could tell he was not happy with our intrusion. He wanted to come into our call, but he would not leave his cow behind.
Jason continued to call at the bull. The bull kept his attention on Jason, and Dad and I chose to move in closer through the timber. Soon I found a good clear view. I was about 75 yards away and set up my camera to start filming the bull as he continued to stare towards Jason's position. Through the heavy snowfall and through my lens, I watched as dad continued to creep within range. I watched, too, as Dad’s arrow flew true and sunk in right behind the bull’s shoulder. Dad’s hands shot into the air, his bow held high. The sound of his cheers and of the final crash of the bull filled the crisp air.
I couldn’t believe it happened on the first stalk of the first day.The snow continued to fall silently as we walked up on the black giant in his final bed. It’s a memory I’ll never forget, and footage that could never be replaced.
For the remainder of our time in northern BC, we continued to hunt Mountain Caribou and had some very close encounters with grizzlies. But those stories I will save for future campfires.
Traverse Zip T
Amazing stories and footage...and to share it with you father; priceless!
Nancy Jo Adams Posted At 10/20/2011 02:22 PM
So I finally took the time to read one of your stories...Proud of you Dusty, and you too Dad! :)
Amber Posted At 10/18/2011 03:05 PM
Absolutely incredible job capturing an incredible experience.
Jonathan Hart Posted At 10/17/2011 10:00 PM
Dustin...WOW! Beatiful imagery; both on "paper" and visual. This definitely is the type of hunt I've dreamed about since I was a kid and you helped me be there, along for the hunt. Even if it was just in my mind alone. Thank you.
Luke Johnson Posted At 10/17/2011 07:43 PM
Kiviok Hight Posted At 10/17/2011 06:04 PM
Excellent phots and a great write up as well. That place looks amazing and is one of my bucket list hunts for sure! Nice job. Jay
Jay Woods Posted At 10/17/2011 02:46 PM
Dusty, I continue to be awed by your photography and experiences. The photos would tell a story by themselves without any text needed. Nice work!
Chad Bell Posted At 10/17/2011 01:59 PM
No question Dustin takes some of the best photo's I've ever seen. Great job Lutt! Keep em coming!
Dale Pearson Posted At 10/17/2011 12:54 PM
Excellent photos Dustin!! Looks like such an epic trip.
David Posted At 10/17/2011 12:03 PM
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