September 17: Dave Kramer

Sometimes you stack enough long shots end to end and you wind up 25 yards from the trophy of a lifetime.

 DOD field staffers Dave Kramer and Bill Gadient have been chasing Wyoming elk with outfitter Tedd Jenkins of Jenkins Hunting Camp for six years, alternating which of them drew the tag and which purchased a point. Bill was up this year but didn’t get a tag. Fortunately, Dave had been playing long ball with the low probability non-resident Shiras moose tag. This was the sixth year he’d applied and was selected as only one out of 106 non-residents to get the draw.

Those are slim odds. 

Bill was in the middle of a facility build on his dairy farm and couldn’t get away, but thankfully Chris Lenz was able to take the time off. The two headed west to Wyoming armed with archery and muzzle loading gear and their new Mountain Country Mossy Oak camo.

The expedition started on September 15th, but it wasn’t until the 17th that they actually had an encounter with a moose. Descending a mountain ridge into a wet, dark drainage filled with moose sign, they jumped an animal just ahead of them and out of their sight. After waiting five minutes, they began calling and brought the bull moose in to 35 yards.

Dave came to full draw, but the moose had turned and was quartering towards him. No shot. For five excruciating minutes that bull stood and stared, slobber dripping from his muzzle until he lost interest and walked off.

Frustrated but not finished, Dave grabbed his Traditions muzzleloader for day four of the hunt. He knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and wanted to tip any odds he could into his favor. Once you draw a Shiras tag, you can’t apply for another five years and it’s unlikely you’d get draw for another 16. It was now or never. 

Tedd had heard from a local friend that there was a bull, cow and calf hanging out in a particular drainage so they targeted that area of the Bridger National Forest. The crew hiked in two miles and up onto a ridge where they glassed for the better part of the day. With daylight ebbing, they spotted the cow and calf on the opposite slope. As they watched, Dave noticed the tell-tale paddles of a big bull lumbering from out of the dark trees near the cow.

It was going to be close, but they mad dashed down the 1,800 feet from their ridge then up to where they saw the bull. As they ascended, the bull was responding to their grunts but it was hard to pinpoint just where he was. The foliage was so thick that when they finally got within 25 yards of him, Dave could only sneak a lung shot through a small framed by branches. The initial shot clearly hit lungs but the bull didn’t budge. Dave reloaded and lined up another shot, also in the lungs. This time the moose turned and started lumbering towards the team. A third shot and he finally fell just 15 yards away.

Looking back on how improbable this entire hunt was, Dave counsels hunters to never be afraid of taking risks and putting in for low odds hunts. He also cites the perseverance and 'never quit' attitudes of Tedd, Maurie, Brian and the rest of the crew at Jenkins Hunting Camp as another key to success. Hunting for two and a half days and seeing nothing can weigh on a person’s mind. They kept at it, and he sure is glad he didn’t give up.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.