For years my son would welcome me in the garage as I brought home animals harvested from the woods.  He was intrigued since a toddler with them and would always ask when I could take him hunting.  The answer was always another creative way of saying “when you’re bigger, you can come.”  As he grew older I started taking him out on scouting trips to check trail cameras and sit in the occasional blind.  His patience was always tested and these trips were usually cut short to accommodate his boredom and hunger.

The fall of 2011 was the time I decided to start taking him into the woods on trips with me.  On a brisk morning in early October we ventured out in search of a bull moose.  I have my honey hole in the Edmonton Bow Zone that usually offers me opportunities for a moose every year.  We set up on the ground next to a thick patch of willows and began the series of cow calls.  My son was so impressed with the calling that he began to imitate me.  The hours in the truck practicing moose calling together proved effective as he called like he’s been doing it for years.  Unfortunately, on this trip, his lack of patience caught up with him so we decided to go for a walk and do some scouting to see how much water had backed up from the beavers damming up the creek.  As we walked up a normally dry cutline we found ourselves in the middle of a flooded forest.  I decided to carry my son and walk through a short 50 yard section to dry ground on the other side.  Half way across I stepped into a rut made by years of ATV traffic and lost my balance.  It all felt like things were in slow motion as I fell backwards into the water.  There I lay flat on my back with only my head, knees, and arms above the water, holding in the air my son in one arm, my bow and video camera in the other.  That was one moose hunt my son will never forget.  I pretended it was no big deal as we walked the half mile back to the truck but I was freezing and the reality of my smart phone that was in my front pocket began to haunt my mind. That was the end of the 2011 season for my son as we never found opportunity to hunt together until the following year.

He was now a year older, almost 7, and begging to sit in a tree stand with me so I ordered him a Hunter Safety System online.  “When your harness arrives, we will go,” I kept telling him.  Finally, on September 29, 2012 we picked up his new harness from the post office and rushed home to get ready.  I had a great spot in mind that I needed to move a tree stand to so thought this would make a great opportunity to take my son out and, at the same time, work in a new set for deer.  We arrived at the same honey hole as the previous year and worked our way through the trees to one of my tree stands. The plan was to move the stand 100 yards to the north.  We hauled the stand to the new location then talked about why we wanted to setup in this spot.  There was great sign there and trail camera pictures for the past few years showed steady moose activity in the area.  My intentions were to setup and get my son in the tree for an hour or two.  I wasn’t sure how much patience he would have.

As I hung off of a tree in my own harness cutting limbs and hanging stands, I kept hearing the familiar sound of my son’s moose calls below. “Quiet!” I would say to him over and over.  He kept pretending it wasn’t him.  I was a little frustrated as I didn’t want him to scare away any deer that were in the area. We spent almost two hours moving the old stand, hanging it in a new tree, hanging a stand for my son, and clearing shooting lanes.  The set was perfect.

It was now time to get my son into a tree stand for the very first time.  I hooked him up to his lifeline and he climbed up the tree and I got him settled and anchored into his stand.  I then pulled up my bow and got everything settled for the evening hunt. My hopes were diminished as I realized how long it took us to setup the stands and how much I was sweating from the ordeal.  “Oh well,” I thought, “we’ll just sit here for a while and say we did it.”  We got settled and I broke out the granola bars as my son was telling me he was hungry.  I handed one to him then opened up my own and took a bite… WOOF!! I almost choked on my half chewed mouthful of granola bar that I was forced to swallow as I realized what was happening.  A young bull moose crashed into the bush 80 yards to our north barking and grunting along the way.  I looked at my son and the smile on his face was enormous.  I gave a couple quiet cow calls and the bull came straight in to our location. He turned 15 yards in front of us and stopped broadside. I whispered, “Are you ready?” to my boy and he nodded.  I slowly drew back my bow and released my Gold Tip arrow towards the bull.  The bright red Nocturnal glistened as the arrow struck the moose behind the shoulder.  He turned and ran north about 50 yards and stopped. “Watch! Watch!,” I said to my son who was locked in on the moose.  He stumbled sideways and we lost sight of him as we heard him crashing down in the timbers.  I looked

back at my son who was grinning from ear to ear.  He was thumbs up and bouncing with excitement.  We waited for a while before descending the tree to recover “Our” moose.  We picked up the blood trail very quickly and he helped me spot the blood.  We made it to the point where the moose had first stopped then looked down towards the cut-line.  I could see the large black mass laying there but said nothing to my son.  “Let’s go this way,” I led him down to the cut-line.  We came out into the open and I shouted “There he is!!!” We both jumped and cheered at this moment and he gave me a big hug.  “Dad,” he said, “that looked just like on TV with the red streak.  Great shot, Dad!”

A few days later I was sitting in my office looking at the photos we had taken on this trip and decided to phone my son. “Hey Son, remember when we were setting up the tree stands and you were doing those moose calls?  You called him in.  You did it!”  His reply will sound in my ears forever, “We both called him in, Dad.  I called him in first and you brought him in close.”

Matt Depeel