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October 01, 2008

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Do You Take The First Animal?

I’m off to Alberta for the second time this year, this time for moose. My friend Andrew McKean, Outdoor Life’s hunting editor, just returned from a backcountry hunt in British Columbia and saw one moose, a 42-incher, early on. He passed on the animal and, as sometimes happens in this game, didn’t see another critter for the rest of the hunt.

The back half of his hunt was spent in search of mountain goats, but that didn’t work out too well either. If you’ve been around the high country much (the very definition of goat habitat) you know that mountains can make their own weather.

Which is just what happened to Andrew. He got socked in and didn’t get a crack at the billies.

This is an age-old dilemma for hunters—especially  those who have traveled great distances in pursuit of game. Do you take that first good animal you see on a hunt or do you hold out for something better?

My internal calculus in this regard is, like much of what I do, rather convoluted. How good are the animals in the area? What size animal would I be proud to have hanging on my wall? Have I shot any of this type of game before? How tough or memorable is the hunt?

These are all factors that I weigh, but that last one is the most subject to my mood at the moment. If I have fought hard for a particular animal, had a notably trying hunt or if I’m hunting with some of my closest friends or loved ones, chances are good I’ll take that mature animal—even if he isn’t of “trophy” proportions.

But I’ve been stubborn too. My Alberta bear hunt this spring was a good example. I passed on a number of really good boars early on and got burned when for the last three days of the hunt I didn’t see anything.

So it goes. It’s just one more reason why hunting is an endlessly fascinating passion.

—John Snow


Tom Sorenson

Here's my measuring stick - will I be happy with this animal? If so, pull the trigger. If not, don't pull the trigger. Easy to say, and maybe it's not the best way to go about it, but I've been happy with several forked horn bucks - and I wouldn't do it over if I could. I was just ecstatic when I shot them, so I have no regrets...but I did have a full belly for a time.

Good luck on this hunt - my Dad just connected on an Idaho mountain goat and my mom is headed off on an Idaho moose hunt today - both once in a lifetime kills, so very fortunate to get one tag of each in the same year! Best of luck to you and I look forward to the stories and photos.

Jim in Mo.

I agree with Tom. If I'm happy thats all that matters. It's my hunt.