It was the second day of October and the peak of the moose rut. The cows were in heat and the bulls were on the move. Picking our way through the northern boreal forest, my hunting partner and I chose a spot with good visibility and cover. My first moan through the birchbark call was immediately cut off by a low-pitched grunt to the east. With each successive grunt, the old bull inched closer, cautiously working his way directly downwind. When the bull finally emerged from cover at just 40 yards, we were able to glimpse his massive 50-inch antlers before he hit our scent, spun and retreated.
Looking back, my partner and I made several mistakes that cost us a shot at that truly spectacular bull. Moose hunters love the peak rut, but even at this magical time, when bulls are at their most vulnerable, success isn’t guaranteed. In fact, there are plenty of ways to screw up your peak-rut moose hunt—commit any of these blunders and the only moose meal you’ll be having is tag soup.