Dale Tucker, 35, of Sault Ste. Marie had no intentions of going moose hunting this past fall. But when the IT manager pulled a long-shot bull tag, he gathered up his hunting buddies, headed for Northwestern Ontario's Red Lake area, and arrowed what will almost certainly be Ontario's new No. 1 archery bull. With a current official score of 204 1/8 inches, Tucker's prize should rank in the top 10 among Pope & Young's all-time Canada moose. Here is his story. You can watch the hunt on film on slide number 10.
“Until last fall, any party of three or more hunters was guaranteed a bull tag in our hunting area. So my two hunting buddies, Mike Siklosi and Konrad Bakalarczyk, and I always had a reason to go. But in 2009, officials raised the guaranteed-tag minimum to 5 hunters, and being two hunters short, we figured we had no chance. But we put in anyway, and sure enough, I pulled a bull tag and Mike got a cow tag. So the hunt was on.
In this picture, Mike is on my left and Konrad is on my right. We’ve dubbed ourselves Team Fake Tree–but it’s not meant as a pun. We hunt a lot of clear cuts and in each one there always seems to be a big, lone pine tree conspicuously left standing. It appears so out of place, surrounded by stumps and low growth, that it looks, well, fake. And so…Team Fake Tree.
On Saturday, September 26th, we drove about 15 hours to a lodge we rent during the hunting season, located on a river system about an hour from our hunting area. Here’s Mike standing on the porch.
We started hunting on Sunday. Each morning we got up a 4:30 a.m., ate breakfast, and drove out to our hunting area. All day we’d spot-and-stalk, call, and look for moose sign, eventually heading back to camp in the evenings. On Tuesday morning, Konrad called a 35- to 40-inch bull into bow range of Mike, who’d actually missed a bull in the same spot last fall. Hoping for redemption, Mike drew when the bull got to 30 yards and needed the animal to take just another step or two to clear some brush. Instead, it spun 180 degrees and disappeared.
Around lunchtime, we found a dip in the landscape where we could take refuge from a howling wind and have a bite to eat. When we finished and crested the rim of the dip, there stood a huge bull just 30 or 40 yards away, but we couldn’t get a shot at him. That night, we made a plan to set up about 350 yards away from where we last saw the bull, in a spot where we’d located a lot of fresh sign.
The next morning broke cold and calm, and I felt really good about our chances. We got to our spot just after first shooting light and were about to spread out to do some calling. Our usual setup had been to put Konrad, the best caller, in the middle, and Mike and I 30 to 40 yards to his right and left. This time, however, Konrad grabbed me and said: “Why don’t you sit with me this morning.” He’d brought a video camera for the first time. “If anything happens I’ll film you.” I was happy to sit with Konrad. I figured I could pick up a few calling tips. Mike set up to our right.
As soon as I sat down, I heard a bull grunt behind us. Konrad got right into some agitated cow calls. The bull behind us kept burping and grunting sporadically and we heard a cow off in the distance. Suddenly a different bull showed up on the other side of the cut–straight away from us. He ran into the cut, spun around, and ran back into the bush–roaring the whole way. None of us had ever heard that sound before, at least not live. The best way I can describe it is that it sounds like a lion roaring.
All the while, the bull behind us is still burping and getting closer. Suddenly, Konrad spots him to our left, and I eventually see him standing in the cut just 40 yards away. After a bit, he turned and walked right into us. At 25 yards, he stopped, raised his head, and looked right at us. I thought, We’re done. But then he dropped his head and kept coming. At 12 yards, I still had no shot. With a screen of brush in front of me, I needed him to move to one side or another. Finally he looked like he was going to go left. I drew. . . and he went right. I swung to my right as he cleared the bush, finally giving me a broadside shot at less than 5 yards. I watched the arrow disappear behind his shoulder.
The bull then circled back out into the cut, and finally just laid down dead, chin on the ground, antlers up. Right then, the bull that had been roaring on the far side of the cut shows up, starts circling my bull, and then rushes forward, locks horns, and pushes 1,300-pounds of dead weight backward about a dozen yards. Before he could do any more damage to my bull, Konrad stepped out and started yelling, eventually scaring him off.
Believe it or not, getting him out of the bush was not that difficult. The bull dropped close to an old skidder road. I drove my trailer right close and used the winch on our four-wheeler to pull the bull onto the trailer. Then we poured some Jagermeister to toast the animal.
When we got back to camp, I downloaded a score sheet on my laptop, and we put a tape on him. After punching in the numbers, I hit enter and got 203 3/8. That’s when I knew it had a chance to best Fred Robinson’s standing Ontario archery record of 201-2/8. On the other hand, we didn’t really trust our scoring, so we weren’t sure.
Then came the real work of hanging and skinning . . .
. . . and just enough butchering to. . .
. . . have moose tenderloin for dinner.
Back at home, Fred Robinson actually got in touch with me. He’d seen our video and, as an official P&Y measurer, offered to score the moose. He did and came up with 203-5/8 P&Y. The bull isn’t overly wide at 55 3/8 inches. Fred’s was over 60. Mine scores so well mainly because it’s so symmetrical.
On December 4th, after the 60-day drying period, Herb Scherer took an official score for the Foundation for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife. He came up with 204 5/8. The rack just needs to be panel scored to make the Ontario Record Book. That will take place in March at the Bass Pro Shop Spring Classic outdoor show in Vaughan, Ontario. Feel free to check our website (teamfaketree.com) for updates.”