Story Contest 2016 - Second PlaceNot Your Average Joe featuring Big Country Outfitters
Second Place 2016: Not Your Average Joe
by Mike Hawkridge featuring Big Country Outfitters
During the fall of 2014, well into my scheduled hunts, I received a message from my good buddy Greg Ray. He asked me if I was available for a last minute booking; a late season, post rut, bull moose hunt. This was most likely going to be the type of high pressure quest that most sane outfitters would run from. The real kicker; not only would I have to find two bull moose in less than perfect conditions, but I would have only six days to do it. The clients were Ben O’Brien of Peterson’s Hunting magazine,and none other than Joe Rogan himself. For those of you that need an introduction; some of Joe’s mainstream endeavors include acting, producing, and hosting TV’s Fear Factor, and commentating for the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Greg Ray, who had hunted with me in the past, figured I was the one that could get the job done. I wasn’t so sure, but I would not be writing this if I had said “no” to the hunt.
November seemed to roll around quicker than I thought possible. With a so-far successful hunting season in my back pocket, I felt I just may be able to pull this one off. My wife, Karen, made the drive to the airport to pick up the photographer, Sam Soholt, and Mr. Rogan. I laughed when she sent me a text “He’s here!” with a quick image of Joe as he entered the airport. Karen loaded the two tired travelers up and started on the two hour drive back to the ranch. Ben was picked up even later, arriving at the ranch late but excited. We kept the intros to a minimum. We knew we had the next few days to get to know one another, and rest was what was most important.
Morning marked the start of our search for a bull and after a good breakfast we were off. I had a solid spot in mind, as I knew there was a good bull there…there always was. I nosed the pickup off thelogging road, we shouldered our packs, and quietly walked down the trail into the swamp. As we eased our way into an area adjacent to a small remote lake I could tell there was sign, but something was just a bit off. The sound of a crow calling out on the top of a spruce made me suspicious. We camo-ninja’d” up along the edge of a willow flat, following the directions the crow was laying out. Before long we were standing around a day old wolf kill. The wolves had taken down a yearling moose, and with a kill that fresh any bull in the area would either stay quiet, or leave. Either way it meant that we needed to carry on hunting a different range.
For the next couple of days we worked valley bottoms. These were a typical spots for moose hunting in our area post rut. There was plenty of sign that moose were around, just none right now. The decision was made to look at a higher elevation. Looking higher naturally means hiking from the valley bottoms to mountain tops. As guides, we usually can out hike the majority of our clients hands down. Standing at the base of a small mountain preparing to put the sneak-on some unsuspecting moose, I looked over at my client. Reality hit me like a train. This was Joe “freakin-jacked” Rogan. I take pride in my physical abilities, but when my lungs lost air and legs lit on fire, I felt more like “Honey boo-boo” than a hard core hunting guide.