Moose Tenderloin cooked with Cracked Pepper and Himalayan Pink Salt Garlic, and pan fried in Butter!
After deglazing the pan used to fry the steaks with cognac, I sautéed a wild blend of diced mushrooms and green Madagascar peppercorns and finished it all off with a heavy cream and mushroom peppercorn gravy... oh yeah!
By Liam Borsa: hunter, writer & gourmet cook
Opening day! It was the first day out hunting for me, and also the only day out for me for the entire season. A looming shoulder surgery date was quickly approaching. Being right-handed and having right shoulder surgery just three days away turned this opening hunting-day right in to do or die time for me.
The morning began with rain, rain and even more rain. Lots to look at through a foggy window but nothing really happening. I was using a Browning X-bolt 270 with a very entry-level Bushnell scope.
My 300 Win mag had a new scope installed but was not sighted in time for the start of the season. It was already six hours into the day and I was falling asleep as my dad drove us from cut block to cut block. I awoke to the sound of my dad's voice; "this is new!" as he discovered a new road that had been put in. We drove down this road a few kilometers before the road was deactivated. Just beyond this deactivation was another cut block. Our dog, my dad and I got out and walked down the road and into the cut block.
The wind was blowing the rain directly at us and as we walked we kept an eye to our left on the cut block up the hill. It was clear not much was going on there and as we decided to turn around we thought we would see what was just around the corner before we left. Good thing we did too because as we turned the corner my dad pointed and said to me; "what is that?"
Two light brown-grey blotches 350 yards away at the timberline. Far too pale to be moose right? But as I brought my raindrop-covered binoculars up to my eye, I saw that there was not one but two moose on the timberline. As I wiped my binoculars lens I could then see both sets of antlers. There we were out in the open, smack in the middle of the road with nothing but a small hill between us and a brace of moose just 350 yards away.
As my excitement increased so did our dogs’. My dad quickly grabbed his collar as I ran towards this hill between them and us. I crawled up the hill, laid down in the slash and took a rest on a stump. It was at this moment that I wished I’d had my new scope sighted in. Good optics are a ‘must’ here and I was stuck with the most poor, entry level scope I have ever used. I spent 15 minutes looking through the scope on nine-power that looked like someone had dumped milk all over the lens. I could see antler on both moose palmed out on one side, and of course I did not have a big bull draw.
I had a moment of clarity through the scope and my heart rate jumped as I saw that the other side of the antlers did not match on either of the moose. After staring at the one moose I determined it had three on one side and six on the other however it's "brother" looked slightly smaller with five on one side and something on the other. As the moose moved parallel to the timberline and it was clear that one mistake and they would be gone. As they moved I let out a cow call and they stopped. Just my "luck" the smaller bull stopped behind a tree.
There he sat for another five minutes until he moved into the open. One... Two...I counted on the other side. One... Two... I counted again as I wiped raindrops from the scope. One... Two... I counted again and thought to myself, how many more times do you have to see the two tines to know this is a legal spike-fork bull.
Now 300 yards away, I aimed at the top of the shoulder and fired... One! The moose kept walking and I tried getting him clear in the scope again. Just as my frustrations with the scope came to a boiling point by dad came up the hill behind me and handed me his gun. As soon as I looked through his Zeiss scope I knew why spending good money on optics is paramount. There the bull was zoomed in at a proper 9 power in what looked like HD 1080p blue ray resolution. One... Two... spike fork! I fired again... Two! The moose stumbled...the hind end of the moose wavered, buckled, and then the moose fell.
By the time I got to the moose I saw five points palmed facing up. My heart jumped out of my throat for a split second until I move the head and saw a distinct one two spike fork! There it was lying in front of me, my first bull moose. We made our way back to camp and in a nonchalant way I told my sister and my mom that I got a moose. By that I mean I pulled my phone out of my pocket and "accidentally" allowed the two empty shells to fall from my pocket onto the ground. It didn't take long for them to clue in.
My sister and I headed back to the moose as my parents went back into town to get supplies and help. Within two hours my sister and I had gutted and quartered the moose. Now began the task of carrying each quarter out on my back. Never having done this and not having a pack frame meant I skinned part of the hide, cut holes in it and wore it like a backpack, a very heavy and extremely awkward and uncomfortable backpack. By the time I got the first quarter 1km down to the road and was back loading up a second, my parents returned. With them was a pack frame from the 1960’s, which was meant more for going to Woodstock than packing out a moose.
Three trips and 6 hours later the rest of the moose was out at the truck. My body was broken from crawling over log jams and through ditches in the road but I also wore a great big a smile on my face knowing that the next step was to enjoy this moose on a plate.
I learned a number of things from this experience, as you do from every kill.
1: Spend good money on a good scope. Poor Optics almost made this an unsuccessful hunt.
2: My sister and I spent sibling bonding time like most siblings never will, elbows deep in the cavity of a moose. We make a good team.
3: I did all this the most difficult, awkward and backwards way possible. A few days later recovering from surgery I watched a YouTube video on how to debone and pack out an animal in the field. This video revealed to me just how much extra work I had done for no reason.
That was that the start and end of my season in one day. As I recover from shoulder surgery the learning curve is continuous as I research into pack frames and better deboning techniques. Next time it won't be such a backbreaking experience.