Colorado Hunter: Colorado bull moose hunter gives back more than he takes
Sportsman Allan Reishus can’t recall a time when he didn’t hunt.
“People told me I carried a willow stick ‘shooting’ flushing pheasants and never missing when I was just 6 years old,” he says.
About six decades later, the experienced hunter had just two Colorado big game species left on his “hunting bucket list” — Shiras moose and desert sheep.
Reishus follows a “take one give one back” philosophy. He’s worked with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, sportsman’s organizations — Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Big Horn Society, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to name a few — and independently to restore or improve wildlife habitat for species from osprey and moose to mountain bluebirds to bighorn sheep.
“I’ve been involved directly or indirectly in the moose project since the 80s,” Reishus says. “I wanted to shoot a moose in Colorado. I just wasn’t interested in going to Alaska, Wyoming or elsewhere.”
Shiras moose were reintroduced to Colorado in the late 1970s. Although moose are now thriving in Colorado, in 2016 hunting licenses were limited to 338 tags with almost 24,000 hunters applying, according to CPW.
“Persistence is key for having a successful hunt for Shiras moose in Colorado,” Reishus says. “It’s critical while actually on the hunt, but also in applying each March and facing rejection slips year after year.”
It took 17 years of trying for Reishus to draw a bull moose license. “Once you get a tag, you can never get another, so this hunt really was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he says.
With tag in hand, Reishus opted for a hunt guided by QRS Outdoor Specialties, and the opportunity to hunt on Colorado Rocky Mountain Ranch, near Walden, Colorado. The ranch claims to be the place where moose were reintroduced to Colorado more than four decades ago.
Friends David James and professional photographer Rick Meoli both of Steamboat Springs were invited along on the hunt. Meoli filmed the hunt for Sitka Outdoors so long as Reishus agreed to wear Sitka gear.
On the first days of the hunt, several moose were passed-up. On the fifth day they spotted a bull crossing a narrow road. It appeared to be the same bull they had spotted on day one, Reishus says.
Not having seen a bigger bull, Reishus made his move. After a short stalk he made a single 75-yard shot into the rib cage. “The bull moved about 10 steps before sinking into a shallow ravine,” he says.
Then the real work began — dressing, quartering and packing out an animal weighing over 1,000 pounds.
Satisfied with checking another species off his bucket list, Reishus says he feels a sense of accomplishment in having been part of moose conservation in Colorado.
“They are a success story,” Reishus says.