Austin Moffett of Fargo shared this story about his grandfather, Wade Moffett, of Inkster, N.D., and their hunting adventures in northeast North Dakota, which include deer hunting in unit 2C and a cow elk hunt in unit E1E in the far northeast corner of the state.
This story begins in the year 2017, when an idea was brought to me by my grandfather. At the age of 80, he had decided that he would like to try and shoot his first archery deer.
Knowing full-well that due to certain health reasons he would be unable to shoot a vertical bow, we began to look at crossbow options that would be suitable. Upon receiving his required documents from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, we found a quality crossbow.
Not knowing if this was going to be a one year ordeal or if he would enjoy it to the point of wanting to continue doing this annually, we decided to go with a cheaper option so we wouldn’t be out a lot if he chose to or was unable to continue archery hunting.
The first time out for the year was in early October as soon as the edibles were off, and we were able to get to the permanent stand we had put in place. We had practiced frequently at reasonable distances, to which we limited ourselves to 30 yards.
Night one had limited action; however, an hour before dark, a doe had fed out to within striking distance. After waiting for a broadside shot, the nerves had gotten the best of Grandpa and the arrow missed its mark. Dejected, we returned home with hopes of having some luck tomorrow.
As fate would have it, we were able to connect on our next evening out with a small buck, and I have never seen someone so excited to have success in the hunting world. The following season, Grandpa had decided that he would like to do this archery thing yet again. On our first evening out, he was able to tag a mature doe.
Now fast forward to 2019, as this is where the story begins the rollercoaster ride of events.
In the spring of the year, Grandpa had begun to have some optical issues. Upon further consultation, it was deemed that he had a rare form of potentially deadly cancer that had begun in his right eye, which so happens to be his shooting eye. After rigorous localized radiation in his eye for consecutive weeks, a surgery to put an implant in his eye in an attempt to repair it was conducted to no avail. I was left wondering if he would be able to continue this bond that we had begun building. After plenty of encouragement, mostly on my part, we had made the jump to shooting left-handed. Now the fun had really begun.
As a surprise to him, I had put Grandpa into the elk lottery at home. He was fortunate enough to be selected for a cow tag in our home unit. So, in 2019, not only did we have to overcome a major obstacle in shooting styles, we were bound for adventure with an archery tag and a once-in-a-lifetime cow elk tag.
While the task sounded daunting when you said it out loud, I felt like we still had good chances of having success in both departments.
As luck would have it, opening night, while sitting in his usual box blind, he was able to harvest a small velvet buck. In his words, “Now we will have all fall to chase elk!” and I could not have been happier for him, given all he had gone through in a year.
Due to the variability of elk movement on land that we had permission to hunt, we waited until the temperatures dropped and snow had fallen. On day one, we had gotten to our stand well before daylight; however, the elk had beaten us to the food plot. We collected our thoughts and headed back to the same setup that evening.
With no action the entire afternoon, as the sun set, two cow elk fed out within rifle range, and he was able to make a good shot and more memories were made.
In the offseason, we had talked about upgrading his archery equipment. After shooting many crossbows, he decided on a Raven 10 for a variety of reasons. Luck would again be on Grandpa’s side in the lottery department, as he was able to draw a rifle buck tag and muzzleloader doe tag, along with his archery tag.
Opening weekend came upon us faster than we realized, and we were on the trail again with high hopes based on trail camera activity. Knowing full well that Grandpa is not a trophy hunter by any means, a doe was on the hit list with the high numbers on the property that we have permission to hunt.
Success once again came early in the archery season and the new crossbow performed flawlessly.
Fast forward to the rifle season; he was very excited, as we had plenty of antlered options for him to look over. I had not remembered a time in my life that he had an antlered tag in his pocket, so I, too,was excited for him. One sit with the .243 that he had given me before my ability to rifle hunt and we again were in the skinning shed.
As we waited until after Thanksgiving for muzzleloader season to open, I could tell that excitement was building in him once again. Opening day had come and after a few hours in the blind, we wrapped up one of the most memorable seasons in our hunting careers.