Nick Ellis of Presque Isle and his father, Edwin Ellis, knew they needed to change the course of their 2022 moose hunt.

Their first three days searching for a bull in Wildlife Management District 6 in Aroostook County had not been encouraging.

“I put 500 miles, 40 hours and whatever gas it takes to go out in the woods the past three days and I saw one bull Monday evening before dark,” Nick Ellis said.

Having made a previous commitment to attend a friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner on Friday and to be in the wedding party on Saturday, he didn’t want to take any chances on not harvesting a moose.

Thankfully, Ellis knew just who to call.

A friend, Registered Maine Guide Jesse Cote, had posted on his Facebook page that he had availability for hunts. Ellis contacted Cote to enlist his help.

“He said, ‘I’ll pick you up at 5 o’clock in the morning. I’ll have you a moose in half an hour and I’ll put him in your lap,’” Ellis said.

Given Cote’s impressive guiding track record, which has included 134 successful moose hunts with clients through his Backwoods Guide Service in Caribou since 2011, Ellis knew he was in good hands.

And Cote backed up his confident claim with a surprising degree of accuracy.

The men arrived early at the hunting location in Mapleton and got set up. Edwin Ellis, the sub-permittee, was seated to Nick Ellis’ left, while Cote handled the calling from two steps behind.

Nick Ellis has proven himself proficient with a compound bow, using it to harvest deer, bears and even ruffed grouse. But after missing a 9-point buck last fall, he decided to change things up and buy a crossbow.

Nick Ellis of Presque Isle (center) shot this 632-pound bull moose on Thursday while hunting with Jesse Cote of Backwoods Guide Service in Caribou. Also pictured are Ellis’ father, Edwin Ellis (left) and Raymond DeMerchant. Credit: Courtesy of Jesse Cote/Backwoods Guide Service

It would be his hunting implement on this hunt.

Once the bull began responding to the calls, Cote was forced to reposition the men in order to make sure they kept the wind in their favor.

“I stuck them right in the bushes and I said, ‘don’t move,’” Cote said.

The calls lured the bull from behind and left of where the men were stationed. It was headed straight at the hunters.

Cote, who had put gel made from bull urine on his jacket to help cover the human scent, briefly considered taking action to divert the moose from its path.

“This one here came in so fast, there was no stopping him at that point,” Cote said. “Their eyesight sucks, so if you don’t move and if you smell like a moose and sound like a moose, they pretty much think you’re a moose.”

Nick Ellis was concerned for his dad, who was seated and has compromised mobility in his legs after two knee replacements. With the bull bearing down on them, Edwin Ellis might get hurt.

“He’s not a guy that’s gonna get out of the way real fast,” Nick Ellis said of his father, who was ready to use his rifle if the crossbow bolt missed the mark.

moose hunt news

As shown on the video Ellis recorded with a Tactacam mounted to his crossbow, the bull suddenly turned slightly to its left and presented itself, broadside, at point-blank range.

“That, I’ll tell you right now, man, puts a whole new meaning to putting a moose in your lap,” said Ellis who, because of the close proximity, wasn’t able to use the scope. He still made a perfect shot behind the right shoulder.

In his excitement, Ellis raised the crossbow in the air for a few seconds after taking the shot. He then remembered that he was filming and refocused on the mortally wounded moose, which trotted off about 30 yards.

“You don’t want a bull moose that close,” Cote said. “A lot can go wrong, especially after the shot. We’ve seen plenty of videos where they just mow you over and try to trample you.”

Even with the moose bearing down on them, Nick Ellis had been able to maintain his composure.

Nick Ellis of Presque Isle (right) admires the 632-pound bull moose he shot on Thursday morning while hunting with Jesse Cote of Backwoods Guide Service in Caribou. Credit: Courtesy of Jesse Cote/Backwoods Guide Service

“My old man, his favorite saying when we were young was, ‘don’t get excited,’” Nick Ellis said. “In a situation like that, I didn’t have time to get scared or nervous or anything. You keep your head on your shoulders and you figure out what you need to do and you figure that out in a hurry.”

By 6:45 a.m., barely half an hour after they had gotten out of the truck and begun calling, the hunt was over. The moose dressed out at 632 pounds with an antler spread of 40 inches.

The harvest was the third consecutive successful hunt for Ellis and his family. Edwin Ellis shot a moose in 2020 and Nick’s girlfriend, Lisa DeMerchant, tagged out last year.

Ellis realizes that he is fortunate to have benefitted from Cote’s friendship and considerable moose hunting experience to enjoy his thrilling crossbow hunt.

“There is no better person to go hunting with, no better person to have on your side,” Ellis said.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...