A FAMILY TRADITION
Lester Dorsey rode into the Chilcotin in the early 1920s and began a family moose and bear hunting-and-guiding tradition that continues to this day. He started several ranches in the Anahim Lake area and in 1946 started a professional guiding service. Before that, Lester had learned the country by guiding surveyors mapping the Chilcotin.
By 1946 he was hunting in the area he had learned from guiding the map-makers. Times were hard in the Chilcotin in the 1940s and guiding became an important part of the family income and, along with trapping and ranching, was on its way to becoming a family tradition.
David Dorsey Sr. started hunting with his Father Lester in 1951, learning much of the country we still hunt. By 1955 Dave Sr. and his wife Jean had acquired their own ranch, using it as the base of operations for their own guiding business. Located at the base of the Itcha Mountains, the ranch was in the centre of the best moose hunting in the Chilcotin. Dave's guiding business flourished and his reputation as a moose guide grew.
In 1974 David Jr. began guiding with his father, learning the guiding business from the ground up, eventually taking over management of the family business in 1985. He also adopted Lester's company name of Rainbow Mountain Outfitters and continues the family tradition of providing high quality guiding services.
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN OUTFITTING
Anahim Lake B.C.
Phone: 250 742-3539
Toll free: 1 866 742-3539
by Leslie Dorsey
For my first hunt of the rut we decide to base out of the main cabin since no one had been there for a while and the rut is hot, almost starting to wind down. Dad and I meet Don in the morning, load all the gear and start the bumpy trip in on the wagon. This is usually done with the team, but Dad upgraded this year and bought a tractor.
When we get to the cabin, Don settles in, we have some lunch and out we go for an evening hunt. We go to one of my favourite spots to sit for the evening, and make a few calls to see if we can lure “the big one” in. Nothing - but we see a beef cow that got our hearts beating for a minute.
Up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning and, after a quick breakfast, off we head into the wind to try our luck again. Around 8 o'clock we decide to sit for a bit in a nice little meadow that I've had some luck in. I get Don set up behind a snag and do a few calls. Not long later, Don spots a nice lone bull heading towards us from across the meadow. I throw out a few more bull calls but he doesn't like that too much. I must have sounded like a really big boy because this one was nothing to scoff at, but he turns around and starts to walk away. Time to switch tactics. I start cow calling and he really likes that. He turns and starts moving towards us. I ask Don if he is comfortable and can get a good shot. He says he needs a better rest. Well now we are in the middle of a meadow and the only cover is the snag we are already at. I start thinking and stories come to mind that my grandpa has told me about sneaking up to moose using your saddle horse. So I sneak to the horses, calling every once and a while to keep the moose interested, At this point I know he is confused but still curious. I grab Don's horse, whose name happens to be Moose, and walk with him in between the moose and us. I call again and the moose really likes this now, and he starts to run towards us. I guess he thinks Moose the horse looks ready for the taking. I get Don to a better rest and tell him that once he stops…. shoot. The moose is now less than 200 yards away, and he stops just perfect. Don wastes no time and nails him and down he goes and, after all the excitement dies down and a few hugs for Moose the horse, the work begins.
2009 Season - A Synopsis
2009 was an excellent season for moose, although the current economic climate brought fewer hunters to us than usual. We began our season in late September with a group of four hunters - the Settle family, Tom and his three sons, from Washington. Late September is always successful in Rock Camp, a camp a little higher than the base cabin, and surrounded by swamps and meadows - a favourite rutting ground. Three hunters in this group tagged out within the first few days, and the fourth a few days later. David's dad had one hunter out from the base cabin while we were at Rock camp, and he tagged out with a nice bull the first day. We moved down to the base cabin for the early October hunt with a group of regular hunters who have had three other successful hunts with us. This one was no exception with our resident cows bringing in a fine selection of bulls.
Leslie has written about these hunts from her perspective as a guide so, if you're interested in the details, read on:
September 2009 - Rock Camp Hunt
It was the day of the hunt and, up to this point, we had be heading south of camp every day and not seeing anything. Patrick, the other guide, had tagged out both his hunters the day before, and I was beginning to feel the pressure. So I decided to try and find a lake that I had heard dad talk about. After lunch we mounted up and headed west out of camp, with the usual hopes for the evening hunt. Both of Patrick's hunters had tagged out in the evening, and the area that I was headed to had been untouched for quite a few days. We crossed the gravel road and start picking out way through thick timber and half-grown clear cuts.
The wind was at our backs, which wasn't what I wanted, so I decided to stick in the timber a little longer and hope that I could hit the top end of the large flat that the lake was in; then we could have the wind in our favour. I stayed in the timber until I figured that we had to be almost where I wanted to be and cut over and managed to hit the flat in about the middle. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to be higher up, and had to make the decision of heading further up the flat with the wind in the wrong direction or turn back towards camp and have the wind the right way. I decided to head back down the flat and hope for the best although I knew if we didn't see anything it would put us back at camp a little too early. I started seeing sign everywhere: tracks, scat, and a few small rubs, it being a little too early for anything large. Heading towards the lake, we rounded a corner and 175 yards straight ahead there was a nice bull, a little on the smallish side but nice and uniform. He hadn't seen us yet. I froze and backed up my horse behind a tree. My hunters were looking at me, curiously and wondering why I had stopped. I signalled to them "Moose, bull!!, ahead!!" They dismounted and I tied the horses. Tom was the first to have the shot, and I told him where the moose was. He said that he couldn't see him yet. I moved him over the left and then he saw him. His eyes lit up. "Is he a bull?" I nodded and whispered that he wasn't that big. He didn't care. By this time the moose had sighted, us but he was just staring. I figured that we had about two minutes to take the shot. Tom walked a little closer, got down on his knee and made a great shot. The moose was standing there broadside, with his head turned towards us. He shot and the moose dropped. Relief and excitement rushed over me, we got it! One down and one to go.
October 2009 - Base Cabin Hunt
This hunt takes place right in mid rut, although the moose aren't rutting hard this year. They say when moose are being pressured they won't rut as hard as normally, meaning they are a little more discrete, smaller piss holes etc.
The morning of the hunt we head out just as dawn breaks and head toward the lower end of the dry flats. We start to ride up the flats and just on the other side we see a cow. Perfect. We watch her for a while, but she is too far away to be able to notice if a bull is there too. I decide to try and use the brush on the side to get closer and hopefully make a few calls.
We check the wind direction and then skirt around the edge of the flats. The plan is to come around on the back side of her, and, if there is a bull with her, hopefully we can call him out in the open. We hit the timber on the top side of the flat in the spruce. I make a few bull calls as we ride through the timber towards her. We break through the edge of the timber and we can no longer see her, but I decide to get the hunters off of their horses and tie up. No sooner do we dismount than a monster bull comes out of the timber to the left of us. He sees us and just stands there, staring. Tom is the first to shoot, but there isn't time to get set up properly. The big bull is standing there about 50 yards away, just standing and staring. “Come on buddy shoot!” He lets off the first shot after what seemed like an eternity, but misses. I start to worry, he shoots again, another miss. I am praying that they are clean misses. Finally, after a few more shots, the bull slowly walks off in to the bush. So Tom and I slowly give pursuit, but there is no blood and he didn't seem spooked. We walk through the spruce thicket and just on the other side we see him again but no clear shot and he knows we are there. Finally he decides that he doesn't like the situation and takes off. We make our way back to the horses and by this time it is getting towards midday, I decided to let the situation settle, and we head back to camp for lunch. The next day we go back to the same spot. It is now Randy's turn to shoot first. I decide on a little different angle to come in the same area.
I figured that the cow would still be there and with her that bull. We come through a poplar patch on the top end of the flat and there he is, sun bouncing off his massive horns. We dismount and I get Randy set up on a rest, the shot is about 175 yards, he shoots and the moose goes down.
We take a few minutes to congratulate each other and then the work starts.
The next few days are fairly uneventful. We are seeing a moose every day but nothing to Tom's standards. We head in all directions from camp and after a few days we are starting to get a little discouraged. Finally, one evening, after we have just spent a few hours glassing a small meadow, I decide to check out another little flat before it gets too dark. We mount up and head in the direction of camp. In the long brush flat above the horse pasture, we ride up on a cow. She is about 75 yards away, and, with the wind right and the light fading, she isn't too worried about us. I make a few bull calls and sure enough to our right a little bull comes charging out of the timber, stops, sniffs and keeps coming. I quickly get Tom off his horse and his gun out of the scabbard. He tells me that the bull is too small; he would like a bigger one. Fair enough I say, but let's just hang out for a bit and see what happens. The little bugger sure is brave, he keeps coming closer and closer, 50 yards….45….40 … I start to worry. I tell Tom to be ready in case the moose feels like we are a threat. I pull out my gun too for back-up. Finally, at about 20 yards, he stops and stares at us. I start to yell to get him to back off, and finally he does and walks back to his cow. We mount up and ride home with a good story over dinner.
After all that excitement, things were quiet again for a few days , but finally towards the end of the hunt I decide to go back to where Randy got his moose. I figure the pressure will have died down and the moose will be back, and how right I was. We came in at the same angle that we did on the day that Randy got his moose and low and behold there was another big guy in the same spot that Randy's moose had been. But he knows we are there, and turns and slowly starts walking away. I tell Tom to follow me because I know that it opens up on the other side of the little island of trees, and I am hoping that the moose stopped in the shelter of the island. We make our way around the island and, just as I expected, there he is - but a little farther away then I was hoping. And he has four buddies with him, all very large bulls. Tom picks the one he wants, I give a cow call and the big guy stops. Tom takes his shot free-hand about 250 yards. Needless to say, I was worried about a long freehand shot like that, but the monster goes down first shot. WOW. Great end to a great hunt!