Written by Jeff Hubbard
2017 was, as usual, a terrific elk hunting year at Moonshine Ranch. For years I have tagged along with and assisted my good friend and Moonshine owner Lud Bohler for the archery hunt. In spite of the consistently high, swirling winds and warm weather, we couldn’t help but laugh each evening about the action we’d experienced. Opportunities to shoot 300-330 bulls occurred practically every time we went out. In most cases, bulls of this size are no-brainer shooters. Not so at Moonshine Ranch. We were seeing and chasing much larger bulls and, admirably, as a seasoned bowhunter Lud elected to hold out for a giant. In spite of never drawing on a bull, at the end of the hunt we all remarked at how this was one of the best elk hunts any of us had ever experienced.
During second rifle season we had three hunters at Moonshine Ranch: Lud’s wife Jen; good friend and Alaska/Patagonia fishing guide Hayden Stribley (http://crystalcreeklodge.com/; http://www.patagonian-basecamp.com/); and my 13-year old son, Jeb.
As Jeb had never killed a bull elk, the owners graciously provided Jeb with his first opportunity. Five minutes into the first morning hunt, Jeb executed a perfect shot at 175 yards on a beautiful 6×6 bull. Hunters understand that this was a special occasion: The culmination of a young boy’s days spent afield with his father, learning and practicing glassing and shooting skills, honing the ancient hunting disciplines of patience, stealth, and poise under pressure, and cultivating an understanding of and appreciation for nature. This is a moment Jeb and his Dad will never forget, and we are forever grateful to the incredibly generous Lud and Jen Bohler.
Next up was Jen Bohler. Over the years Jen has harvested several impressive bulls at Moonshine, and this year she was determined to hold out for a giant. Several days into the hunt, Jen was able to close the deal on her best bull to date: a huge 6×6 which green grosses 379 3/8 inches. Jen is one of the finest hunters I’ve ever been around, and I can’t imagine anyone more deserving of this extraordinary animal.
After properly celebrating Jen’s success, Hayden got to work in earnest. Hayden was after a 360” 6×7 he had spotted, and hunted hard for several days, but the bull ultimately gave him the slip. Nevertheless, as light was fading on the last day of his hunt, Hayden was able to harvest this beautiful mature bull.
2017 was an amazing, though not abnormal, year at Moonshine. I have had the privilege of guiding and hunting on some of the finest fair chase elk properties in North America, and I can sincerely say that in terms of quantity and quality of bulls, Moonshine Ranch is as good if not better than any property I have ever experienced. But this property’s splendor transcends elk hunting. We commonly see 180” muley bucks. Bears, turkeys, ducks, and grouse abound. During the middle of the day when the animals are loafing, we catch big rainbows in the ponds. We glass bighorn sheep on Silver Mountain, Mount Maestas, and Sheep Mountain. We hang out on the deck in the sun and enjoy the 360° mountain views. The immaculate lodge offers state-of-the art technology and the ability to stay perfectly connected to the rest of the world, if one so chooses.
Moonshine Ranch is a mountain paradise that simply has it all. “Comparable” properties, to the extent they exist, almost never hit the market. No property is perfect, but Moonshine Ranch is as close to perfect as it gets.