12-year-old boy from Central Pa. kills moose on rare hunting opportunity

Three days earlier, on August 20, West Perry Middle School student Chris Bowersox, still feeling the afterglow of his 12th birthday, went to football practice. His mother’s phone kept ringing, but it wasn’t until after the game that they heard the news: Chris had been drawn by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for a moose hunting license.

When he got home, he found that not only had he been given a moose tag, but that his tag was for antlered moose during the general season. He had won the lottery and was one of only 31 recipients of such a tag that year.

“This was Chris’ first-ever year campaigning for this and he literally just turned 12, three days earlier,” said his mother Andrea Bowersox. “That made it super cool. They never expect to be drawn. Shawn (Chris’ dad) has been campaigning for this for years, and you just never expect to be drawn.

“When they called and said Chris was drawn, we were like, ‘No way; I can’t believe Chris got pulled.’ Yes, that was a great moment.”

12-year-old shoots massive moose on rare hunting opportunity

LOCKED AND LOADED – Chris Bowersox is a few days away from his moose hunt with his Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye, chambered in 7mm-08. The 12-year-old West Perry Middle School student later used this rifle to take down a massive 7×7 bull moose.

Andrea immediately called Elk County Outfitters and spoke to owner Bryan Hale, who recalled, “It was a conference call with Chris, his mom Andrea and his dad Shawn (were) all over speakers and the excitement couldn’t be contained. We talked about many things on that call as her mind was racing and full of questions.

“We spoke to each other several more times over the next few weeks, and we also had a day when they saw the cabin and a bit of the area.”

Joining the hunt with Chris and Shawn would be Shawn’s work and hunting friend, Shane Weaver.

After receiving the call and planning the hunt, Chris, who has been hunting and shooting since he was 7 years old, since he was “knee high as a grasshopper,” drew his Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye chambered in 7mm-08, which was his Parents had bought for him when he was 4 years old but had not yet been shot. The family bought a scope and had his uncle start making specially loaded cartridges for hunting.

The eight weeks leading up to the hunt, which began October 31st and ended November 4th, were filled with Chris’s rifle practice. He estimated that he had put 150 to 200 140-grain Barnes Triple Shock bullets down the barrel before leaving. Chris boasted that by the end of his practice he was able to maintain inch grouping at 100 yards.

12-year-old shoots massive moose on rare hunting opportunity

SIGHTING – 12 year old Chris Bowersox sighting in his Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye chambered in 7mm-08 using a shooting range prior to his moose hunt. Chris practiced shooting frequently in the eight weeks between being notified that he was going to receive a moose tag and going hunting, firing 150 to 200 rounds at depth in a variety of conditions.

They arrived at Elk County Outfitters in Caledonia on October 30, where they had a picnic and met other hunters. When Chris went to bed that night, he dreamed of moose. Monday and Tuesday of the hunt were rainy and Chris was unlucky and only spotted an antlerless moose. The excitement began Wednesday when they walked along a power line and spotted a bull moose.

“We cut to the left and then we saw it,” Chris recalled. “It just ate acorns and such. It was a five by four, so I was like, ‘I’m going to give it up. It’s only Wednesday.” If it had been Friday I would have shot, but I had more time. So we just watched it for a little bit, and then it took root.

“We thought we were backing up because we heard three bugles to our left and then two bugles. That sounded like a hundred, 200 yards. We came to a little path and turned off, and right there is the bull from before. We stood there and he looked at us and then it just went away like nothing had ever happened. They are not like deer. They will just stand there and look at you.”

They were out of luck that day, despite hearing bugles and learning from other hunters that there are larger moose on a property where they had not yet received a hunting permit. That night they obtained the necessary permits from the landowners and got ready for another early morning and mile-long trek.

On Thursday, Chris shot a bull moose for the first time. About 200 meters away he spotted a massive 6×7. Hale repositioned Chris while they waited for the bull to get up from his prone position. As the bull emerged from behind trees, Hale used a doe moose call to stop the animal.

He gave Chris the reach, 183 yards, and Chris took the shot. He hit the cop, but after spending the rest of the day chasing him and spotting him multiple times (once nearly running over Shawn), it was determined he had scored a non-fatal graze. After calling the Pennsylvania Game Commission and telling them everything, they agreed the shot was not fatal and gave Chris the green light to continue the hunt.

Shawn, who was within five meters of the bull when he nearly trampled on him, said: “I told Chris it’s him, he’s a monster. Oh yes he is. I told Chris he’s just not the greatest. For some reason he wasn’t supposed to come down that day. That shouldn’t be Chris’ cop.”

Shawn was right. The next morning Chris heard “two bulls fighting, which is strange for this time, with a September rut. So that was weird. Bryan saw two bulls and that’s all we knew at the moment. So we went up that hill and tried to get to where we could see one. We came down a little dip to a place where there was an opening and there were four bulls.

“One was walking in the woods, so we couldn’t see him. So, there are three bulls in the opening at about 132 yards. I shot the biggest. It was a clean mistake. Then they jumped back to 152 yards and I shot again. Bryan said after I fired he saw steam coming out of the back where the shoulder is and it kicked really hard with the mule. We thought I had it pretty good this time. At that moment I was like, ‘I’m excited. I think I actually got this one.’”

12-year-old shoots massive moose on rare hunting opportunity

BOY’S BEAST – 12-year-old Chris Bowersox stands next to his prize-winning bull moose after bringing him down with a shot from 152 yards on November 4. During the 5 day hunt, Chris hiked 23.8 miles from pre-dawn to sunset in search of his prize bull.

He got that. He had tripped a massive 7×7 bull. Hale heard the moose crashing at the tree line and it wasn’t long before Chris was chasing his prey. When he found the 590-pound bull, he was “dead,” Chris said. “We discharged the gun and then we jumped around. I was excited. I was glad I got one. There was a lot of excitement but I was ready to be done.”

With the help of a local landowner, Chris retrieved his prize from the woods. After completing the necessary steps with the Game Commission, the bull was taken to Potteiger Meats in New Kingston for processing. It was tightened 454 pounds.

12-year-old shoots massive moose on rare hunting opportunity

FATHER AND SON — 12-year-old Chris Bowersox, his father Shawn Bowersox and family friend Shane Weaver pose next to Chris’ trophy moose, which he tripped on November 4 from the rack.

“He said he really thanked the Lord for that bull,” Andrea said.

Chris had a lot of support from the community. Many were thrilled to see such a young hunter being given an opportunity many decades have been waiting for.

“He just had a lot of people pulling for him,” Andrea said. “We got calls from people, even distant relatives, that we never met or knew. When he stopped here he said, ‘I just want to shake Chris’ hand.’ He said, ‘I’ve fought for this day my whole life. This is so cool to see a youngster get it.

“He gave us cash. He wanted to pay for Chris’ moose driver’s license. It was very important to him. He said, ‘I want you to take this money and buy Chris’ license because I want to say I did that.'”

Shawn’s place of work, West Shore Home, pays for raising the bull in recognition of his service.

West Shore Home Public Relations Director Kirsten Page said: “We were more than happy to sponsor the montage. One of our core values ​​at West Shore Home is to be an exceptional teammate. Chris’ father, Shawn, has been a hard-working employee for well over a decade, so it was a great way for us to say “thank you” for his dedication to the company. We are delighted to be a small part of this special moment for the Bowersox family.”

12-year-old shoots massive moose on rare hunting opportunity

A SUCCESSFUL SUCCESS – Bryan Hale, owner and operator of Elk County Outfitters, stands alongside 12-year-old elk hunter Chris Bowersox and his father Shawn Bowersox behind the elk trophy that Chris killed on November 4th. Hale was impressed with Chris’ hunting and tracking skills, saying, “I’ve hunted with adult males who were ten times worse at gun safety and observing their surroundings.”

“It was a pleasure to share camp and the hunt with Chris and his family,” Hale said as he reflected on the hunt. “I really mean that when I say he did better in the woods than some ‘more experienced hunters’ I’ve been with. He was very safety conscious with his gun and was aware of the signs of critters and many things in the forest as we hunted along each day.

“Congratulations to his parents and his hunting family and friends back home for teaching the young lad the right way. Something tells me he’s going to be a hunter for life.”

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