The 35-year-old Pope & Young world record is in jeopardy!
By Mike Handley
They all stood 6 feet, 4 inches - as tall as Réal Langlois' 2008 Alaska-Yukon bull was wide. And the moose arrowed by the French Canadian on Sept. 18 had a lot more going for it besides width. It also carried enough points to challenge the current Pope and Young Club's world record.
If the green score of 249 5/8 holds, the Langlois Bull will be a new world archery record for Alaska-Yukon moose. The current No. 1 bow-taken bull is a 248-incher arrowed in Alaska in 1973 by Dr. Michael Cusack. The largest previously recorded from the Yukon itself was Ted Brown's 1995 specimen, which tallied 227 7/8 inches.
Regardless of what a panel of P&Y measurers decides when the massive antlers come up for review, fans of Réal (pronounced "Ray-all") will get to see the life-sized mount during the "Rack Man's" moose-hunting seminars conducted throughout eastern Canada this year. They'll also be able to watch the milestone hunt on DVD.
Even if Réal's bull isn't declared a world record, viewers will be hanging off the edge of their seats. Two cameras caught the moment of truth, when the 48-year-old hunter found himself within 8 feet of an animal that could've crushed his skull with a couple more steps and a single swipe of palmated antler.
Last fall's accomplishment might be the pinnacle of Réal's career in the outdoors, but he's always had a knack for taking big animals. His garage is chock-full of trophies, including racks from 40 more bulls. His partner, Sylvain Trudel, calls him the moose whisperer.
Réal has been hunting in the Yukon since 1999, nine of those years as a guide with MacMillan River Adventures. A Yukon moose hunt is not cheap. Some clients who are after the planet's largest bulls pay $20,000 for the possibility of shooting one. He'll guide three or four hunters a year, beginning in August, and then he hunts (when everyone else has taken their prizes). That might mean a day or a month (through the first of October), depending upon when the last customer bags his bull.
Although he's amassed a lifetime of trophies, Réal has been lugging around the full-body mount of a customer's 72-inch-wide bull to the 50 or so seminars he gives every year. Now he'll be carrying his own 76-incher.
It was about 6 p.m. during his September 2008 hunt on Earn Lake when he, client Steven Simard and a cameraman were in their 15-foot boat and spotted an unusual gray blob on a mountainside half a mile distant. After realizing they were looking at an exceptional bull, they went to shore and Réal grunted. The bull, which was accompanying a couple of cows, heard the challenge and responded immediately.
The day was mild; temperature in the mid-40s; partly cloudy; and calm.
In addition to grunting, Réal began hitting the brush with his signature "rattling pallet" paddles to give the impression of a bull ready to rumble. The distant bull came directly to them, and Réal's shot was from a mere 8 feet - the closest he's ever been to a bull at full draw. The moose he arrowed the previous year was standing at maybe 14 feet.
The acrid smell of rutting bull hung thickly in the air. Another favorite tactic of Réal's is to douse himself with urine extracted from clients' dead bulls. Simard had tagged out with a 56-incher five days earlier, which is why the man was there with a second camera to his shoulder. He and the regular cameraman were about 3 feet apart and 5 feet behind Réal.
Despite the practically point-blank scenario, the shot was anything but a slam dunk. It was awkward. The animal, so close, was only a blur through the hunter's peep sight. All Réal could do was point the 70-pound-draw Mathews bow at the bull's massive chest.
He knew full well that he was aiming at a world-class bull.
"It was definitely different," he said through interpreter Sylvain Trudel.
"My heart was pounding, and I had no spit. Not even close bowhunting encounters with bears, including a large grizzly, affected me that way."
The arrow struck about 6 inches lower than Réal would have preferred - if he'd been able to actually aim - and the penetration was lousy.
"The arrow couldn't pick up any speed," he added.
Still, it was enough. The bull gave up the ghost after a 300-yard dash.
See It for Yourself
Réal's incredibly close encounter with the potential new world record Alaska-Yukon bull is the highlight of "The Rack Man in the Yukon 7," the latest DVD produced by the Canadian moose guru. For those who do not speak French, it's subtitled in English.
To order the DVD, log on to www.therackman.com.
-- Reprinted from the July 2009 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.