‘He’s 20 yards away and coming straight at me, and I’m shooting from my knees.’ – Brian Mosley
Brian Mosley manages to sit still. He has been in a tree stand for too many hours. He was there at the start of the day, and now the daylight has almost run out. He is waiting for one more chance at a whitetail deer.
From his equipment he finds a call and blows, making a sound like a baby deer. Maybe a doe will come running. Maybe a buck will follow. It will be his last attempt of a long fruitless day. Mosley blows, and the sound drifts out into the trees. He tries a few more times. Off to his right, almost a hundred yards away, Mosley, an experienced bow hunter, sees movement. He stays dead still. There is more movement. Something is silently coming towards him, keeping well hidden as it moves.
“It was during the rut, and bucks stay out in the woods all day looking for does,” says the U.S. Express driver. “I used the fawn call. I was still blowing it when I first saw the movement. Something kept darting behind trees and rocks. Finally I could see it was a bobcat. They were in season, too, so I kept working the call. You don’t see too many of them out in daylight; they’re mostly nocturnal.
“He kept coming, but it was thick stuff, and I’d lose sight of him. There was a log about twenty yards from me, and I thought he’d have to climb over it. There was a pie-plate-size hole in a big cedar between the log and me. If he hit the log there I might see him. Sure enough he jumped up onto the log.
“I had to draw the bow, and when I did I knew he’d hear me. He’s a predator and a good one, and he’d never miss it. So there wouldn’t be much of a window. I drew, and he looked straight up through that hole, right at me. I shot. And I hit him directly between the eyes. I’ve got him mounted at home.”
That, says Mosley, is the hardest shot he ever made.
Born in Florida, but raised in Tennessee and New Mexico, Mosley, 34, of Spencer, Tenn., drives team between Cookeville, Tenn., and El Paso, Texas, making two round trips a week on a dedicated run. Mosley has been driving since 1994. He was in the Army – vehicle transport – and when he came out had a job working on the docks, loading and unloading. He was working with trucks and truckers, and he decided to try it, first as a part-time job, then as a career.
Now he drives for a living and spends every spare moment in the woods or on the water. Right now he is into the new hunting season in middle Tennessee, looking for whitetail deer and, in some counties, boar and turkey.
Any work he has ever done, including his stint in the army, has only been taken on when he was sure he could find time to be outdoors. “After a week in a cab, on the road every hour, getting out into the woods is a healing process for me; it recharges my batteries.
“I have to know that if I work hard I have time to hunt or fish. I’ve been here five and a half years now and U.S. Express is a terrific company; they’ve treated me so good. I can’t say enough about them.”
For Mosley hunting and fishing are a kind of health insurance plan. “If I don’t get out there regularly I really start to feel unhealthy,” he says. “Being in the outdoors is like food or air to me; I need to get outside into the wild to really feel alive. You know, I think we all do, but it’s a need that gets buried under all the stuff of modern life, and a lot of people don’t know what they are missing.”
His love affair with outdoor life began when he was 12 and living on the shores of Conchas Lake, north of Tucumcari, N.M. “I grew up at that lake, fishing in the spring and summer and hunting in the winter. I had to be in the woods; I loved it, and I felt safe there. Even today I work living in a $130,000 piece of equipment, I feel more comfortable sitting in an oak tree.”
Brian Mosley shines a light on a huge tarpon he pulled from South Florida waters.
When he worked washing dishes at a marina at the lake, he liked to watch the competition bass boats and swore one day he’d have one. “I knew the lake better than those big-name fisherman, and some days I caught more than they did. But they had the boats.”
Sure enough Mosley fishes today from a brand new Ranger Comanche bass boat. At home in Tennessee when he can’t hunt, Mosley loves to fish big Dale Hollow Lake for small mouth and Kentucky bass. He’s also an avid fly fisherman and will willingly head to Florida for tarpon.
Mosley also has a sponsor when he hunts these days. A friend from Montana who was with a camouflage company had been hunting with Mosley. Bill Baker had met Mosley when they were both drivers. “We were friends and we had a deal – he’d teach me to bow hunt, and I’d teach him to fly fish,” says Baker. “When we got Montana Camo going, Brian was an obvious choice for our pro staff on the archery side. I’ve seen him make some awesome shots. It’s one thing to be a good hunter, but to call your shot, that’s something else, and I’ve seen him do that.”
Baker drove OTR for seven years for U.S. Express, where he met Mosley, and now drives part time in the Southeast and flies back to Montana for his home time, spending most of it in his second job as director of operations for the 4-year-old Montana Camo Inc. “A lot of people who hunt out West had to make do with camo that was made for the East. But there are no hardwoods way out West, no poplars or maples; it’s more open, and the shadows are different. Our patterns fit what is really out there.”
Mosley took to bow hunting when he was still a teen.
“When I was a kid, you really only hunted with bows if you knew someone who had one. Now everybody wants to hunt with a bow. I started early because it was more of a challenge. I’d always had BBs and guns, but even when I was little I preferred slingshots and bows. They were primitive weapons. Technology has changed the bow, but it is still primitive, and it’s a very personal piece of equipment. Unlike a gun it sets up and feels different for every user.
“A bow also demands that you get close to your target. You can’t be hidden 300 yards away. It gets your heart beating in your chest and a lump in your throat. You can see into an animal’s eyes, see ears move to pick up sound, his skin flinch, his nose looking for scents, and you can hear him snort. You have to remain undetected, and you have to make a very precise shot from maybe 20 yards away. It’s a whole different feeling. The adrenaline is pumping. I hit an elk once, maybe 1,000 pounds, a 50-inch inside spread, and he’s 20 yards away and coming straight at me, and I’m shooting from my knees. I’ve got to hit him in the heart, a target about the size of two fists. You’ve got to be sure you can do that to bow hunt.”
Mosley says he also enjoyed the challenge of developing different styles with the bow. “You can shoot from a stand, but if it’s treeless somewhere out in Nebraska you have to be able to crawl on your stomach a long way, then shoot without standing up so that every creature for a mile around can plainly see you.”
But Brian Mosley was not always such a capable archer. He admits to being ” a wreck” when he first started hunting with a bow. As a youngster he taught himself to practice by “imagining” his targets were live animals, trying to get a feel for movement. Today he practices by aiming at quarters 40 yards away.
So what was the second hardest shot he ever made?
“It’s hard to choose. I think maybe the grouse in a tree. I was in the Northwest for the first time. I grew up around quail, dove and pheasant, and I didn’t know much about grouse. I got close to one, and it surprised me by hopping up into a tree. That was a new one to me.
Now at the time it was late, and we had nothing for supper. I asked Bill Baker if he wanted grouse for supper, and he said ‘Well, if you can get it.’ It was a hard shot, but there was another problem – the arrow was very expensive. I knew I didn’t have much time, but I had to move because the only shot I had could have sent the arrow out into nowhere.”
Baker recalls the shot. “He told me what he was going to do. It was only a little jack pine, three or four inches around, not much of a target. Brian moved to get lined up, he shot, and sure enough he pinned it to the tree. We just walked over to it and pulled the tree down and picked it off. Heck of a shot from 20 yards away.”
Team driver Jerome ‘Jay’ White nailed this hog on a spring hunt in the Talladega National Forest.
Rods & Barrels
Jerome ‘Jay’ White reckons he’s taken just about everything Alabama has to offer when it comes to hunting.
“We grew up in the woods, and I probably shot my first squirrel when I was six,” says the Southern Cal Transport driver, a 10-year OTR veteran who hauls team with his wife Linda from the company based in Birmingham, Ala., out to California and back, three weeks out and back and four days at home. “My dad taught all of us young, taught us gun safety and made us at home in the woods.”
This 225-pound hog was taken in the Talladega National Forest on a hunt in the spring when White was out with his brother Patrick.
“For hogs there’s no season – and no bag limit – in Alabama so I hunt them to keep my eye in. Deer season had just let out, and I wanted to get back out there. I set up where some pigs had been walking through, and I’d been there most of the day. He came by late in the afternoon, and I took him from about 40 yards with a Remington 7600 pump,” says White.
While White knows Alabama wildlife intimately, he’s also a veteran of hunts in Alaska from the days when he tried to make his living searching for gold.
“We’d go hunting caribou and ptarmigan, just to get a break,” he says. “I had a job looking for gold out in the bush. The huge mechanical dredges had gone through, and we went after them with a suction dredge looking to see what they might have missed in the cracks in the rocks or seams in the ground. Started out on a percentage, but when nothing showed up, the boss had a heart and paid us something weekly. Never did make any money, but had a lot of fun hunting.”
A lot of drivers who haul way out West tell me they cover huge expanses of territory, but they’re concentrating on driving so much they don’t really get to “see” much of it. So here are some Western vacation destinations where you can see fabulous sights, but you don’t do the driving or even have to second-guess the driver.
Historic trains run all over the West, and a quick look at just a handful of the best will show you what’s waiting out there.
The Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad (www.fremontrailroad.com) is Nebraska’s longest and largest tourist railroad, running rail cars dating from the 1920s on 17 miles of track. The path of this track was laid out in 1869 as the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad’s gateway to northern Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota.
The Arkansas-Missouri Railroad (www.arkansasmissouri-rr.com/phome.html) lets you ride over trestles with views for miles, through a tunnel and on to the top of the scenic Ozark Mountains in restored turn-of-the-century passenger cars.
The Durango & Silverton narrow Gauge Railroad (www.durangotrain.com) rolls through the wilderness between these two Colorado towns. You can round trip in one day or overnight in Silverton. The 1880-style coaches are pulled by 100 percent coal-fired steam locos built in the 1920s. In winter there’s a magical Winter Wonderland trip through the southern Rockies.
Montana Rockies Rail Tours (www.www.montanarailtours.com) lets you ride through 550 miles of the old West from Spokane, Wash., to Billings, Mont., (or the other way) one way or round trip. Much of the country around you is untouched, looking a lot like it did when Lewis and Clark came through 200 years ago.
Grand Canyon Railway (www.thetrain.com) will take you 65 miles from Williams, Ariz., the town closest to the Grand Canyon, right to the south rim of the big ditch on a century-old rail line, complete with “cowboys” and a mock train robbery.
Verde Canyon Railway (www.verdecanyonrr.com) runs from Clarkdale, Ariz., near Sedona, pulled by vintage FP7 locomotives snaking through a canyon famous for its bald eagles and what railway operators call “tall tales from the rails.” The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (www.ymsprr.com) is in the Sierra National Forest in the park and recreates a narrow gauge track that hauled nearly 1.5 million board feet from local forests between 1899 and 1931 behind wood-burning locos. Today two vintage engines pull tourists along a reconstructed section of the original track bed.
The Nevada Northern Railroad (www.nevadanorthernrailway.net) is the home of the Ghost Train out of Ely, Nev. Enjoy watching someone else do the up-front work – 2,000 pounds of coal needs to be shoveled into a steam loco for one serious uphill climb.