A couple years ago a buddy of mine hooked me up with a outfitter in Ontario who was looking for new moose guides. Unfortuantley my first year was scrapped as the American Clients couldn't cross the border due to COVID but this year I finally got to go work my dream "job".
I flew from Halifax to Winnipeg where the outfitter had left me a van to make the 5.5hr drive to his float plane base in Red Lake Ont. The next day I got to tag along on my first float plane flight! All we had to do was drop off a load of food at one of the lodges. I don't know which one it is but I later found out a full camera crew was coming into that camp to film a moose hunt for a TV. After that another guide and I were flown to set up the camp I would be staying at.
I met my first pair of hunters Sunday morning and we were flown into camp a little after noon. Moose season wasn't open until the next day so we did a bit of scouting and caught some good size pike and a few Walleye for supper!
Monday Sept 20th was the first day of the hunt and we were up at 5am sharp. Excitement was high, we had seen lots of fresh sign the day before and couldn't wait for first light. We excitedly scoffed down some some bacon and eggs before hopping into the boat and heading to the spot we called "The Island". We spent the morning there calling and at one point were sure we heard a moose moving though the trees just of sight but couldn't get him to come out and play.
Our lunch break was spent fishing the shore from camp bringing in more pike and walleye! We hunted The Island again that night and the next morning with no luck. The second afternoon we went to "The Peninsula" and found a FRESHLY raked tree, we didn't see anything that night but decided that this would be where we would be spending most of our time for the coming days. W
After that things were pretty uneventful but amazing at the same time. The days start to blend together, wake up, hunt, lunch/fishing, hunt, sleep repeat. It was clear to us that the moose were there but not really moving during the day due to the unusually warm temps. We were constantly entertained by 3 Otters while at the peninsula, we saw them every day except one. Other than our otter friends we also saw a family swans and some grouse.
Finally on day 7, the final day of their hunt I called a mature bull to just 30yards!
It was the cool foggy morning and we were set up at our usual spot on the peninsula, I had just fished my first set of cow calls when I heard the unmistakable splash of a hooves in the marshy bog behind us. As I'm scanning through my binos I pickup just the very tip of an antler moving through the trees about 100yards away. I think its a young bull that should be egar to play so I get excited and let out another call as i try to get my hunters attention, he's about 50 yards away unaware of the incoming bull. A couple seconds later the bull emerged from the fog and stopped 25 yards away perfectly broadside, my hunters face lit up with a smile, he set his rifle down and we both watch mesmerized as the bull Caribou disappeared back into the fog.
It killed me I didn't get these guys a moose and I cant say enough good things about them, they were great guys that loved and respected nature and were there for an adventure They truly meant it when the say told me "the adventure is the hunt, if we get a moose its a bonus"
They were picked up at 9am Monday Sept 27th and I had a few hours to relax on my own before my next group of hunters flew in laters that afternoon.
Will work on that story soon, pretty close to finishing the full trip vid as well!
AWESOME stuff right there !! Thanks for posting !!
.. Not a whole lot once you make the cut off at Vermillion Bay...lol
Beautiful country up there.. been as far as Ear falls...Sioux lookout a few times too moving RCMP around. Them and teachers seem to be the only ones go up north.
There's no way to appreciate the amount of lakes around you from the ground...get in a plane and it's mesmerizing !!
I fished at Lac de Mille lac (( lake of a thousand lakes)) numerous times in my travels...lake Nipissing..Kenora ...man...I sure miss them days !!
Wow, you have rekindled my love for the north country. A mature Woodlands Caribou bull, now that‘s a treat. You did an excellent job with posting your hunt. I love the photos, especially the float plane. Kevin is correct,RCMP, OPP, teachers and nurses. That is how ,way back in 83, I ended teaching in the fly in community of Oxford House, Man. ,which is approx. half way between Winnipeg and Thompson. That is where I really learned to operate a small watercraft considering most of the boats were 16 ft Lund‘s on approx. 30 miles of water. Thanks for the memories and I am looking forward to the video.
time and space stops and I realize it is now or never and pull the trigger….
Looking down the scope, I see the bull stumble; but stay up right and look around. Ben fires. As Ben fires I cycle my bolt, and I watch the bull take a couple of steps. It’s now limping, it stops and looks around.
We hit him; the bull is hurt but not down. If he makes it into the thick spruce at the top of the hillside, tracking a wounded bull would be dangerous and tough, and it would be terrible if we only wounded him and he got away.
I pull the trigger again and hear 3 of the worst sounds; “CLICK” followed by Ryan on my right laughing nervously “ hahah oh F-word”.
With adrenaline pumping I had short cycled my bolt. I quickly rack again but the bull has disappeared into the trees.
I scan the hillside again and see the bull step back into a clearing. I fire again and the moose disappears. We wait, the air is still and there is no movement.
We cross through the alders and make our way up to the tree-line. We find the bull laying out of view; only about 30 yards from where we had originally shot him.
We took a couple pictures and @ryansurette and Ben got to work skinning, gutting and quartering him, while I went to collect some supplies and the other two guys from our group.
Looking at the pictures, between the time we first spotted him and when they were taken it was only +/- 35min.
While skinning him, Ben and Ryan found the shots had been well placed in the “boiler room”. Since moose are tough and because of the conditions we just couldn’t take the chance so we made every attempt (shots) to make sure it went down.
The bull ended up being 20points with a 51” spread. One of the points was broken off and we/the camp owner believe that based on the point on the opposite pan if the broken one was still intact it would have had a +/- 54” spread.
Our group is tried and sore, but home safe and sound with moose meat in the freezer. During the hunt we had those “why the hell do we put ourselves through this?”, but now we are already dreaming of getting the opportunity to go again.
To underscore the toughness we hiked 20km on Monday and 35km on Tuesday.
Big bulls sure can soak up some lead before they hit the ground eh but once down they dont seem to get up and run off like some other critters tend to. Great job guys!!
Also I love the damaged rack as it brings back a few memories. I lost a few inches on my first bull with a similarly broken point, but then topped that with my archery bull who had completely snapped of one of his paddles. Can't really see the broken tip in this pic but I think the missing paddle is pretty obvious haha
My next group of hunters were a father and son pair from Green Bay, they flew in a little after noon and we wasted little time before heading out to the pond for a evening hunt. That night we were treated to a magical sunset and a "lucky rainbow".
The next few days were a lot like the first week, HOTTT and sunny. Finally on Thursday we got some action! We headed for the peninsula that morning and set up like usual. I dropped the boys off on the SW end and they go into position on either side of the bog. The North tip was covered in timber and we had found lots of moose beds and sign in there. So while they got in position I would loop around, park the boat at the tip and slowly walk back hoping to push a moose out to them. Once I made it back to the bog I'd spend a little time with each shooter, calling just behind them. It was about 10am and I was with the father, he made the call "its too hot, lets shut it down a little early and go do some fishing" I wanted to stay for another hour or so but he was the boss so I gave one last set of cow calls turned around and started the trek through he bog back to the boat.
As I begin to untie the boat I hear BANG!!! My heart starts racing, I stop and listen for a follow up shot. It doesn't come, so I hop in the boat and head back to the pickup spot. I meet up with the boys and Cory fills his dad and I in. The Bull had come out across Otter cove and was on the shoreline moving North (away from us), he took what he thought was a 410yard shot and felt good about it. Long story short, we spent the next couple hours in the midday heat searching through a nasty thicket of alders only to determine it was a clean miss.
When we got back to camp, I stripped down naked and jumped in the lake. Never thought Id be swimming on Oct 1 way up here.
The next afternoon we went back to the peninsula again and I don't know why but I got the idea that for my first set of calls instead of being behind the shooters, Id go in front of them, a little closer to the timber. I made my first call and right away I heard the unmistakable crack of antler on tree. I creep back to my client and started to rake a tree behind him with my paddle. A couple seconds later I caught my first glimpse of his rack through the trees.
He coming in on a string, but held up at the treelike on the edge of the bog. I backed up a couple more steps and started to call again. Halfway through my first moan he took one step and that's all we needed. Cory's 300 WSM sang and the bull dropped on the spot!
We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us and would be racing darkness so we quickly got to work. One of the most memorable parts of this whole trip was the boating back to camp. By the time we had loaded all four quarters, backstraps, tenderloin and heart in the boat it was pitch black. We were confident we could make it back to camp by hugging the North shore line. I'll never forget being in the back of the boat using a compass to keep us on course while Cory had all 3 of our headlamps trying to light the path/maintain site of the shoreline. Normally it was a 5min ride but took us over 45 that night. It was the sketchiest boat ride of my life but I was never really worried, as we were prepared to put ashore and spend the night wherever, if need be.
The next morning we went back for the rib/neck meat and head and did some fishing while waiting for the plane to come pickup our meat.
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