Cold week in moose country

For several years now, my friends and I have travelled north to Red Lake to moose hunt for the last week of the season, which always wraps up on Dec. 15 across Northwestern Ontario.
We went again last week despite the very cold temperatures that swept across the region.
The good thing was the cold weather seemed to have had a positive influence on the moose because they were grouped up and on the move throughout the week. In fact, on the drive up the night before I would start hunting, I saw seven moose along the highway so I was very excited to hit the woods the next day.
As much snow as we have in the southern part of the region, there was even more in the north. Snowmobile travel was the only way to get around off of the plowed roads. And since there is very little logging going on anymore up in that neck of the woods, none of the bush roads were plowed.
Our strategy is pretty simple. We cover a lot of ground on our snowmobiles—keeping our eyes peeled for fresh moose sign.
The thing with these giant animals is that if you get close to them, you are going to see their tracks because even though they have the ability and the size to walk through just about anything, they like to take the easy route and walk down trails, as well.
We spend most of our time checking areas that were cut-over in the past for logging purposes. These places obviously offer a lot more area to look at and at the right age, they also provide great moose habitat because there is plenty of good forage as the young trees start to grow back.
We find these places through trail and error, exploring the old logging roads and trails. Google Earth also reveals the newer cuts, which can help in making plans for the day and giving us an outline of how these cuts were made.
Since the amount of logging has been declining, we are finding that we are running out of those good, younger cuts that are great for both moose and for hunters.
Many of the cuts made in the late 1990s and early 2000s are starting grow back in to the point where they are getting very thick, so it’s pretty tough to see any distance and to get around.
Once we find some fresh moose sign, then we’ll get off the snowmobiles and go on foot, always using the wind to our advantage to try and get a glimpse of a moose.
The snow on the ground allows us to sneak around quietly on foot, but you still can’t cheat the wind because moose have such a great nose on them.
Last week, our group had two cow tags, one bull tag, and several calf tags. For those unfamiliar with the system in Ontario, hunters must apply for adult moose tags and generally get them every other year or two.
If you are unsuccessful in getting an adult tag, you are awarded with a calf tag.
We had a good hunt and were able to use both of the cow tags and one calf tag over the course of the week. We also had several other moose sightings, including a couple of bulls and several cows which we either were not able to get a great opportunity at or did not have a tag for.
These animals are so impressive because of their immense size and their ability to live in such a harsh environment all winter. They also are one of the best-eating animals on the planet, in my opinion.
Overall, it was a fun week—despite battling the cold weather. I ended up with a little bit of frostbite on my face and on a couple of fingertips, but I’ll live.
In fact, my wife, August, and I are taking our honeymoon finally this week over in Hawaii, so that should heal everything up just fine!
Hopefully, we’ll sneak in a good day or two of fishing on the ocean! Look for the report from our trip next week.

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