Last moose hunt a success despite milder weather

In last week’s column, I mentioned that my friends and I were headed north to spend the last few days of the Northwestern Ontario hunting season chasing moose around.
It’s an annual trip that I’ve been making since 2005. Over the years, there probably has been more than 20 people who have come and gone from the group. But over the last several years, there have been six or eight of us who make the trip every year.
We like to go as close to the end of the season as we can because we like hunting in the cold weather and the snow. We prefer to travel the back country logging roads with snowmobiles and by going in December, we like that most hunters have left the woods because of the colder weather.
After visiting Alabama for a couple of days early last week for some meetings, I made it back to Ontario in time to get out for the last three days of the season. I had a bull tag this year so the other fellas in my group were relying on me to show up.
Although the moose population seems to be stable in the northern part of the region, there are fewer tags given out to hunters than there used to be so when one of us gets one, it’s a valuable ticket.
Over the years, it’s incredible how much the area where we hunt has changed. Large clear-cut areas that offered great visibility for hunters and top-notch food for moose have grown in, making it much tougher to hunt.
The moose are still there but the forest has grown up so it’s easy for them to hide.
While the mild weather last week was pleasant for us, it was not great for hunting because it seemed like the moose were just hunkered down in thicker areas, where they had plenty of food close by and protected areas to sleep.
Traditionally when we go on this trip, it’s cold–often minus-30 C at night with highs of minus-20 C during the day. I’ve come home plenty of times with frost bite on my face, fingers, and toes.
When it’s cold, it seems like the moose are on their feet a lot more because they have to move to stay warm and they need to eat more to keep up their energy. It’s common to find them in old cut areas where there is plenty of food.
We also like to cover ground on our snowmobiles and when we find fresh tracks in the snow, we get on our feet and try to get close.
A few of the guys were there earlier in the week so they already had figured out that the moose were not moving around a whole lot because of the mild weather. As such, we knew we would have to work harder than normal and find moose in the thicker cover.
We decided that doing some drives or pushes in areas that have been productive in the past likely would be our best option.
We spent all three days doing these pushes, with each of us taking turns sitting and walking.
Midway through the second day, we were fortunate and one of the guys had a cow trot out in front of him, which we were able to get a tag on. We had a bull and a few other cows get by us on some of the drives that we did so we had pretty good action.
It was a fun few days and we learned some things for when we go back again next year.
If you have never tried moose meat, it truly is phenomenal to eat–one of my favourites, for sure, and one of the many rewards from this trip.

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