Mishap in moose country

Of all the wildlife that we have in northwestern Ontario, moose are my favourite. These big mammals are fairly plentiful in the northern and eastern parts of the region and fewer animals excite people more when they get to catch a glimpse of them. If you enjoy hunting, you certainly respect the rough country that moose live in and their ability to survive our wicked winters.

For nearly 20 years, a group of my friends and I have made the trip a few hours north of Kenora to spend the last week of the hunting season chasing moose. The last day of the big game seasons across Northwest Ontario is December 15 every year. We bring snowmobiles to get around, rent a cabin for the week and have fun, year after year. It’s a trip that I look forward to, to get to spend some time with my buddies and simply get away in moose country where there is no cell service, roads aren’t plowed and you rarely see anything but wildlife.

I’m missing the annual trip this year because of another commitment that came up but I did get to spend this past weekend in moose country with a few friends who invited me along, knowing that I was going to miss out on the trip I love so much this year. It was an eventful weekend.

Moose tags don’t come along every year, which is what makes it more of a social hunting activity than other types of hunting. Party hunting is permitted so we stick together and work together to try and fill a tag when someone in the group gets one.

We had a cow tag this past weekend with a couple of days to hunt. We decided we would explore some new areas, focusing on sections of forest that were clear cut in the past. While the cutting never looks good when you see it, the new growth provides a great food source for several animals, including moose, which is what attracts them to these areas.
When you hunt in the snow it’s usually not too hard to find moose tracks, indicating their presence in an area. We travel the cut areas on snowmobile and when we find fresh tracks we’ll get off the machine and start walking with hopes of sneaking up on a moose. That was our plan on this trip.

It didn’t take long to find some areas that had moose activity. We cut several fresh sets of tracks the first day but didn’t have any encounters. The second day we tried another new area and again found some great sign of moose in the area. While looking over a clear cut area, one of the members of our group had four moose cross together in front of him, the dream scenario on one of these trips.

He took aim, pulled the trigger and nothing happened. It was cold on the weekend and evidently the firing pin in his gun froze. He tried to shoot a few times but in an instant the group of moose was over the hill and gone. Maybe a piece of ice formed inside, maybe a little bit of gun oil was gunked up in there, but it happened. It’s happened to me before and many other hunters I’m sure.

We didn’t end up getting to use the tag but it was a fun couple of days to get away, ride the snowmobile and eat some good food in the cabin each night. I got to see a moose on the side of the highway on the way home, which made my day. I already look forward to going back next year.

Cold weather in moose country gets them up on their feet and moving around more than when it’s warm. New growth in the clear cut areas provide great forage for moose. – Submitted photo