No luck at moose camp

In what has become a December tradition over the past eight or nine years, some friends and I from Kenora made our annual trip up to Red Lake last week for a late-season moose hunt.
We’ve had quite a bit of success over the years—always being able to use our tags on a moose or two.
Things were a little bit different on this trip because amongst the group of five of us, we only had one bull tag that we could hunt.
Usually we have a few adult tags, then the option for everyone to harvest a calf if we would get lucky enough to see one.
For many years in Ontario, if a hunter did not get drawn for an adult bull or cow tag, they got a calf tag that they could use anywhere in the province. A hunter with an adult tag could use it on a calf, as well, if they chose to do so.
That changed this year when the regulations only allowed for a two-week calf season earlier in the fall (this change was in response to a declining moose population).
My opinion on it is if it helps our moose numbers increase, it’s okay with me. But it certainly changed the way we were able to hunt last week. Since there only was one tag amongst our group, we all had to stay together in communication with each other while we were hunting, which was not all that convenient.
One of the hunters in our group was fortunate enough to get to within about 30 yards of a cow and calf moose—and even videoed them. So a calf was saved in that instance.
It’s unclear what is happening to the moose population in Northwestern Ontario but it seems to be continuing to decline—likely a result of many things, including hunting pressure, an increase in predators like wolves, a warming climate, and disease.
Over the course of our three-day trip, we saw five moose in total but no bulls. We did chase a group around on the last day but they escaped the chunk of woods we were pushing without being seen.
The warm weather, while enjoyable, did not help our cause because the moose seemed to be holed up in low, thick spots where they were out of sight. When it’s cold and there is more snow, food is in greater need so moose tend to move around a lot more.
Still, it was a fun trip and one we’ll continue to make in the years ahead. Of course, we all want to harvest a moose each season for a number of reasons. The excitement when you get to pull the trigger is unmatched and the opportunity to share the experience with friends is great.
Then there is the top-notch meat that comes from these animals. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I could go ahead with never eating beef again if I always could have a supply of moose meat.
There really is no comparison, in my opinion, the moose meat is that good. It’s tender, great tasting, and lean—as healthy as you’ll ever find.
The reason we take this trip year after year is it gives us all an opportunity to spend time together and have some fun. We hunt hard during the day (well, at least most of us do), then take turns making big dinners when we get back to the cabin we rent.
After dinner we play cards, listen to hockey games on the radio, and pour a few drinks.
This whole package is what hunting is all about for me.