Lots of factors against us during final hunt

Hunting season finally came to an end last week for resident hunters.
Across Sunset Country, Dec. 15 is the last day of the deer and moose season, so I guess now it’s time for us to start thinking about ice-fishing.
Several of my buddies and I have a little tradition going where we spend the last week of the hunting season in the Red Lake area chasing moose around.
While this trip was not our most successful with regards to the actual hunting, we did have a good time.
Although there are some moose across the southern part of the region, the reason we head north is that there are simply more moose.
We were fortunate this year and had a few adult tags amongst our group, so we were optimistic about our chances at stocking the freezer with some of the best meat you will ever taste.
Although a few guys came and went throughout the week, a few of us actually stayed and hunted for seven days straight. For our efforts, we got one bull moose (Dave Bennett was the lucky hunter who got to use his tag).
We got it on a drive on the second morning of the trip. I had bought a new quad before I left on this trip, so I was able to break it in by dragging the moose out with it (usually we run snowmobiles during this hunt but with the lack of snow so far this winter, quads were a better option).
We usually take two approaches when it comes to our hunting tactics during this timeframe. We like to cover the many logging roads and clear cuts looking for moose sign.
Once we find fresh tracks, we’ll usually get on foot and try to sneak within range.
If we find where moose have moved into pushable chunks of woods, we’ll try to do drives and get them moving in front of hunters on stand.
I really believe that hard work pays off and have been rewarded in the past by walking the back corners of some of the large cut-over areas that we hunt.
Although we didn’t have a really successful hunt this year, the problem was not that there wasn’t moose around in the areas that we were hunting. Nearly every day we were encountering fresh tracks indicating that we were in good areas, but I think several things were working against us.
The lack of snow made it a lot easier for other hunters to access the same areas that we were hunting (deeper snow usually makes it a lot tougher to access a lot of these areas).
The lack of snow also made it easier for moose to find food so they didn’t have to move around a lot.
Temperatures also were warmer than normal so that slowed down their movement a little bit, I think. When it’s cold, they have to move around a lot more to stay warm and they just didn’t seem to be that active.
We did see several moose on the side of the road while we were traveling at night. There was a full moon last week, as well, so that was probably influencing more nighttime activity, as well.
There you have it—a whole bunch of good excuses!
At the end of the day, however, that’s hunting. You don’t always get what you want but that’s the fun of it all. We worked hard and I think we learned a few things that will pay off for us next year.
The good news on the great weather we’ve experienced so far this winter is that it’s looking like it will be a really good winter for deer and moose in the area. Last year at this time, I think we had about two feet of snow, which makes it much harder for these animals to make it through the winter.
I have not been ice-fishing yet, but I’ve been getting some good reports from anglers that conditions are good on the small lakes and fishing has been good, as well.
I’m not sure that the big lakes are safe yet, so stick to the small stuff for another week or so.
I hope everybody has a great Christmas and has a chance to enjoy the outdoors over the holidays.

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