Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ontario Moose Hunt

We just got back from an Ontario moose hunt. We had an absolutely great time, caught lots of fish, and Danny continued his amazing season with a 53" bull moose. I'm going to cut his bowstring!

We have been to this place twice before. Wine Lake Camp near Parrault Falls. A few years ago Herb, owner of Wine Lake, was in our store to buy some archery supplies. Herb is a traditional archer who lives in Nederland, CO during the winters. Herb overheard Tom talking about moose hunting and told him about his camp.

Wine Lake is mostly a fishing camp, but Herb gets a few bear and moose tags a year. At the time he was sold out on bull moose tags, but we have been able to go on two cow hunts in the past four years. We are on the list for bull tags in 2013.

This year we got lucky, Herb called because he had a cancellation from one of his bull hunters. He asked if we would like the tag, which we jumped on! Herb offers the fairest price moose hunts that I have ever heard of. Party hunting is legal in Ontario, so Danny and I bought calf tags and Dad had the bull tag. We were all hunting for a bull though, we could kill one, and it was going to be a team effort. None of us care who gets the shot.

In Ontario, a non-resident moose hunter must be accommodated, he cannot go moose hunting on his own. A guide does not have to accompany the hunter in the field, but the hunter must purchase the license through a camp and sleep there.  We were able to hunt on our own which we like. Herb gave us excellent advice on moose hunting strategy and also where he sees the most moose action.

Wine Lake Camp is a two hour boat drive from the nearest road. There are no roads for about ten miles in any direction from this camp. This makes for some excellent undisturbed fishing and hunting.  Here we are boating in.

On the way in Herb showed us some rocks with some old Native paintings on them.
The water in Wine Lake is crystal clear
The first night out provided some excellent sights, but we heard no moose.
There was a lot of moose activity around one of the rivers connecting a few lakes. We spent the majority of our time listening from the boat. We heard a cow or two bawling almost every time we went out. We would locate ourselves on shore according to the wind and either call close to the water, or try to make our way through the dense forest to get in better calling position.

Sometime in the late 80's a massive tornado came through and wiped out all of the trees on this hillside, except one. This lone monarch stood out well above the rest. It was quite a sight.

Fishing in Canada cannot be beat. A limit of walleye after a few hours of fishing. We would hunt in the morning and evening, and fish all afternoon. What can beat that!?
We also caught a pile of smallmouth.

Lake trout are not easy to catch this time of the year, but Danny managed to catch a few.
I'm not a trophy hunter, but I am a trophy fisherman. While Danny and Dad were snapping up the walleye left and right my mission on this trip was to catch a 40"+ pike. This was the biggest I caught, 38.5".

The small hunting boat that we spent the majority of our time hunting from.

The moose action was pretty good. Like I said, we heard cows bawling on almost every outing. I called in a bull to Dad and Danny on the third day of the hunt. He was only 25 yards away from those two, with me another 20yds behind them. I don't like admitting the mistake I made, but it's too stupid not to share. I did not know the bull was only a few steps away from providing one of those two a shot. Between grunts a small black fly flew in to my mouth and hit the hangy ball thing. I tried to muffle my cough but it wasn't enough. When I coughed the bull turned on a dime and went back from where he came. Unreal. I'm sure they were a little annoyed with me, but they never said it.

The last evening of our hunt we slipped in to a bay where Herb heard a bull grunting that morning. We only had an hour of light left. I gave off two soft grunts and got an immediate reply. We drew straws to determine who the shooter would be every day. Danny was up. Dad and I sent him down the shore line 75 yards while we stayed back and called. When the bull wasn't grunting it sounded like he was tearing down the forest. He was hot! 

I would give a few grunts and the bull would immediately respond every single time. When he was working towards us I stayed quiet. When he would stop I would grunt or Dad would rake a tree. It did not take long before we figured the bull was right on top of Danny. We could see him but we could not see the bull.

We watched as Danny came to full draw. Oh the thoughts that run through your head at those times! "It's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. What's going on? Why isn't he shooting? Is it too far? Should I grunt or would that screw him up? What's he doing? He's going to have to let down soon..." Danny sat there at full draw for no less than 15 seconds! We didn't know what to do, we just stood there watching through our binos for an eternity. 

We did not know it, but the bull was only SIX YARDS from Danny. Danny had to draw his bow at the time he did because once the bull emerged from behind some trees there would be no other time for him to draw. Of course the bull stopped with his vitals covered and his head sticking out. The bull just stood there making soft grunts and smacking his big lips together.

Danny said he never even felt the weight of his bow. He didn't know if, or when the bull was going to walk out from those trees. Danny leaned out, just a little bit, so that he could get an arrow past the brush and in to the bulls vitals. Danny is a fine shot, but I think anybody can hit a moose at six yards. He shot.

From my perspective I could see Danny shoot but I still had no idea how far the shot was. In an instant the bull came crashing out of the brush, his head down. It looked to me like he ran right over the top of Danny (he missed him by four steps!). The bull ran out in to the middle of the lake. I'm looking at the bull now, I don't see an arrow and I don't see any blood. I bring up my binoculars to look and then I remember Danny. Oh crap, it had to have run him over. I look back to Danny and see him moving around. Okay good, he's alright. I look back to the bull, and as my eyes move from Danny to the bull a white streak practically follows their same path.

I heard the arrow in flight as much as I saw it. Zzzzzzzzzzzp, WHACK! "Nice!" I thought. If he missed him the first time that one was perfect. The second shot was about 50 yards, and Danny hit him as good as could be.

The bull's back legs buckled almost immediately as the second arrow hit him. Then I knew that the first shot was also right on the money. The sight that unfolded in the next 45 seconds was both the saddest, and most utterly spectacular thing I have ever seen. The bull died in the water but not without demonstrating a ferocious will to survive. The power of this moose, his head flying up, his legs kicking, the water and blood flying absolutely everywhere...I will have a crisp and clear memory of that sight for the rest of my life. I've never seen so much blood. It was not fun watching that moose die. After the water stopped flying and the moose lay motionless nobody moved, nobody looked at each other, nobody said anything - we all just stood there with our jaws open.

Then the emotion of what just happened flooded over us. Dad and I ran 75 yards over to Danny and Danny lifted me up in the air. We couldn't believe what just happened. Danny was trembling, "Did you see that thing?! Tell me you saw that! He was RIGHT HERE!" Danny said, pointing basically to his feet.

We recapped what had just happened and what we were thinking from our various view points. We all looked out in to the lake. What the heck are we going to do now!?

The second arrow - 50 yards is a far shot with a recurve. It couldn't have been better.

We went back to get Herb, he would know what to do. And he did. Herb grabbed some come-a-longs and some rope. We tied a rope around the bulls head and back legs and dragged him on shore as far as we could. Then we used the come-a-longs to inch him up the rest of the way.

What a year so far!

Danny used a Hawk recurve on this hunt. His first shot was with a Grizzly broadhead. He hit the moose directly above the leg and centered a big rib. The broadhead split the rib into three pieces and the arrow lodged in the far shoulder. The second arrow was tipped with a VPA Terminator broadhead. This arrow slipped between the ribs and also parked in the far shoulder. Neither arrow produced an exit hole but they both penetrated the entire cavity. Since the bull ran right in to a lake there was no blood trail. But I watched the blood coming out of the moose's sides and mouth, if we did have to trail this moose it would have been a bloodtrail to match all bloodtrails.

We go back to Wine Lake in 2013 with two bull tags in our pockets. I cannot wait. It is one of the most pristine and beautiful places I have ever been.

Up next - WHITETAILS!!!
stay tuned...


  1. Great stuff guys....Great pics. Someday we need o hunt together.


  2. Congratulations Guys! Great shooting, Danny! Good calling and photography by Tom and Tommy!
    Nicely done article! I have a new nick-name for you, "The Terrible Trio".
    Thanks for sharing that awsome time with us.
    God bless,
    Ben Graham

  3. Read your blog. Nice moose hunting information by you and its helpful for all. Thanks for sharing it. Keep updating more information.