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NoWiser

2012 BWCA Moose Hunt Story

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Well, it's the middle of winter and I'm sure most here are in ice fishing mode. This forum has been pretty slow lately so I thought I would post the story of my dads 2012 moose hunt for those who are interested.

The story actually started in 2011 when I was drawn for the moose hunt with a good buddy from college. We enlisted my dad for help and we had a very successful hunt. My dad enjoyed it so much that he decided to put in with a friend for the 2012 hunt. He talked about it much, but I tried to temper his excitement a bit knowing the odds of getting drawn were very slim. Sure enough, though, we were driving home from a weekend of walleye fishing last May and he got a call from my mom. He got drawn his first year applying! Both of us were just giddy that we had another adventure in front of us! There was also a bit of apprehension, knowing how much the trip hurt last year. Not enough to stop our excitement, though. The best part was that he was hunting the same zone I had the year before. The calls, emails, hours pouring over maps, and all other research was doen. He knew right where he wanted to go, so all that was left was training. I joined a gym and he started running. In the 5 months leading up to the hunt, we both got in the best shape we have been in years. We were ready. His friend ended up not being able to make it so his brother stepped up to help us, knowing the two of us would struggle getting a moose out alone.

Before we knew it, the moose orientation class was behind us and we were loading up the truck and ready to go. We took off the Thursday before moose opener and drove up as far as we could before we pulled off the road and set up a tent for the night. Early the next morning we were at the entry point and ready to go!

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Day 1 - Friday - Moose Opener Eve

Although we would be hunting the same general area as the year before, we decided to use a different entry point. The previous one made it necessary to cross two very big lakes. This was a problem and led to a dangerous situation when the wind kicked up on our way back, loaded with moose meat. We were not willing to risk this again, so decided on the alternate route. The downside was more portages, longer portages, and steeper portages. In total we would need to do 8 portages this first day to get to our predetermined campsite. I should mention that my dad's brother could not make it right off the bat due to work, so the two of us carried the majority of the camping and hunting gear, while he would join us on Sunday with the bulk of the food. Anyways, the first 3 portages went well and we were in good spirits. We met a couple on the far end of the third portage and talkedwith them for a while. From the sounds of it, things were about to get tougher for us. The 4th portage, a 100 rodder, was tough. We made it and had a bite to eat before we took off, eager to get to camp. With the low water levels, though, we had trouble finding the next portage. Finally we found a trail even though it wasn't exactly where the map showed. I threw on the biggest pack (about 80 pounds) and took off with my dad to follow carrying the canoe. Soon the trail petered out. I heard my dad yell "the trail is farther to the right", so I decided to take a shortcut over the hill hrough a burn. I soon found myself literally rock climbing with 4 hands to the top of the hill where the portage had to be. When I got to the top, there was nothing there but more rocks, blowdowns, and brush. Finally I decided I needed to head back to the canoe, and had to crawl down the same hill I just climbed up. This all took close to an hour and by the time I made it back to the canoe, I was SHOT. Before long we found the real portage and were on our way and over the next few hours we negotiated the remaining lakes and portages, including one that we affectionately named "F!*@*ing Portage #6" which is how we referred to it for the rest of the trip.

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We got to camp in the eveing tired and sore, but with enough time to check out an area of interest on the map. We found more than enough moose sign, but nothing extremely fresh. Either way, it was a good sign that moose were using the area.

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We made our way back to camp and enjoyed a Mountain House meal while watching the sun set across the lake. We crawled into the tent with no real plan for the next day. As we were falling asleep we could hear a moose walking through the water on the opposite shoreline. Another good sign.

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Nofish,

I don't really want to give out the lake names we were on. I know multiple people who would like to apply for this hunt in the future and naming the zone on an internet forum could greatly decrease the draw odds. However, with enough research I'm thinking a person could probably figure out where this is. And, if someone does, and draws a tag for it, I'd be MORE than happy to help them out.

As far as gear goes, a moose hunt isn't your normal BWCA trip. We needed enough gear for 16 days of hunting if it came to it. Returning to the truck to resupply was out of the question. Weather could be anywhere from 80 degrees to 20 degrees, and sun, rain, sleet, and snow were all possibilities. Plus, we needed knives, bone saws, guns, ammo, binoculars, calls, and a come-along in case a moose ran into water after being shot. Trust me, we layed out ever single last piece of gear on the garage floor before we left home and cut every unecessary item. Having done the trip only a year before really helped in knowing what we actually needed vs what we thought we needed.

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What lakes were you on?

Nofishfisherman, my guess is that he'll give you the name of the lake right after your give him your gps coordinates to all of your favorite fishing spots. A great way to ruin this area for people in the future would be to say exactly where it is...

Great stuff NoWiser! Excellent pics so far- can't wait for more!!!

BTW, where did you get the idea for writing up a hunting story like this? You must be a genius!!! winkgrinlaugh

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BTW, where did you get the idea for writing up a hunting story like this? You must be a genius!!! winkgrinlaugh

Don't get hurt patting yourself on the back Scoot. laugh

Great start nowiser, can't wait for the rest.

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No worries on the lake names, I totally understand not wanting to descrease odds for friends who are looking to be drawn. I was just curious. I have stumbled upon some moosey areas on my BWCA travels and was just wondering if you happened to be in one of those areas. I have no plans to ever hunt moose but while in the BWCA I have thought about the logistics of a moose hunt and where and how I would do it.

Looking forward to the rest of the story.

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Don't get hurt patting yourself on the back Scoot.

Pat, pat, pat... Ouch! Oh, my arm!!! grin

OK, OK- I'm an arrogant son of a gun who's self-absorbed and self-aggrandizing... blush Actually I tend to randomly mix self-deprication with horn tooting- ya never know what's coming next. Apparently I was a little full of myself when I typed the last post... blush

Great stuff Jim- keep it coming!

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BTW, where did you get the idea for writing up a hunting story like this? You must be a genius!!! winkgrinlaugh

Funny you should ask, Scoot. DonBo's Black Hills Combo hunts have always been very enjoyable to read, so I thought maybe I'd do one of my own. wink I guess yours aren't half bad, either....

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Day 2 - Moose Opener!

After the grueling previous day, it was decided that no alarm clock would be set for the first day of the season. We had 16 days to hunt, and honestly, we really wanted to wait until my dad's brother (we'll call him Bob) got there to join us before we got too serious. After seeing 17 moose over the course of 5 days the year before, we were confident (maybe a little too confident) that we would get a moose, and were not overly concerned by waiting a day or two to start. So, we slept until it got light, and then threw some water on the fire to boil for oatmeal while we stretched our sore muscles and patched up blisters on our feet. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day, and we had some exploring to do. Here is a picture of our camp.

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Our plan for the day was to scout out a few areas, and do some calling along the way. Speaking of calling, I guess now is as good of a time as any to explain our moose hunting strategy.

When it comes to Canada Moose during the rut, it is the cows that call the bulls to them. The cows have their territories and can be somewhat protective of them. When the rut hits, they let out a call that is hard to explain, but kind of sounds like a domestic cow bawling. It is very loud and you can hear it from a long ways away. During the rut, the bulls roam around, listening for a cow. When they hear one, they come in and stick with her until she is bred. Then they hit the trail, listeing for the next opportunity. This makes calling extremely effective for moose hunting. If you can duplicate the sounds of a cow moose, you can cover many square miles of country without so much as moving. You just need to be patient and wait for the bull to come to you. For this reason, our strategy was to find the best looking spot we could in an area, and do multiple sets of calls from it over the course of a couple days. Often the moose you see in the morning was actually called in the evening before, and is waiting when you get there. You can make the calls sound more realistic by breaking twigs and branches, and filling up your moose call (basically just a funnel to amplify the sound) with water and pouring it out to sound like a moose urinating. Bull grunts, in the right situation, can also be effective, but should be used with caution as they can scare away skittish bulls. All of this I learned from a DVD set called Gouthro's Moose Madness. This is basically a 6 hour educational video that will teach you everything you could possibly need to know about moose hunting. It was BY FAR the most valuable purchase I made when I drew my tag. Anyways, our strategy was to call at these spots for 3-4 consecutive mornings/evenings and if nothing showed, we would then move on to the next area. Many people hunt the BWCA by just paddling all day, hoping to cross paths with a bull. In my opinion this is not nearly as effective, and you are relying on luck alone to put a bull in your sights. I'm not one that likes to rely on luck on a hunting trip. When I (or in this case my dad) is calling, I feel like we are in charge and are MAKING things happen, instead of just letting them happen. Plus, what is not to love about the chance to call a 1/2 ton beast into your lap, grunting and slobbering the whole way looking for you!

Anyways, our plan for the day was to find the best calling location we could in the area, and then to save it until Bob got there to join us. One area looked perfect from the satellite images. It was a pond surrounded by forest on 3 sides and a swamp on the 4th. Half of the forest around it had been burned 7-8 years ago. We had to portage our canoe to anotherlake to access it, but when we hiked up there, it looked perfect! The area was trampled by moose tracks. This was the spot we'd concentrate on when our party was all together.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon making a big loop to different lakes in the area and doing some more scouting. While there were some decent looking areas, nothing compared to the little pond we found. I should also mention that I was in charge of self defense on the trip with my dad's little Colt .22. This grouse charged us out of nowhere, and found itself wrapped in tortillas for lunch that day.

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That evening we found a secondary pond a few miles from our #1 spot and sat there to do some calling. Mostly we were just relaxing, enjoying the warm weather, and listening to the sounds of the water trickling behind us. While there was moose sign in the area, it was not what I would call a great spot.

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We paddled back as the sun was setting, looking forward to another good nights sleep, and just enjoying the peace and quite in general. We predicted at some point during the hunt, we'd have a lot of work to do, but at this point we were just in chill mode, enjoying every minute of it.

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So far, the weather looks perfect. What time of year is this?

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So far, the weather looks perfect. What time of year is this?

We paddled in on the 28th of September. The weather was gorgeous, which probably dampered the moose activity a little bit. Sure was nice for paddling around and camping, though!

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We did not bring any fishing gear this year. Last year we brought some and my dad did not catch a single fish. We decided to save on the weight this year and go without it.

Have a good weekend. To be continued on Monday.....

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Sorry, Scoot, the flu finally hit me so I'm staying away from work for the day. I don't have a computer at home and it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to post this from my fancy new Macintosh phone, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow.

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Just ribbin' ya, Jim. I hope you feel better- lots and lots of junk going around right now. I hope you have a quick recovery!

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Day 3

After another good night's sleep, we woke up and returned to the spot where we had ended the previous day, hoping a moose would be waiting for us. It was a cool paddle in the dark to get to the spot, but the sun peaking over the eastern horizon quickly warmed us up. We spent a few hours calling, but with no response paddled back to camp to relax and wait for my uncle, who was to join us that afternoon.

After a quick bite of oatmeal I took off behind camp for a walk and shot us another grouse for lunch. With more spare time on our hands this year than last year, we quickly regretted not bringing at least minimal fishing gear with us. Soon, however, another canoe appeared across the lake and paddled our way. They were the first people we had seen since getting to our lake, and as they passed by, we struck up conversation with them. Before long, we had made a barter, and traded 3 candy bars for 4 fish hooks and about 20' of mono fishing line. Now we were in business. My dad took care of cutting a couple poles from the alder thicket while I tried to figure out what to use for bait. Flipping over logs and stumps turned up no grubs, so I went down to the edge of the lake and was able to catch a couple of small crayfish. These would have to do. We rigged up our rods with mason's string line for the main line and the mono leader, with a single hook and crayfish for bait and walked down to the rock face in front of camp. Soon we could see some fish cruising by and it wasn't long until we had lunch!

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Within 1/2 hour we caught one more and had more than enough fish for a delicious meal. With no real way to keep the fillets cold, we put the fishing gear aside, ate like kings, and relaxed. We both even managed to jump in the lake for a very quick bath. The air was warm but the water was cold! It felt great, though, and soon we dragged our air mattresses out for a nap on the rocks.

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We woke up in time to see my uncle coming around the corner. He made it! We were slightly concerned about him coming to meet us by himself. A sprained ankle or twisted knee on one of the rugged portages could have made it impossible for him to meet us, and we'd have had to go looking for him. He greeted us with a big smile, stretched, and said "boy, that portage #6 was a B!$@*." We quickly fried up the grouse and some fajita mix and ate. Tonight was the night we'd finally hunt the pond that looked so good, and we were excited! Here is my uncle coming around the last corner to camp.

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We informed him that we had one more portage to get to our hunting spot, but he was up for it. Soon we were off. It didn't take long and we were on the lake that would take us to our moose pond. Here is a beaver dam unlike any I've ever seen that was on the lake. It was made up of almost 100% rock. How the heck the beavers were able to pile up rocks like this is beyond me.

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A quick paddle and about a 1/4 mile hike through the bush and we were at our pre-scouted spot and ready to call in a bull. From the rock we sat on, he could get a shot around the entire pond very easily. I believe it was about 250 yards to the far side. My dad and I sat up front while my uncle observed from behind us.

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We called until dark, with no response at all. We paddled and portaged back to camp. Our optimism was still high. After another quick supper of Mountain House, we hit the sack, ready for the next day.

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Day 4

Monday was pretty uneventful. We got up in the dark and paddled/portaged back to the moose pond. My dad called for a few hours and we didn't see or hear anything all morning. This was very different than the previous year when it seemed like we saw moose every time we turned around, and could hear them calling in the mornings. We were still a few miles from that area, though, and knew we could always head in that direction if we needed to. The morning started out beautiful....

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but quickly turned breezy and foggy paddling back to camp.

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The middle of the day was damp and drizzly. I chased grouse around behind camp for awhile, and eventually we all ended up back in the tent to dry off and take a nap. By mid afternoon the weather had improved and we headed back to the pond for the evening hunt with the same results. No moose heard, no moose seen.

Back at camp we ate supper watching the moon rise over the treetops. We discussed it and decided that we would hunt the pond one more time in the morning and then pack up camp and head south to look for some new areas.

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Glad you're better, it's been a long wait. Keep it comin'. eating-popcorn-03.gif

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