"25 Years of Outfitting Excellence!!"

Agassiz Outfitters-Manitoba Moose Hunting

Pictured below is our good friend and long time guest, Jason Bucholz from Wisconsin with his first ever moose! It didn’t take Jason and our long time guide Patrick Ferens long as shortly after they settled into camp that afternoon on the first day, jumped in the boat and beached it only a mile north of camp which looked promising. Sure enough, not far from the boat, fresh sign was evident in the mud and sand all over the place. Patrick set up and did some sequence of cow calls and less than two hours from when the plane left, Jason’s first bull, with a respectable 45″ spread was down! Congratulations Jason!! Lets just say Jason had plenty of time to fish and black bear/wolf hunt the rest of the week. During this hunt, both Patrick and Jason said the “Northern Lights” at night where amazing and out of this world and something they will never forget!!

Ricks 2015 Hunting Pictures 849 Jason with his first bull Moose!!



Agassiz Outfitters-Manitoba Moose Hunting

Pictured below is Scott Hofmann from NE and guide Bryan Minnis with Scott’s first Manitoba bull moose. The very first full day of hunting, Bryan called in a monster 50+ bull less than 100 yards for Scott. But due to long grass, Scott was not able to see him clearly and unfortunately that did not work out. The fourth day, September, 22 the lo’s hit -2 Celcius, a good frost but it was very windy with winds out of the south-west. That afternoon in tough weather conditions(rain squalls, flurries and high winds) guide Bryan Minnis and Scott agreed to spend the whole day out. At 3 p.m. they saw a cow and big bull and while trying to move the bull, had another big bull come running into Bryan’s call. Bryan worked this bull for 3 hours and 45 minutes and called him back 2 times after he had left for 30 minutes each time, until he finally committed at 6:45. Scott made 2 good shots and they found his 56″ bull exactly where they expected the next morning. Congratulations Scott!


Ricks 2015 Hunting Pictures 833

Scott and Bryan with Scott’s 56″ Bull Moose, fall 2015

Agassiz Outfitters-Manitoba Spring Bear

The count down has begun to the 2016 Manitoba spring black bear season! Pictured above is John Petersen from MN who started the 2015 spring season with us with this gorgeous 7 foot boar that scored 19 1/16 b+c on the very first night. John showed great patience, and passed on 5 other good bears before this big boar came in real cautiously, almost not presenting a good clean shot. But at the last second, when it was about to back out of the bait site after it winded something and knew something wasn’t right, gave John the shot he wanted. Congratulations John! NOTE: The bears denned up a little later than normal this past fall as warmer than normal temperatures hung around well into Mid November. As we approached the beginning of January, the Northern Interlake had received approximately 5-6 inches of snow in total. It is already the end of January, and sows should be starting to give birth to their cubs in their dens at this time. The early spring and late fall of 2015 will really be beneficial to the sows(putting on weight before denning up) and 3-4 cubs will not be un-common, as usual, along with the great genetics our area has to offer……Rick :)

bear hunt ad 3                                                                                 John with his 7 Foot Manitoba Black Bear

Agassiz Outfitters-Manitoba Moose Hunting

Pictured below is Pat Hall from Wisconsin with his very first bull moose! Pat was hunting with our guide Jimmy Dickieson who has guided since the beginning out of the scenic, “Up River” Camp. Jimmy and Pat could tell this story much better but on the very first morning of Pats hunt, Jimmy was working a small part of the river behind camp and called out a monster 55+ inch bull to 35 yards but unfortunately due to all the excitement, Pat forgot to put a shell in the chamber and after a faint “click”, the big bull ran not giving Pat a clean second shot! Sorry Pat, i wont let you live this one down, lol!!! These big bull moose will do that to a guy! But just think, he will be bigger in 2017 when you are back again! Jimmy and Pat had lots of action all week as they worked several different bulls and even another big bull well over 50 inches that was with 2 cows and 2 calves but didn’t work out either as there was too many eyes. Pat however connected on this real nice 44 inch bull on the 5th day of his hunt. Congratulations Pat!!

  Ricks 2015 Hunting Pictures 858

Pat with his 44″ bull moose, fall 2015!

Agassiz Outfitters-2015 Fall Moose Hunting

Here is a picture from this past fall of one of our guests, Mr. Wayne Ives from Illinois who was up on his 4th moose hunt. Wayne’s guide was Mr. Bob Hyshka once again. On this particular evening, Bob and Wayne set up on a point between a couple big islands where the moose like to go where they are safe from predators and was always real good to Bob in the past. Well it wasn’t long, and 2 calves came out and started feeding along the edge of the one big island followed by a big cow. Well we all know what was following this big cow and it didn’t take long and Wayne’s 52 inch bull was down!! In total, Wayne saw 17 moose during his hunt and a few other bulls that were well over 50 inches!! Congratulations Wayne and great work Bob!

Ricks 2015 Hunting Pictures 927

Wayne walking up to his 52″ Bull.  

Every Moose Hunters Dream Bull!


The previous owner and I flew up to check out a “new area” for a place to set up moose camp #5 on August 14.  As the float plane left the Thompson base and headed north, needless to say I was pretty excited as this was the first time other than pictures and video I was actually going to see what we actually bought in person.  Well at least part of it!  On our way over to check out the area for the “new” camp, we would be dropping off some supplies/equipment at the “main camp” for the up-coming fall moose hunt which wasn’t far off.  It was only going to be a day trip as I had to get back to my black bear territory in the Interlake that night to keep preparing for the 17 bear hunters that were coming in for the fall bear hunts that stated the following week, just before the moose hunting would begin!

The plan was to meet all the guides at Lyle’s at 8 a.m. on September 15th so getting out of bear camp on the 14th, get home to pack and pick up my clothes for moose camp was going to be rushed as our flight out of Thompson and into camps on the 16th was at 7:00 a.m.  However, due to poor visibility (Fog, rain and heavy winds, etc.…), our flights into camp were delayed, therefore we all had an extra day and a half to spend up in Thompson.  Now instead of these days to set up camp and prepare for the hunters, we had only a day and a half left to do all this but we all knew things would fall into place like it always does.  Setting up camp in the rain is never fun but just being up in camp finally was a huge relief to all of us!

Finally once we all had “Main Camp” set up, Guides Bob Hyshka and Bryan Minnis left to set up their “Down River” camp and guide Jim Dickieson and myself left to go set up his “Up River” camp while Lyle organized the “Main Camp”. Once Jimmy and I had the “Up River” camp set up, we then had to go carry one of the outboards and get it put on one of the boats behind camp on a beautiful stretch of river that Jimmy loves to work.  Once we had the boat all set up, I looked at Jimmy and said “this is just gorgeous back here and can’t believe the moose sign!” he told me to “walk to the edge of that small island.”  Well I couldn’t believe the moose tracks!  I turned back and saw Jimmy grin from ear to ear but probably mine was bigger!  When I got back to where the boat was on shore and where Jimmy was waiting, he asked me what I thought and I told him that I think that someone forgot to close the gate and all the cattle got out! Jimmy just smiled and said that its like that every year as they go across to the island where they are safe from the wolves.  When we returned to “Main Camp”, Bob and Bryan had excellent reports too except for the fact that a bear destroyed the door on their main camp and it had to be replaced.  But they had seen a huge 50+ inch bull with a cow and calf and another cow and calf by their self and a smaller bull by himself.  Six moose in total just going to set up camp!  Everything is looking great with lots of sign and sightings so far! Guide Scott Smith checked in on the radio that night and also said lots of tracks and good sign around his camp over at “Broken Horn“.  Things looking real good by him too!

The first groups of hunters all flew in on September 19th and the weather was decent with a high of +10 Celsius.  The plane was on time with the hunters so everyone could get in the afternoon/evening hunt.  The water levels this year on the river were extremely low so getting around was going to be a challenge.  But who isn’t up for a challenge right?  The 9:00 p.m. “check in” couldn’t come soon enough for me.  Finally it was here and we heard Scott from the “Broken Horn” camp and his hunter John Wheeler from MI passed on a good 40 inch bull that was with a cow.  All the other camps had no action the first evening but reports were lots of sign and tomorrow was looking good!  That very next morning Jimmy at the “Up River” camp called in a huge 55+Inch bull out too 35 yards for his hunter, Pat Hall from WI.  Unfortunately, this bull is still walking as throughout all this excitement, Pat unfortunately didn’t put a shell in the chamber and after a click; the big bull didn’t like what he heard and ran.  Suddenly, a cow appeared!  Those big bulls will do that to a guy!!!  Pat would redeem himself a couple days later as he saw plenty of moose and shot his first bull ever.  A real nice 44 inch bull a few miles from camp Jimmy called out across the river.  Congratulations Pat!  Meanwhile back at the “Down River” camp, Bryan was working another huge 50+ inch bull for Scott Hofmann from NE that late afternoon.  Bryan called him in less than 100 yards but due to long grass, Scott was not able to see him clearly and that did not work out.  Bob and his hunter Chris Hunt from NE saw a cow and calf.  Should have been 2 – 50” bulls shot today! (These two bulls were never taken throughout the whole season).  Great start so far, lots of action!!

On the third day, the morning was prime for calling.  Very light breeze out of the west and the water was like glass with cloud cover. Beside the odd small bull and cow/calf sightings, the action was slower today at all camps.

The fourth day, September 22 the lo’s hit -2 Celsius, a good frost but it was very windy with winds out of the south-west.  That afternoon in tough weather conditions (rain squalls, flurries and high winds)Guide Bryan Minnis and Scott agreed to spend the whole day out.  At 3 p.m. they saw a cow and bull and while trying to move the bull, but had another big bull come running into Bryan’s call.  Bryan worked this bull for 3 hours and 45 minutes and called him back 2 times after he had left for 30 minutes each time, until he finally committed at 6:45.  Scott made 2 good shots and they found his 56”bull exactly where they expected the next morning.  Congratulations Scott! Guide Bob Hyshka and Chris saw a 45+inch bull and a 50+ inch bull and a cow.  They also had a cow calling and had bulls grunting around them in the thick spruce.

On the 5th day, we had frost again.  We still had a lot of leaves on the trees and willows but with the last couple nights of frost and heavy winds, they were finally starting to fall.  All the leaves on the trees and willows this far north for this time of year, is not normal and makes it real hard to see in the bush.  That morning, guide Patrick Ferens and hunters Jason Bucholz from WI and Mike Crosby from OH were flying into our “new” camp/area to the North of the Churchill River.  I also saw a nice 45+ inch bull walking the shoreline that morning on my way to the “Down River” camp.  Lyle and his hunter Dave Hofmann from KS saw a bull swim across the river tonight too.  Bob and Chris saw a monster bull with a cow.  Guide Bob Hyshka claims it could have been the biggest bull he has ever seen in all the years he has been hunting and guiding moose! WOW!!!  Lots of sign were they saw him too.  Made a long scrape line and lots of rubs.   The guys in our “new” camp shot a real nice  40” bull as soon as they un-packed and started calling, yes that quick!  Congratulations Jason and Mike on your first bull moose ever!!

On the sixth day, Guide Scott Smith and John Wheeler over at “Broken Horn” down a real nice 46 inch bull early that morning that was also with a cow.  Guide Bob Hyshka and Chris Hunt shoot a 38 inch bull that they called from a long way as he came running hard right to their decoy.  Bob took excellent footage the whole time.  Bryan saw a cow while checking bear baits.  Bob took Chris and Scott to hunt for wolves over Chris’s moose carcass towards the end of the week.  They didn’t even get to where they wanted to set up and Bob noticed 3 wolves already on the carcass.  A white, black and grey wolf!  Wow!!!  Bob quickly put the boat into shore to try and come up with a plan and also get out of sight of the wolves. However, to make a long story short, all the belly crawling and hand gestures almost paid off as Chris did manage to get a shot off at the white wolf but the three lucky wolves are still too running around.

The first week saw lots of action and saw us go 4 for 5 on the river with a lot of big and younger bulls seen.

For the start of the second session, we had strong winds out of the south and south-west again.  As the evening went on, the winds picked up which makes for poor calling conditions.  The activity was slow on the first half day; however guide Bob Hyshka and his hunter Wayne Ives from IL saw a real big bull just before dark.  Bob mentioned on the “Radio” that they were going to go back in the morning and try and do some calling, if the wind died down.  Bob also mentioned that the wolves were real active on Chris’s moose carcass from the week before as it was totally gone.  Not only was the carcass gone from the wolves but they had also taken his trail camera, LOL!!!

Well the wind didn’t let up through the night as a wicked storm came through with heavy rain and tornado like winds ripped through “Main Camp” while we ate supper.  Lasted most of the next day too while everyone was out hunting hard.  Action was slower but some camps had good action still. Guide Scott Smith and Dan Willet from IL at the “Broken Horn” camp saw a cow and calf swim across the river. Guide Bob Hyshka and Wayne saw a smaller bull and cow and Lyle and Jim Meister from WI hunting out of the “Main Camp” didn’t see a moose this day.  Wasn’t the best hunting conditions that’s for sure!

September 29th, 2015, the third day of the second session (week) finally saw the heavy winds we had for two straight days, start to finally die down.  Leaves really dropped last couple of days with heavy winds. Can see really good in the willows now. Guide Jim Dickieson and Scott Meister from WI passed on a real nice 40+inch bull today.  Scott has never shot a moose before so give him a lot of credit for passing up a nice bull, especially for a first one!  Bob and Wayne saw a cow all day by herself and guide Bryan Minnis and Marty saw 2 bulls today, a 40 inch bull and a smaller bull.  This was Marty’s 4th hunt with Bryan, having taken 2 very large bulls and a smaller one last time so was holding out for hopefully a much larger one.

On the 4th day, September 30th, Scott and Dan over at “Broken Horn” see a big bull that is a definite shooter that is with a cow but can’t get a clean shot at him!  With the low water conditions in the river this year, they are having to walk far from camp and can’t even access a lot for the good areas this year.  Jim and Scott at the “Up River” camp called in a young bull to 15 yards that wouldn’t leave.  Jim had to finally chase him away.  Bryan and Marty didn’t see no moose today but Marty had a chance at a big wolf at 300 yards.  On Scott’s kill from the week before, there was considerable wolf action and at one point Bryan and Marty were between 2 howling wolves, but managed to blow a bunch of sand in his face and is still out there!

Bob and Wayne saw a cow, calf and a small bull and also had a bull come into the call, grunting and then walk away.

On the 5th day, it warmed up to +16 Celsius.  The afternoon was extremely windy out of the south and very warm.  Where did our rut go? Who turned off the switch?  Moose activity slowed down again today in pretty much all the camps which was expected with moose when the temperature rises this time of year.  Nobody saw moose today except Bob and Wayne saw a real good bull, cow and calf.  They also saw this bull breed the cow and then saw another small bull too!

The next day, I noticed where we put all our meat scraps from where we d-bone the meat, that the wolves took it throughout the night.  Now that was two camps; that had visitors throughout the night, “Main” and “Down River”.  The weather was still warm and +17 Celsius.  Scott and Dan saw a cow and calf in the morning by themselves.  Then just before dark, a huge bull that they couldn’t get a shot at again!  Bryan and Marty saw a cow and a calf.  Bob and Wayne saw a 50+ inch Bull and cow in the morning but couldn’t get a shot at either!  Then in the evening at 6:50 p.m., Wayne shot a big 51 inch bull!  First saw 2 blondish color calves come out on an island followed by a big cow which was followed by the big bull.  Wayne made no mistake and made a 350 yard shot! Bob and Wayne Saw 6 moose in total today and a total of 17 for the week.  Congratulations Wayne!

That next morning as I was going down the river to help Bob with Wayne’s moose, I saw and took pictures of a young bull swimming across the river.  Great to see!  This same day as we finished getting Wayne’s bull back to “Main Camp”, Bryan and Marty where getting into moose this p.m., after pulling onto shore where they planned to set up, they heard a cow bawling like she was being bothered by a smaller bull.  On a chance, Bryan began calling like a bigger bull and eventually the cow came out, dragging the small bull, which Marty took.  Congratulations Marty!  And Scott and Dan over at “Broken Horn” shoot a big 51 inch bull that has it all!!!  At 10:30 a.m. this big bull was also with a cow and Scott takes great footage which you can see on our “Agassiz News”.  Thanks Scott and Congratulations Dan on your first bull moose!

In the end, we finished the season with 8 out of 12 moose hunters taking bulls home with them with the largest having a 56″ spread.  Obviously some moose were sighted more than once but our moose count (sightings) this fall between all the guides and hunters was 89 Moose.  These numbers are still excellent considering a lot of days we had less than ideal hunting conditions with the high winds and warm temperatures in the second week that slowed down the rut.  A lot of good young bulls and big bulls were seen and the best part is all the cows that were seen, pretty much all had a calf with them and some even twins!!  The genetics in this area, in my opinion, look healthy and strong and can see why Manitoba Conservation rates it as the best moose habitat and area in the Province.   With proper management, the future looks bright for many, many years and hopefully forever!

In conclusion, after the dust settled on my first fall up on the Churchill River I was kind of in awe.  I have hunted all over North America from Alaska, on the Tundra in Northern Manitoba and the Nunavut border to Texas, etc and to me, the scenery is breathtaking and un-like no other. I always wanted to own a moose operation and finally found probably one of the best ones, if not the best ones in North America. This isn’t the first fly-in operation that I owned so I knew the hard work, dedication and commitment that comes with it.  But I also could see the potential, areas where we could expand and how to take the operation to another level.  Best part of it all, the hard working guides who had worked with Lyle the past 12 falls, were staying on with us!  After working with them this past fall and seeing the dedication and commitment to the operation that they bring is second to none; so at this time I would like to thank all the moose guides!!  Truly blessed to have probably the best moose guides in the Province!  Anyone who has hunted with them knows what I am talking about!

Finally, thank you to all the hunters who hunted moose with us this past fall!  We hope you enjoyed your Northern experience here in Northern Manitoba and we hope to see you all again real soon!


Happy Hunting,


Agassiz Outfitters


P.S.  We will be in Harrisburg, PA on Feb. 6 -14 and in Madison, WI on April 1-3.  Please come down for a visit!!




Like always, our waterfowl hunting started on September 24th and the migration was a long ways away due to the exceptional warm weather central Manitoba was receiving.  The great thing about our part of the province and hunting areas is that when this happens, we always have lots of local birds to give us a lot of shooting that gets us through at least until the migration starts.  With family farming a lot of the country in the areas, local nesting birds and the guides putting on miles scouting well in advance before guests arrived would and did make for a lot of excellent shoots as always!

Finally by October 10th the migration heated up and new birds started showing up on a daily basis.  Mallards and greater Canadas were really coming down and stayed till November 20th!

In the end after all the hunting was done for the year, it was great to hear from some of the groups that had hunted waterfowl all over North America say that they had “never seen waterfowl hunting this good before”!!  Funny thing is, to us it was slower than most years due to the warm fall and slow migration.  As always I like to thank everyone who hunted birds with us this past fall, all of my guides who worked extremely hard every day and to each and every landowner allowing us permission to hunt your land!


Happy Hunting,


Agassiz Outfitters



As I started baiting and preparing for our fall bear season, I noticed it was going to be a real challenge holding bears at the baits.  The late frosts we had in spring really did a number on the Saskatoon’s and blueberries but I was noticing an abundance of moss berries, wild cranberries and choke cherries.

We started the opening week which was August 24.  The bush was dry and made for easy travel with the quads.  I very seldom had to use the Argo except to cross the bigger swamps.  The guys were seeing some good bears the first week and Cale from IA arrowed a good black early Tuesday afternoon.  Jeff from MO shot a big black also Tuesday evening and Jeff H from MO shot his first black bear with his bow Tuesday afternoon and by Wednesday with 6 hunters were 100% opportunity already!  By Thursday afternoon, Paul F. from IA shot a real nice boar and Steve from IA also shot a real nice boar on Friday.  The Hi’s these days were +29 Celsius!

The next week my good friend Bob Kaleta of Remington Arms, re-peat guest Dale F. from WY and a new group from IA made the journey into bear camp.  The highs hit +32 Celsius by Wednesday and lo’s at night +20!  On one night we should have had a triple!  Bob shot a real big chocolate colored boar after passing up 5 blacks on Wednesday night, my son Jordan and Dan from IA walked into the bait with a cinnamon on it he day prior, and Dan arrowed a real nice chocolate with a blonde stripe down its back that same Wednesday and Roger from IA missed a big black with his bow at 15 yards.  Dale F. from WY shot a big blonde wolf then a big 400+ black bear!   Wow, what a hunt Dale!!!

Our last week saw another great friend and repeat guest, the one and only Jason Kunkle from OH and his party!!  Jason shot a coyote the first night and saw a huge bear that he couldn’t get a good clean shot at.  Shawn from OH saw a great big blonde colored bear but couldn’t get a shot at it either as it circled around him.  Doug from OH saw 5 bears and shot a big black.  “Bubba” K. from OH shot a 400+ lb. black with a big white patch on its chest.  The bears started to move good again towards the end of the week as the temperatures remained normal.

Congratulations to all of our guests this past fall!  We look forward and can’t wait to the 2016 spring black bear season!


Happy Hunting,

Agassiz Outfitters


*Please see our “New” ad in the upcoming issues of Bear Hunting Magazine!




The spring of 2015, unlike the spring of 2014, arrived extremely early and weather wise was one of the warmest on record.  The bears were starting to hit most of the baits around the beginning of May and everything was starting to look good.  Even the bush was starting to dry nicely so hopefully with little rain or no rain throughout the spring, would stay dry.

By the middle of May, just before out first groups of bear hunters were about to arrive, we were seeing some good bears at the baits and in our travels.  Things were falling into place for another busy spring.

The first week saw mostly all re-peat hunters, with the exception of a couple of new hunters from GA and MD.  Our re-peat hunters, for the most part, were seeing some good bears but passing on them for much larger.  Pastor Garth from GA took a beautiful black on Wednesday afternoon.  Backing up just a bit, our first book bear took a “dirt nap” on May 11 by John P. from MN who has taken several big bears with us in the past. This big black was a good 7 1/2 footer. Also, Steve A. from MO took his first bear with the bow.  The guys were also seeing wolves as one guest even had a wolf follow him in the dark out of his bait!!  Guys were starting to see a lot more bears as the week went on, and Jason B from WI arrowed a big black after seeing 6 others that night, Jeff M. from MO arrowed a big black also after passing up two others and Brian “DOC” R. from MN passed up 5 that night and saw a huge boar that he couldn’t get a clean shot at!  Josh from MD was done too with his first Black Bear.  What a week full of action, laughing and stories at bear camp!

The next week saw highs hit +30 Celsius by Tuesday.  Running and checking baits Sunday, my son Jordan saw a good 300 +lb bear at one of the baits and I saw a 250 lb chocolate and a grey wolf.  By Tuesday of the second week we were already 100% opportunity with all 6 hunters.  Joe D. from PA tagged out Monday afternoon early and killed his first black bear and passed up 3 before that.  As my wife was going in to get him, she saw a 300 lb+ walking down the quad trail!  Another real good spring bear!

The fishing so far both weeks by camp and up North was real hot for Northerns, as guests were catching real nice size northerns.  A wicked cold front would hit hard on Wednesday of this week and the lo’s dipped to 0 Celsius to -1 all the way throughout to Sunday.  My good friend Jim Ferguson of “The Revolution” shot a nice black on Friday as that day the high only reached +6 Celsius.  Colder now than in March!  What happened?  But nonetheless, still another great week with great guys and good action and bears down.  And another wolf following a hunter out of his stand at dark, little eerie eh Paul??

The following week saw activity start to pick up big time again as the temperatures started to rise.  Byron O. from WY passed up a nice cinnamon the first night and shot a good black later on in the week.  Ton from WI missed an absolute monster that was 550-600 lbs. with his bow!!!  This giant black bear would be well over 800 lbs. in the fall!!!!  The plus to this, is he is still out there and he got to spread his genes all spring!  However, Tom was sick to his stomach all week and so was I!!  Brad from WI who saw lots of bear shot a good black with his bow, which was also his first bear and his buddy Mark from WI also shot his first black bear that week.  Olin O. from WY who was seeing 8-10 bears a night, shot a real nice black.  Another 100% opportunity!  As the bear hunting remained excellent so too did the fishing as the fish fry’s were enjoyed by everyone during all weeks.

Finally, good re-peat and friend Richard P. from WY and party arrived and what a week except for the wind/rain storms during the later parts of the week.  Richard and I on the first afternoon walked into a bait that had a good 350lb. black on it that he shot and he too never even made it to his tree stand.  What a beautiful boar!  His friend Josh shot his first black bear Tuesday evening and then friend Colton was done Wednesday as well as the rest of the group.  Congratulations to all our guests this past spring!  As always, every week was full of hard hunting, lots of stories, laughter, great people and great times!!  We look forward to and can’t wait for the 2016 spring black bear season!


Happy Hunting,



Agassiz Outfitters


*Please watch for our “NEW” ads in the up-coming issues of Bear Hunting Magazine!


Agassiz Outfitters-2014 Moose Hunting Review

Everyone flew up to camp to set up on September 16th and found that we had average water levels on the river. The camps and equipment were all in good shape and the weather was descent when we arrived. When we off loaded at”Broken Horn” there was a fresh set of bull and cow tracks on the shore when we pulled up with the plane. At “Main Camp” when we landed we even had someone waiting there to greet us.

As we taxied up to the beach at main camp, a huge bull with a rack pushing the 50 inch mark stood up from his bed a mere 40 yards from where the meat pole is situated. Even though it would have been a short distance where we would have hoped to have him hanging, this bull was never taken during this season judging by the size of the bull and his distinct looking horns.

The bull wandered off when we beached the plane and began the “offloading”. I was thinking to myself that it was really a good sign with a bull of that quality hanging around main camp but i was also wandering how long it would take before somebody started playing with him especially with four moose guides in camp.

The plane hadn’t been gone for more than 10 minutes when Lyle heard  a cow call coming off the point just past the meat pole. Lyle wandered to the point and there was Jimmy with a big grin on his face as he said “I think i got him to come back!” Sure enough, there was the big bull making his way back to camp through the willows!!

Well the game was on with various calls, raking and even a display of a moose rack to try to coax this big bull in as close as we could. But even though we had his interest, he would only come back to within two to three hundred yards of camp which allowed us to get some good video. Finally he had enough and wandered off into the heavy timber.

Two days later prior to the hunters coming into camp, we were entertained one morning with two young bulls harassing a cow and a calf just west of main camp on the main land. These two young bulls where strutting their stuff and approaching the cow which would cause her to bolt with the two young studs in pursuit as she ran into the bush. Things were looking good for the start of the week for our first hunters.

With our first hunt this year we had our first for our moose operation in that we had two ladies in camp. Both were accompanying their husbands but each of them was hunting with one only having a bear tag while her husband had a moose tag. With the second couple both had moose and bear tags with the husband using rifle and the wife using her bow.

Fred and Melanie Johnson from SD were hunting with guide Jim Dickieson with Fred having the moose licence and Melanie the bear licence. On their first day out the only sighting they had was that of a cow but on their second day out they saw a little more action.

Lyle had to go down river that morning and at that time had gone by a white wolf that was walking down the shoreline. On his return trip back towards main camp the wolf was still travelling the shoreline and with both passes by him he had just stood there and watched him drive by with the boat. It was getting close to noon and Jim, Melanie and Fred had returned to their camp for lunch. Lyle told them about the wolf and even though a considerable amount of time had gone by they thought it might be worth the time to go looking for him.

Surprisingly the wolf was still walking the shoreline and Melanie and Lyle tried to work their way in close enough for a shot at him. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get close enough for the ideal opportunity and lets say the wolf was fortunate to get away. Later that afternoon Melanie and Lyle had been using the varmint call and had a red fox come in hard stopping a few yards from them. It certainly got the adrenaline going as they thought they had a wolf coming in. It is illegal to shoot a red fox in our area as it is a fur bearing animal and we are in a registered trap line area.

While they were out trying to call in wolves, Fred and Jim were having their own excitement in another area. Jim had been cow calling for awhile when he called a small bull that came in like he was on a string. This bull was obviously love struck as he did not want to leave. He hung around the longest time and offered several easy bow shots but eventually tired of the game and left.

They saw several more animals in the following days but it was not until the 5th day of Fred’s hunt that his bull went down! They had just left for the “Up River” camp when they spotted a bull along the shore. Jim was able to maneuver the boat close enough to get a shot and after he cut the motor Fred took his shot and the bull went out of sight and was thought to be down.

The bull had been hit but was not finished by any means. He hit the water and was attempting to swim the far shore and eventually ended up on a shallow rock reef in the river. Fred never let him get off that reef and dropped him in the shallow water taking a 40+ inch bull. Congratulations Fred!

Meanwhile, Shauna and Richard Woodward also from SD were hunting out of the “Broken Horn” camp with guide Scott Smith. With every day of their hunt they had tried to get Shauna into bow range of a bull. On one occasion they were able to get within 25 yards of a real good bull but all they were able to see of the bull was the head and horns and he never presented any type of bow shot. So close but yet so far!

It was not until the 6th day of their hunt that a bull went down. It had turned out to be a foggy morning and Scott decided to float the river and let the current take them down the river while he occasionally called. They hadn’t gone all that far when they received a bull response from the shore about 300 yards ahead of them.

Scott was able to paddle and maneuver the boat in close to shore and at 70 yards the bull presented a shot. Richard made no mistake and dropped the 42 inch bull where he stood making for an easy pack job. Congratulations Richard! With 2 more days left they still had time to fill Shauna’s tag.

During both days they had seen both moose and bear, none of which were in bow range. Their last day was capped off with the sighting of a large bull that was around 50 inches but Shauna stayed with her conviction of harvesting a bull with her bow. All though she never had the opportunity for a bow shot, but was extremely close as mentioned above, she certainly exemplified a true sportsperson for staying with her conviction and the great attitude that she had shown. At the end of the hunt she had told me it was the best hunt that she had ever been on which truly shows that you don’t have to kill an animal in order to have a great hunt!

At the “Down River” camp the first week, Bryan and Bob were guiding a father and son, Joe and Andrew Exstein from NE. Bryan was guiding Joe who was the father while Bob guided Andrew.

With the first few days of the hunt Joe and Bryan saw several small bulls that they passed on. On day 3 they were just pulling into a calling spot with the boat when a good bull broke out of the water beside them and ran right past where Bryan had his sticks set up for his decoy. Once just inside the tree line they could see the outline of the bull as he watched them get out of boat and set up.

Bryan and Joe gave the bull a considerable amount of time before they started calling to see if they could bring him back. Once they did call they got an immediate response from the bull and for the next hour and a half he continued to grunt and rake trees. All the coaxing Bryan could come up with would not get this trophy bull to leave the thick cover of the tree line and no doubt because he had spotted them pulling on shore that this had a lot to do with it.

With Joe it came down to the second last day of his hunt as to when he scored on a bull. They had been calling for about a hour and a half when a young bull, which had made his way quietly into the call, suddenly appeared at 40 yards. Joe didn’t hesitate and took the shot and the bull went a mere 4 or 5 yards before he fell over dead.

While they were watching this bull to make sure it was down another young bull showed up and despite the dead moose lying on the ground he went directly to Bryan’s decoy and checked it out and then walked within 5 yards of where Joe and Bryan had their blind set up. Bryan was able to get some good video of their interaction with these two moose.

With Andrew and Bob they started their week off with seeing some cows and calves but on their 3rd day they spotted a big bull in the mid 50’s walking through the burnt timber just off the river shoreline. They spent the next 2 1/2 hours trying to intercept or call this bull but he would not have anything to do with them and he seemed to be always able to keep just one step ahead of them when they stalked in to try and intercept him. After their last attempt they could hear the bull making his way from the river as he continued grunting as he made his way through the timber.

On Andrews 5th day his luck changed as he and Bob were on one of the islands just south of their camp. They had spotted a bull with a cow and calf on the shoreline on the main land and had decided to put a stalk on them as they could make their way down the island they were on to get closer to them.

As they narrowed the gap down to where they thought they could get a shot at the bull they began discussing whether this bull was big enough to take. Bob was thinking they could do better but Andrew wanted to take him as this would be his first moose.

The discussion ended abruptly when they looked back down the shoreline on the main land and there walked a huge bull making his way toward the other 3 moose.

Bob and Andrew quickly got into position to take a shot at this bull but the distance they would be shooting at was considerable. Andrew dropped down and used his pack for a rest and he was clearly confident that he could make the shot. He waited until Bob got his video camera zoomed in on the bull and once he got the green light from Bob he fired and clearly connected with the large bull.

With the hit the bull started to run from the shore out into the water but a second shot dropped him in the water just a few feet from shore. With the help of Joe and Bryan they were able to drag the bull back up to dry ground where they could butcher it. The bull was a beautiful specimen with wide palms and a spread that went over 49 inches. Congratulations Andrew!

For the remainder of the hunt Bob and Andrew tried to kill a white wolf that kept on frequenting the kill site. They had 3 encounters with this white wolf that also had luck on his side as he either spotted them coming to check on the site or was behind cover and would not present them with a good clean shot.

At the end of our first session of hunting 4 out of the 5 moose hunters had killed bulls. Half way through the first week Lyle had a hunter come into “Main Camp” who he also personally guided.

Chuck Flaming from NE had hunted with Lyle several years prior and at that time had a successful hunt taking a real good bull around the 50 inch mark.

As previously mentioned prior to the hunters arriving we had seen 3 bulls around main camp. When Chuck and Lyle began their hunt there was definite sign of moose in the area. They hunted hard putting in long calling sessions at various locations but at the end of the trip had seen only one cow. The obvious question is how this could happen if there were so many bulls around.

There can be a variety of reasons for this and one is windy conditions in which the call simply does not carry far enough to the bulls. And sometimes a bull or bull’s could be a mile or so away with a hot cow(s) and will not leave the area with the potential for breeding activity.

Some bulls take their sweet time in coming to a call and may not show up for hours. Many times we have called in the evening and returned to the calling spot in the morning to find signs of a bull being at the calling site. Another important point is that the majority of the bulls come to a call quietly and either suddenly appear, or in many cases you may not even be aware that they are in the area especially if they wind you or something raises their suspicion.

Through all of Chucks hunt and the “no shows” by the bulls, Chuck maintained a positive attitude and Lyle says was a real pleasure to hunt with as always! He maintains that he is coming back on a 3rd trip as the game is now tied at one and one for Chuck and the bulls. Chuck is an experienced hunter that knows the area we hunt is one of the best and “world class” and not only that but supported by the fact that 2 days after he had left Lyle went to the west channel of the island at main camp where they had spent so many hours calling and there were 2 bulls and 2 cows feeding. Also later in our second session 2 bulls were killed in the very area that Chuck had been hunting and you will hear those stories now.

Our hunters for the second session were delayed by one day due to inclement weather and did not get into camp until the second day in less than ideal weather conditions. With this week two of the hunters were immediately into bull action while the other two hunters were off to a slower start. John Katrana was hunting with guide Jim Dickieson out of the down river camp and their start was slow as for the first couple of days they did not have a moose sighting.

On the 3rd day they had just left camp on a foggy morning and were not that far above the rapids when Jim edged the boat towards the north shore to keep his bearings in the fog. As they came into sight of shore they saw a bull, cow and a calf. Jim says this was a tremendous bull that was well up in the mid 50’s with wide palms, great fronts and points everywhere!! Jim estimates that this is the biggest bull that he has ever seen while he has been guiding in Northern Manitoba! WOW!!!

Because of the fog they had been unaware of the moose on the shoreline and now with the boat in close proximity the moose made a hasty retreat up into the burnt timber. Jim and John tried to lure this bull back in but to no avail and this was the last they had seen of him. This monster bull was also not taken this year!

A couple of days later Jim and John had decided to make a hunt below the rapids from their camp.  This was in the area where Chuck and I had previously hunted but Chuck had left two days earlier and this area was now open to Jim and John as no one would be hunting it for the rest of the season.

They were heading to a calling spot when they spotted a bull, cow and calf standing on the shore. It was evident that the moose had seen them as well as they were already making their way up into the burn.  Jim put the boat hard into shore but there was no opportunity for  a shot.  The moose had gone up a steep slope to a flat ridge of an old burn that was a tangled mess of fallen trees with a soft boggy base that made for some real crappy walking conditions.

Jim & John discussed the situation and they decided to walk up into the ridge to see if they could spot the moose or call the bull to them.  Fortunately the conditions were windy which covered the noise of their advance up onto the ridge.  Once on top they scanned the ridge and spotted the bull but it was obvious that he was aware of their presence.  There was no time to set up the shooting sticks and John who is a seasoned hunter took an off handed shot at the bull.  It appeared that John’s first shot had hit the bull by its reactions but two quick follow up shots failed to put the bull down as he quickly was out of sight in the tangled mess of trees.

Jim was familiar with the area the bull was in and mentally noted where they had last seen the bull.  He and John went back to the boat and put in at a different location in an attempt to intercept the bull if he was still on his feet.

They made it back into very close proximity where they had last seen the bull but they could not find any sign of him.  They decided to abandon the search for the bull as it was getting late in the day. Jim was confident the bull was hit and John had also been confident on a hit but with not finding the bull he had to contend with the possibility of a miss or marginal hit and that can make for a long night.

Jim had gotten in touch with us by radio that night and it was decided that Bryan and Lyle would go down to give him a hand tracking it early the next morning. Bryan’s hunter had already tagged out and that story will be told shortly.  Jim, John, Bryan and Lyle headed back into the area where the bull was last seen.  With the extra help the bull was located within 15 minutes in amungst the dead fall and John had a fine trophy measuring 47 inches. Congratulations John!

From where the moose had fallen we were just 300 yards from a little bay we call “Wizard Bay” which was a spot where just a  few days earlier Chuck Flaming and Lyle had spent many hours calling.  This bull had to be packed out to the mouth of the bay and the going wasn’t easy.  Bryan and Lyle gave John and Jim a hard time telling them there appeared to be man tracks up to the carcass from the night before.  They both just grinned but I think there had been a genuine look of relief on John’s face when we found the bull.

Bryan had been guiding Jim Washebek from WI out of the down river camp while Bob guided his partner Greg Rakowski also from WI.  Jim got off to a great start with his first full day of hunting in that he saw a cow and a calf and 5 bulls that day with 4 of which Jim did not want to shoot.  Three of the bulls had been seen along the river and a 4th was called in but was passed on because he was too small.

During that morning’s calling session Bryan had heard a bull answer at least a mile and a half away and being familiar with the area the bull was calling from he knew that he wasn’t that far from a blind he had used the previous week before and where he had poles set up for his decoy.  They decided to go down to this blind and set up for another calling session.  As they approached the calling spot they saw a large grey wolf on shore that slipped into the willows before they could get a shot.

Bryan pulled the boat up on shore and he and Jim walked into where his blind should have been.  The blind had some poles stuck in the ground with some material attached to it in a circle and had been positioned next to a small clump of willows to add to the cover.  Apparently some agitated bull had taken exception with this blind!!!

There were moose tracks everywhere and the blind had literally been “stomped” into the dirt as nothing was left standing except a broken pole that was sticking part way out of the mud.  Everything was flat and even the little willow bush that the blind had been beside had been destroyed as all that was left of it were a couple of bark stripped branches as the bull had destroyed the bush by raking it with his horns.  I don’t know what prompted the bull to do this but perhaps Bryan and his hunter had shot his younger brother the previous week.

Bryan had Jim look for some poles that they could use to build a new blind and he headed back to the boat to get some more equipment.  He took a look down the shoreline and there was a huge bull at the water’s edged.  Bryan hunkered down and whistled to get Jim’s attention to let him know that they had a bull close by.

Once he had Jim’s attention Bryan gave the bull a few calls and he immediately started down the shoreline towards them.  At one point the bull wandered into the water seemingly undecided as to what he was going to do.  With a few more calls Bryan coaxed him back on shore and the bull continued to close the gap between him and the hunter.

Jim’s first shot connected with the bull and after being hit he started to make his way into the water.  Two more follow up shots put the bull down in about a foot of water.  This was about 4PM so they sought out the help of Bob and Jim’s partner, Greg Rakowski, to butcher the bull.  They were back to camp at dark and Jim had in his possession a great trophy with horns that went just over 54 inches! Congratulations Jim!

Bryan & Jim went back to the kill sight the next morning and found it to be pretty well cleaned up by wolves.  They checked this area periodically over the next few days for the wolves but never connected with them.  Bryan & Jim continued to scout the river for Greg & Bob in the remaining days and saw another 5 bulls as well as cows and calves.  Two of the bulls were real good shooters and they passed the sighting information onto Greg and Bob but they were having difficulty in connecting with these bulls.  I will leave the story of Greg’s hunt to the end as it has such a classic ending to it.

Wayne Hart from WI whose name you probably recognize from the spring bear hunt was hunting with archery equipment out of the “Broken Horn” camp with Scott Smith.

The Broken Horn camp had more moose sightings this year in comparison to the rest of my camps; however, this does change from year to year in the area we hunt.  According to my notes they had seen at least one bull everyday of their hunt with the most sightings coming on the 2nd day of Wayne’s hunt when they had seen a total of 4 bulls on that day.  The trick was to get in close enough to one to get an arrow into it.

Several stalking attempts were unsuccessful but one of the best opportunities to score on a bull came when Scott had called one in.  Wayne was set up well in front of Scott in the direction that they had anticipated the bull to come from.  Scott had been calling for a while when he got a response from the bull.

Wayne was using a clump of willows as cover and could easily shoot if the bull stayed close to the water but would have to wait for the bull to walk past the willows should he stay up higher on shore.  As the bull broke cover they could see that this was a good bull in the mid 40’s with wide palms.  As the bull made his way into the call it became obvious that the bull was going to take the high road.  When the bull had gotten to Wayne’s willow clump he stopped on the other side of it just a mere 5 to 6 yards away from Wayne.

As we all know moose are huge and to have one that close with just a bow in your hands can really get the adrenaline kicked into high gear.  As for Wayne all the bull had to do was take one more step and he would have cleared the bush and given him a chance for a shot.  The bull surveyed the situation for several seconds but there was something that he didn’t like as he slowly turned and walked away giving Wayne nothing more than the rear end to shoot at.  That was the last that they saw of this bull and so it goes at times when using a bow.

It took until the last 1/2 day of Wayne’s hunt for his luck to change even with the large number of bulls they were seeing.  On this morning they had decided to drift down river in the boat letting the current carry them.  Scott had been calling periodically but was not getting any responses when at about 300 yards ahead of them they saw a cow standing on a point of land that jutted out into the river.  They didn’t know for sure if a bull was close by but had decided to pull the boat into shore and make a stalk further inland until they were opposite of the cow.

They had stalked down to a position that brought them to the point the cow was on and if there was a bull with the cow they would have to walk within close proximity of their position if the moose headed back onto the mainland. They could not see the cow now but they stopped and waited and in a short period of time they could hear a bull raking some willows. They had decided to move in closer and got to within 40 yards of the cow and the bull that now had joined her. A thin strip of willows separated them from the moose and they had to wait until the moose made their way back onto the main land, and cleared the willows before Wayne could get a shot.

Fortunately they didn’t have to wait all that long until they did the very thing they had been hoping for. As the moose made their way back to the heavier cover the bull was taking a path that would bring him within 20 yards of Wayne’s position. All of a sudden the bull stopped in his tracks and needed to take 2 more steps before Wayne could get his shot away.

To Wayne this was “de-ja-vu” to the circumstances of what happened a few days earlier and all he could do was wait for the bull to make his move. Scott who had stayed back a few yards behind Wayne was videotaping and couldn’t understand why Wayne wasn’t shooting because at the angle he was viewing the whole scene at it looked like Wayne had a clear shot.

Finally the bull did move but now he took a quartering away path from Waynes location. As the bull walked away Wayne had to take several steps to his side before he could clear the bushes and get a a shot. With the bull now at a about 35 yards Wayne released the arrow making a perfect quartering away shot just behind the shoulder. When he was hit the bull turned and ran towards the river and expired just a few feet from the waters edge. With only a couple of hours left in the hunt and killing a 41 inch bull with the bow, this makes for a great story. Congratulations Wayne!

But the best last minute story of this years hunt involves Greg Rakowski from WI. Wayne had not been the only hunter that was out hunting that last half day. Greg and his guide Bob were out as well as it had been a fairly slow week with them seeing cows and calves early in the week and a real good shooter bull in the last half of the week that they couldn’t get close enough to.

They had the entire river to hunt as everyone else was done at our end and Gregs partner, Jim, along with Bryan, were scouting for them and had seen a good number of bulls. Bob and Greg would move into the areas where the others had sighted bulls but could never connect with them.

So it goes with hunting with some of the best efforts made failing to produce the desired result.  As noon rolled around on that Saturday it was the end of Greg’s hunt and they had to tear down camp at the “down river ” location and move to main camp as they were scheduled to fly out the next morning.

I knew of course that Greg was disappointed but you would never have known it from the positive attitude he displayed when he arrived at main camp later that day and despite not being successful he said that he had enjoyed himself and had a great hunt.

The next day when we were supposed to fly out we were greeted with overcast skies and periods of snow.  Flying out that day was not looking good and at 11:20 AM the air service confirmed that there would not be any flights coming in that day.  So we had time to kill in camp as the snow came down and Lyle thought why shouldn’t he let Greg go for a hunt by walking around the island that main camp is on.  Lyle had seen bulls in the channel a few days earlier and there was a good chance he might run into one.

Normally we don’t do this and have strict deadlines for the hunts to end as with any late bulls they would have to be butchered, packed out, meat hung, camps torn down, boats and motors serviced and put away before the planes arrived.  But with the majority of this looked after Lyle thought Greg could squeeze one short hunt in.

Lyle got the answer you would expect when he asked Greg if he would like to go for a walk around the island to see if he could find a moose with his guide Bob.  Even though we had everyone back at main camp we had to limit him to ending the hunt no later than 3 PM to make sure we could get a bull back to the meat pole to be ready for a flight out the next day.  With just a short time frame for their hunt off, the boys went.

Visibility wasn’t good with the snow coming down but they slowly made their way around the island and got to the point where they could see the channel opening up onto the main part of the river just west of main camp.  With heavy snow coming down they spotted 3 snow covered  “bumps” on the west side of the channel on the main land.  After glassing things for a period of time they discovered the “bumps” were a bull, cow and a calf which were bedded on the open rocky point and who had decided this was a good spot to enjoy the snow and watch the river.

The boys quickly made their way up into the timber on the island and proceeded forward as they wanted to get to a spot directly across the channel from the moose.  Once they did however they found the distance between them and the moose was considerable.  Greg was comfortable making long shots but for this distance he needed help from his partner Jim, who with the binoculars acted as his spotter.

When the shooting started Lyle was in main camp and he looked at his watch and it was 2:40 PM.  Greg had taken it to the limit with just 20 minutes left and after hearing several shots, we were hopeful that things had turned out for him.  Several of us got our gear on and made our way to where we had heard the last shot.

In a short distance Greg’s party emerged out of the snow storm and by the high fives and cheering it was obvious that he had gotten the job done.  It had taken several shots but once he found the distance he had dropped the bull just a short distance from where he was bedded.

We got 2 boats down to the bull and with all the help we had the butchered bull loaded in the boat in less than an hour.  Greg`s  “snowstorm bull” that measured 43 inches was a great way to conclude our 2014 hunt! Congratulations Greg!!

In the end, 8 out of 10 moose hunters took bulls home with them with the largest having a 54 inch spread.  Some moose were sighted more than once but in the first week our hunters had 55 sightings of moose, 23 of which were bulls. In the 2nd week we had 66 sightings of moose with 26 of those sightings being bulls.  We had numerous wolf and bear sightings both weeks.

The bull to cow-calf  ratio remains quite high and it is estimated that 85% of the bulls that were sighted were actually different bulls.  This was determined by the size of the animal and the size and configuration of the horns.  There was also a good mix of young and older bulls that were not harvested.  Our area looks in great shape for the future for game population numbers and keeps proving year after year why it is one of the best moose hunting areas in North America.