The waterfowl hunting in 2018 was spectacular as usual. September saw colder than normal temperatures and one day over 3 inches of snow fell. However, this unusual cooler weather in September pushed a lot of Northern birds down and the migration was on.
Previous scouting trips saw fields with high concentrations of mallards and greater Canada geese already abundant. We couldn’t wait to get out on the fields and for guests to arrive.
The first week saw guests that have been waterfowl hunting with us for 20 years and the barley fields didn’t disappoint as limits of mallards and greaters were taken the first three mornings of the 3 day hunt. Great Shooting guys! This week was also a little cooler as highs hovered around the -2 Celsius mark. Not only did the fields produce good shoots but groups hunting over pot holes and sloughs also were getting excellent shooting. Towards the end of the first week, cold North winds set in and some of the smaller sloughs started to freeze over but with the warmer weather during the second week, they would all open up again for the new birds that were starting to arrive from the North.
The second week saw new groups of hunters arrive. Normally, we like to hunt the fields in the morning and mix it up and go over water in the evenings which most hunters prefer. On October 14, we received another inch of snow and this cold front pushed down a lot more new birds too, as all the new groups limited out on greater Canada geese and Mallards once again during their 3 day hunt. We had the pleasure to host and guide an 83 year old duck hunter from Winnipeg and his son from Vancouver also this week. What a true inspiration seeing them hunt out in the cold North winds as it didn’t phase him at all. They too like most of our guests have hunted other areas of Manitoba but couldn’t believe the waterfowl hunting our operation provides to our guests.
The third week saw guests from Virginia, Illinois and Delaware. Temperatures rose to +16 Celsius but the hunting remained hot also during this week, most groups hunted geese in the mornings and then in the afternoon/evening hunted over water for their ducks.
However, the duck hunting was just as good if not better out on the fields also in the evenings as the groups out on the fields were limiting out on mallards in the wheat and corn fields. The dogs were getting a lot of work!
The last couple weeks saw a lot of excellent shoots as “World Class” Waterfowl hunting was once again witnessed by all guests. It was great hosting everyone this fall on their waterfowl hunt and thank you all for hunting with us. Also a big thank you to all of our hard working guides for going that extra mile and to all the landowners/farmers for letting us hut on your land!
All the guides and I flew out of Thompson and into our moose camps on September 12. The weather looked great and we all couldn’t wait to get into our camps for the annual set up, etc. The flights were all on time and we were all able to get into the camps early that morning which always puts us in great shape. Upon arrival to main camp, we noticed lots of moose sign on the island. Not only that, we could see that water levels where higher than the past couple of years so would have to contend with that which was no big deal. Having high water meant we could now access a lot of new area with boats this fall. The first couple of days we all spent getting camps set up, boats in the water and everything organized in and around camp. Then the next few days would be spent doing finishing touches, cutting firewood and scouting areas. Amongst our travels already we all were seeing lots of moose and some good bulls not to mention all the moose sign in different areas getting scouted. Bryan & Bob also saw a white wolf down by their camp. The temperature was holding steady at around +5 to +10 Celsius during setup. The lows were -1 Celsius through the night and on September 14 it snowed through the night and we woke up to a blanket of snow. The first groups of hunters were to arrive on September 17 first thing in the morning pending weather and we couldn’t wait!
The weather was perfect for flying and all guests arrived in camp early the morning of the 17th. After a quick hunter briefing, sighting in guns and a little bit of lunch, everyone was hunting by noon. That first day saw quite a bit of action as the rut started to kick in. Guide Brendan and his hunter saw a cow and calf around noon not far from Main Camp. Guide Jordan and his hunter Lendall saw a total of 4 Moose already which were 2 cows and 2 calves. Guide Nick and his hunter Dennis from Pennsylvania see a cow and calf also. Guide Matt and his hunter Scott from Minnesota had a big bull answering his call and rubbing the willows a mere 50 yards away but it didn’t present a good shot. While guides Bob and Bryan where going to their Down river camp with the hunters, they saw a spike bull. Then that evening, Bob called in a good 40+ inch bull that his hunter Andrew passed up on at around 6:30. Guide Bryan and his hunter Jim saw a cow and a calf that evening. A great start to the week as already 14 Moose seen between all the hunters during the first half day of their hunt.
The next day was looking good as we had a very hard frost with lows at -3 Celsius with no wind. Jordan and Lendall see 6 more moose today, 5 cows and calves and a big 55 inch bull Jordan calls into 70 yards that Lendall shoots at 10:30 a.m. What a bull! At the Down River camp Bob and Andrew also pull the trigger at 10:30 on a 43 inch bull Bob calls into close range. During this whole time, Bob has 3 different bulls working and grunting at him. They see a total of 4 moose today, 2 other bulls and a cow and calf. Nick and Dennis over at Broken Horn camp see 2 Moose, a cow and calf. Other guys all quiet today but everyone is hearing moose and seeing lots of sign. Again light snow through the night.
September 19 saw a hard frost again and no wind. Jordan and I caped out Lendalls bull and deboned all the meat so far. At main Camp, Brendan and Bryan get to 50 Yards of a 400 Pound black bear but Bryan decides to pass on it. Brendan also calls in a big bull today that was raking the bush but wouldn’t present a shot either. Bull was grunting heavy too. Then they worked another bull that held up in the brush. Meanwhile guide Bryan and his hunter Jim shoot a 44 inch bull at 12:30. All 3 buddies from Illinois are all tagged out by the second day. Great hunt and memories for 3 good buddies! Matt and Scott pas up a small bull around 30 inches and also see another cow and calf. Nick and Dennis also pass up another small bull.
September 20 Bryan and Jim bring Jim’s bull down to Main camp and see another good bull walking along the river bank. Jordan and Lendall over at the Up River camp go for a boat ride and video tape a 60+ inch bull in another area. Lendall is already tagged out with a 55 inch bull. They also see a 40+ inch bull and 6 cows and calves. They also see a white wolf but Lendall can’t get a shot at. Lendall had an unused bear license and is hoping to shoot a wolf now. Nick and Denis shoot a big bull today also that is 50 inches, they too are now wolf hunting. Lots of other close calls today and the rut has really kicked in.
September 21, was another cool morning and very windy, Wind strong out of the west. Jordan and Lendall watch another huge bull today putting it also at around 60 inches. Matt’s hunter Scott shoots his bull at 8:00 a.m. His first bull ever. Bryan, Bob and their 2 hunters see another shooter bull today in their travels but everyone there is tagged out too. Snow flurries off and on all day today and sometimes so hard we can’t even see across the lake and river. Brendan sees a huge bull across the lake. Him and Bryan try to stalk or cut it off but it started snowing so hard they lost sight of him in the thick timber. We see another shooter bull half hour later but he leaves the area. Andy shoots a big white wolf today while hunting over his moose carcass. Wicked cold front today.
The next morning was cool with light west wind. Brendan and Bryan heard tons of cow calls this morning. A few different cows in different areas. They also call in another bull that they hear cross a creek and then do a lot of raking at approximately 50 yards. Guide Connor and his hunter Bob from Pennsylvania shoot a real nice bull that is 45 inches wide. At the Down River camp, Bryan’s hunter Jim almost shoots his wolf as they come close but they spook. Bob and Andy now see a wolverine on the moose carcass and get great pictures.
Everyone is getting ready to fly out as planes are in tomorrow morning. Connor and Bob see a monster bull swim across the river today and they say he is 60+ inches but both hunters are tagged out also. Awesome first week of hunting and looking forward to week 2.
September 25, planes all in on time again and new hunters in, and all hunting again by noon. It was a perfect evening for hunting, very light wind with cloud cover. Matt and his hunter Steve from Michigan see a small bull and then a big bull that is with a cow but too far away and wouldn’t respond to the calls. Jordan and his hunter Bernie also from Michigan see 3 Moose but no shooters. Connor and his hunter Dave from Illinois see a cow. Brendan and his hunter Paul from Virginia see a cow and 2 calves at around 1:30 then call in a bull that holds up at approximately 100 yards and rakes. Lots of sightings.
The next morning we all wake up to light snow flurries. The guys at Broken Horn have a bear in camp overnight messing with their coolers. Everyone hearing lots of cow calls in morning as the cows have been very vocal. Brendan and Paul see a cow and calf tonight. Bryan and his hunter George from Wisconsin see a cow and calf today and had a bull grunting close to them. Bull was raking brush like crazy before dark. Bob and his hunter Hank from Wisconsin see 5 moose today. First a cow, calf and small bull then a cow and big bull this evening but couldn’t get a good shot at him. Matt and Steve saw 2 smaller bulls today and passed them both up. These bulls were 35-40 inches and should be shooters in the next year or two. Jordan and Bernie see 7 moose today, one big bull they couldn’t get a good shot at. Connor and Dave shoot a 56 inch bull over at Broken Horn which they called in and gave them a good show raking brush and grunting in front of them for a while before giving them a good shot. What a Bull!
September 7 and a low of -5 celcius, snow flurries and heavy wind most of the day. The evening hunt was looking good as heavy winds dying down. Brendan and Paul sit and call all day but no luck. Matt and Steve shoot a 46 inch bull with huge fronts at 5:30 down creek. Nick and his hunter Rick from Illinois see a small bull and cow today. Bryan and George have a small bull thrashing the willows but never see him. Bob and Hank see a cow and small bull that he passes up also. Jordan and Bernie saw 6 moose today but no shooters.
September 28 and morning is -2 Celsius. I am going up to Jordan and Matt’s camp to help them with Steve’s bull. Everything went great and what an awesome looking Bull! Brendan and Paul passed up on a 40-45 inch bull today (morning). This bull was standing right were Brendan was calling the day before. Morning was perfect for calling but very heavy winds for afternoon/evening hunt. Bob and Hank see a cow and calf and another cow with 2 calves. This morning Bryan calls in a 40-44 inch bull that George passes up. Bryan then calls in a monster bull that also puts on a show for George this evening. This huge bull grunts and rakes brush for a long time before giving George the perfect shot. This bull is huge and is 57 inches. What a bull!
The next day saw another cool morning. Matt and Steve come down to main camp and clean up Steve’s moose head. Jordan and Bernie out hunting a new spot and Jordan calls in a big bull at 9:30 to 50 yards for Bernie that he makes no mistake on. Bernie and Steve brothers from Michigan, both have awesome looking bulls. Again what a hunt and great memories for the two brothers! The wind was really strong last few days. Guides from “Up River” and “Down River” camp all come to main camp to debone meat, and cape/clean heads. Very cold and windy all day. Bob and Hank shoot a 40 inch bull this evening. Nick and Rick also shoot a 40 inch bull tonight at Broken Horn Camp. Despite the weather, still a great day of moose hunting.
With most hunters tagged out, guides checked and scouted some new areas for next year. Bob & Hank came down to main camp to process more meat today. Meat poles are full, which is always a great sight. Brendan and Paul get to 60 yards of a cow and calf.
In conclusion, what a fantastic fall as most guests/hunters tagged out and experienced the hunt of a lifetime. To be exact, it was a 75% success rate and higher opportunity. Not only that but our future looks great with all the other moose sightings including small bulls, cows and calves and even other huge bulls that the guides/hunters saw after being tagged out already.
Congratulations to everyone on your success and thank you very much for hunting with us this fall. Also, a huge thank you to all of our hard working moose guides for going above and beyond once again in all camps, we appreciate all your efforts. We already can’t wait to get back up to Gods country next fall!
We were looking forward to getting in the bush again and starting our 2018 Fall Black Bear Season.By August 20, we had most of our baits baited that we wanted to hunt this fall. With approximately a week to go before the season stared (August 27) and being caught up, it gave us time to establish a couple new baits in new areas for our 2019 Spring Season. By August 25, baits were really hot and we couldn’t wait for our guests to arrive on the 26th so we could start hunting. Finally, the time was here and the first week saw guests from Ohio, Texas and Missouri. After the first evening, 6 out of 7 hunters all were seeing bears. Curtis and Tammy from Missouri were hunting from a ground blind with a crossbow. The plan for this husband and wife team was to try and get Tammy a bear first with her crossbow and then Curtis would hunt on his own with his bow. Well the plan worked to a tee! After watching and passing several bears from the ground blind, Tammy decided to take a big black towards the end of the week which then Curtis on the next night shot his bear that had a nice white V on its chest. Meanwhile, Father and son team from Texas; Kelly, Blake and Cotton of Texas also took all there bears home with Blake’s being the biggest at 400 lbs. Wow what a hunt and great memories for Kelly and His two sons, while taking hunters into areas we were seeing some good bears walking down quad trails and at the baits.
On September 2, the next group arrived, and by the following Friday we were all done with another 6 bears taken from Pat, Al, Scott, Ryan, Randy and Joe. Another great week had by all in bear camp.
The fall season can be hit or miss. This fall saw a record crop of berries and acorns which will slow down bear sightings around baits due to all the natural food sources. However, with the record berry and acorn crops we were still 100% opportunity and the bears had a great fall and were able to put on a lot of weight before their long hibernation. With having said all this, the bears went into their dens in excellent shape and therefore our 2019 Spring Season is looking great!
Mid-April still saw lots of snow in the bush. However, the long term forecast was looking great and with temperatures reaching highs around +15 Celsius for the next couple of weeks, the snow really stared to drop. On April 20, our son Jordan and I started our baiting for the 2018 spring black bear season. Due to the amount of snow still in some areas, we needed to use the Argos to access areas/baits. The first few days saw great progress as we had just over 15 baits done and a couple of new baits established in some “new” area.
By April 23, the snow had really dropped with the warm temperatures. What a difference with the warm temperatures. What a difference from a week ago as we could start to use quads to access some areas. Over the past first week out in the bush opening up areas and getting baits out, we were seeing some big tracks already in the snow and by April 28, most baits were getting hit already and some good sign was already evident at the baits. From May 1-6 we spent the week baiting, opening up areas and checking baits in preparation for our first group of hunters which were set to arrive on Sunday, May 6. During this week, we noticed that our baits to the south were really hit hard already but baits to the north were just starting to get good which is usually the norm in the spring. We were sitting in great shape!
We started our 2018 spring bear season on May 7th with a total of 4 hunters for the first week. Our first 4 guests were from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and we couldn’t wait to get started, as the bears were already moving good. The first night was extremely warm and saw a high of +27 Celsius. After the first night of hunting, we were already at a 100% opportunity as everyone was seeing bears. Gerry from Michigan started off the 2018 Season by shooting the very first bear of the year. Gerry saw a really large bear at around 4:00 but was unable to get a good clean shot at it. This bear acted a little nervous, didn’t stay long and left the bait after approximately 5 minutes. Then at 8:00 another bear, not quite as big, appeared that Gerry decided to take. During the same time over at another bait site, Alan from Wisconsin who was sitting with his wife, shot a beautiful black, two down on the first night already. Mike from Minnesota and his buddy Justin from Wisconsin were seeing bears but still holding out for a big one. Unfortunately, Justin shoots at a huge black bear on Thursday evening but missed him clean. This bear was easily pushing 500 lbs. Upon realizing that his bear was missed clean, we moved Justin to another bait the next evening where he shot his first black bear. Mike who is hunting with his bow also shoots his first bear with it at 6:30. Saturday, May 12 was spent checking and freshening baits and the guides cutting lots of firewood and getting caught up around camp as the next group of hunters arrived Sunday, May 13. This week would see 5 hunters in camp, 3 bow hunters and 2 rifle hunters. Three of these guys were good friends and re-peat hunters of ours that have been hunting with us many times in the past and 2 new hunters who were looking for their first bear.
The first 2 nights of their hunt saw really cold winds out of the north. This cold front continued and slowed bear movement and activity at the baits for the first couple nights. However, on the third night (May 16), the bears really started moving again and four bears were shot! After passing up 6 bear on the first night, Joseph from Minnesota shoots a bear on Wednesday which is his first bear. Avid bear hunter Mike from Wisconsin shoots a gorgeous black bear that weighed 300+ lbs with his bow. Jim shoots a big black bear and is pumped as it is his first bear as well and to finish it out, avid bear hunter and repeat guest John of Minnesota shoots a monster black bear that is 425 lbs. with a huge white V on his chest. This big boar scores close to 20 inches B & C and once again, John will be making the trip up to Manitoba in April 2019 to accept his award at the Manitoba Big Game Trophy Association Awards night. (*John received an award for his last bear taken with us too as it also made the awards book). Four bears already down by mid-week and this same evening Matt from Wisconsin saw 9 different bears at his bait. Matt has already passed up a couple 300+lb bears and is holding out for a monster. Out of the 9 bears seen by Matt, one is a huge boar that is pushing 500 lbs but doesn’t present a shot for Matt. This bear is huge including a huge head with a big crease down the middle. Matts luck would change on the last evening as he shoots a big boar that is pushing 600 lbs.! Matts bear is pushing 21 B&C and squares 8 feet. This was the first time Matt sees this bear and claims that he saw 2 other huge boars that were even bigger! Wow!! What a week once again. Everyone so far was having a lot of action and some big bears already being taken not to mention the other big bears being seen. The first 2 weeks have been unreal bear hunting!
The 3rd group of guests/bear hunters arrived on May 20 and everyone was bow hunting except one hunter. All the guides were out checking baits and coming up with a plan. All guides were starting to see bears at the baits while baiting. This week would see very warm temperatures and with this, the bush was really getting dry as a few forest fires were popping up to the south of us.
The first night of the 3rd week, saw 3 bears go down. Andrew from Wisconsin shoots his first bear at 7:00. Mike C. from Wisconsin shoots his bear with his bow at 7:30 and Sanford from Wisconsin who is hunting with a crossbow from a ground blind shoots the 7th bear he sees which is a real big black. A few other guys see some big bears but can’t get a good clean shot at them with their bows. A couple of wolves have also been seen so far. By Wednesday, a few more bears are taken. David from Wisconsin shoots a beautiful black at 6:00 with his bow and Mark and Mike both from Wisconsin as well, take good bears with their bow. This week saw 9 hunters and we were still 100% opportunity by Wednesday. Some of the guys took advantage of the great fishing and many Northerns were caught and a mouth-watering fish fry was enjoyed by all.
May 27th, another 7 guests would arrive which saw a mix of repeat and new hunters. This week saw tons of action as everyone was seeing lots of bears. After passing up 3 different bears, Kevin from Michigan shoots a big boar and then sees 2 wolves. Two huge bears were seen too but everyone passing so far. Some of the guys were venturing North for walleye which they caught lots. Both northern and walleye fishing is awesome right now. By Wednesday, we have another monster black bear missed that is well over 400 lbs.! Thankfully it was missed clean at least. Lonnie from Michigan is seeing some good bears and amongst them some color bears but is still holding out. Repeat guest, Wayne from Pennsylvania shoots his bear and the guides and I are seeing some real good bears at the baits while baiting. It was another excellent week with a lot of bears seen.
On June 3, 8 new bear hunters arrived including Mike Pelletier of Hardcore Pursuit. We were looking forward to the opportunity to host Mike and his good friend and cameraman Rob, which would both be bow hunting. This week would also see a couple of fathers and their sons who were also all bow hunting. The first night wouldn’t disappoint as most hunters saw lots of bears and some real monsters. Mike from Hardcore Pursuit sees 5 bears and one real big one that he passes up. Rob sees 5 bears also and a 500+ pounder he videos and passes up. Kyle from Wisconsin shoots the 4th bear he sees that night which is easily 300 lbs. Zayne from Iowa sees 9 different bears tonight and a real big boar chasing a sow but has no shot with his bow. This big boar also trees another sow and her cubs, some great action. On the next night, Zayne shoots a monster bear with his bow that tops the scales at 500 lbs and also makes the record book. What a Bear! Zayne passes up 13 bears in total before this. Zayne also mentions to me that the big boar that was chasing the sows the night before was even bigger than the 500 pound bear he shot. WOW!!!! Later on in the week and after a lot of great footage, Mike from Hardcore Pursuit shoots a beautiful 350 pound black bear; youth hunter Cameron from Nebraska shoots a beautiful cinnamon color bear that has it all and Bryson from Iowa arrows his bear. What a week!
Our last week, June 11-16, we would finish with 6 new guests that were from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. The start of this week saw some cooler weather with light rain. Bear Movement was slow the first night as Bob from Minnesota saw 2. Bob would shoot a huge boar towards end of the week chasing a bog sow. This big boar also makes the record book. Lee from Florida, who was on his first bear hunt, shoots a nice chocolate after passing up a couple others. Father and son duo from Florida, Kelly and Tyler also shoot their first bears on the same night with their bows. Some more wolves are seen and we finish the year at 100% opportunity once again.
We would like to thank everyone for hunting with us this past spring and congratulations to everyone on your success!
The 2017 Waterfowl Season was excellent as usual and all of our guests experienced “World Class” waterfowl hunting at its finest! The non-resident waterfowl season opener is September 24, but we started this year at the beginning of October and went to the end of October.
The first week saw lots of local Canada geese around mixed with migrating birds as well. However, the migration was still slow at this time as temperatures remained warm. Our first group started off their hunt the day they arrived by taking advantage of the great walleye fishing our area has to offer. Nothing like catching good eating size walleye all afternoon/evening and then getting ready and anticipating a great goose/duck hunt early the next morning. And that they did, as our awesome group and re-peat hunters did. As Pat and Dales group from Wyoming witnessed some great field hunting. Pat also brought along his two your sons Liam & Duncan who are both excellent little waterfowl hunters and I think at times, showed up both Pat and Dale making incredible shots at both geese and ducks,lol. Great seeing those young hunters out in the field! During their hunt, abundance of snow geese were still around and they also got into them one morning as limits of Canada geese and lots of snow geese worked this particular field.
By October 10, some cooler weather and strong north winds pushed some new birds down just in time for our other groups arriving. The Hughes party from Minnesota was arriving. This group has hunted with as for over 15 years so it is always a pleasure seeing them all every year. Excellent guys and a lot of great shoots and memories over the years, and this year didn’t disappoint. The first morning saw the Hughes party limit out on greater Canada geese and 2 that were banded birds. That evening out in the barley field a great shoot of mallards occurred as it rained ducks! Nothing like field shooting mallards out on a grain field or just watching them work the spread. The rest of the week saw some more amazing shoots as most groups got into some amazing goose shoots, both Canada and snows, out in a corn field. The Hughes party also had a couple good shoots over water for a variety of ducks.
The daily temperature kept getting warmer by the middle of October and the migration slowed down to almost nothing. Fortunately we had enough birds down that provided us with some great shoots.
One of the next groups arriving was other excellent repeat guests of ours for at least 10 years, the O’laughlin party. Kevin and his group have also seen many good shoots over the years. The first morning saw a good goose shoot and mixed bag of Canada and snow geese out in a corn field. That evening we split the group of 8 up so 4 would hunt over water for ducks and 4 out on the field for mallards. Both groups had a great shoot for ducks as a variety of ducks worked the slough and mallards worked the field.
The next day was a lot slower as we witnessed a “Blue Bird” day. Lots of birds left their roost much later in the morning but would see something and most didn’t want to decoy that particular morning. However, the next day made up for it as limits of greeters were had once again. Good shooting guys!
As we approached the end of October the migration was still slow and spread out. Most birds coming down were coming down through the night.
Our last 2 groups would see good friend and repeat hunters from Minnesota, the James party and another new group which was good friend Paul Carnes from Virginia and another father and son from Minnesota. All avid bird hunters! So fortunately were lucky to still have enough birds around for some good shoots. The first morning saw the James party have a good shoot of snow geese mixed with some mallards. By now it was getting a little tougher to find new birds and the next day was a little slower, however in the evening both groups had a good duck hunt. One group over water and one group out on the fields had lots of shooting. Towards the end of the week and hunt, limits of greaters were shot by Carnes & Stagnes party and to top of the day, limits of gadwalls over the water were taken. Anybody who has hunted gadwalls knows how fun these ducks are when they decoy over water. What a way to end our Waterfowl Season!
All in all, every day except the odd “Blue Bird” day saw limits of Canada Geese and ducks even snow geese the odd morning. The migration was extremely slow as the whole months of September and October were warm. In fact, at the beginning of November I witnessed huge flocks of greater Canada geese as well as Northern Mallards coming down. Finally, a big thank you to all of our waterfowl guests for hunting with us, all of our hard working guides and last but not least, a huge thank you to all the landowners/farmers for letting us hunt your land. Much appreciated!
During the spring and summer of 2017, water levels where we hunt in Northern Manitoba were extremely high and the highest recorded in modern history. During spring bear, I received a call that some of our moose camps were under water. I was finally able to fly into all the camps by the beginning of August to access any damages as the water finally receded and we could finally beach the planes and walk on land. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of equipment and supplies which had to be re-placed but thankfully all of our camps remained in good shape besides some minor damage and shifting. The whole time since I received the call back at the end of May till August when we could access camps we worried that we might not be able to run our moose hunts in 2017 and have to move everyone back. Thankfully by the middle of September, the water receded back to normal levels and we knew we would have a hunt after all. Thank god!! When I flew in to access the camps in August, I saw some good moose from the air including one huge bull by our “Broken Horn” camp. A definite shooter!
September 13 finally arrived and all the guides and I flew up to the camps for our set up and to check out areas for sign, etc.., once camps where ready to go. When we were ready to fly into the camps, the pilot had mentioned that he was seeing lots of moose from the air which is what I always like to hear. Set up of all the camps went extremely well as we couldn’t have asked for better weather. All 5 days we allowed this year for set up, etc.… were sunny and warm which makes it much more pleasant setting up and doing everything else to get ready prior to hunters arriving. As per the norm, setting up “main camp” was the priority then guides Bob Hyshka and Bryan Minnis would go set up their “Down River” camp and my son Jordan and myself would go set up Jordan’s “Up River” Camp where he would be guiding.
All the other camp set ups went great also; as the nightly call ins would indicate. During set up, some moose sightings were reported as Bob and Bryan saw 2 different cows and 1 big bull that we never saw again during the hunting and is around hopefully for next year. While Jordan and I set up his camp, a wolverine walked right by us and didn’t seem to care we were there. After set up, Jordan and I went and checked out a couple of good calling spots. Lots of sign was evident everywhere and we knew it was shaping up to be a good season just by the moose sign everywhere. Other camps were reporting seeing the odd moose and seeing lots of sign also. Things were looking great!
Finally camps were all ready and first group of hunters were set to fly in on Monday, September 18 first thing in the morning pending weather conditions. Prior to this, on September 17 we all watched another good size bull walk the shores at “Main Camp”. This bull raked the willows and was very vocal as he looked for cows. Things were heating up!
Weather was perfect for flying and all guests arrived into the camps by 9:00 a.m. which was perfect. As hunters and guides got ready and came up with a plan, the hunting started. It didn’t take Bryan and Dan from Michigan long as on the first evening, Dan shoots a nice grey wolf on the way to their calling spot. Only 3 moose were seen between all camps on this first evening. Bob and Keith from Michigan spot a young bull and cow at their calling spot which Keith passes on as it is way too early in the hunt. Meanwhile, guide Jordan and his hunter Byron from Wyoming spot a huge cow bedded down along the river and watch her for a while hoping a bull was in the area. Everyone was reporting seeing lots of fresh sign.
The next day saw light winds out of the south-west, sunny with slight cloud cover, a great morning for moose. Joe and George from Pennsylvania spot a small bull today which George decides to pass at one of the camps to the north. Bryan and Dan see 5 moose including one big bull that was with a cow and calf and wouldn’t leave the cow alone. They also see 2 other small bulls. Jordan and Byron see no moose today. The only other camp to see moose was “Broken Horn” as they see 7 moose in total, 3 cows and 4 calves. No bulls with any of them yet. Bob and Keith see 3 wolves in the morning and later that day see 2 smaller bulls and a cow that didn’t want anything to do with the 2 bulls. The northern lights the last two nights have been unbelievable and are putting on a show.
On September 20, we all wake up to very strong winds out of the east and heavy cloud cover. Heavy rain started at 11:00 a.m. and continued all day with strong winds. Jordan and Byron have a cow and 2 calves walk by them at a mere 20 yards. Paul from Iowa who is hunting with guide Daine sees a monster bull but can’t get a good clean shot at him. This bull was never seen again and is also there for next year amongst many others. Bryan and Dan spot 7 Moose; 3 bulls, 3 cows and a calf. Over the next several days, Bryan and Dan have a number encounters with smaller bulls, both from the boat and from calling positions. They get some great video at 20 yards on several bulls that came to the call. Vey windy and raining hard all day. Surprised 11 moose were seen today considering the ugly weather, and already 30+ moose seen in total!
The next day was very windy too but sunny. This day Bob and Keith break the goose egg, as Keith shoots a big 50” bull at 10:15 that was coming to Bob’s call. What a bull! Paul and Daine over at “Broken Horn” pull the trigger on a 43” bull. Brian and Dan see another 7 Moose. 5 different bulls and a cow and calf. Dan decides to be patient yet. Jordan and Byron see a cow and 2 calves once in the morning at 7 a.m. and again at noon. Scott and Eric from Minnesota see a small bull and Joe and George to the north shoot a 42” bull at approximately 5:30. Cloud cover and light rain moves in for the evening. Bob and Keith also see a wolverine today.
Waking up today to heavy fog and light rain which ends up being misty all day with heavy cloud cover and winds out of the north. As Bob and Keith are bringing Keith’s moose meat to “Main Camp” they see 2 white wolves amongst their travels. One wolf was on Keith’s carcass already and the other was walking the shoreline. After all the meat is hung and taken care of, Bob goes back to kill site(carcass) and builds Keith a ground blind so he can hunt over it with his un-used bear tag. Over at “Broken Horn” Scott and Eric shoot a 42” bull at around 2:00 p.m. “Broken Horn” is done already! Eric and Paul both have their first bull moose and couldn’t be happier! Jordan calls in a small bull for Byron which he passes up for another year also. This bull walks past them at 20 yards. Byron and Dan see another 4 bulls and called in the same bull twice. Corbin and Scott from Ohio hear both a cow and bull call today but no luck. Paul missed a big white wolf on his carcass at 300+ yards today over at “Broken Horn”. Long shot! Paul also sees a wolverine on his hunt.
Today we see a high of +5 Celsius with a light North-East wind and cloud cover. Bryan and Dan saw a bull from far away. Couldn’t tell how big though. They also get a bull to approximately 20 yards in the willows grunting and thrashing but don’t see him. Keith misses a huge white wolf on his carcass. After his first shot, the wolf ran then came back and grabbed a piece of the moose hide,and takes off. One lucky wolf! Keenan and Rich from Pennsylvania to the north see a cow on North end of the lake all by herself. They watch her for 20 minutes hoping a bull would be with her. Jordan and Byron have a slow day as so does Brendan and Chad and Corbin and Scott. When Bob was picking up Keith from hunting his moose carcass for a wolf, he sees a cow walking into the willows on the island but couldn’t tell if a bull was with her.
September 24 saw light wind with cloud cover. Low was -2 Celsius. Great day for hunting! Geese really have been flying south the last 6-7 days and lots through the night. Keenan and Rich from Pennsylvania see a young bull today. Same area where they saw cow the night before. Jordan and Byron see 9 different moose today, all in the afternoon /evening over at the “Up River” camp. 5 cows and 4 calves but no bulls with any of these cows which is rare for this time of year. Bryan and Dan change calling spots again because of the wind change. 2 bulls were close by as they could hear them but had them pegged and the 2 bulls moved off. Bryan then calls for about 3 hours and got a bull coming from way off. He hung up at 150 yards and a quiet call got him in. Dan mad a couple of great shots and the big bull went down in sight! Dan also caches a 41 inch northern today and again most camps reporting lots of moose sightings and tons of sign.
Cool, frosty morning today and Bryan is bringing Dan’s moose meat to “Main Camp” today. Jordan and Byron pass up another bull today. So far they have seen 21 moose in that camp. What a week for most camps!
Change over today, September 26. Waiting on new groups but most flights delayed due to weather. Finally everyone in safe by late afternoon, so no hunting occurred in this first half day.
September 27, pilots coming in to get rest of the moose meat out today from last week. Rained all night and stopped early morning. Very windy out of south-west. Jordan and Pat from Wisconsin have a good start to the week as they see a cow and calf west of camp. Reporting tons of sign in some new areas they checked out too. Bryan and Paul from Quebec see 4 cows. Bob and Paul’s son Adam saw a cow and calf. They also see a big white wolf on one of last week’s carcass but Adam decides not to shoot. Pretty slow day everywhere else due to howling winds and most moose would have bedded down till weather breaks.
The next day, saw a very windy morning and finally died off around 5:00p.m. which made for a great night from calling. Bryan and Paul saw 4 moose in total today, 2 small bulls and a cow and calf. Also see a white wolf. Bob and Adam also see a small bull today. Jordan and Pat see 3 moose today, 1 a small bull and 2 cows. Joe and Earl didn’t see anything today but did lots of walking and saw lots of sign. Keenan and Rich also find lots of fresh sign. Brendan and Corbin finding lots of sign also to north, but no luck yet. Joe and Earl see a wolverine on last week’s carcass. Lots of wolverines being seen this fall. Scott and Sam from Georgia over at “Broken Horn” missed a good bull today clean. Daine and Mike from New Jersey see a cow and calf today and so far seeing lots of other moose too.
Temperature has warmed up to +15 Celsius and the low tonight +7. Wind out of south-west. Jordan and Pat call in a huge bull to about 50 yards but he too hangs up in the thick brush at around 8:30 a.m. He was grunting heavily. All of a sudden, a cow called in the distance which got his attention and he left. Bryan and Paul saw 2 small bulls and 2 cows with calves this morning. Paul shoots a 47” bull at 4:45 p.m. Saw 7 moose today. “In a howling wind, we set up in a nice spot and were able to get a reaction. It went from quiet to full blown action in about 15 seconds. Two big agitated cows came running in, followed by a real nice bull. Paul made a couple nice shots and put the bull down within sight”, says Bryan. Bob and Adam saw a white wolf but no shot. Few more moose sighted at “Broken Horn” but haven’t heard whether bulls or cows.
First thing in morning, headed down to help Bryan & Bob with Paul’s moose. Saw a cow and 2 calves going to “Down River” camp. When I arrived at camp, guys said they just watched a cow swim across the river in front of camp. Then we all watched a small bull walk out and along the island shore across from camp also. Getting Paul’s bull went great. When we were hanging Paul’s moose meat at “Main Camp” Jordan and Pat arrived as they needed a hand with a 53 inch bull that Pat shot at 7:30 a.m. that was with a cow and calf also. Then after Pat shot this bull they watched and took video of a 35-38 inch bull that didn’t care they were there. What a perfect day, sunny and calm. Over at “Broken Horn”, Sam and Scott shoot a young bull which was Sam’s first bull ever.
Towards the end of the week, another 44 inch bull went down at “Broken Horn” as Daine and Mike from New Jersey pulled the trigger and saw another 3 moose before that. Bob and Adam shoot a nice 46 inch bull on the last morning of Adams hunt. Adams bull has great character and was chasing a cow at 7:30 a.m. What a way to finish off the season!!
To sum up our fall, it was another great fall considering we didn’t even know if we were going to have a season due to the high water event. But thanks to all the hard work of the guides fixing, cleaning and putting a lot of hard work to help assure all hunters/guests got a quality hunt and a great experience, greatly paid off. Like every other past fall, most hunters were successful and we ran at 80% opportunity and a 60% success rate. This is usually the norm, however some years even higher. In any case, this is excellent when talking moose hunting. Again, a huge thank you to all of our moose guides for your hard work, dedication, and commitment! Also, we want to thank all of our valued moose hunters who chose to hunt with us and congratulations to those successful and hope to see you all again real soon! Lastly, we want to thank all of the workers/pilots at Wings Over Kississing and the hotels our guests stay at for all of your great service and treating our guests and guides first class!
In closing there were 147 moose sightings throughout all the camps and over the 2 week hunting period we run our hunts. Some huge bulls were seen and are still out there spreading their genes. Most importantly the reports and sightings of all the young bulls, cows and calves. A lot of cows had twins which proves what great genetics are in our area. Having said this, this is great news, speaks highly of future prospects and shows that our future moose hunts look bright!
**We look forward to seeing everyone at the sport shows during the upcoming Sport show Season**
The spring of 2017 arrived early. By April 1 we were able to drive into camp already which is rare up in our area. Usually by the middle or third week of April we can access camp, so this told me that our spring was about 2-3 weeks early compared to a more normal or average spring. However on Friday, April 14, light rain started and continued all into the next day and by Sunday turned to snow which saw accumulations up to 3 inches of the white stuff. This did not slow us down, as most baits were out and stands up. By April 23, we were noticing some sign amongst our travels and some baits were already being hit. By April 28 and to May 6, most baits were being hit and getting real active, which was great as our first hunters arrived on Sunday, May7 which is when we like to start the hunting.
Arriving was one of our good guests and re-peat hunter Richard Price and his party from Wyoming. Bear activity was slower the first evening but still should have had two bears down but unfortunately both were missed. A total of 7 bears were seen this evening. The next evening avid bear hunter and repeat guest Josh pulled the trigger at 5:30 p.m. on a beautiful black bear. After waiting for a good hour up in his stand, Josh decided to get out and start walking out to meet myself. As Josh stated to leave his stand, another big black bear started walking towards him and stopped at a mere 10 yards. Josh had enough of this, yelled at the bear which eventually disappeared into the thick, dark spruce. Wednesday afternoon/evening saw a wicked cold front come through which slowed down the bear activity as only a few bears were seen. On Thursday, I decided to move whoever was left to new bait sites. And it paid off as Richards’s good friend Chancy shot a huge 450-475 lb black. What a bear and heck of a first bear ever for Chancy! Finally by May 12, the sun was back out and it looked to be a perfect day to bear hunt. Baits were really heating up now by this time. Richard waited to the end to finally take a good boar. Passing on some other bears throughout the week paid off too as Richards bear pushed 400 lbs. What a start to the season, some big bears down and 100% opportunity.
The second week we were 100% opportunity again. This week saw some re-peat guests and first time bear hunters from Wisconsin and also our long time guest and avid bear hunter Mr. Earl Olaughlin and son in law. It didn’t take husband and wife team; Greg and Terry from Ohio long to shoot their first bear as Terry pulled the trigger on a beautiful boar at 8:15 the first night. Terry made a great shot and the big boar only ran 20 yards. Steve and Tammy, another husband and wife team from Wisconsin watched and passed up 3 bears the first night. Steve was sitting with Tammy until she got her bear and then would hunt on his own. The opening of the Fishing season was also this week and it was absolutely crazy as everyone was catching tons of fish. Meanwhile, it didn’t take Tammy long either, as on the second night after passing on some good bears, decided to squeeze the trigger as well. Tammy took a gorgeous 250 lb bear which is an excellent spring bear especially being her first bear ever! On Wednesday, May 17 we had light snow flurries and strong north winds, however Earls son in law John watched and passed up 5 good bears. Steve from Wisconsin saw 3. Ryan from Missouri had a slow evening and didn’t see a bear tonight. On May 18 we had a perfect day for bear hunting. Light breeze and sunny with some cloud cover. The “General” Mr. Earl Olaughlin pulled the trigger this evening at 7:30. Earl has shot some big and beautiful color bears with us over the years and this was another. Earl couldn’t of been happier with this 350 lb boar. Earl’s son in law John of Minnesota saw a couple other bears, Steve saw 5 more bears and Ryan saw some bears and couldn’t get a good clean shot at 400+ lb boar that worked his bait just before dark. By Wednesday this week we were already 100% opportunity and everyone was seeing lots of bears. Finally on Friday both Steve and Ryan got their bears. Steve took a nice 275 lb boar with his bow which ran about 30 years and Ryan took a nice 250 lb boar, his first bear ever too.
The third week saw all great guys and repeat hunters of Agassiz Outfitters from many past years. All from Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The first night saw real strong winds and everyone was being patient as everyone this week had taken big bears in the past. By Tuesday, Brandon of Methodical Media took his first bear. A real nice 300 lb. boar. At this time, when walking hunters in we were seeing some real good bears at the baits. Mark from Wisconsin who was seeing lot of bears too, took another good bear on the third night. Wayne from Pennsylvania shot too which was a great decision as his bear was 350+lbs and biggest to date. This evening, good friend Jeff from Minnesota saw 4 bears, Brad from Wisconsin saw 4 and shot a bigger boar with his bow and Brian a.k.a “Doc” from Minnesota shot a gorgeous reddish chocolate at 9:30. Jason from Wisconsin was also having lots of action as he saw 9 this evening including a huge black, a big cinnamon and smaller chocolate and all wouldn’t give him a good shot with his bow. Great patience Jason! What a week!! The fishing remained hot and the biggest this week was a whopping 47 inch Northern caught by Mark a.k.a. “Killer” of Wisconsin. For the most part, guys that fished this week couldn’t keep them off as 100;s a day were caught and released in short periods throughout the day.
By May 28, I was noticing lots of pre-rut activity around the bait sites and it was even heating up more and more with each passing day. This week which was our fourth hunting week, saw good repeat hunters/guests from Missouri and new guest from Nebraska and a grandpa, father and son team from Oklahoma. The first night most guests saw lots of bears. Dana from Nebraska saw 5 including 1 big cinnamon and 1 frosted color bear. Dana was hunting with traditional archery and couldn’t get a shot at either bear unfortunately.
Terry from Oklahoma first time/night bear hunting saw 4 bears which he decided to pass which would pay off big time later in the week. Terrys Dad Spencer saw 3 bears the first night and shot a beautiful first bear. Greg from Missouri pulled the trigger on Wednesday evening. Greg and his guide walked into the bait site with a good sized cinnamon on the bait and would later see him again but decided to pass him which paid off too as Greg shoots a big 300 lb. boar that was with a sow. Greg saw 5 bears in total that night. Dana from Nebraska shot a big chocolate at 8:30 with his bow and Terry who was passing up tons of bears all week, shot a monster 500+lb. boar that was with a big sow also. This monster bear squared close to 8’ and green scored 20 8/16 and should rank in the top 5 in Manitoba for 2017 Non-Resident. What a bruin!! And what a night/week as Terry’s son Caleb pulls the trigger on his first bear that has a beautiful white V on his chest. Grandfather, Father and Son all tagged out on big bears! What memories!! Mike from Nebraska unfortunately misses with his bow and sees 3 others after. Lots of activity, lots of bears!
This 5th and final week saw more good re-peat hunters/guests from Ohio and the Hill brothers from Iowa who also brought Brian’s son Adam. Well it didn’t take good guest and avid bear hunter Jason Kunkle from Ohio to tag out as Jason passed up 3 bear when suddenly a huge boar appears chasing a sow and presents Jason with the perfect shot. Jason’s bear tips the scales at 500 lbs and again makes the Manitoba record books. Another monster takes a dirt nap! George from Iowa also shoots a nice black bear with his bow. Frank sees 6 bears and a gorgeous cinnamon. Dave from Iowa shoots a gorgeous cinnamon way to the north at 8:00 and passed on 2 others before this. The next night, Dave’s brother Brian shoots a beautiful cinnamon too. Wow, two brothers, two color bears! Again, what memories for these brothers! George from Iowa also shoots a good black bear with his bow after passing up another. On Thursday, June 8, Frank from Ohio sees 4 more bears and shoots one at 8:30. Jason Pike from Ohio also shoots his first black bear at 8:45 and Adam sees 4 more but is still passing them up. However, the next night Adam sees 3 more and decides to take his first bear ever. After Adam shoots his bear, a big boar walks in which happens lots. Again 100% opportunity during this week and for the whole spring season.
All in all, what a spring! Great guests, great experiences and lots of more great memories in bear camp! Thank you to everyone who hunted black bear with us in 2017 and congratulations to everyone on your success! We look forward, cant wait to see everyone again soon and look forward to hunting big black bear in 2018!
*Please watch for our ads in upcoming issues of Bear Hunting Magazine*
**Fall Black Bear Hunts were all a huge success and 100% Opportunity as well**
September 15th was finally here and weather pending all the guides and myself where finally flying into moose camp. As we got closer to the camps, poor visibility had both otters turn around and set down on another body of water to the south. Finally after a couple hours wait and the pilots thought we could get into camp, once again we were en route to camp. Upon arrival, we noticed that the water levels where lower than the previous year and probably the lowest in recent memory according to a few veteran guides. We knew what this meant, traveling of the river and lakes by boat at most camps was going to be next to impossible and a lot of territory was going to be left un-touched this fall due to the low water levels. However, this didn’t dampen spirits as a lot of excellent territory and area was still huntable. As the weather continued to cooperate, the main camps and cook tent were all ready to go. The following day both the “Down River” and “Up River” camps where set up and another otter carrying another load of lumber and a boat were flown into the other two camps for expansion. Already that day, Scott over at “Broken Horn” had reported seeing one good bull and lots of fresh sign. The guys at “Hogg Lake” reported lots of fresh sign as well and both Jim and myself noticed quite a bit of sign behind his “Up River” camp. Un-like the previous year, Bob and Bryan didn’t see any moose or much for sign yet at the “Down River” camp but remained optimistic that things could change quickly now this time of year as the rut approached. The four days we prepared for the hunters (September 15 – 18) saw HI’s reach +20 for the most part, with LO’s from +9 – +4°C. Lots of leaves remained on the trees and willows as all of us prayed for cooler temperatures and hopefully frost at night. On September 18, Jim reported of seeing a moose and Scott saw another moose today. Over at “Hogg Lake”, Joe and Gareth saw 2 younger bulls approximately 30 and 40 inches respectively. Joe and Gareth not only saw these 2 young bulls but watched a big wolverine walk the shorelines. In the 4 days of set up and preparing for guests, a total of 7 Moose had been seen between all camps so far!
September 19 saw cloud cover with light rain with the arrival of 7 hunters today to begin our first week of hunting. The planes were all in camp approximately at 8:30 a.m. and everyone including guides couldn’t wait to get out hunting after a quick bite to eat. That afternoon/evening guide Bryan M., who was hunting with Nick from North Dakota, called in 2 small bulls that they took pictures of and videotaped. Over at “Broken Horn” Scott S. who was guiding Dan from Wisconsin watched a cow wander the shorelines of the river.
That afternoon and evening saw very heavy winds and by morning rain had begun and fell till approximately 3:30 p.m. with the heavy winds all day long. A few of the hunters decided to wait out the bad weather and didn’t hunt the morning. Bryan called in a spiker bull for Nick over at the “Down River” camp who obviously passed it up in hopes of something much bigger. Scott and Dan watched a cow and calf today. Guide Joe P. and Kevin from over at “Hogg Lake” saw 3 good bulls after the storm moved out. Two of the bulls were 40+ inches and the third bull pushing 60 inches! Joe knew that this big bull was a shooter from over 400 yards and knew they had to close the distance. As they got to within 150 yards, Kevin didn’t feel good about the shot yet and not much long after that, the monster bull vanished into the thick brush to never be seen again unfortunately. During all the bad weather today, a total of 6 moose were seen between all the camps. The next day, Wednesday, September 21, saw more favorable weather conditions for calling.
Guide Gareth S. and Chad from Minnesota shot a 35 inch bull at 11:00 a.m. Chad and Gareth had woke up early that morning, had a quick coffee and breakfast then proceeded to travel to the North end of the lake. They saw a smaller bull on the shore n the horizon. They decided to put the stock on. They got to 40 yards of the bull when Chad decided that he wanted something a little bigger so they sat and called for a couple hours. After a sequence of cow calls, it was 11 a.m. already and as they were having lunch, Gareth glassed a mile down the lake and saw this bigger bull. They hoped in the boat and headed downwind of him, as soon as Gareth killed the motor he started grunting and the bull decided he wanted to investigate. Swaying his head and grunting back at them he came towards the boat. The bull stopped and turned broadside and Chad took a great shot at 176 yards and put the bull down where he stood. Scott called in 3 small bulls for Dan who decided to pass on all of them and they also saw a cow and 2 calves. A total of 8 Moose seen today. The other camps had been slower than usual but with experienced guides and good hunters, nobody was worried as more and more fresh sign everyday was evident.
The next day saw a light frost, no wind but very foggy. Good for calling! Pat and Lee from Ohio saw no moose today but lots of fresh sign. Bryan and Nick shot a 45 inch bull at around 11 a.m. They had this nice bull come to the far shore and after a couple more calls, he entered the water and swam to their side. They had to move to him and set up where Nick made a nice standing shot as this bull reached the willows. They got some help from guide Bob H. and his hunter Wayne S. from North Dakota and located the bull at about 80 yards. Bryan and Nick also saw a spiker before this today. Wolves found the carcass a couple days later and Nick had a good opportunity at a nice grey wolf but the big wolf is still running from his “close shave”! Bob & Wayne didn’t see any moose today but more and more fresh sign. Scott and Dan saw a good 45+ inch bull today but wouldn’t get a shot at him as the big bull was lost amongst the willows. Joe and Kevin over at “Hogg” saw a cow and calf today and were still in pursuit of the big 60 inch bull they had seen earlier.
Friday, September 23 saw a HI of +16°C, no wind and sunny. A very warm day. While coming to the main camp to drop off Nick’s meat, Bryan and Nick saw a 35 inch bull walking the shoreline. The bull was in no hurry as Bryan was able to get good pics and video him. Scott and Dan over at “Broken Horn” saw a huge bull with a cow and 2 calves in the morning, however no shooting. That evening Dan flung lead at a pack of 10 wolves. Bob & Wayne at the “Down River” camp called in a lone cow.
Saturday the leaves really stated to fall today with heavy winds out of the south east. The only moose seen today was at the “Down River” camp as Bob called in a spiker for Wayne who passed on this young bull as well.
Sunday, September 25 it rained hard all through the night and all morning. It finally stopped at around 3:00. Scott and Dan were the only ones to see moose today which was a big bull before dark with no good shot. Other camps where slow today but lost the day to rain that fell hard! The next day and last day of week 1, Bob & Wayne saw a spiker bull who crossed the river and came to the call. So far we have seen a very strange and slow rut and the weather has been very un-stable which can really affect the rut.
Tuesday, September 27 the start of the second week. First week of guests all flew out and the new guest’s flew in. A perfect afternoon/evening for calling. Cloud cover and no wind finally! Best evening for calling so far. River and lakes were like glass. Guide Daine V. and his hunter Steve from Wisconsin shot a 40+ inch bull tonight only a couple hours into Steve’s hunt, which was Steve’s first ever bull moose. Guide Jim D. and his hunter Brian from Wisconsin passed on a good 45+ inch bull right behind the “Up River” camp which was very tempting. This bull had beautiful fronts but Brian was looking for a much larger bull. Joe and Gareth were reporting lots of fresh sign over at “Hogg” and Bob and Bryan at the “Down River” camps saw no moose today.
Wednesday, September 28 saw clear and sunny skies this morning with strong south-west winds all day. The strong winds died down around 7p.m. just around the time Bryan and Wally were having action with a cow and big bull. They had this cow and bull come to the water about 500 yards from their calling spot. After a sneak which got them to about 200 yards it appeared that the cow had made them. Amazing that she noticed something from 200 yards up wind, when she could not see them. This changed the game and some bull challenge action seemed in order. This got the bulls attention and he came hard to sort it out. Long story short, the bull passed Wally at about 20 yards and he made the close shot followed by another as the bull left. Bryan was happy to hear the shot as the bull was about 20 yards from him at that point. In order not to push the bull they left him till morning and found him immediately where they expected. Bryan got most of this hunt on video. To say Wally was excited would be an understatement!! Wally fished after his hunt and caught some great walleye right at camp. While the other guys were hunting one morning, Wally spotted a small bull walking the shore towards camp and Bryan was able to get some nice video of him very close to camp. Meanwhile over at the “Up River” camp, Brian who was being guided by Jim D. shot a big grey timber wolf that came to Jim’s cow call.
The next evening Jim and Brian worked a huge 55+ inch bull. They called him to 80 yards but couldn’t see him as they could only hear him. They saw him at 400 yards later broadside as he thrashed trees and grunted but wouldn’t come any closer. Bob & Keith from New Mexico saw a cow and 2 calves today and Scott and Dave saw a cow and calf over at “Broken Horn”.
The next day, Friday September 30 was calm with very little wind all day but light rain off and on. I saw a good 45+ inch bull today at “Main Camp” walk the shore and thrash the willows as every other camp was slower than normal. Jim called out a small bull for Brian who decided to pass on this bull too in hopes of the big monster they saw the day before.
Saturday, October 1, saw real heavy winds out of the north and rain off and all day. Jim and Brian saw 3 moose today, a cow and 2 calves once again right behind camp. The weather was brutal today but Scott and Dave killed a 53 inch bull! This bull was shot at approximately 7 p.m. too and was by himself as he came into Scott’s cow call.
The next day saw heavy North-east winds. Overcast and light rain all day again! Snow geese were really coming down. Jim and Brian worked and saw same monster bull they saw the other night. This time it walked over to where they sat the night before. They saw him again at 350 yards broadside but Brian didn’t feel comfortable with the shot.
On Monday, October 3 a special weather statement was issued as 2-3 feet of snow was predicted to fall in the next couple days. Thankfully Bob & Keith shot at 10:15. A good bull that was Keith’s first moose ever! As Bob was at the boat getting something, he noticed something black on his way back to his calling spot. It was 400 yards at first and was finally 75 yards when Keith shot and the bull fell in his tracks. Very windy all afternoon as wind gusts were up to 90 km/hr. Jim called in a small bull that they didn’t take him. Northern lights were absolutely crazy tonight and put on quite the show for everyone.
Our fly out date for 4 of the 5 camps was Wednesday, October 5 but due to the heavy snow fall that lasted a couple days we were unable to fly out until the afternoon of October 7.
“Broken Horn” remained open for the third week of moose for a first time ever. When good friends/guests Brad and Mark from Wisconsin finally arrived in after the storm, it wasn’t long and Daine and Brad had a real nice wolf down. Two more wolves where missed this week and a real good bull also missed. A total of 6 moose were seen this week by Brad and Mark. The heavy snow in the willows and low water conditions made it almost impossible to access most good areas this third week.
All in all in the end, this season was slower the first week for some camps compared to the others and then vice versa during the second week as the slower camps the first week turned hot! The weather played havoc pretty much every day which we all know can and will affect the moose rut tremendously which most of us witnessed. Moose sightings were a little lower this year than the previous year but most hunters were still successful or had a good opportunity and saw moose. Three hunters did not see moose out of 16 but like I mentioned above, the weather took a few days of hunting/calling and really affected the rut. Everyone that was successful, congratulations on your bull moose and we thank each and every hunter that hunted with us this fall. Also a huge thank you to our guides for all your hard work, commitment and dedication to our operation!
*Most cows seen this fall had twins which is great to see for the future of our areas.
**A lot of young bulls were seen this fall which is also good for the future of our areas
***With the low water conditions the last 2 falls, a lot of awesome hunting territory was not touched the last couple of years which will also be great in future years when levels are back to normal or high once again.
****Some big bulls that where seen last year but not taken where able to spread there genes once again. The future looks real bright!!!
As of April 18, we still couldn’t get into our camp due to the 12+ inches of snow we received on April 11 and the rest of that week saw. Up until this point, the snow was almost all gone and a lot of bears where walking around already as more and more tracks became evident in the freshly made snow. Baiting and getting into sites started on April 18 with the Argo as it wasn’t until April 23rd I could start accessing baits with the quads. The snow was almost all gone once again and the odd bait was starting to get hit. During the week of April 25-30 while baiting, I had time to put out some “new” baits and move a few “old” ones that I felt could be better. By the end of this week, pretty much all of the baits where out and during the week of May 2-7 my son Jordan and I started checking and freshening up all baits as the first group of hunters were scheduled to arrive on May 8. The baits looked great already and we couldn’t wait to get started!
The first night saw some good action as hunters saw and passed up some good bears. The second night, Daryl from Wyoming shot his first black bear at 6:00 p.m. Rain fall started at 1:00 p.m. and lasted all day and into the evening and next day. The third night saw a young bear climb and chew at Wayne’s stand. However, Wayne who is from Pennsylvania was after a much larger bear. The baits in the last few days where really starting to heat up more and more. On May 13, we had snow flurries off and on all day and woke up the next morning to an inch of snow. That day however, Wayne shot a good black bear at 9:05 P.M. after passing on two others. The next day Dale also from Wyoming shot his bear walking into the bait site with Jordan. That week saw 100% success and the fishing opener was here. All the guys caught lots of fish that day and we all enjoyed a fresh meal of fish. The second week, May 16-21 saw 7 hunters. By Tuesday night, we were already at a 100% opportunity. The first night saw a total of 16 bears seen with Tyler from Ohio seeing the most with 7. Mark from Michigan shot a big black and saw another bear the first night too. The second night, father and son duo; Travis and Josh from Indiana both shot excellent bears as Travis’s was a beautiful cinnamon and Josh shot a huge black bear with his bow. Tyler once again was seeing all kinds of bear and shot a nice black with his bow. This bear got a little too close to Tyler so he ended up shooting it out of the tree he was up in. Byron from Michigan saw 3 good bears also on the second night but decided to wait it out. On the third night, Kevin from Ohio saw 4 bears and shot a nice black with his bow also. While running and checking baits all week, all the other guides and myself were seeing some real nice bears at the baits. Curtis from Indiana ended up shooting his bear Friday evening at 8:15. And finally the last of the hunters, Byron from Michigan was done Saturday evening once again were 100% success rate. The fishing this week was unreal as guests hammered the northerns up to 42 inches. This past week saw lots of sun and temps for a High reach 28C. The bush was finally starting to dry good.
The third week, May 23-28 saw 12 hunters in camp and once again saw 100% opportunity. The first night saw tons of action with lots of re-peat and new guests! That first night, avid bear hunter and good friend Jason from Wisconsin passed on 2 really good bears with his bow in hope at a chance at a much bigger one. Jason’s patience paid off as just before legal shooting time, a big black with a big white V showed himself just enough for Jason to get a good clean shot at. This big bruin that went well over 7 feet ran only 30 yards. Bob also from Wisconsin passed on 5 different bears. Tim also from Wisconsin saw 4 bears and shot a nice black bear from a ground blind. This same night, Tim’s son J.T. also shot a good bear just before dark and another father and son duo, Brandon and Ben from Wisconsin, shot their first bears also this night. What a night it was as two fathers and sons all shot their bears on the same night! Tim’s other son Mathew saw 7 bears on the first night. The second night saw lots of heavy rain but 2 more bears where shot. Mathew and Dalton both from Wisconsin had bears down in the rain. On Thursday, May 26 another father and son team from Wisconsin were hunting. Steve watched a big black just before dark with no shot and his son Carl shot a big black at 7:00 p.m. with his bow. Carl then watched and videotaped a much larger bear after all this! My dad who was guiding Charles from Wisconsin walked into a big bear at the bait. When he finally left, Charles while walking to his treestand shot another black that was coming to the baits. Charles never ever made it up his treestand that night! Steve that night saw 4 other bears and on the next night, arrowed the 8th bear that came in! Tim and Bob respectively saw 2 and 3 bears each the last night but passed on them also. The fishing was absolutely amazing still as guests claimed to be catching 100+ northerns in only 2-3 hours of fishing.
By the time we hit our fourth week, the baits where all hot and a lot of new bears where hitting them. This week saw 6 more hunters, 3 re-peat and 3 new hunters. On the first night, Garrett from Colorado was done quickly as he arrowed a big 7 footer that scored 19 4/16. The second night saw limited activity as heavy winds and rain came through. On the third night Leroy from Wyoming saw 2 real good bears and 1 that he said was a monster but couldn’t get a shot at. Olin from Wyoming saw 3 different bears and shot a beautiful cinnamon colored bear. LT from Kentucky saw 5 bears this night too despite the wicked cold front. On Friday, May 3 Van Eaves from Illinois shot his bear with the bow. The last night a miss occurred as good guest and repeat hunter Byron from Wyoming missed a huge black with a big white V. However, approximately 30 miles away, Leroy had just shot a monster bear at 8:30 that was 8+ feet, scored 21 3/16 and weighed well over 600 pounds. What a Bear!! 100% opportunity once again, what a week!
The week of June 6 – 11 saw a big group of 8 from Indiana arrive and 2 other hunters from Ohio for a total of 10 hunters/huntresses! In this group of 8 was a family of 6 with 2 sons and 2 daughters hunting (two sets of twins). On the first night, Eric who was sitting with one of his daughters saw 5 bears and 1 monster that was well over 500 pounds they passed up on but have plenty of video of him at the bait. Jenny who was sitting with her son Chanz watched Chanz miss a real good bear this night. Gavin passed on a beautiful cinnamon with his bow at 6 yards which he videotaped instead. Andy and Trevor both saw 6 and 7 bears respectively that night. Eric’s daughter Carly shot a real good bear on the second night a t 5:10p.m. after seeing g 4 others. Andy shot a big black for his first bear ever that squared 6 ½ feet. He saw 5 other that night also. Trevor saw 7 again but didn’t shoot yet. David from Ohio saw 3 bears and shot a nice black just before dark. On Wednesday, June 8 Gavin shot a big black right at dark with his bow. Unfortunately, by the time the guides found it first thing in the morning, wolves had eaten the stomach and one of the hind quarters. Fortunately, it was salvageable for a ¾ mount. This bear also squared over 6 ½ feet + 350 lbs. Brian from Ohio also shot his first bear ever this night. On the 9th, nobody went out hunting due to heavy rain, winds and lightning. However, the next night, Eric who was hunting by himself now, shot a big black at 7:00 p.m. He saw 2 others also and 3 wolves that came through! Eric’s daughter Hope showed great patience and once again passed on 2 bears and also saw 2 wolves. One that layed right by the barrel. Jenny and Chanz also shot at 9:15 after seeing 3 others. Chanz is 12 years old and shot the bear of a lifetime that squared 8 feet and scored 20 8/16. Once again, 100% opportunity! Started closing up sites at this time and seeing some huge tracks around baits still as the rut is in full swing.
The last week of bear camp saw 5 hunters arrive. Another father and 12 year old daughter from Wyoming hunting together too. Dave and Lillian passed up bears the first few nights and Lillian, who showed great patience, squeezed the trigger at 9:00 p.m. on the fourth night. Logan from Illinois shot at 5:10 the first night and he had his first black bear. The weather was extremely hot this week and bear activity slowed down a bit but we kept 100% opportunity. The fishing remained hot all season as limits of northers were caught.
This spring saw lots of youth bear hunters which was great to see. Most of them witnessed lots of exciting action and bears coming up their trees. Leroy’s big bear might be the #1 Non-Resident bear this year in the Province but we will have to wait for the December 31 deadline to come and go.
Congratulations to all of our hunter’s success and hope to see you all in the near future!!
Closing up baits and taking down stands we were all still seeing some really big bears at the baits and lots of good sign. If this is any indication, the 2017 Spring Season is going to be a dandy!!
Also a big thank you to all of our hard working bear guides.
Happy Hunting & Straight Shooting,
**Please watch for our “New” ½ page Ad in Bear Hunting Magazine**
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!
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!
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!!
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!
*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!
*Please watch for our “NEW” ads in the up-coming issues of Bear Hunting Magazine!
The spring hatch up in central Manitoba during the spring of 2014 was beyond exceptional therefore the local birds and the start of the migration made for quite a site by the time we started our hunt which is always September 24th. So as you can imagine and as all our guests who have hunted with us in the past can testify, I was pretty pumped and excited for the season to begin!
On opening day it was extremely warm with a high of +28 Celsius. The hunting was still excellent as groups saw excellent mallard and goose hunting that opening day. The next day also, saw limits of greater Canada’s which where had by 8:30 a.m.! The high that morning was +30 Celsius which of course really put a hold on the migration, but nonetheless, plenty of birds where around to make for some “world class” hunting! On September 26, all groups shot their limits of mallards and greaters on the fields in +30 Celsius temperatures but the next day finally a cold front really saw the temperatures dip to +7 C with a low at night of +2 C. Sitting by the fire that night with the guests, we could really hear the snow geese and greater/ lesser Canada geese coming down from the north. That next morning, our good ole buddy the `General ‘ was back in camp with his crew and they had all their birds by 9:00a.m.! Even the next two days the `General ‘and his party had their mallards and greater Canada’s out in the grain fields!
With the cold front that lasted the next several days, birds littered the fields and marshes. The one morning even our husband and wife parties from Alaska and Minnesota saw some snow flurries in the morning but also saw `World Class Waterfowl Hunting` with it! They told us; `that they had never seen bird hunting like this before, as they too have hunted birds all over North America. On October 7th, 10 inches of snow hit parts of the north which really pushed the birds down. From here on in the hunting was unbelievable and stayed good to the end. It stayed extremely warm till well into November and lots of birds were still around till November 10th due to the open water yet!”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for hunting Waterfowl with us this fall and hope to see you all again real soon!!
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.
This past fall all our bear hunters saw what you always want them to see while they are up here in Manitoba’s Northern Interlake Region hunting black bear. Lots of bear action and excitement! It was another one of those falls that you dream of as a black bear guide as the stories going back to camp and at camp that night of bears wouldn’t end. In fact, even “new” baits I was test baiting already had bears all over them that where just put out on August 20-25th. I had started baiting this fall on August 15, and noticed that the berry crop in most areas was next to nil due to the fact our spring in 2014 was extremely late and that we also had extremely late frosts and a really wet spring/summer didn’t help.
The areas that I decided to hunt this fall, as when I was getting to the baits for the first time to open up, bears had already been at the sites. I was seeing some good bears and tracks too along the trails and amidst my travel. So to no surprise, ALL baits where being hit hard by August 25. By August 30, baits where crazy hot! The highs where around +20 Celsius and lows around +10. Perfect for fall bear hunting as our first groups where starting on September 1st.
As we took hunters out that first day, we were walking into big bears already at the baits. Scott from Ohio who had been previously to Ontario twice and never seen a bear, was done in less than an hour with his bow that first night. Rolf from Illinois who was on a father/son hunt, saw over 15 bears and shot at 6:00. Rolf has hunted all over the world and couldn’t believe the quality of bears and saw multiple 500 pound black bears after he shot as well as a couple chocolate color bears around 300-350 pound range. His son Mike was hunting a couple large bears I had on trail camera but they didn’t make a mistake that night. Chad from Ohio was also archery hunting and saw 4 bears that first night, one monster right at dark and couldn’t find his pins. They get big for a reason! However, Mike, Rolf’s son pulled the trigger the next night on a real good bear and saw several other bears and Chad shot a big 7 ½ footer with his bow that went 19 8/16. All hunters where done by 7 p.m. on Wednesday night and saw 50+ bears in that short time span! Awesome week guys!!!
By September 5, the nights where starting to cool off a little bit more and the leaves where really starting to fall which meant you could see a little more in the bush now around the baits, which is always nice when your bear hunting. On September 8th, our next group started and same thing, walking hunters into fresh baits, we were seeing some real good bears already at the baits. Always a good sign as both the hunter and guide are pumped!! Jock another dad that brought his son both from Wyoming shot his big bear half an hour the first night. His son Jake was snake bitten that night. Mike and Chris, a husband and wife from Ohio, have hunted with us several times for bear where hunting too this week. Mike shot a 7 ½ black that scored 19 5/16 and too saw bigger after and saw 2 chocolates after. His wife Chris saw a huge 500+lb. black with a white V on his chest that she video taped but wouldn’t give her a good shot as it laid behind the barrel for over an hour. The next night she saw the same big bear and still no shot, as it once again stayed at the barrel till dark.. It didn’t come back the third night and she settled on another real good bear that dropped at the barrel. Good patience Chris! Jake also shot a real good black bear which was his first bear ever! Congratulations everyone!!
What a great ending to a great fall! 100% success rate and everyone getting their bears and seeing lots. As I took stands down and closed up sites, I was seeing lots of bears and getting some really good pictures. If the quantity and quality of bears everyone was seeing this fall is any indication what our spring hunters are up for this upcoming Spring, they are in for a real treat. As our black bears just start to den up (Nov. 8) let’s just pray for a normal spring; weather wise!
*Please watch for our ½ page Ads that appear in “Bear Hunting Magazine” which will be in the following issues: November/December, January/February and March/April.
**We look forward to hosting Mr. Bob Kaleta of Remington, Mr. Jim Ferguson of The Revolution Outdoors Radio Show and Mr. Don Pollanuf of Bowhunting Addiction TV on their upcoming 2015 Manitoba Spring Bear Hunts.
The winter of 2013/14 was one of the coldest on record in 100+ years! Not only was it extremely cold, but it was one of those winters that didn’t want to leave and pretty much like the previous spring, the spring of 2014 was late in arriving. On April 14, a lot of places in the bush still had 2+ feet of snow yet and the lakes over 3 feet of ice. The odd bear was starting to walk around but, as the norm anyway, not real active yet. The high that day was -7celcius and the low was -17 celius which is a pretty good indication on how cold and late our spring was, although there was still hope that it would get warm quick. But on April 19th we were hit with another 8 inches of snow which we didn’t need, as the bush was extremely wet already. From now until around May 9 when our first group of hunters where to arrive, the spring saw lots of rain, snow and wind. By May 1st, the odd bait was just starting to get hit and the late spring had the bears behind about 3-4 weeks!
The first week of hunting, as predicted, was slower than normal due to the cold wet weather that we received the whole month of April. The weather at the beginning of May was no different. In fact, the afternoon/evenings were so cold and damp; a couple different evening two of the guys couldn’t hunt. Hard rain, heavy winds, sleet and snow!!! That kind of weather can cut right through you here in Manitoba!! Thank god for the warmth of the fires in the cabins. But hey, amidst this ugly and bad bear weather, Cale from MI saw 3 bears that evening, Ray from IL saw 4 bears (2 nights in a row) and Steve from MI was also seeing bears, one huge black that wouldn’t give him a good shot. Paul from Mi is seeing wolves. Both big greys!! The nights are still dipping down to -2 Celsius. By Thursday, Ray shoots a good 6’ black with his bow. Cale is seeing lots of bears, but still looking for a big one. Cale’s patience pays off and shoots a good 7’ black with his bow the next night as soon as he gets in his stand. Paul saw 4 bears that night but no shooters. Jack and Jake from Wyoming don’t get their bears this week but will be back!!!!
By May 19th, we were finally seeing more sign at the baits. The bush was still extremely wet and the days/nights still cool. This week saw 7 repeat bear hunters from MN and a huge 7 ½ foot black was taken the first night in the hard rain. This big bear did not want to come in as he sensed something was wrong, but he gave Daryl a good shot as he was walking away behind the barrel. The next day saw cold north winds and heavy rain so once again this time, 4 hunters didn’t go out as to keep everything dry. However, Aaron shot a nice black that night and saw 3 others. The next day, May 22, unfortunately Brandon missed a nice black and Steve was passing up some nice bears in pursuit of a bigger one. The ice on Cedar Lake was still on and once again we had light rain all night. The fishing by camp was excellent and the guys were catching huge northerns pretty much every cast!! The next evening a monster black was missed by Ken a.k.a.”Brutus” and also said he saw other bears and one that was huge but wouldn’t come in, circled the bait and left like so many big bears do. Steve shot a good black and saw other ones. Gerry saw 5!!
Now by the week of May 26th, baits were finally heating up and were being hit like they should have been back around May 1. The bears were still a good 3-4 weeks behind and still no indication of the pre-rut though. Just another indication on how late the spring was, there was barely a mosquito yet. This week saw another excellent group of repeat and new hunters and the first night lots of bears were seen. Still not the numbers that guys should be seeing for this time of year but the bears were getting more active as the weather warmed up. We still didn’t see any good spring weather but would we?? The first night a couple hunters saw 8 bears each and a couple more saw 3 and everyone else saw at least 1. Everyone was being patient and looking for a big bear as it was early in the week. However, on Tuesday, my good buddy Jason from WI took a big black with his bow, which was the third bear in that evening and it was only 6 p.m. Don from Washington also shot a big black and was the 6th bear that he saw that night. This was a good 7’ bear with a good white marking on his chest. Lots of other bears were seen too that night with a lot of exciting stories told that night back at camp . The next day saw another good friend, Dr. Grady from WI who was hunting with his son J.T. shoot a nice black. They had 2 more come in after this. Unfortunately, J.T.’s gun jammed as he went to shoot at this bear so his dad being ready, took him! Great job guys!! Greg from MN saw 4 bears and shot a nice one with his bow. Chris from MN who was also archery hunting, saw 2 more bears that night, but was still holding out for something real big or an average color bear. Mike from Michigan had no luck this night. The fishing for pike remained incredibly hot as everyone was catching huge pike. If Jason can catch big pike, anyone can and did, lol!! As you guessed it, the next day saw rain and heavy winds, surprise, surprise!!! But 19 year old J.T. who went out early afternoon had his first bear ever down early and saw another right after. Good Job J.T.!! Chris saw 5 more bears and the baits were heating up even more by now.
On Sunday, June 1 a great big reddish chocolate was hit on the highway just north of our camp by a semi. This big chocolate was aprox. 450 lbs. Sadly what a waste and not even a mile from one of my baits.
By June 2, a little pre-rut was evident around bait sites. Some of my trail cameras had young boars with sows and hunters were starting to see them fight and chase a tiny bit. Still way behind though. That afternoon, one of my guides and archery hunters walked into a bait site with a 400+ lb black laying at the barrel already with no shot, had to wait for him to leave, hoping he wouldn’t spook and hopefully come back. That night lots of bears where seen, and as many as 12 by couple hunters reported. This week 7 of the 9 hunters were archery hunters and a lot of bears in the 400-500 lb. range were being seen! When the guys were showing me the footage of these big bears they where passing up and listening to the stories, I couldn’t believe it! Of course, some of these “Monster” bruins gave them no shot but some did!! But the 4 indicated it was early and they were after color bears. A good chocolate was seen that next evening but no shot. While bating that afternoon, I came to a bait site that had a chocolate sow that treed her 3 chocolate cubs a few times till I finally had to leave and go do another bait and come back later that afternoon. By Wednesday, that week, our good friend John from MN shot a big black with a huge white patch on his chest as he had lots of action all evening in a “new” stand I moved him too. Another John from Wyoming shot another big black with his bow in another “new” stand. John also saw another bigger one after that he wishes he would have held out for and then a huge white wolf! Richard from Wyoming also shot a big black bear at 5:30 p.m. that evening after moving him to another bait. All the other hunters were seeing lots of bear, and still passing up 400+ lb. bears and videotaping these monsters!! Another archery hunter saw 2 white wolves that night circle his bait and then 2 different 400 lb. bears that where nervous and would not come in, wolves will do that!! And that night, one of my guides walking into a bait station to get a hunter walked into a 450+ lb. black bear on the barrel that would not leave. The hunter wanted to shoot this bear bad that had been there for over an hour with his bow, but once again, gave him no shot at 20 yards. Finally, in the dark with the flash light on the big bruin a.k.a. “black ghost” he sauntered away into the thick spruce. Wow!!! The next night saw plenty of action and draw backs with bows but lots of close calls and dirty shorts, LOL!!! 3 more wolves where seen, this time a white one and 2 greys by “Grizz” from WI. On Friday, Faye from Wyoming shot his first black bear ever and with a bow to boot. Making a great shot it only ran 30 years! Dave from Arizona shot a huge black with his bow but what walks in 5 mins after and he videos would have any experienced bear hunter shaking, especially being only 14 years away! A huge boar that is easily 500+lbs. and pushing 8 feet! Wow, wow and WOW!!! Meanwhile, “Grizz”, Floyd and Dale are still seeing and passing up huge bears but finally “Grizz” decides to shoot and arrows a huge 7 ½ foot, 400 lb. black! The nights are still cool as we still have a fire going at night to take the chill out and it is already June 7th.
The last week of the season I had the privilege and honor to guide for the 4th time, Mr. Earl O’laughlin from MI, a General 5 Fighter Jet Pilot who has in the past, taken some really big bears with me. He told me that he wasn’t going to shoot this year unless it was a color bear so the pressure was on, ha ha!! The first night when I picked him up, he said that he passed a huge black that was only about 400 lbs!!! O.K., I knew he was serious then. The pressure was really on. The next night I moved him to another area that is also good for color bears and it paid off. A really good looking cinnamon came in that he took. What a gorgeous bear! Way to go Earl!! Any serious and experienced bear hunters knows that most bear hunters can hunt there whole lifetime and never see a color bear unless you are in an area that has them. Fortunately for us, we do!!
In closing, the spring of 2014 saw a little bit of everything. Some great bears taken, some good bears missed, lots of good bears seen and lots of un-settled weather. As we closed up camp, the bush is extremely wet. It was a very long/cold winter, a cold and wet spring and now the start of summer is seeing lots of rain. Is the weather changing?? Hopefully, we have a normal spring, weather wise in 2015. This past spring has to be the most challenging as a black bear guide in all my years weather wise. The reports from most experienced and full-time outfitters across North America are pretty much the same in regards to the bear activity at baits the past 2 springs being behind. But all in all, it was a great spring none the less. Our success rate as always remained extremely high and a lot of huge bears taken, missed and seen!! As always, a huge thank you to everyone who hunted with Agassiz Outfitters this past spring and can’t wait to see you all again real soon!!
*We look forward to hosting Don Polanuff of Bow Hunting Addiction T.V. and Luke Hartle of North American Hunter in the spring of 2015.*
** Thank you to all the bear hunters who caught fish for all the great fish fry’s and fish chowder we had in camp this past spring.**
***As an added bonus, hunters took advantage of the excellent fishing that is included in our “World Class” Bear hunts!!***
****If all goes according to plan (fingers crossed) starting in 2015, we will be offering “World Class” fly-in trophy Moose/Bear Hunts. Stay tuned!****