In Ontario, a resident can purchase his moose licence over-the-counter, but itâ€™s only valid for calf moose. He may enter a draw for an adult tag, but only a limited number of these are available in each WMU. Party hunting is allowed for any adult tags drawn in a hunting group, and the draw system is set up to give a slight advantage to groups applying.
This year I used my adult application for my archery hunt, so when it came to my gun hunt I was only hunting calves. My hunting partner (Pat) failed to be drawn for an adult animal as well.
When we arrived at camp, it was raining, and that continued for a couple of days. Also, the leaf cover - particularly on the understory made it extremely difficult to see any distance or to pick out what might be a moose.
We spent the early part of the week scouting and sitting on likely travel corridors with no success. What sign we saw was old, and the leaves were falling at such a rate, that anything new was covered up quickly.
At the end of the week, enough leaves had fallen to allow us some degree of visibility, and we were able to find some fresh sign around the end of one of our larger swamps. We decided to work the edges of that swamp the next day to see if we could move a moose that might be bedded down there. This was Saturday, and the last day of the season.
I left Pat near the end of the swamp that ran basically north-south, and I planned to go west, then north and back east to the edge of the swamp where Iâ€™d work back south toward him.
I left him, traveled west a couple of ridges, where I had to cross a narrow band of muskeg. As I came out of the Muskeg, and still standing on some of the moss, I heard a noise ahead of me toward the top of a small hill I was about to climb.
I waited a second, and a smallish moose ran over the top of the hill, stopped at about 50 yards, and looked back. It lacked a mane, and had a longish snout, so I assumed it was a cow. I then heard some bull grunts from behind it, and a few seconds later another - larger - cow trotted out to the right and looked back as well.
This made me re-evaluate the first animal, but no matter how hard I concentrated, it wouldnâ€™t morph into a calf. Both of these animals had long snouts, lacked manes, had a light coloured face and vulva patches. The only factor that might make them calves was the over-all body/leg configuration of square as opposed to rectangular. But this wasnâ€™t enough to convince me.
At this point, a very nice bull by Ontario standards came over the rise. He didnâ€™t have a lot of spread (maybe 40 inches), but his palms were long and sported a number of long points at the top and bottom of the palms. He seemed to have a few non-typical points as well. He continued grunting and looking back.
Still hoping a calf might come trotting over the hill I remained frozen on the spot. Occasionally one of the moose would look directly at me, but I was dressed in a camo coat, blaze hat and vest, but the coat was open at the front exposing a minimum of blaze to the front, so I guess they werenâ€™t alarmed â€“ only curious.
At this point, a yearling bull emerged from behind the hill, the big guy focused his attention on him and continued grunting. I guess he didnâ€™t want the young guy anywhere near those cows.
Eventually, the larger cow seemed to develop an interest in me, and began moving my way. I stayed immobile, and let her come. We were eyeball to eyeball all the way, I could even make out her eye lashes. Eventually she got so close, I became concerned that if she spooked she might do some harm to me as part of a natural reaction, so I waggled my gun and she spooked and trotted back to the other moose â€“ all of whom were looking at me by now.
I stayed where I was for several minutes, and the moose didnâ€™t run off, though they were now very alert. I decided to pace off the distance to see how close the cow had come to me (5 yards), and they still didnâ€™t run off. I went back to tell Pat that they were in the area, and they didnâ€™t move away until I was over the ridge behind me. When I came back, I looked to the south and saw three of them about 150 yds away.
They'll be bigger next year anyway.