The story of my first Moose hunt started in Central Florida. I had recently returned from a Spring Bear hunt with Freddy Lagos, when Ralph and Vicki invited me to join them at Osceola Outfitters for some Gator and Hog hunting. I arrived at Hoppy’s place mid-afternoon, and before I could unload my gear and get settled, I was introduced to Fern Duquette and his lovely daughter Kelly. Fern and Kelly had traveled all the way from Ontario Canada to enjoy some southern hospitality and quality time together while hunting hogs. After the usual introductions I found myself with video camera in hand, following the two of them to one of Hoppy’s Ameristep blinds for Kelly’s first hog hunt.
As luck would have it, Kelly arrowed a nice hog her first time out and I was honored to record this special moment for a father and daughter. I knew Fern looked familiar but I could not figure out where I had seen him before. Later that evening I found out, he was the owner of Kashabowie Outpost, the place where Ralph and Vicki had taken many Moose over the years. Later that week Ralph asked me if I would like to go Moose hunting with Fern that fall. Without hesitation, I agreed and we started to put the hunt together. After picking Ralph and Vicki’s brains about what to expect, I soon learned that the weather would play a major part in the outcome of my Moose hunt. They informed me that if we still had frosty mornings and cold afternoons, I would probably bring a Moose home. On the other hand, if the weather were warm, windy or rainy, we would struggle to get the Moose to cooperate.
That September I traveled to Western Illinois where I met up with my Moose hunting partner, Scott Wolfe. Although I had never met Scott before, by the time we reached the Canadian border twelve hours later, I was sure we were in for a fun hunt. The plan was to sneak into a pre-determined spot before daybreak, sit quietly in a blind or a “nest”, as Fern calls them, and have our guide call a Moose within bow range. It sounds easy and I’ve seen Fern call Moose for Ralph and Vicki on the Moose Mania DVD’s, however; this bow season we got the warm, windy and rainy weather Ralph had warned us about. As expected, the hunting was slow due to the weather conditions, but we still had lots of laughs. Of course, as soon as Scott and I returned to the States the weather turned cold and the Moose hunting picked up dramatically. October 2010 found Scott and I headed to Ontario again, but this time we had a brand new Thompson Center Venture rifle in 300 Winchester Magnum. As always, it was topped with a Nikon scope. After hearing all the stories about how awesome the archery season was this year, we started wishing we had come a few weeks earlier. We were soon loading our gear into the float plane and headed out to one of Fern’s many cabins to start our adventure. We had the whole lake to ourselves, so Scott and I enjoyed the first couple of days catching Walleye and Northern Pike while we waited for role season to open. The third morning of the hunt we awoke to heavy frost and calm winds. Finally—the weather we needed! As we paddled the canoe to a secluded part of the lake, I couldn’t help but think that today could be the day. One side effect of cold temperatures and calm winds is, of course, fog and today was no exception. Scott and I were positioned at the east end of a large beaver pond just off the main lake when Fern began his first calling sequence, it was too foggy to shoot a moose, let alone film one. As we sat silently in the thick, we heard something on the far end of the pond that sounded like antlers coming through the brush. Before long, we could hear the unmistakable grunt of a Bull Moose. “You’ve got to be kidding me” I said to myself, we finally have a Moose coming to the call, and it’s too foggy to see him.
About that time, we got a sudden change of luck. A slight breeze came from the west and began to blow the fog off the pond. As soon as the visibility improved, the big bull appeared about 350 yards away and proceeded to wade into the pond and swim towards us, grunting as he swam. I had about 10 minutes to calm down as we watched this majestic creature exit the water and begin to thrash the small alder bushes on the water’s edge. He was constantly grunting and thrashing as he made a beeline towards Fern, and the seductive cow calls. Finally, the bull was broadside to us at about 130 yards. I put the cross hairs just behind his shoulder and touched off the TC Venture. He started to bolt, but soon stopped and gave me the opportunity for a follow-up shot. My second shot was true and we watched in awe as the bull went down. As the three of us admired my first bull Moose, I felt honored to be part of a tradition that has been carried on for as long as man and moose have shared this beautiful wilderness.
I hope to return to Kashabowie Outpost soon. I am officially a Moose Maniac. Many thanks to Fern and his crew for all of their hard work. If you’ve ever been on a fly-in hunt, you know how much preparation your outfitter must do. Thanks to Scott for hanging in there for all the long days of wind and rain. I hope to film your moose kill next year. And of course, thanks to Ralph and Vicki for making my moose dreams come true.