Big Ontario Bull Moose at 8 Yards

An epic moose hunt into Northern Ontario's remote wilderness and back country near Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Hunters gather many things along their journeys and adventures. It’s certainly not limited to meat and antlers; the treasures gathered and collected vary by the hunter. Our collection of treasures is vast—from shed antlers and fossils to arrowheads, snake skins, feathers, skulls, shells, and many more. The true treasures, though, are found in moments made and memories created. The ability to hold onto moments in time and recite them by memory is the real treasure that we all hold so dear.

One of our favourites, if not the favourite, moose hunts of all time is exactly this. It’s a moment in time involving a series of days that was so special, so full of adventure and excitement, that we can all still recite the details as if it were yesterday, and one of the few times as adults we have all shared a hunt together from start to finish.

moose-hunt-1

The most epic moose hunt we have shared together started with a remote adventure into the backcountry that most people will never see. Our long-time hunting buddy and police officer Joe Dampier from Thunder Bay, Ontario had a remote area that had hardly ever seen hunters. It was a hike-in-on-foot location into a small lake with a trapper’s cabin and a canoe. In late September, as the leaves changed colour in Northern Ontario’s Thunder Bay District, we drove many hours to park the truck and then ventured into our remote lake. The adventure literally started as we left the truck and encountered wild trails, trips, fails, bad weather, and everything in between.

moose-hunt-2

After a few days of stormy weather, we were finally greeted with a calm afternoon. The wind was just right, and we set out to call a low bay area off the lake. After only a few minutes of cow calling for moose, we heard a twig snap. Then more, and the branches in the thick timber around us started to snap, crackle, and pop. The cracking branches worked around us to our left and back to our right, then started to circle us, but nothing appeared. With no moose sounds, grunts, or calls we were very suspicious that this was not a moose.

After five minutes of this, the cracking and walking animal went to our side, where the thickest conifer trees were, and slowly crept towards us. At 9 yards, a large black head emerged from the trees. Not a moose, but a black bear. With all the brazen confidence in the world, he stepped into the clearing with us and began to circle around. With a bear tag in hand, Kevin drew his bow and placed an arrow in the right place to end an extremely stressful situation. The moment was intense, but having bear meat in camp was a welcome treat.

moose-hunt-3

We woke the next morning long before daylight and were thrilled that the ground was covered in frost with no wind at all. Perfect moose calling conditions! We split up, heading to the north end of the lake. We would sit 700 yards apart on each end of the lake, both looking north, with the tip of the lake in between us. Joe stayed down in the lake starting on Kevin’s side to the west, walking in the water as light arrived. As Joe walked like a cow in the lake, he slowly started making light cow calls. It was 15 minutes of pure silence, with man-made moose imitations filling the remote country air. Kevin was on the high side, 75 yards above the lake. Paul was in a similar situation on the east side.

moose-hunt-4

After 15 minutes of calling, the magic happened. It wasn’t like everyone may think or expect; it was not a charging bull making noise to announce his presence. It was different and took extreme concentration to hear, then moments to process and understand. As far away as ears could possibly hear was the slightest and most distant bull grunt you can imagine. We have no idea how far, but we would have had to guess more than two miles. For the next 45 minutes, both crews sat listening intently as the distant grunt got closer with every step. It was clear the rutting bull was coming to Kevin’s side, so Paul and Keith just watched from the far side, waiting to see it all unfold. Joe snuck across to Paul’s side of the lake trying to bring the bull down off the hill and past Kevin.

moose-hunt-5

Finally, in the new sunshine of the morning, a 50’ class bull emerged from over a ridge into the cut. Like a vision, he stopped and stared down into the lake, hoping to see the cow he had spent his morning hoping to meet. When he could not see her, he crested the hill and walked straight to the lake and grunting with every step. The big bull walked by Kevin just out of range, and all Kevin could do was watch as any movement or effort to relocate might cost Paul a chance.

The bull was now on a line to cross the lake right at Paul. As he entered the lake from the northwest corner and went behind some trees and scrub, Paul relocated to the lake edge and Joe went up the hill behind Paul to pull the bull by him. For 10 minutes, the majestic bull waded through the marshy end of the foggy lake. Every step was sloshing water and over 1,000 pounds of grunting, rutting bull. As the big fella walked the lake edge still in the water, he finally turned to change direction, and at 8 yards, turned and stepped out of the lake onto the shore. With a perfect hole, Paul drew back and buried an arrow into the big bull’s vitals.

moose-hunt-6

As if we had all just been part of a scripted outdoor miracle, the bull ran and came crashing down.

For three brothers and a dear friend in Joe to have a moment like this, all together, all watching every step, was a treasure and a memory that will go down as one of our best.

Northern Ontario is one of the most incredible, unspoiled places on Earth, and the hunting is one of the best ways to enjoy that!

About Canada in the Rough

The Beasley Brothers' passion for hunting is only surpassed by their commitment to their family. Respect, integrity, a strong work ethic and an undying passion for hunting bond these youthful advocates of our hunting heritage at the hip. Also producing Ontario's only magazine dedicated to whitetail deer hunting, and running the day-to-day operations of the Foundation for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife (FROW), the brothers are anxiously engaged in promoting the joys of hunting and are thrilled to be part of Canada's most-watched hunting adventure television show.

Recommended Articles

Turkey Tips and Tricks

Turkey Calling and Decoy Placement

Crossing the Border into Canada

How to legally bring your hunting rifle into Canada.

Turkey Lessons

Never Underestimate a Wild Turkey

Ontario Turkey

Hunting with Wingeather Oufitters

Chasing Gobblers

Spring Turkey Hunting in Brant County, Ontario

Top Pheasant Destinations

6 amazing places in Ontario that offer quality pheasant hunts.

Setting up for Bear

Stacking the Odds in Your Favour

A Bear Hunt That Keeps You Coming Back

Returning to the place that landed us two giant bruins, 5 years later!

How to hunt black bears

How to Scout locations, Bait & Place a Tree Stand

Ontario's Largest Moose by a Female

A father and daughter's big game hunt in Ontario.

Is an All Day Deer Hunt Worth It?

Paul Beasely shares his tips on how to succeed at the dreaded all-day sit.

Wild Turkey & A Blind

A Ground Blind is An Exciting Way to Hunt

A Beginner's Guide to Hunting in Ontario

Everything a first timer needs to know.

Bird Dog Friendly Lodges

Bring the friend that does the most during bird hunts—your dog.

Becoming a Trapper

What you need to know and consider before you become licensed.

Turkey Hunting Tips

Learn some tips to make your next turkey hunt a successful one.

Grouse Hunting in Sunset Country

You won't have trouble reaching your ruffed grouse limit here

Deer Hunting in Sunset Country

An overview of deer hunting in Northwestern Ontario—and what the future holds

Fly-In Moose

The Allure of Remote Hunting in Ontario

Long Point Bay

Ontario's Prime Duck Hunting Grounds