Moose Hunt at Lake St. Joe Adventures

With a bull tag in hand Paul brings father Ken on a Northwest Ontario Moose Hunt

When it comes to moose hunting in Ontario, I often think about the stories I’ve been told by past generations of hunters. From the comradery of moose camp to the beautiful towering spruce trees covered in moss, sharp rocky bluffs, and giant boulders that are seemingly scattered across the terrain and of course the many picturesque bays that seem like a painting brought to life.

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So when I got the opportunity to head up to Northwestern Ontario and hunt with Troy and Dick Mansfield of Winoga Lodge for the opening of moose season, I was very excited for a true Ontario Moose hunting adventure. On this hunt I was also looking forward to having my father, Ken, join me. Though I drew a bull tag for the area we would be hunting, I was hoping to take advantage of the party hunting regulations here in Ontario and have my father pull the trigger, as he has never harvested an Ontario moose before.

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After a long yet enjoyable drive from Southern Ontario to Northwestern Ontario, we arrived in Sioux Lookout and made our way to Winoga Lodge, where we met up with Troy. Troy is one of the owners at Winoga but because of the WMU that I drew the tag for, we will actually be hunting with Lake St Joe Adventures. We had a little time to kill that evening and got out for some fishing with guide Greg Attard. Though the rain moved in we still had a good time catching a number of nice walleye.

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The next day, we made our way to the boat launch at Lake St Joseph and loaded up the barge. Troy’s father, Dick, is one of the owners of Lake St Joe Adventures. He would captain the boat through the massive lake to moose camp and together with Troy, would be our guides for the week.

We arrived at an impressive lodge in the middle of nowhere. A large cabin with a number of bedrooms, a full bathroom, a kitchen, and a sitting area with a wood fireplace. The lodge is fully equipped and even has a walk-in cooler and wifi. For such a remote location, this place definitely exceeded our expectations.

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After getting settled into camp, my dad and I shot our rifles to make sure they were not bumped during travel. Luckily, both our rifles were shooting true.

We, then, headed out for our first moose hunt. Taking some boats from camp to the location of the lake we would be focusing on, where we then transferred to some canoes. We silently paddled up the lake as the rain came down and made our way into a small inlet and set up on a pinch point. The spot looked very “moosey,” and Troy and Dick have harvested moose out of this spot in the past. We let out a number of calls but unfortunately, they went unanswered on our first night.

Back in camp, we enjoyed a nice hot pasta dish before heading to bed, excited for tomorrow’s opportunities.

We woke before sunrise on our second day and got some breakfast in us before heading back out to the same area of the lake as yesterday, but this time we paddled passed a family of swans and got back into a large bay and set up on a small island of trees. We spent the day calling and glassing, as the rain continued to fall sporadically. In the afternoon we heard our first grunt coming from the dense forest in front of us. We waited patiently for the bull to reveal himself, but he stayed hidden in the cover of the trees. We tried to entice him out with cow bawls and even some raking but he didn’t budge and eventually fell silent.

We stayed for the rest of the day hoping the bull would eventually come out but to no avail.

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The next day we were delayed an hour due to heavy rains, but eventually, we got out and as we drove our boats, we came across a small bull on the shoreline. He didn’t stay long and walked back into the woods. We took the time to make some calls but he never reappeared.

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We decided to paddle up a skinny stretch of water that opened up to a good size bay not too far away from the small bull we had spotted. Again, this area was home to some ducks and more swans with some young. We set up and began calling but nothing ever responded or appeared.

Coming into this hunt we knew that we would be hunting early season and that it could be difficult as the bulls wouldn’t be fired up for the rut yet, but we were hoping to find some bulls still in their summering areas. The never-ending and dense woods of Northwestern Ontario’s boreal forest can be hard to hunt, luckily the endless lakes and rivers that snake their way through the rough terrain open up many great hunting opportunities for moose.

In the afternoon the sun broke and we decided to take advantage of the warmer temps and do a little fishing. Lake St Joseph is a massive lake with all of the right ingredients for producing large numbers of walleye and good size ones too. We had a blast catching a pile of fish in a couple of hours and in fact, the hardest part was finding walleye small enough to fit in the slot size so that we could take them home for dinner. This is truly a world-class fishery! 

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With the winds switching in the afternoon, we made our way to a new bay that had some really fresh moose beds and signs. We set up the cow decoy and sent out a number of calls and we did hear a grunt across the water. We once again waited and hoped the bull would show himself from the wall of trees but he never did come out.

Back in camp, we warmed up with a classic northern Ontario meal…a good ol’ fish fry.

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Over the next three days, we continued to hunt hard, though the rains continued on and off and the winds got fairly strong and kept changing directions. The conditions were far from ideal to call and hear moose but we kept at it, knowing we wouldn’t shoot a moose back in camp. We came across fresh and old moose signs showing that the area was definitely being used by moose but we were struggling to actually see them. We did have a brief, but amazing encounter with a pack of five timber wolves. They were about 500 yards away and didn’t stick around for long but it made for a pretty exciting encounter.

On our last day after hunting a number of great-looking spots without any luck, we set up on a large island and actually had Troy attempt to push the bush on the island. We were hoping for a bull to make his way past us within shooting range. Right after getting set up I let out some calls and spotted a young bull working away from us on the far shoreline just over 1.2 km away. We decided we better take advantage of this opportunity so we jumped in the boat and headed towards the bull. Though the bull had walked back into the bush before we even got into our boat, we came to shore and made our way into the dark bush and let out some calls. Almost immediately we could hear him walking towards us, though we couldn’t see him through all the trees. He eventually got to what we figured was about 50 yards but he was still hidden behind the thick trees. We then spotted him slowly working away from us and we tried to move in on him but he vanished into the woods.

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Though we never came home with any moose meat on this trip we still had a great time. For me spending time with my dad while hunting is always something very special and not to be taken for granted. Also, taking part in a moose hunt adventure like this one is something I truly treasure. In all honesty, if we got an animal every time we went out hunting I’m sure hunting wouldn’t be as special to us. If you are looking for a great moose hunting location with some world-class fishing and great accommodations, you should really check out Winoga Lodge and Lake St Joe Adventures

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.

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