Remote Shoreline Moose Hunting

Moose Hunting season is an exciting time of year especially when you fly into a remote setting in Sunset Country.

Moose season is always an exciting time of year, and hunting within the vast, beautiful landscape of Northern Ontario always makes the experience special. These feelings rang true for me this year after I was fortunate enough to draw a resident tag for Ontario moose way up north in an area that Winoga Lodge and co-owner Troy Mansfield operate out of.

With opening day in this WMU being October 7th, I packed my gear and began the nineteen-hour drive north to Sioux Lookout a couple of days ahead of time, to ensure I had plenty of time after arriving to settle into camp and knowing how good the fishing is up there, I didn’t mind being early. With warmer weather lingering in the southern regions of Ontario, the drive north provided some beautiful sights as fall became more and more apparent as the deciduous trees transitioned from light green to yellow and red. Shortly before midnight, I arrived at Winoga Lodge’s main camp and settled in for the night.

The morning brought with it a small drizzle, but all was still on track for our flight into one of Winoga Lodges’ remote camps. A short twenty-minute flight later, across a vast landscape of lakes and forests, we arrived at one of Winoga Lodge’s remote camps and were greeted by Troy and fishing guide, Greg Attard.

WinogaLodgeAriel

Although we were here filming an episode for Canada in the Rough, this remote lodge was anything but rough. Recently built, the lodge had a fully operational kitchen and bathroom, 3 bedrooms able to house up to 10 guests, and a vast living space for gatherings all powered by both solar panels and a generator. There is even satellite internet available to help you stay connected to friends and family! I was truly impressed by this facility offering so many comforts of home despite being so remote.

WinogaLodgeExterior WinogaLodgeInterior

Excitement levels were high as we awoke the next day and fueled up with breakfast that Troy’s wife, Carey, had prepared ahead of the hunt. Once out of the lodge, we were met with a still, foggy morning and cool temperatures; perfect for calling moose. Being dropped into a remote lake far beyond the last logging roads, this hunt is all about calling a moose out of the dense boreal forest to the shoreline so we boated to a point in front of a bay that looked very moosey with grasses and willows bordering the timber.

The fog was still heavy in the air as we quietly got set up, and shortly after Troy began to call. As the morning progressed, visibility increased as the fog rolled off the lake, but despite the perfect calling conditions, we never heard a grunt in return to our calls so after several hours at this location, we decided to head out and try our luck at another spot.

WinogaMistyWater

As the day progressed, we moved between a couple more spots. The last spot involved a quiet canoe ride upriver which opened to a very scenic bay. Unfortunately, today the moose decided to stay quiet and within the bush but with a week full of hunting remaining and the area looking like prime moose country, I was still very optimistic.

Retiring to camp for the night, we enjoyed a warm lasagna dinner all the while thinking about how nice it was to have a nice hot shower and warm fire to sit around and tell stories. This camp really has it all.

The weather for our second morning was just like the first, with a thick fog resting over the lake. The plan remained the same; head to various spots that showed lots of moose signs and call. The temperature was cool but not too cold and a family of otters kept us entertained while we waited for moose to appear yet the woods remained eerily quiet. Every spot we tried had moose tracks and showed signs of bulls thrashing trees along the shorelines but we weren’t getting any answers to our calls. With a big country like this, we knew it was just a matter of time before we came across a bull interested in some company.

SwimmingBeaver

Figuring the mid-day moose action wouldn’t be nearly as hot as the mid-day walleye bite, we took advantage of the opportunity to squeeze in some walleye fishing between the morning and afternoon hunts. We don’t always get to enjoy great fishing during a moose hunt but in this case, we were on a world-class walleye fishery so this was a welcome bonus. Greg Attard, a fellow southern Ontario resident but summer fishing guide at Winoga Lodge, took us out. Greg had never fished the lake before but it only took about ten minutes to find them and once we did, the action was nearly non-stop until we had our limit so we headed back to clean them up for a fish fry after the moose hunt this afternoon.

PaulBeasletWalleye

Back on the hunt, we headed to a new location that looked really promising. We were set way back in on a sand bar point that closed off most of the mouth of a deep bay. The one side of the bay was mostly high rock shoreline and the other side was a large grassy meadow flanked by low alders and then backed by big mixed timber. Fresh tracks were running the shoreline as soon as we got out of the boat and, with binoculars, we could spot multiple clumps of alders that had been thrashed by a bull with some attitude…this spot definitely looked promising. 

Just a few moments after Troy let out his first series of calls, I saw something dark moving on the far end of the lake about 500 yards away. Sure enough, a few moments later a cow stepped out from behind the trees and was shortly after accompanied by a calf. Having heard no grunts, we were not sure if a bull was around but remained cautious while enjoying the sights of the cow and calf as they moved to the water’s edge to feed on the aquatic vegetation. As much as I hoped a giant 60” bull would step out of the alders, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself watching this cow and calf do their thing.

WinogaMooseNighttime

As light was fading fast, we decided to move in closer just in case a bull stepped out at last light. Using the terrain to our advantage, I followed Troy as we stalked in 200 yards and continued watching the cow and her calf who were unaffected by our stalk but no bulls were seen or heard and it was time to head back to camp.

With fresh walleye back at camp, our mouths were all watering as we sat down to a fresh fish fry; truly one of the highlights of any of my trips in the north. With a great moose encounter under our belts, we were feeling very optimistic about getting back to that same spot tomorrow morning and made plans to do so as we dug in and enjoyed our meal.

As we prepared to head out for our third day of hunting we were excited to see the fog that had made visibility so poor the previous two outings was not a factor today however the wind direction was no good for our spot from yesterday. It was, however, good for a spot Troy had been excited to try all week but hadn’t had the right wind directions for. Today, however, the winds were perfect for this new spot so we changed plans and launched the boats in the other direction.

We set up along a rocky point that stretched out across the mouth of a smaller grassy bay where two creeks met at the edge of the lake. Our spot was elevated about 10 feet above the waterline which gave us a great visual advantage and we were under 400 yards from the furthest treeline. This spot seemed about as textbook as you could get.

We set up quietly and let the area calm down for about ten minutes before Troy let out his first series of calls. Within seconds of him finishing his calling sequence we heard a loud stick crack across the bay. Immediately, we crouched down and stared at the tree line for any movement. Minutes passed, and we were beginning to wonder what became of the moose that we figured had made the sound. Finally, a lone cow appeared through the thick alders and stepped out into the grassy shoreline. She was looking for the source of the cow calls but quickly relaxed and made her way to the water to feed. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment she provided as she waded out, belly-deep into the water, and fed on the aquatic vegetation below the surface. The morning was so calm that we could hear her teeth chomping on the weeds. The cow would look towards the back of the bay a few times, but we never saw or heard anything in the direction she had turned.

WinogaDaytimeMoose

After about 15 minutes, during one of my usual scans of the back treeline, as if appearing from thin air, a bull had made its way into the open! We hadn’t heard him at all; no grunts and no noise! The bull was not aware of the cow at first, instead, he was staring towards the sound of Troy’s calls from 15 minutes earlier but as the cow, obscured from the bull's gaze by tall grass and alders, continued to splash in the water the bull zeroed in on her location. Though he was stationary, he was quartering towards me and had some small branches obscuring his vitals so I was intent on waiting for a better shooting opportunity.

WinogaDaytimeMoose1

After a few intense moments, the bull turned to move back towards where he came from and as he did, Troy let out a call to stop him in his tracks. The call worked to perfection as the bull stopped to listen for the source of the sound and presented me with a nearly perfect broadside shot. With my rifle resting solidly on shooting sticks, the 300 + yard shot was right on target and the bull dropped right on the spot.

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I was ecstatic! This was a big beautiful bull and to harvest him in such a pristine area with such good people is always a great feeling.

A short canoe ride later, we walked up to the moose and when I laid my hands on him my gratitude grew tenfold. Such an amazing bull moose, such an exciting hunt, in such a gorgeous part of the world. Together, we got to work breaking down the moose and getting him back to camp with four true full quarters in tow.

I truly had mixed emotions as we arrived back at the plane base in Sioux Narrows the next day. I had nearly 600 pounds of incredible moose meat coming home with me so I knew I needed to get home fast but it was hard to leave the great people and experience that Winoga Lodge has to offer. It was a treat to spend the week with Troy and Greg and I can’t thank them enough for sharing the experience together. I was sad to leave but with great memories and bounty, I began the drive back home with a smile on my face. Northern Ontario truly is a special place to hunt, and if you’re looking to experience, for yourself, the great moose hunting it has to offer, be sure to reach out to Troy and Winoga Lodge!

About Paul Beasley

Paul Beasley is one of the hosts of Canada in the Rough™ hunting television show.

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