A Winter Moose Hunt to Remember

Hunting near the Upsala area of Ontario's Sunset Country

The morning was cold, clear, and crisp. There was enough snow on the ground to make it perfect for tracking a moose, but not so much that it would be hard walking. Best of all was the lack of wind. Without a breeze to carry human scent around, getting close to a big bull would be that much easier.

A few friends and I were hunting in some old cuts in the Upsala area, about two hours north of Thunder Bay. After a long walk, I split off. At the end of the trail was a boomerang-shaped winter cut. As I walked toward it, I heard an unmistakable sound. The pleading wail of a cow moose was echoing over the ridge. Although we only had a bull tag to fill, I was hopeful that a male would be attracted by the calling cow.

As I proceeded, the moose sign was incredible. There were large ripped-up areas that had been the site of a bullfight. The snow was trampled and small trees were destroyed. Another cow call broke the stillness just as my head poked over the ridge. My eye caught the outline of a bull moose about 200 yards away. It was in the open but screened by brush. Instinct kicked in and I ducked down. A large rock 50 yards to my right offered cover. I crawled over to it and set up.

Hunting moose
Hunting moose in the snow is a fantastic hunt. (Photo credit: Gord Ellis)

My scope found the moose and I slipped off the safety. The bull was walking away from me, but slowly. The image in the scope was heart-stopping. The bull was enormous, with two feet of antlers looping out from either side of its head. I had a clear view of its backside and it looked about four- feet wide. Adrenaline pumped through my veins but there was no clean shot.

The cows were sounding off at the tree line, but I didn't take my eyes off the massive bull. When it went behind some trees, I decided to stalk closer. I moved up about 50 yards and stopped. A cow was now staring at me from about 200 yards away. The bull was still in the back of the cut, but I was getting glimpses of it through the trees. I tried to draw it out with some bull grunts, but they were ignored.

Minutes passed and I edged closer. At one point I was less than 100 yards from the cow. She was wide open. The bull could now be heard, but not seen. It was inside the bush line. And despite my best efforts, the beast was not coming back out. Finally, the cow left as well. The sound of them walking deep into the bush hung in the winter air. Then, silence. Not the perfect ending to an Ontario snow hunt for moose, but an experience I'll never forget.

For more information on accommodations and moose hunting opportunities in the Upsala area contact:

Savanne River Resort
Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation
Upsala, Ontario P0T 2Y0
PH: (807) 986-2484

About Gord Ellis

Gord Ellis is a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay, Ontario and a full time journalist, broadcaster, professional angler and guide. He is the senior editor of Ontario Out of Doors magazine, Canada's best read fishing and hunting magazine. Gord is a regular on CBC radio's Superior Morning and writes a monthly column on Ontario for the Northern Wilds magazine, in Minnesota. He has written over a thousand feature articles and columns for publications as diverse as Sentier Chasse Peche, in Quebec, the Financial Post and the Globe and Mail. He is a long time member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada and has won better than 25 national awards for his writing and photography. In 2018, Gord was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.

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