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First Moose Hunt Experience

Old 01-05-2020, 08:36 PM
  #1  
Spike
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Default First Moose Hunt Experience

Hey everyone,

New to the forum, but not new to hunting. I wanted to share an experience I had on my first moose hunt. This may be kind of long winded, but I wanted to get the information out there.

I live in NH, and have been putting in for ME and NH moose draws for the past 10 years. I know the chances of drawing are slim, and figured with the money I'd already spent on buying blocks of "chances", I could be halfway to a moose hunt. EVERYONE told me about the high probability of taking a moose in Newfoundland, so I started doing research.

I attend the Great American Outdoor Show in PA every year, and for the past 5 years, have talked to various outfitters, and have been squirrelling money away for this hunt. I was pretty much set on an outfitter, but in 2017, stumbled into an outfitters booth called Gander River Outfitters. I talked with the owner, he seemed like a really down to earth guy. He was a younger guy, and told me that his camp has had 100% shot opportunities and success the past several years. The ONLY time a hunter hadn't taken an animal was because they had passed, hoping for a bigger bull, but otherwise, he's had 100% success rates for several years running. He told me the area is VERY remote, ONLY accessible by river boat, that we sometimes hunt right from the boat and use the river where other people don't have access to, and that he would hunt harder than the other outfitter I was thinking of going with, because that other outfitter was a much older gentleman and wouldn't get into the deeper bogs and forests that he was able to go.

He pretty much sold me on the aspect of all the aforementioned stuff, plus a "stumble on" bear hunt, that I wouldn't have to buy tags for unless I shot a bear, as well as the amazing salmon fishing on the Gander River. So...I booked with him. My hunting buddy also booked. He sold us the first week of October 2018 as "the best week because its peak rut". Myself and my friend were stoked. It was a bucket list hunt with 100% shot opportunities plus a chance at bear and amazing fly fishing.

Fast forward to February 2018. My hunting buddy develops an extremely aggressive form of cancer in January of 2018 and passes away in March. On his death bed, he gifts the hunt to a child hood friend, that will end up coming to Newfoundland with me. We discuss the possibility of pushing the hunt off, as we're both still in shock at Dave's death, but then realize he'd be pissed at us, so we begin to plan the travel to Newfoundland and decide we're gonna "Do it For Dave".

I notify the outfitter of Dave's untimely death, and of the new hunter coming with me. I tell him I'd never met this guy before, but if he was a friend of Dave's he was a friend of mine. I tell him that this guy is 6'4" 405lbs and ask if that's going to be a problem. He says "does he know we're gonna be hiking 10 km/day? because if he can't do that, I'll modify his hunt to fit his needs. I've had hunters with prosthetic legs get moose before...it'll be ok. We can float down river in the boats and he can shoot a moose off the river if he needs to". So, convinced everything will be ok, we set sail for Newfoundland. The outfitter also notified us that the "stumble on" bear hunt was no longer an option, and if we wanted to shoot a bear, we would have to prepay for a license and pay a trophy fee and that he would have individual bait sights set up for us, stating that we could shoot 2 bears, and he had 150% success rate of hunters harvesting 2 bears.

We arrive at the river to meet the outfitter, and he immediately remarks that my friend is "a much bigger boy than he anticipated and this may be a problem". We laugh and kind of shrug it off and head to camp. The outfitter tells me he'd scouted 2 bulls a few days before, one of them being an 18 pointer, and that he "had our moose picked out for us". We meet the other hunter, and our guides for the week as well as the outfitters friend, who had shot a bull moose the day before our arrival. I immediately didn't get the warm fuzzies because I was wondering why, if you have paying clients coming in, are you letting a buddy shoot a moose where we would be hunting. Again, assured we'd see moose, I shrugged it off. We had dinner and were told how the next day would go. We were told to expect possibly 300 yard shots (not an issue for me, Ive shot deer at 600) and that we would be hitting the woods hard calling for moose hoping to get them within 100 yards. We would hunt each morning starting before first light, come home around noon, eat lunch, then head back out in the afternoon until it got dark.

Monday morning, a warmer day, lots of rain. I spent the entire morning and afternoon, nut to butt on the back of an atv, cruising logging roads looking for moose. We only stopped to take a leak, and to get out of a heavy rain once. My friend and the other hunter spent their day the same way. No one saw a moose. I did however see "my" bear bait. it was a bait barrel with nothing in it, and a moose carcass that had been picked clean to the side of it. When I questioned it, the outfitter said "its fine, theres multiple bears coming to it, you'll all shoot a bear off that bait". Im a pretty avid bear hunter, so I expressed my concern with the poorly prepared "bait" that I had paid for, as well as the fact that the outfitter thought, in 5 days time, 3 of us would each shoot a bear off that bait.

Tuesday Morning, a much colder day, but a clear day. At my request, the outfitter dumped a 5 gallon bucket of "bait" into the 55 gallon community bear bait. We headed out. Another day on the back of an ATV. We did get off the ATV once in the morning, to glass an area, and do about 10 minutes of calling with an electric caller. No moose for myself or my friend. As we head back during lunch, we find out that the other hunter shot a moose. Awesome, maybe things are looking up. They drag his 4 point bull back to camp and we prepare to go out for the evening. Again, more riding around, about 100 miles or so (logged on my GPS) all together. We get back to camp after dark to find out that the other hunter shot a bear too...lucky guy.

Wednesday morning, another cold morning, scattered snow flurries. The other hunter had rearranged his flights so he left camp. The outfitter, who stated he had scouted 18 point bulls for us, stays at camp as we go out with the guides. More trail riding, however, this time, the logging roads are packed with other hunters. We get out at one place and try calling for about 15 minutes. No luck, back on the ATV. we meet up with my friend, he tells me he saw a moose at 600 yards and the guide told him to shoot it so he did, the moose jumped and took off. The guide said he must have missed, and off they went, never bothering to look if he had hit it or not. We went out again that evening, more ATV riding, and a few hundred yard walk into a bog to call for minutes to no avail. My friend sat at the bear bait instead of moose hunting that night because the outfitter had freshened up the bait with the recent carcass and said there was good sign there. He never saw a bear. We ate salmon this night. We asked if it was fresh from the river, since all we had heard was how great the fishing was. No, it was frozen from Costco. Awesome.

Thursday morning, probably the best day weather wise of the trip. Back to the ATV. This time we cut a track on a moose through a clear cut...followed it through bogs for about 5 miles, came to a bedding area, called for a few minutes. Nothing. Back to the ATV to ride the roads with all the other hunters in this "remote" region. We went out again that evening as the temps dropped, no luck. We ate canned moose this night because we begged the outfitter for a taste of moose meat. So we had canned moose meat from last year that they turned into a stew for dinner for us.

Friday morning. Rain. we decided to cut the hunt short and only hunt the morning. at this point we knew we weren't going to shoot a moose and just wanted to get back home, so we planned to take the midnight ferry instead of the Saturday morning ferry. We went to trail ride again...again nothing. We got back to camp, and the outfitter told us verbatim "the hunt didn't go as planned. The rut is delayed. The weather didn't cooperate. I know you guys are frustrated, so am I. I want you to come back. I want to make it up to you. Lets figure something out once the season is over and Ill make it right." On a handshake, we parted ways.

My buddy had seen a moose at 600 yards, I hadn't even seen one. I rode close to 500 miles on the back of an ATV, and walked maybe 10 miles total. So much for 100% shot opportunities.


Fast forward to last week. I shoot the outfitter a text telling him Im booking my hunts for 2020 and need to know if I'll be hunting with him in the fall so I can take the time off from work, so what was his intention of "making it right"? (keep in mind, I NEVER expected a free hunt...like never ever. I hunted Montana last year and didn't see an elk either and was happy with my guide and the experience and that was it. Chock it up to the animals winning one). The outfitter responds back that the hunt didn't go as planned, he was as upset about it as we were, he wasn't happy with the guides and fired them after the season, and that the best he could do was offer a 15% discount off the hunt, and that we'd still have to pay NL taxes (15%) and pay for all of our tags as well, but he'd throw in a bear hunt (he did refund our "trophy fee" from the prior bear hunt after he saw how pissed I was at ONE bait being set up).

I told him I was disappointed, and also insulted. I know its hunting, and that NOTHING is guaranteed. The weather played a huge factor, as it always does in hunting but the fact that the bait bucket wasn't tended to, the guides were fired after the season, the outfitter never went out with us after his hunter tagged out to try and find the moose he "scouted" because "that's what I pay guides for", and the fact that the hunt that was promised to me is NOT what I got in terms of the whole experience. On an island that boasts 120,000 moose, I didn't even see ONE.

I wanted to share this "experience" and see what others thought about it as well. Ive talked to other outfitters in Newfoundland and their response is "we've heard of him"...and that's it. At this point, if he offered me a free hunt, I wouldn't take it, I wouldn't even take a 50% discount hunt, simply because I was sold hype as a hunt. Shame on me, but I wanted to make others aware.

Last edited by blackdirtdiaries; 01-08-2020 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 01-06-2020, 08:48 AM
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Blackdirt, I approved this post and moved it to the Hunts/Outfitters Review forum which is where it belongs. I would also recommend you edit your post into some paragraphs, otherwise, people will tend to tune out or give up and not try to read the entire post as it's very long. You will tend to get more responses if your post is broken up into shorter paragraphs that people can digest and respond to.
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Old 01-06-2020, 05:46 PM
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That’s what I call a run on sentence. More Paragraphs would have been better reading. I did get through it.
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:11 PM
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Spike
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Originally Posted by CalHunter View Post
Blackdirt, I approved this post and moved it to the Hunts/Outfitters Review forum which is where it belongs. I would also recommend you edit your post into some paragraphs, otherwise, people will tend to tune out or give up and not try to read the entire post as it's very long. You will tend to get more responses if your post is broken up into shorter paragraphs that people can digest and respond to.
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Thank you...I fixed it
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Old 01-08-2020, 08:29 PM
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That looks a lot better and should generate a lot more responses based on past experience. Not everybody hunts with outfitters but those that do are always wanting to know who else to avoid or, even better, who is an outfitter that goes above and beyond.

FWIW, I went on a similar Moose/Bear hunt in BC almost 20 years ago except we had to buy both moose and bear tags in advance. Not a problem. When we got settled into camp, the outfitter's son told us that a lot of the loggers had been shooting moose on the island for the previous 2 weeks. They were nice enough guys but that's bogus. We hunted hard and my buddy got a nice black bear and I got a younger moose. Both the outfitter and his son (also a guide) put the time in with us but it's hard to be successful when others have been taking moose out of the area.

Funny thing is I saw the outfitter and/or his son at the annual sportsman's show and know they recognized us a couple of years with eye contact. We never stopped by their booth and they didn't wave us over. Once you go through a hunt like yours or mine, you learn a lot more questions to ask the outfitter and take researching references, etc. a lot more seriously.

Last edited by CalHunter; 01-08-2020 at 08:41 PM.
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