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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Part One – The Journey

George (Muttleysgone), his friends Dave and Larry, and I recently returned from a moose hunt on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland, flying in out of Hawkes Bay. We had a great time but didn't do as well as we had hoped.

Our lack of success was due to a variety of factors, but we all felt strongly that one of those factors was that, with the exception of one guide, our outfitter/ guides were not prepared to adapt to the conditions we encountered, and that we may well have done better had they had an alternate plan. We also agreed that under “normal” conditions their usual tactics probably work just fine, so I don’t want to be too unfair to them, but at the same time, I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture. Because of this, I’ve decided the best thing to do is to not include the outfits name in the post. I will be glad to provide that information via PM to anyone that requires it.

We departed on Thursday morning, September 22, to begin an arduous 32 hour drive, arriving in Bangor, Maine the first evening, where we spent the night. Friday we continued on, crossing into New Brunswick at Calais, and continuing on to N. Sydney, Prince Edwards Island, arriving there at about 9:30 pm, and prepared to board the Marine Atlantic Ferry for the overnight crossing of the St. Lawrence Seaway, to Port-aux-Basques Newfoundland. The ship was incredible, resembling a small ocean liner. We had reserved a birth room, which was definitely worth it, but very small and cramped… think of 4 men sleeping a small broom closet, LOL.

Waiting to board the ship



The ride up the peninsula was spectacular. The route is overland the first few hundred miles, then up through Corner Brook where the highway swings out on the beach of the Gulf of St. Lawrence immediately to the east, with the Long Range Mountains, the northern extent of the Appalachians, five miles to the west for the remainder of the journey to Hawkes Bay.

On the way up the coast







Arriving at our destination at Hawkes Bay late Saturday afternoon, we booked in to Maynard’s Torrent River Inn, where we were to meet our outfitter Sunday morning to settle up and drive the few miles to the float base for the flight in. The motel was very nice and is an Atlantic salmon fishing and sight-seeing destination.



Our difficulties began Sunday at the float base… not having her own planes, our outfitter contracts with Patey & Sons Outfitting, a rather large and well known operation, to fly in her hunters. This is fine of course, except that getting his own hunters in is Patey’s priority, and we were at the bottom of the totem pole. We hung around all day while he flew 5 or 6 other groups in to his various camps, but by the time he had gotten the last of his guys in the weather had deteriorated to the point that we were out of luck flying in that day. Patey’s people did treat us very well however during the wait, inviting us into the lodge to hang out, and feeding us a wonderful lunch. At this point we had no choice but to book another night at the motel and hope to get out early on Monday, and were told we’d be first out then.

With an afternoon at our disposal, our outfitter offered to take us sight-seeing and to diner, to which we gladly agreed. The northern part of the peninsula is truly beautiful, with fishing ports and historical sites all along the coast of the St. Lawrence. Our first stop was at the Salmon ladder on the Torrent River, which includes an educational center and a boardwalk through a bog.





From there, we continued up the coast to Port Saunders Marina for a look at the cod fishing fleet, many of the boats being in dry-dock for the season; it was obvious that the fishermen take great pride in their ships as many were gaily painted .







Our next stops were at the Point Riche lighthouse, and on to Port Au Choix, the site of the oldest known settlement of native indigenous peoples, dating to 4500bc, and subsequently the Dorset Eskimos, 3000-1500bc. The site is locally referred to as Phillips Gardens. Finally, before returning to Hawkes Bay for the night, we had a very nice meal at a restaurant in one of the little towns along the way. The afternoon and evening was time well spent, pleasant and educational, and we all enjoyed it.



Monday, September 26th was to be our first hunting day, but that didn’t work out either. Although we had been promised first ride out that morning, Patey evidently had several late arriving groups that ended up taking priority over us, and it was early afternoon by the time we finally got to fly out.

The flight over the Long Range Mountains proved to be well worth the wait; rising up five miles inland from the west coast, the tops were the most desolate country I had ever seen, including Alaska; relatively flat on top and twenty miles across with stunted timber and brush, countless lakes, ponds and bogs, truly spectacular. Continuing on, we taxied out of the mountains and descended over the lowlands within five miles of the east coast, landing on the lake on which our cabin sat, that would be our home and base of operations for the remainder of the week. The cabin was, of course, rustic, but comfortable.













As it was getting late in the afternoon, it was decided that we would not get out to hunt that evening, and we spent the remainder of the day getting settled in and getting acquainted with guides Sheldon and Barry. We were also informed that as the outfitter had no hunters for her other camp, that two additional guides and a cook would be flying in the following morning. The modus operandi for the week of hunting would be to use the two small boats at camp to access several ridges that rise up from the lake, overlooking spruce timber, lakes and bogs in the bottoms. There were evidently several more ridges accessible by foot to the rear of the cabin. The hope was to spot moose in the openings along the numerous lakes and bogs, then to call them in as close as possible for a shot.

<span style="font-size: 17pt">CONTINUED</span>
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

<span style="font-size: 14pt">CONTINUED FROM ABOVE POST</span>


Part Two – The Hunt

Tuesday September 27th, the first actual day of hunting. We awoke at 6am to a cooked breakfast, and departed the cabin at first daylight, taking the boats across the lake. Dave and Larry would hunt with Sheldon and George and I with Barry. The morning was slightly warm and misty. Upon landing at the trailhead to one of the ridges, we proceeded to climb, beginning in standing spruce timber at the bottom, then up through impenetrable stunted spruce brush (even the blazed trails through that stiff were treacherous, with tangled roots, rocks and holes every foot of the way), finally topping out on the barren ridge with large rocks, mosses, likens and Partridge Berries (which are quite good to eat, reminds you of small cranberries). As the bottoms brightened enough to see, it became apparent that it was going to be too foggy to see much that morning. The guides would periodically cow call. We only sat until 11am before returning to camp for lunch and to pick up the two additional guides, Gabe and Joey. Upon finding out that Gabe and Barry would be hunting the same areas, and Joey with Sheldon, I elected to spend the remainder of the hunt with Gabe, as I hadn’t been too enamored with Barry, and he (Barry) seemed to be getting along with George just fine.

Views from the first ridge later that afternoon after fog lifted









After lunch we returned to the same ridges as in the morning. The weather had cleared nicely and we could see well, but the guides were complaining about the light wind; evidently perfectly still weather is optimum. Gabe and I dropped off first and Barry and George continued out the ridge and out of sight. The views were incredible, as seen in the above pictures, with numerous ponds, lakes and bogs in broken timber, but several surprises and questions immediately came to my mind: first, I wasn’t prepared for the length of the shooting, the closest bogs were at least several hundred yards away, most of them much further, and I felt way under gunned with the old 06. I was comfortable out to three hundred, but I had no idea where the 180 NP’s would be dropping at four or five hundred. George, Dave and Larry were better armed, two carrying 300 Weatherby’s, the other a 300 H&H, but even they said they had not sighted in for the extremely long shots. Also, the stunted spruce, which began at the edges of the ridge tops and ran down into the bottoms, were so thick and tangled that it would be impossible to get down to a moose without ax blazing a trail. I asked Gabe if those impressions were correct and he assured me they were. From our vantage point, we could see Dave and Larry on the opposite ridge. The evening proved uneventful for George and I, but Dave and Larry had glassed several moose way out the valley, perhaps three miles away.

Wednesday September 28th.

The morning dawned cold, clear and still, perfect moose weather. We all returned to the same ridges as the previous day and again I could see Dave and Larry set up on the opposing ridge. The morning was uneventful, but early in the afternoon I noticed Larry setting up on his bi-pod and aiming down over the other side of their ridge toward the main lake. After a few minutes, he shifted his position fifteen yards or so, aiming again for a few minutes , then it became obvious that whatever they had been seeing either disappeared or wasn’t worth shooting. That evening we found out that he had seen a decent bull in small holes in the timber several times, but an opportunity to shoot never presented itself.

At some point early in the afternoon, I noticed Dave and Sheldon had moved way out the ridge. After a while they disappeared altogether, and at 3:30pm we heard Dave shoot, once… and after a pause, again. I told Gabe “that should be a moose down”, and in fact, it was. Evidently, Sheldon and Dave had spied a good bull way out the valley where they had seen the moose the previous evening. Sheldon, knowing Dave was in excellent shape, asked him if he wanted to go after him and Dave said “Lets go!” It took several hours, bucking brush and timber, winding around bogs and scaling several ridges, to make their way out there. The big bull had disappeared, but a five point responded to some calling and Dave decided a moose in hand was worth two in the bush. He missed the darn thing at 75 yards in the timber, finally taking him at 300 yards, crossing an opening.

Daves bull



I was feeling pretty good about the hunt at this point, assuming Dave had a bull down, when at about 6pm we heard George shoot. Gabe asked me if that meant a dead moose and I told him I certainly thought it should as George doesn’t get rattled at the shot. As dark approached, if we were a bit concerned that Barry and George hadn’t appeared yet; an hour later in full dark we were worried. Gabe said he had to go and try to find them, so I gave him all of my flashlights but one, and off he went. Within the hour, here they all came. Turned out George had taken an extremely long shot at a really good bull on a distant bog and felt he’d missed. Barry thought he may have seen the bull limping, but in any case felt he needed to check, and he and George got caught in the bottom after dark with failing flashlights, and had a heck of a time finding the trail back up the ridge. With Gabe’s help and fresh flashlights, they made it back up ok, but it meant another day on this same ridge again so Gabe could help Barry check for sign again… a thought I didn’t particularly relish as Gabe and I had planned to go to his seldom hunted “secret spot” three miles in back of the cabin the next morning.

It had become clear that the remoteness of our hunt was a disadvantage in that the terrain was so rough that the guides were unwilling to travel in the dark, effectively eliminating the first and last hours of daylight, and due to conditions the moose moving like whitetails, early and late. The weather was less than perfect with high winds three of the five days we had to hunt, and it was also a bit too warm, mid 50's. The rut had yet to get cranking. Additionally, the week before we got in, the hunters had killed three small bulls, and all of that activity… blazing trails, butchering and packing, none done very quietly I’m sure, seemed to have pushed the moose another few miles out away from camp. Dave’s guide Sheldon was the only one willing to go out that far… it took two guides and Dave a full day and a half to pack out his meat.

Thursday September 29th.

Gabe and I were obligated to accompany Barry and George back up the same ridge for a third day so they could verify Georges shot in good light. The good news was that it was again a perfect morning, cold, clear, frosty and still. George and I waited and glassed for about three hours, while Gabe and Barry went down in the bottom to check for signs of a hit. When they returned, no luck. For the remainder of the day, Gabe and I stayed out at the far point of the ridge, while Barry and George hunted closer to the lake end, essentially switching positions from the day before. The afternoon proved uneventful until about 5pm, when I found a moose in a larger bog about 2 miles out. We watched it move in and out of the bog several times… it may have actually been two of them, but never could put any horns on it, or them, at that distance, so it, them, was, were, either a cow or young bull. In any case, Gabe never thought for a second about making our way out there, nor did we get any response to calls, and we left in time to make it back to the cabin by dark. George and Larry had seen nothing that day, but Dave, Sheldon and Joey saw 16 more moose out near the kill site while butchering and packing meat the 5 miles back to camp. That’s where the moose were, five miles from camp and three miles beyond any blazed trails, but it was never suggested that the rest of the crew should go out there.

Friday September 30th, last full day of the hunt.

I was excited about the day, finally getting off of that darned same ridge, and getting to hunt Gabe’s “secret spot”. Gabe had said that we were going out another ridge further than the other guides went, and in a different direction, over two ridges and up a third, and that he felt it hadn’t been hunted for three years since he’d last guided out of this camp. Sounded great to me. The down side was that the wind was coming up already even at first light.

The climb up the first ridge was particularly treacherous, working our way up a dry spring wash, but we made it up and over the second ridge in good time. Starting to ascend the third ridge, the country became particularly beautiful with high bogs, lakes and ponds. We began seeing a lot of sign, fresh as well as old, including some fresh bear sign. We had just crossed a brook that ran between two ponds and were working our way around a narrow bog, with a timbered hill to our left, when here comes a bull, grunting his way down the hill directly towards us. Gabe just happened to be up on a tall rock and saw his rack for a second or two. The bull actually got to within 15 or 20 yards of us, but darned if we could see any piece of him through the thick timber. I eased a round into the chamber and found a narrow lane to my right that ran up the hill and where I could get a possible shot. Gabe made one or two very soft cow calls with no response. After fifteen minutes I whispered to try a bull challenge and Gabe grunted, again no response. For 30 minutes we did the Mexican Standoff but the bull never showed itself. We made the decision to continue on to the top and were never sure if we’d left the bull standing there, or if he’d snuck out on us. The view from the top was spectacular. We spent the day with very little talk, just enjoying the day and glassing. Unfortunately, the wind picked up to half a gale and we saw nothing. I really feel that if we’d made it out there the previous day in excellent conditions, we would have had a very good chance of scoring. As it was, it was the most beautiful spot I had seen yet, and the close encounter with the bull had been exciting.

The Secret Spot










Saturday September 31st, last day of the hunt.

Due to the logistics in getting meat out, it was necessary to hunt a little closer to camp, and less than a full day, the last full day in camp; we’d be flying out early on Sunday. Gabe and I hunted a ridge in back of camp called “The Pinnacle”, about a mile closer in than the Secret Spot. It was another beauty spot, and Larry and Joey had briefly seen a small bull there the day before. It was to no use though as it was blowing a true gale that day, maybe 50 mph gusts; we gave up at noon. The others drifted in soon after, having seen nothing.

The Pinnacle





Final boat ride back to camp



Sun sets on the hunt



The hunters, Loridr, George, Dave and Larry





We were, of course, a bit disappointed, but still had a great time as all of us enjoy each other’s company and wild country. I was also very pleased with the way I got around, much better than I had anticipated. We all agreed that under perfect conditions we would have done much better, but at the same time, agreed that the outfit could have done a lot of things to increase the odds under less than ideal conditions, such as brushing out more trails into the bottoms to facilitate still hunting when the moose are laying up like they were that week. As it was, it was a deal where the only method employed was glassing and calling from the ridges, and if that wasn’t working, tuff luck. All that said, like many hunts, a small twist here and there would have upped our success. A big plus was our cook, a handsome little (read big) Newfie girl named Heather, who could really create a banquet, and spent each day baking wonderful cookies, muffins, and candies.


A plus we took away was that Dave, who is well traveled, thought his guide Sheldon was possibly the best he’d ever hunted with. It was Sheldon’s first year back with the outfit after a six year absence, and he felt the same way as we did concerning the issues we encountered. He told Dave and I that if we wished to come back up, he will hook us up with one of several excellent outfits and make arrangements to personally guide us. We will probably take him up on that offer in the next few years.

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 06:08 PM
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Great read and pictures Loridr. Wish you could have scored but glad to hear you enjoyed your time with friends.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 06:15 PM
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Enjoyed the story I wish it would have turned out better for you. Looks like a beautiful place though.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 07:04 PM
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Great story and, like the others, I wish it would've turned out better. I got flustered reading that the guides were not willing to go further out for you. If I'm paying for a hunt, I'll walk until my legs fall off to get to where the animals if that's what's required. There's no way that a guide should be the limiting factor in that regard.

Like you said, get with Sheldon and plan yourself a hunt down the line with the guy who was willing to work (and got results accordingly). He sounds like my kind of guide.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 07:38 PM
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Thanks for sharing your experience
A Newfoundland Moose hunt is on my bucket list. The insight you provided is appreciated.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Edmund Burke
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Six-Gun
Great story and, like the others, I wish it would've turned out better. I got flustered reading that the guides were not willing to go further out for you. If I'm paying for a hunt, I'll walk until my legs fall off to get to where the animals if that's what's required. There's no way that a guide should be the limiting factor in that regard.

Like you said, get with Sheldon and plan yourself a hunt down the line with the guy who was willing to work (and got results accordingly). He sounds like my kind of guide.
It was the terrain as much as the guides. We wanted a remote hunt and we certainly got one. The closest two-track dirt road to us was 21 air-miles away; no skid trails, only hand ax-blazed trails through the brush, and even those were a nightmare to walk. Gabe put it this way: to make a yard you walk 10 yards, to make a mile you walk 10 miles, and he had it about right. To be fair, George and Larry were about at their limit as it was... I did a little better and could have pushed it more given the chance, and in fact, did just that with Gabe on Friday but conditions had deteriorated. Dave, even though he is my same age, was the only one of us that's still a mountain goat and strong as a Sasquatch, and he got his bull.

I will say that the "Head Guide", Barry, had absolutely no sense of customer service, nor did he have any idea what we were paying for the hunt. To him, it was just a moose hunt, nothing important or special; his thinking process was "if I don't get one this week I'll get one next week"... well, we only had one week, actually two and a half days as it turned out.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 08:22 PM
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

That really does suck. Sounds like Barry has no place in the guiding business. I have had acquaintances who have invited me to hunt their respective states only to do zero scouting or research and lead me on terrible hunts. Same mindset: "well, I've got all season to figure it out. Nevermind the guy who I actively begged to come with me on his own dime, and who paid 5-10 times the tag cost to be here. I'll waste the months leading up to the hunt doing zippo for legwork to ensure success and use the hunt time to actively scout. I'll bag my critter eventually."

Those experiences were irritating enough. I can't imagine paying someone for the same level of effort.

Regardless, good on you for putting in the effort. I really wish you were rewarded for the hard work.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 09:16 PM
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

I enjoy reading your hunting trip posts. Hands down the BEST rite ups, pictures and details on this site. Thanks for posting.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Loridr's Newfoundland Adventure

Thanks! I really enjoy doing the stories.
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