September 12-24, 2020 Moose Hunting Part 1 (50 Photos)
Fall has arrived a little earlier than we are used to, not because of an abnormal change in the season, but because the Provincial Government decided to change Moose Hunting opening day from the first Saturday in October to September 12, 2020 here on the East Coast. It's a decision that I don't agree with but we are stuck with it and warmer temps so we will plan our hunting trips based on the weather forecast. Other than that the whole crew is super stoked for hunting season to have arrived!
For me every responsible Moose hunt begins on a Range with regular shooting practice leading up to opening day. This allows you to make sure your firearm is working correctly, that you are more than comfortable shooting, and you can practice and hone your shooting abilities. At the St. John's Rod and Gun Club we have a fantastic, organized, clean facility to practice in a safe manner along side other firearms enthusiasts. At $100 per year for membership it's worth the fee alone just for access to the rifle rage and our liability insurance.
Keeping your firearm protected is the next most important step as it will be exposed to all kinds of weather and debris in the woods so keeping it cleaned, oiled and maintained throughout the season is also extremely important.
On opening day 2020 we had a full crew on hand and 4 licenses to fill. Dad, French, Stroh and I all had licenses so we set to work arriving to area 36 on the Southern Shore well before daylight.
Under darkness Dad and I headed up over the big hill, parked the Argo and walked into our planned destination where Arch and I harvested his moose last season. Sure enough in the pre-dawn darkness I spotted a young bull, an older bull with a large rack and a cow, a trio who had been travelling together for at least a few weeks now. Unfortunately the animals got spooked just before it became legal to shoot and neither Dad nor I managed to get a shot off. We found their tracks but the trio Continental Airlined their way out of the area and back into the thick woods where there was no access to cut them off.
We were joined on opening day by French, Stroh, Matthew, and Harry so we had a lot of our hunting areas covered off that morning. No one else seen anything that morning so we met back at Harry's truck for lunch.
On the menu today was my specialty marinated moose/onion/fresh mushroom concoction served with French onion rice. It was a meal fit for a king, especially up in the woods.
That evening Dad and I parked the Argo and headed into the long skinny bog to set up our caller. We never had any luck that evening, and neither did any of the rest of the crew who were covering off a other vantage points nearby.
We weren't totally alone that evening as a flock of a dozen noisy Geese flew overhead on route to their overnight roost. Flocks of Geese aren't real common here on the East Coast so it was a neat sight to see.
None of us had any other encounters that evening, when darkness fell we regrouped and headed back to the trucks.
Our next outing was September 21st when French, Dad and I headed back down the Southern Shore under darkness in the early morning hours. The weather was great (especially for September) with almost no wind and frost covering the higher ground. French was covering off the long skinny bog while dad and I headed to the open clearing, same as opening day.
About 12 minutes after legal light for shooting this beautiful young moose popped out of the woods amid a few snaps of breaking twigs approximately 160 yards from Dad and I. Dad made a successful shot filling his tags for the season! The area was directly behind where Arch and I harvested his animal last year. I always give the animal 5-10 minutes after the shot to expire to make sure my presence doesn't cause a wounded animal to get up and sprint. Thankfully this was not the case as an excellent shot was made so I cut the throat and went back to bring in the Argos with French.
It wasn't a huge animal but these are often the best to eat. I also didn't realize it was a young bull as he only had 2 tiny nubs for antlers, but this is the benefit of an either sex license.
On the way in with the Argo's we were almost back to the animal when I managed to slip my machine sideways into a decent bog hole.
We put my 5000lb front anchor to the test (which is bolted to the winch support structure) and French pulled me out with ease.
Once again we used French's Argo as an anchor to tie back upper legs which makes cleaning the animal easier, cleaner and faster. French and I had the young bull paunched, cleaned and halved in no time.
We loaded the animal into the back of French's 8x8 Avenger while all the knapsacks and gear were piled in the back of my machine for the run back to the truck. Tarps help keep the Argo clean as these machines are a PITA to clean inside as wash water mixes with chain lube to create one heck of a mess to deal with.
My 30 year old beast is still running great, even better today than it was opening day having just repaired a small fuel leak on the gas tank filler neck. Check out the Argo Repairs 2020 page for details.
We got our fresh harvest back to town mid morning and were pleased to provide the very first moose hung in Harry's new state of the art moose processing facility in Portugal Cove.
His set up is complete with a 110v trolley mounted winch, permanently affixed moose hanging straps, full size laundry sink, washroom even a full kitchenette!
The winch really takes care of one of the worst job, getting the halves or quarters hung.
In no time we had the animal skinned, quartered and trimmed while dad worked on preparing the lunch he took in the woods for us in the shop's kitchenette.
Once everything was trimmed I washed down all the quarters twice using a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar and microfiber cloths. This will remove all blood, kill off any bacteria on the meat, and seal the surface. The microfiber cloth is the best thing I've used to date for removing 98% of hair from the quarters with very little effort.
The quarters were covered in cheese cloth to prevent trouble from flies while the meat hung in the cool for a couple days. We would have to process this animal quickly as temperatures were due to rise later in the week. You will have to check out Part 2 of our 2020 Moose Hunt to see the solution we have for that problem for the remainder of the season.
On the 23rd we got together to process Dad's moose by deboning the 4 quarters. Top quality roasts were cut out and bagged while everything else was cut; connecting tissue, fat and grizzle trimmed out then placed in 50lb meat totes to be ground.
These grey meat totes from princess auto are great, easy to clean, readily available and stack together nicely when using the lids. I also use a smaller black tub for scraps, the different colour and size help keep the two easily identifiable while processing. Trimming out the crap that most people keep in for filler really makes for a high quality ground meat sacrificing maybe 5-6lbs from the whole animal.
At the end of the night the meat totes were placed in French's big blue insulated fish box and covered in ice.
I came back the following afternoon and got all the meat ground and bagged using my 575watt Kitchen Aid meat grinder.
When I bag ground I always use a scale to get the bags even and accurate which is very convenient for portion control and for making sausages. It's great for easily adding a certain number of pounds of meat to the mix. Medium size ziplock bags hold 2lbs and Large size hold 5lb very well. I flatten out the bags and remove air to ensure that they freeze well and keep well.
So that's one set of tags done, stay tuned for part 2.
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith