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Big Game Hunting in Newfoundland

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Anybody For An Electronic Moose Caller

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May 19th, 2015

We had been hunting hard since Monday and it was now Thursday night, five guys and we had only bagged one moose, not good by any stretch of the imagination.  A change of routine was needed and needed fast. There was certainly tension in the air around the camp in both the hunters and the guides, this was Newfoundland and there’s supposed to be a moose behind every tree. Well it was up to me to say something so I did. “Boys” I said “there ain’t nothing we can do about it, you’ve been out with us all week and if it wasn’t for bad luck then we would have no luck at all. We’ve seen lots of tracks, everybody’s got to see moose but up till now we've only been able to get one. What you need to do is sit your hairy asses down and relax tonight with a few pops. Every evening you fellows have been in bed a half hour before your final bite of supper makes it down your throat so tonight I vote we stay up and have a few swallees and let tomorrow bring what it may. It’s worked for us many times before and one thing for sure it can’t hurt”.

            After a supper of steaks and all the fixings I grabbed a bag of ice and some glasses, gert big ones for the hunters and headed across the cutovers to the bar shouting out as I went “come on boys let’s get-er-done”. Seeing beer would be just to filling on an already full stomach I latched onto a bottle of dark rum, what the heck might as well go “high test at this stage of the game”. Our guide camp actually doubled as the bar which worked out well as out there you could make as much noise as you wanted and of course tell as many honest to god truth lies as you wanted to boot, and trust me everybody did! I’m sorry I should refrain not lies, no never, just camp stories!

            It wasn’t long before the rum was flowing freely mixed with other various alcoholic beverages. As Newfies, one thing we love is to sit down with a bottle or maybe two depending if your friend likes the flavor and tell yarns while playing a game of cards. After a second bag of ice was gone I could tell things were going well, our sports were certainly feeling a little on the jolly side matching stories and lies with us tit for tat. I believe we went to bed around midnight or maybe it was two or ah maybe it was four, I couldn’t remember cause something was clouding my brain.

            The next morning came just as it did every other day at camp for me, an hour and a half right before the sun comes up. I started old betsy’, washed and went straight to the kitchen to prepare breakfast and by the looks of the guys it was going to be an easy morning. After lots of prodding to pry the mattresses off, several guys suggested only coffee and toast, a clear sign of illness while another couple of the guys made several trips outside to purge their stomachs in a more discreet location and thus couldn’t even keep down coffee let alone eggs and bacon.

            Once finished I said to my sport come on lets break camp. I could tell by the look in his eyes he didn’t need any more urging and to get some fresh air blowing in his face was just what the doctor ordered. The morning was cool and a misty fog blanketed most of the countryside. Were heading inside I told him so we have a ways to go and I need to make up some time. It was still dusk and as I cruised in the old logging road, I could feel Greg slumping down in the seat behind me, the bolt from his gun that he had cradled in his lap kept pushing in my back causing me to inch forward on the seat with every bounce. I glanced around to see his head tilted forward on his chest. I jerked my elbow in his direction hitting him in the ribs, “wake up” I said “it’s no good to only see them in your dreams”. He gave a brief smile but I knew what he was thinking, ya right!! I never had many miles behind us before I glanced back again and sure enough he was resting again. Any moose on his side of the road were safe enough I figured, I’ll fix him I thought to myself.

            We came to place where several times within the last little while we had seen a cow and “other” tracks. Suddenly I piled on the brakes causing Greg to come out of his seat and slam forward into my back. I quickly turned to Greg and said “get off and get the magazine in your gun, there’s a f’in big bull right there on the cutover”. He nearly fell off the bike trying to dismount while reaching in his coat for the magazine. “Where the heck is it” he mumbled going from pocket to pocket. Suddenly I heard the clink of the mag being slammed into the gun and the bolt being slapped to and fro loading the gun. “Where is he?”  “Right there” I said pointing my finger at the cutover. “Where to” he said. “Right there” I said again pointing my finger “are you blind or what” “I can’t see the goddam thing” he said. I went behind him and lifting him clear of his feet I planked him down again saying “there he is right there in front of you”. He squinted, wiped his eyes ran his fingers through his hair but again, this time pleading with me said “ Craig I can’t see him”. No I said and I can’t either I’m just joking.

Well he turned to face me and even in the dimness of the morning I could see the redness in his eyes, if it was the result of rage or last evenings alcohol I couldn’t be sure, this is it I fiqured I’m a done deal. “You….” I cut him off “you won’t fall asleep no more this morning will ya” I said laughing. “My heart is beating like it’s going to come right out of my body” he said “I gotta sit down for a bit” “Go ahead” I replied “we’ll wait here for a spell and see if anything comes out”

             I reached in my pocket and took out an electronic moose caller that I borrowed from one of the other guides before we left. I had never used one before and the only instructions I had were from the guide who I don’t think used it before either, had told me “just use this button here, it’s a cow in heat call, the rest don’t work anyway”. Well I turned it on, turned it up as loud as it would go and raised my arm as I as high in the air as it would go, for what reason I didn’t know, and pressed the button. As soon as the “noises” started coming from the machine I instantly placed the unit inside my coat trying desperately to get it to stop. If a moose came after the noise that was being emitted I guessed it would be too stupid to shoot and eat anyway. “Well jesus” I said “there’s neither moose left in the country after that”

            Anyway the damage was already done so I pushed every button one after the other. With both of us laughing I had bulls fighting, cows pissing in water and a lost calf frantically trying to locate its mother,  but stare as we might into the fog and forest edge neither a moose showed. Of course there wouldn’t be I thought they are all running for parts unknown as fast as they could to escape the dreadful noises echoing through the forest. “Jump on” I said “let’s get going this place is done”. I put the caller in the seat of the bike instead of back in my pocket, I won’t be using that anymore I said to myself.

We went about a couple of miles and suddenly I caught sight of the ass of a moose sticking out of the alders a couple of hundred feet up a side road. I quickly stopped and Greg who was far more alert now, also had seen the moose and got off. We walked back and the moose had emerged from the alders and was now facing us, a five point trophy, three points on one side and two on the other, what a beauty. “Give it to him” I said. “You want me to shoot THAT” he said. I don’t know if his hesitation was being brought on by the pitiful looking rack or that he was too sick to help me clean it up if he was lucky enough to kill it. “Indeed I do” I said “give it to him, it’s Friday don’t you remember. By the way things have been going this week you’ll be lucky to get another chance.” He raised the gun and off went another bull into moose heaven, I looked skyward and thanked the lord for the “gift”.

We took our photos with me having to remind Greg to smile for every shot. Once we had it cleaned up he looked at me and said “you’re right I should be glad to have this moose”  “Yepper’” I said “you can’t shoot a big one every time” “No you're right” he replied.

We got aboard the bike and headed back to camp. As the place where we had used the caller earlier that morning came into sight I looked at the cutover and couldn’t believe my eyes, for standing in the cutover, was a bull I could only assume had just  parachuted in from Alaska. Behind him nearer the tree line were two huge cows. “What the hell god, dam” Greg throated while standing on the rear foot pegs to stare in awe. There it was standing about one hundred feet from where we had been calling earlier, its twenty plus point antlers gleaming in the early morning sun and we with a five pointer already down. He posed long enough to shoot him ten times, had we been allowed to, then he turned and headed into the brush along with the cows. “Don’t that take the cake”. Had we of waited a while longer after using the caller this one might have been our reward. Apparently the caller had worked, it was no coincidence those moose were there, and had I not been so doubtful, all of the pictures with Greg in them would have had to been taken in wide angle mode just to capture his smile. “Oh well” I said “that’s hunting!” “Don’t that take the cake” Greg kept repeating to himself. With one last look I thumbed the bike in gear and off we went.

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