Ontario's Majestic Beast - The Moose

Ontario's Majestic Beast...The MooseMist drifts down a lonely creek, veiling fiery autumn colours. You raise your call and release the haunting bawl of a lonely cow moose across the hollow. Seconds later, you hear a twig snap and then another. You hold your breath and listen. Was that a grunt? Suddenly, there's a splash, like someone rolled a boulder in the water. A moose is in the shallows. Each wading step cuts the morning stillness. Ripples, telegraphed by long black legs, lap the shore. He's close.

A finger touches the safety; your heartbeat imitates a drumming grouse. A dark shape - magnificent, powerful, and majestic - emerges through the fog. Whatever happens next doesn't really matter. That image is seared to memory. You've come face to face with the monarch or the north woods, the Bull Moose.

Moose having an afternoon snack.Encounters like this bring moose hunters back to the north woods of Ontario each autumn. With gun (rifle, shotgun, and muzzleloader) seasons, bows-only seasons, and a special bows-and-muzzleloaders-only season, from September to mid-December, and more huntable country than you could explore in a lifetime, Ontario offers a wide range of moose-hunting opportunities.

There are tactics to suit every taste. Although calling is classic, some hunters simply sit downwind and watch cutovers, new burns, marsh meadows, and lake narrows. Other hunters explore backwaters and secluded bays from the seat of a sturdy canoe. Still-hunters stalk game trails, while trackers take to spoor in freshly fallen snow. Each will encounter moose. Each will bask in the thrill of moose country.

These are big animals that require plenty of knock-down power. By mid-autumn a spring calf will weigh up to 400 pounds (180 kg), while an adult cow can push the scales to 800 pounds (363 kg). An adult bull in its prime can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds (636 kg). Classified as Canada moose for scoring recognition, they can sport antlers that stretch to 5 feet (1.5 m).

A non-resident who wishes to hunt moose in Ontario must have valid hunting accreditation from another state or province and be a registered guest and accommodated at an outfitter authorized to issue non-resident moose validation tags. Operators in Ontario offer a wide-range of options, from drive-to camps with all the amenities, to fly-in outposts miles from the nearest road.

This is not a solo activity, especially after you fill your tag. It takes know-how and teamwork to pack out these big animals. Strong backs, reliable vehicles, expert handling of meat, and the right equipment make all the difference in how your "bush beef" will taste on the table.

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