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Tracking Winter Moose in Sunset Country

The late season moose hunt to usually means cold, snow and getting around by snowmobile. • Credit: Jeff Gustafson
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Tracking Winter Moose in Sunset Country

A week long trip in December to Northwestern Ontario isn't usually on everyones list, but Five Lakes Lodge is on ours!

When most folks think about taking a trip in December, the first place that comes to mind probably isn’t Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country or the community of Red Lake. For my friends and I, Red Lake’s Five Lakes Lodge has become an annual destination for a week-long moose hunt before the season ends on December 15.

When our group of eight hunters arrives at the lodge at the end of Highway 105, we are greeted by more than two feet of snow and minus 30 temperatures. We’re excited because harsh conditions usually mean active moose. Our hunt begins with breakfast and coffee in Red Lake before driving our trucks as far as we can on a snow-covered logging road. After unloading snowmobiles, my buddy Matt leads the way along an overgrown logging trail marked with several sets of fresh moose tracks. We follow the tracks for a kilometre before the road opens up to a large cutover that offers perfect moose habitat. It’s grown-up enough to provide good forage and cover, yet we are still able to see from the cut’s high spots.

We jump off the snowmobiles and each of us starts walking in different directions, sneaking along in the snow in the quiet of the cold, still morning. A half-hour later we hear Matt shoot from the north end of the cut. Evidently, the rest of us kicked up a couple of moose that ran in Matt’s direction. He was able to get a clear shot at a young bull.

moose hunt Our group posing with a young bull on our Northwestern Ontario moose hunt. (Photo credit Jeff Gustafson)

When we converge on the moose, we start a fire and all contribute to field dressing the animal before pulling it from the cut with a snowmobile. Back at Five Lakes lodge, owner Ian Cooke helps us hang the bull and we are in our cabin before dark, preparing a dinner of walleye and whitetail backstraps -- surf and turf at its finest.

We would end up seeing moose on six of the seven days we hunted and were lucky enough to harvest four of them. With hunting like this, our late-season trip to Northwestern Ontario’s Five Lakes Lodge will remain an annual event.

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